Of Linguistic Pride and Prejudice: H.D. Kumaraswamy, Chief Minister, has a point
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

Of Linguistic Pride and Prejudice: H.D. Kumaraswamy, Chief Minister, has a point

This morning, while I was walking in the park an elderly woman, who apparently knew who I was, hesitantly asked if she could speak to me. As is my wont, I smiled and said in  Kannada, “Mathadamma” (please speak).

She wanted me to recommend her daughter, a small-time beautician, for a job in a big-time Ayurvedic Centre near my house that had advertised the job. She said, her daughter had got through the practicals at the interview, and at the final interview, before the owner and an officer, she failed. The reason was that she did not know English beyond, “Yes Sir”, “No Sir”, “Sorry Sir” and “Thank You Sir”. Because she did so well in the practicals, the owner asked her at least if she knew Butler English.

Having not heard this phrase, the girl went blank in the face and innocently asked, quivering all over the body, “Yenadu Sir” (What is it Sir?). The elderly woman told me that she did not get the job because she did not know English and she wanted me to speak to the owner saying her daughter would learn english on the job and simultaneously take tuition to learn English.

At present she is paid Rs. 200 per day and to supplement this meagre salary, her daughter went to private houses for facials, threading, etc. The salary offered at the Ayurvedic Hospital was Rs. 10,000… She lost the job all because she did not even know Butler English. I did not have a heart to disappoint that lady early in the morning, so, I gave her “hope” like our politicians.

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When I returned home, I picked up this morning’s The Hindu newspaper and as if by a fine coincidence, I found a front page four-column news item titled, “At Kannada Sahitya Sammelana, HDK defends English medium.” The sub-headline was eloquent in its humanism. It read: “Not right to deprive any child of quality education in the guise of linguistic pride.”

Reading this and the text of what Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy  spoke, I remembered a Kannada proverb which would apply very well to those Kannada fanatics (Not Kannada Lovers and Admirers) —  Hottege Hittilla… Juttige Mallige Hoovu (No food for stomach but jasmine flowers for head).

Among the Chief Ministers I have seen in the last forty years, I found only two to be true to their conscience. One was D. Devaraja Urs and another H.D. Kumaraswamy. Even between the two, though Kumaraswamy may seem a bit rustic, he is more frank, transparent and down to earth.

Now, let me quote here what Kumaraswamy said, in response to the earlier speaker Chandrashekar Patil (Champa) who was the previous President of Akhila Bharatha Kannada Sahitya Sammelana, defending his government’s decision to introduce English medium in 1,000 Government schools. He said that the decision was taken keeping in mind the future of children from the underprivileged sections. The elderly lady I met this morning, that I mentioned above, belongs to this underprivileged section.

He said while he was committed to protecting and promoting Kannada as a language, he would also have to consider the “future of the children” — the future of the daughter of the elderly woman I met this morning at the park.

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Kumaraswamy also made a most important and pertinent point which touches upon equality of all citizens and their fundamental right to get education without discrimination.

He said, at present imparting education in Kannada for one section of our people and in English to another section of our people has divided our society as privileged and underprivileged sections with the privileged section getting quality English education and better job opportunity.

Here is the most defining argument by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy: “Several youths, especially those from the backward areas of the State, are failing to get jobs…. it is not right to deprive any child from accessing quality education in the guise of linguistic pride…”

This is some food for thought to those whose stomachs are full.

Jai Kannadiga

e-mail: [email protected]

January 5, 2019

7 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Of Linguistic Pride and Prejudice: H.D. Kumaraswamy, Chief Minister, has a point”

  1. What a World! says:

    Well said.If you examine where these Kannada literary figures sent their sons for education and where these sons live now, you will discover the sheer hypocrisy of these fanatics who think that their preaching should only apply to others. For this examination, start with the top most poet who preached to remove the English medium sections in high schools decades ago , and work downwards to the President of the Sammelan this year.

    • What is the use of opening 1000 English Medium Schools if you cannot find teachers who are well qualified. You end up producing mediocre students who are neither well versed in Kannada nor in English. What if the parents themselves are not capable to guide their kids or help with their homework or simply not motivated ? Has Government considered all these factors before coming to the conclusion ? I remember the great Kannada literary figure and editor of Lankesh Patrike commenting on this subject in one of his weekly column “The need of the hour is to have a well qualified English teacher in Kannada medium school and equally well Qualified Kannada teacher in English medium school”.

      • What a World! says:

        Reading what you have posted, your response is appropriate as a reply to the author of this article, not to me. I suggest, you read carefully what I posted. May be you needed a good English teacher in your school days!
        My post was to raise a point highlighting the hypocrisy of these Kannada poets and literary figures, who do not follow what they preach.

        • Venkatesh Jagadeeshwara says:

          In fact, I did try posting my response to the author of the article and for some reason it got posted as if as I am responding to you. Yes, you are right I missed having a good English teacher during my school days and guess what , I attended English medium school. Have some cool aid and relax. No need for raising your BP.

        • In fact, I did try posting my response to the author of the article and for some reason it got posted as if as I am responding to you. Yes, you are right I missed having a good English teacher during my school days and guess what , I attended English medium school. Have some cool aid and relax. No need to raise your BP.

          • What a World! says:

            You seem to be deluded in your arguments, and a lackey too, who cannot reply properly. Go back to school. I am in a cool place , and observe my diet and exercise properly. I am not like you indulge in excesses, hence am very healthy.

  2. H says:

    sir, kannada as mother tounge will be a natural language.to become acceptable in this ever shrinking world other languages are a desperate requirement hope Karnataka doesnt go the way of tamilnadu way in their fanatic projection of tamil.karnataka has allways assimilated other languages and the cm is logica to promote english as the language of instruction to help students prosper, let the so called progressive activists, mr tj george in particular take this issue and help our students progress rather than be strsightjacketed in a regional bias.

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