In the latest twist in the contentious debate over the use of Hindi in Karnataka, on Monday, the Kannada Development Authority (KDA) asked the regional heads of all nationalised, rural and scheduled banks to make it mandatory for all staff to learn Kannada within six months, according to media reports.
The Times of India reported that KDA chairman professor SG Siddaramaiah issued a circular to the banks, stating that any employees unable to learn Kannada within six months should be relieved of duty.
"I have sensed that there has been a lack of will in implementing the local language in many banks. We can't ignore the fact that not paying due respects to the local language can lead to conflicts in future. The banks have to take up the said measures on emergency basis," Siddaramaiah said, according to the report.
Siddaramaiah also said that all information should be provided in Kannada so that people could easily conduct their affairs and that the RBI has specified this in their guidelines, Deccan Herald reported.
He added that many banks were disregarding the rules and said that they used Karnataka's three-language formula as an excuse not to give information in Kannada, which disproportionately affected the poor. Siddaramaiah also directed bank officials to submit a status report and promised to visit all banks and take stock of the situation, according to the report.
Protests over the use of Hindi language on signboards in Bengaluru metro stations escalated in July after pro-Kannada group Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) — reportedly protesting the imposition of Hindi — blackened the signboards of multiple metro stations.
In early July, Hindi words were found masked from the signboards in Chickpete and Majestic metro stations. However, it was unclear who was responsible for the incident.
In the last week of June, Twitter users started the #NammaMetroHindi Beda campaign to urge the state government to banish the use of Hindi. The campaign sought removal of Hindi signboards from all Namma Metro stations and also stopping announcements in Hindi.
As anger built up on social media amid the height of the campaign, Union minister Ananth Kumar backed the use of trilingual signboards. He told PTI: "The railways has been using three languages. In Namma Metro too, the first priority should be Kannada. There should not be any compromise on that. Next Hindi and English should be used."
In June, KRV staged a protest demanding that the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) end the practice of Hindi signboards in metro stations as well as announcements. KRV argued that Hindi was not being used in metro trains in neighbouring states of Kerala and Maharashtra.
However, BMRCL defended the usage of Hindi and said that it was only implementing the Centre's orders.
They said that non-Hindi speaking states were directed to use three languages, state's official language, Hindi, and English, for signboards, announcements and public material for public information in all metro stations.
The Union Urban Development Ministry had asked BMRCL to ensure Hindi signage is used in the metro’s new Phase 1 stretch that was inaugurated in June.
The anti-Hindi agitation found support from Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, Business Standard reported. He asked the officials to find out what policy was followed in non-Hindi states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Aug 08, 2017 13:16:03 IST