Who are the state’s linguistic minorities, Karnataka HC asks Centre

Karnataka speaks several languages apart from Kannada, including Konkani, Tulu and Kodava.
Who are the state’s linguistic minorities, Karnataka HC asks Centre
Who are the state’s linguistic minorities, Karnataka HC asks Centre
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The Karnataka High Court on Thursday asked the Union government to consider a report submitted in 2007 on granting recognition to linguistic minority communities in Karnataka and issue a notification by March 14.

The request comes after Justice BV Nagarathna heard a petition filed by Kasturba Education Trust in Bengaluru asking why it was not granted a linguistic minority status certificate in spite of being eligible for it.

Institutions that have this certificate are exempted from admitting students under the Right to Education Act.

The High Court while hearing a similar petition by Coorg Public School, Gonikoppa, and Citizen School, Hoskote, in 2015, had observed that schools are clamouring to get this minority status so that they are excused from reserving 25% of their seats for children from underprivileged families – as mandated by the RTE Act.

The 2007 report by the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities by then Chief Justice of India Ragananath Misra deliberated over what constitutes religious minorities and linguistic minorities.

While a notification has been issued regarding religious minorities, there has been no clarity over the applicability of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act 2004 to linguistic minorities in Karnataka.

This means that there is no clear understanding yet on what makes an institution ‘a linguistic minority institution’.

On June 6, 2014, the Central government notified only religious communities as minorities under the Act and not linguistic communities.

Apart from Kannada, several other languages, including Kodava, Konkani and Tulu are spoken in Karnataka. Languages of neighbouring states including Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil and Hindi are also spoken in the state.

The High Court order comes two days after representatives of 22 native languages from across the country passed ‘Bengaluru Resolutions’ on Wednesday, urging the Union government to confer equal status for all scheduled languages and take steps to protect endangered languages.

The seminar where this resolution as passed noted that Tulu is being offered as a school subject in the state among a number of native language-centric developments.

“While there are 22 languages included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, there were discussions about recognising 38 other minority languages too. The government should take steps to protect these endangered languages, including Tulu in Karnataka,” said Anand G, President of Banavasi Balaga, a Bengaluru-based organisation working for promotion of native language rights.

However, he added that recognising minority language institutes and giving them benefits was a separate issue. “Recognising minority language institutions and giving them benefits like exclusion from RTE Act is debatable according to me. The need is for these languages to be promoted by the government and there are other ways of achieving this,” he added.

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