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Everyone living in Karnataka is Kannadiga, must learn Kannada: CM Siddaramaiah

Siddaramaiah said that it was the duty of all those who live in the state to create an environment where everybody feels the urge to learn Kannada.

bengaluru Updated: Nov 01, 2017 17:46 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah speaks during the 62nd Kannada Rajyotsava Day (Karnataka state formation day) function at Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday. (PTI)

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday urged all those living in the state to learn Kannada and make their children do so as well and declared that not learning the language was “a disrespect to this land.”

“Every person who lives in the state is a Kannadiga. Every person who resides here should learn the language, respect it and make their children learn it,” Siddaramaiah said during an event in Bengaluru to mark the 61st Kannada Rajyotsava or the state formation day.

The Karnataka government has over the past year introduced a slew of measures — mandatory learning of Kannada in all schools and removing Hindi from signboards at the Metro rail stations — through which it has attempted to burnish its pro-Kannada credentials.

There have been other proposals that have attracted controversy like the formation of a committee to study the legality of having an official state flag and 100% reservations for locals in blue-collar private sector jobs.

An unfazed Siddaramaiah said that it was the duty of all those who live in the state to create an environment where everybody feels the urge to learn Kannada. “Every person here must feel that they are Kannadiga first and then Indian,” he said.

Referring to the Supreme Court’s verdict in 2014 which struck down a 1994 Karnataka law making it mandatory for primary schools to teach in Kannada, Siddarmaiah said he had sought the support of all other chief ministers in the country against this.

“I tried to tell them that this was a question of the regional languages of the country. I even wrote seven times to the Prime Minister but did not get any response,” he said.

Siddaramaiah said there was a trend among parents to make their children study in English-medium schools. “This is not a good development. Our understanding deepens if we learn in our mother tongue,” he said.

Highlighting his stint as the chairperson of the Kannada Kavalu Samiti (Kannada protection committee), Siddaramaiah said: “It is because of this that we have ordered that all schools, whether CBSE or ICSE, have to teach the Kannada language.”

Siddaramaiah said the government had taken a decision to try to create awareness among parents to change them and make them respect Kannada. “We want to create an environment where parents feel like sending their children to Kannada-medium schools, government schools,” he said.

The chief minister said some people believed that their children would have bright futures only if they studied in English, that they will get better jobs.

“Did Sir M Visvesvaraya not become a world-renowned engineer despite studying in a Kannada-medium school? Did CNR Rao not become a world-renowned scientist despite having done his schooling in Kannada-medium government school? I, too, studied in a Kannada-medium school. Have I not become the chief minister?” he asked.

Highlighting the demand for admissions in government-run medical colleges, Siddaramaiah said that despite sending their children to private English-medium schools, parents tried to outdo each other in the desperation of getting their children admitted in the state-run institutes.

“I appeal to the 80 lakh parents residing in Karnataka, please let your children learn Kannada along with English. Let us all live together as Kannadigas,” Siddaramaiah said.

First Published: Nov 01, 2017 16:22 IST