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Kannada bill: quota in higher education, pressure for the employment of locals

The BJP government introduced a bill to the Assembly on Thursday to reserve Kannadigas in higher education, linking incentives to industries with jobs for locals, among other pro-Kannada measures.

Minister of Kannada and Culture, V Sunil Kumar, has tabled the Comprehensive Kannada Language Development Bill, which aims at the “widespread use and propagation” of Kannada. The enactment of the law will cost the government Rs 3.21 crore.

The bill defines kannadiga as a person, his or her parents or legal guardians residing in Karnataka for at least 15 years and knowledgeable in reading and writing Kannada.

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According to the bill, Kannada was adopted as the official language of Karnataka. The state has enacted the Official Language of Karnataka Act, the Karnataka Local Authorities (Official Language) Act, the Kannada Development Authorities Act and the Kannada Language Learning Act. The state also has a statutory body called Kannada Development Authority (KDA).

“Despite the aforementioned enactments, notifications and ordinances, there is not much (sic) progress in the proper implementation of the official language in the state,” the bill reads. “Kannada language has been introduced as one of the language subjects in schools, but there is no proper provision for learning Kannada language in higher, technical or vocational education,” he says. .

The bill states that there is a “failure” in the implementation and use of the Kannada language in offices, industries, shops and establishments. “Even the KDA, despite being a statutory body, lacks the necessary authority and mechanisms to ensure the implementation of Kannada as the official language at all levels,” he says.

According to the bill, Kannada will be taught in higher, technical and vocational education courses. Also, students who have studied class 1-10 in Kannada medium will have reservation in higher education.

Drawing inspiration from the state’s Industrial Policy 2020-25, the bill proposes to deny land grants, tax refunds and other concessions to private companies that do not hire the prescribed percentage of Kanandigas. Industrial policy requires companies to provide 70% employment for Kannadigas (100% in the case of Group D employees).

All persons wishing to obtain government employment must pass a Kannada examination; those who passed class 10 with Kannada as their first or second language are exempt.

The bill further requires the government to establish a job portal for government offices, public enterprises and private companies to notify vacancies.

Furthermore, the bill makes Kannada a fixture in lower courts, courts, banks and other financial institutions.

Industries, shops and commercial establishments that violate the provisions of the bill will be fined Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000, including license suspension.

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