news Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 05:30
Minister for Information and Infrastructure Roshan Baig has landed in a soup, with print media journalists walking out after the minister rudely asked them if they did not understand Kannada. On Wednesday afternoon, Baig was supposed to chair a meeting in Vikas Soudha to negotiate a dispute between film producers, actors and film personalities who are members of the state legislature. It has now been several days since film producers have been on a hunger strike in front of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce office in Shivananda Circle in Bengaluru. Ahead of the meeting, one of the deputy directors at the Information Department went around Vidhan Soudha, requesting journalists on the political beat to cover the meeting which was to be held in the minister’s chamber. Journalists seated themselves in the chairs in the room, and waited for the meeting to begin. Director of the Information Department Vishu Kumar reportedly asked one of the reporters to leave, as journalists were not supposed to sit in. He told the reporter that a media conference would be called when the meeting concluded. However, this was not conveyed to all the journalists present. By then, Baig had arrived and asked the journalists to leave. According to journalists who were present in the room, Baig said: “Don’t you understand Kannada? Should I tell you in English?” Baig reportedly used the Kannada “neenu” when speaking, which is singular and considered offensive. Such a reference is only used among familiar people or friends, and when referring to someone younger than yourself. Ordinarily, in formal speech, the plural “neevu” is used. A journalist from an English daily took objection to the manner in which Baig spoke and told the minister: “We know both English and Kannada. There is no need to speak like this. Speak courteously.” After this exchange, the print journalists walked out in protest. Baig was not available for comment at the time of writing despite several attempts.