The Karnataka government's decision to alter the definition of a 'Kannadiga', as mentioned in a draft notification, has been criticised by pro-Kannada activists. The amendment is part of the government's efforts at giving preference to residents of the state in employment in private industries.
The draft notification amending the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules, 1961, dated May 24 termed the requirement to be deemed a 'Kannadiga' would be residing in the state for "not less than 15 years" besides being able to read and write Kannada in the case of a job in the government or government-aided sector.
However, pro-Kannada activists were irked to find out that the same definition was altered in case of a resident applying for a job in private industries. The requirement says a 'Kannadiga' is a resident of the state "for not less than 10 years" besides being able to read and write Kannada.
The activists say that this dilutes the Sarojini Mahishi Report prepared in 1986 that recommended job opportunities for Karnataka's residents. The report had laid down that 'Kannadigas' are residents of Karnataka who have stayed in the state "for not less than 15 years" and have studied Kannada as a subject till Class 10.
"The new draft notification relaxes the rules set by the Sarojini Mahishi report. We urged the government to apply the recommendations made by the report but the government has modified the definition of a Kannadiga in this notification and we oppose it," SG Siddaramaiah, chairman of the Kannada Development Authority told TNM.
The KDA has urged the state government to immediately change the clause. According to SG Siddaramaiah, the clause will help companies deny job opportunities to Kannadigas.
"This is the first time the domicile requirement for a Kannadiga has been reduced from 15 to 10 years. The 1986 report had stated 15 years and it had remained that way in various other reports also," Arun Javagal of the Kannada Grahakara Okoota said.
The amendment comes at a time when the central government was forced to revise the draft of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2019 after facing backlash for making the study of Hindi mandatory in non-Hindi speaking states.
Politicians and citizens, particularly in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, had criticised the central government for imposing Hindi upon states. Many pro-Kannada activists and Karnataka residents had taken to social media with the hashtag #Karnatakajobsforkannadigas.
The amendment also comes five months after the Karnataka government announced in February that it would take steps to introduce recommendations made in the Sarojini Mahishi Committee report to give 100% reservation for Kannadigas in Group C and D jobs in private establishments. Group C and D sectors.
The Sarojini Mahishi report prepared in 1986 recommended job reservations for Kannadigas in government jobs, public sector units and even in the private sector. Many of the 58 recommendations made in the report have been implemented by successive state governments in power in the state.
As per the central government, Group C jobs comprise non-supervisory roles like clerks, stenographers, typists, telephone operators, while Group D jobs includes manual workers like peons, sweepers, and watchmen.