Making Kannada mandatory in banks? Notification soon says KDA; minister says no such plans

KDA Secretary Hangal claimed that a notification is likely soon, Minister Tangadagi said the government has not even discussed such a plan.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Sep 08, 2023 | 8:41 PMUpdatedSep 08, 2023 | 8:41 PM

The Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru.

The Kannada Development Authority (KDA) and the Karnataka government appear to contradict each other on a plan to make Kannada the mandatory language for communication in banks.

While the Minister for Kannada and Culture Shivaraj Tangadagi refuted reports that said the government was planning to issue a notification making Kannada mandatory in banks, KDA Secretary Santosh Hangal said a notification was likely to be issued soon.

“There are no such plans before the government to issue an order or notification to banks making their employees speak to customers in Kannada,” Tangadagi told South First on Friday, 8 September.

He was responding to a specific question based on reports that the state government was likely to issue a notification making Kannada the mandatory language for communication in banks. He termed the reports “fake”.

However, Hangal gave a different version. “The notification will be issued under the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill, 2022,” he told South First.

The Bill was passed in the state Assembly in March 2022. One of its main objectives was to encourage the use of Kannada in government offices, banks, public sector undertakings, and private industries (with more than 100 employees).

Meanwhile, netizens hailed the move to make Kannada mandatory.

Related: Kannada Language Bill will have to await a new govt to become law

Notification soon: KDA secretary

Hangal said on Friday that the notification would direct bank employees to communicate with customers only in Kannada. “This order has been in place for the past many years but it has not been followed or practised by banks and others,” he said.

He further said that the KDA has been receiving hundreds of complaints from various Kannada associations and organisations against banks not using Kannada to communicate with customers.

“We have served notices and demanded action from the banks but they have not yielded positive results. Once this notification is issued, all bank employees must use Kannada language while communicating with customers. However, the government is yet to chalk out rules that would be applied for violating the order,” he said.

The Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill, 2022 has mentioned that certain specified establishments (including banks), should set up Kannada cells to promote the use of the language at work, and Kannada teaching units for non-Kannada speaking employees. The Bill, introduced in the Assembly on 22 September 2022, was passed in March 2022.

Maharashtra, too, has passed a similar Bill. The Maharashtra Local Authorities (Official Languages) Act, 2022 mandates the use of Marathi in official and administrative transactions and penalises officials who fail to comply with the Act.

Also read: CAPF constables exam to also be conducted in 13 regional languages

No plans: Minister

Refuting Hangal’s claim, Minister Tangadagi asserted that the government has no plans to issue the notification.

“We are still in the process of framing the rules. No discussion has taken place on this matter either with the chief minister or in the Cabinet. Fake news is being spread,” he said.

The minister said the government would make an official announcement on any such decision.

Also read: M Govinda Pai, Kannada’s first national poet, and his ‘Golgotha’

Demand for Kannada in banks

Several Kannada activists have demanded the state government to issue such a notification at the earliest. They also demanded the posting of locals in banks in rural areas to ensure effective communication.

“Successive governments have issued around 300 to 400 such notifications since 1962, but failed to implement them,”  Belagavi District Kannada Organisations Action Committee President Ashok Chandaragi told South First.

“The problem arises when the outsiders are posted in banks, specifically in rural areas. Most banks are filled with employees from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and other states,” he pointed out.

“This leads to difficulty in interacting with villagers. This problem is more severe in rural areas than in urban areas. The government should ensure that at least 50 percent of staff are from Karnataka. It is the only solution,” he added.

“The banks fall under the purview of the Union government. The state government should initiate talks with the Union government to address this long-pending demand,” he urged.