60 percent use of Kannada in signboards: Karnataka Governor sends ordinance back to government

The government had decided to take the ordinance route in the wake of violent protests by pro-Kannada organisations.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 31, 2024 | 1:19 PMUpdatedJan 31, 2024 | 1:19 PM

Karnataka Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot.

Karnataka Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot has sent back an ordinance mandating 60 percent use of Kannada in signboards of businesses and establishments, to the state government.

This was revealed by Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar on Tuesday, 30 January.

“We (the government) approved an ordinance on signboards. The Governor has sent it back, saying that it should be passed in the Assembly. He could have given his assent now. Giving protection and respect to Kannada is our government’s commitment,” Shivakumar said.

The Karnataka Cabinet had, on 5 January, given its approval to an ordinance to amend the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Act that mandates 60 percent use of the state’s language in signages.

The ordinance

The government had decided to take the ordinance route in the wake of violent protests by pro-Kannada organisations targeting businesses and establishments in Bengaluru for not giving prominence to Kannada.

In December, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that the ordinance would ensure that 60 percent of space on signboards and nameplates is dedicated to Kannada, with the rest left to any other language. The ordinance will come into effect on 28 February 2024.

The government will also bring an amendment to Section 17(6) of the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Act (KLCDA) of 2022, which was promulgated by the previous BJP government on 10 March 2023, ahead of the Assembly elections in the state, he said.

Speaking about the KLCDA, the Chief Minister said that Section 17(6) of the Act says that commercial, industrial or business organisations, institutions, hospitals, laboratories, entertainment centres, hotels, etc should allocate half of the space on signboards and nameplates to information in Kannada, with the consent of either government or the local representatives. The rest of the portion can be in any other language.

However, he said that in his previous stint as chief minister, he had issued a circular on 24 March 2018, which said that 60 percent of the space on nameplates and signboards should be in Kannada.

“We decided that the signboards and nameplates should be 60:40 as per the previous circular. We will bring an amendment to Section 17(6) of the said Act, which was introduced by the Kannada and Culture Department,” he said.

“I have asked the officials to bring an ordinance because the Assembly is not in session. The ordinance will come into effect on 28 February 2024. All the shops, business establishments, hotels, malls, and hospitals have to follow this ordinance,” he added.

Also Read: Will bring ordinance to make Kannada mandatory on nameplates, signboards: Siddaramaiah

The protests

It might be recalled that KRV activists in December 2023 launched an aggressive campaign in Bengaluru, urging traders and businessmen who owned shops and commercial establishments in Bengaluru to put up their name boards with 60 percent covered by Kannada.

This campaign gained momentum over the past few months, particularly after an incident involving the management of Mall of Asia in the Hebbal area of Bengaluru.

The mall had sent a legal notice to KRV activists after they demanded that the management install a Kannada nameboard of equal size to that of the English one for the mall.

The activists also questioned the lack of Kannadiga employees, highlighting the prevalence of guest workers from northern states working for lower wages, with free food and accommodation.

“When we questioned the mall management about not employing Kannadigas, they not only warned us not to interfere in their administrative affairs but also threatened us, stating that the city of Bengaluru had more than 70 percent people from the North. They said if they stood together, the locals would flee from Bengaluru,” a KRV activist told South First.

As of now, the law requires the use of Kannada language in the upper-half portion of boards, displaying the names of businesses.

The Budget session of the Karnataka Legislature is scheduled to be held from 12 to 23 February.

It is said that the Governor may have sent the ordinance back to the government, considering that the Legislature session is round the corner, official sources said.

Also Read: Pro-Kannada activists vandalise establishments

(With PTI inputs)