The Namma Banku Kannada Beku campaign has intensified with the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike staging a protest outside the State Bank of India head office in Bengaluru.
Activists of the KRV had gathered outside the SBI head office on St Mark’s Road and demanded the removal of Hindi from the bank’s official documents.
The activists also demanded that the banks in Karnataka hire Kannadigas only.
“Our activists are located in every district in the state. Just a few days ago, in Mandya and Chikkaballapura, our activists reported that a few employees in these banks asked them to speak in Hindi because they did not understand Kannada. How will they serve customers if they don’t know Kannada? These area are where most people speak only Kannada. Our demand is that all banks, nationalised or private, hire employees who are from Karnataka and know the language,” KRV President, T Narayanagowda told TNM.
The activists shouted slogans against Hindi imposition and vowed to “ensure that Hindi is not given preference in Karnataka.”
“Why should our people be jobless? These banks should give preference to Kannadigas for employment. Also, the challans, cheque books and any paperwork is only in Hindi and English. These banks are claiming that they follow the three-language policy. I have not seen a single challan or bank application in Kannada,” Narayanagowda added.
Refuting the Vedike chief’s claims that Kannada has not been implemented in banks, SBI’s Assistant General Manager for Human Resource, Vasudev Adiga, said that the bank's clerical level jobs are offered to only those who are literate in Kannada.
“Since the 80s, we have promoted the use of the local language. Officer-level jobs are central government appointments and we have no say in it. In order to make it easy for the people, we have set up Kannada learning centres where the senior level officers can volunteer and learn basic Kannada,” Vasudev Adiga told TNM.
Adiga said that SBI has eight zonal and 38 regional-level business offices, where Kannada is being taught to its employees.
“When it comes to the matter of challans, we follow the three-language policy. However, cheque books are printed only in English and it is done at the central level. We do not have any say in it,” Adiga added.
The Vedike President said that notices have been sent to all banks across the state directing them to hire employees who know Kannada, and also implement a two-language policy with Kannada and English.
“We have issued the notices and have given the banks a month’s time to take measures to protect Kannada language. If they do not make any policy decisions even after 30 days, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike activists will protest outside banks in 224 assembly constituencies across the state,” Narayanagowda said.