news Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 05:30
Nayantara N | The News Minute | December 3, 2014 | 14.48 pm IST India with its cultural plurality also speaks many languages. No doubt, time and again we are subject to linguistic chauvinism. Days after NDA installed its government; the Ministry of Home Affairs tried to impose Hindi as the official language to be used on social media but it was met with stiff opposition. In Karnataka, there has been growing resentment towards languages other than Kannada. There is a push to have locals to use Kannada more by academics, artists and others from the cultural sphere. Kaviraj, a popular lyricist in the Kannada film industry has started a movement urging Kannadigas in public places, without imposing on them. Kankana, a group formed by like-minded people like him organised their first event in the city recently. They stood outside a mall clad in uniform with placards urging people to speak in Kannada. “We don’t believe in holding rallies, marching with flags or imposing the language on people. Instead, our group will silently send out messages to people, mainly Kannadigas to speak their language in public places like malls and supermarkets,” explains Kaviraj. Writing poems from his school days, Kaviraj says, “I earn my livelihood from this language. Hence I decided to do something for Kannada in the state and am proud about it.” He narrates another incident which propelled him to popularise Kannada. “I had been to a retail showroom few months ago and I noticed that the salesmen only spoke in Hindi and customers who did not know the language could not communicate. I demanded that the salesmen must at least know the basics of the local language,” he recalled. Subsequently, he and his friends formed a Facebook page and later met at the Kannada Sahitya Parishat to chart the course of action. He says not everyone can be part of the group; they must undergo a screening process. Their very first event received a fantastic response, he says. Elders and youngsters, policemen and passers-by joined them at the event. On a serious note, he says, “People assume that they can pass off working in the city and not learning Kannada. It is advisable to know words used on a daily basis lest they should be cheated. Secondly, few Kannadaigas feel embarrassed to speak their mother tongue in malls. There is nothing wrong about speaking in your mother tongue, instead, shop owners must make an effort to ensure their salesmen understand and speak Kannada.” But often appealing to people to learn the local language can easily be construed as being a linguistic chauvinist. So where does one draw the line? “The point is not to coerce people to speak Kannada; one does not achieve anything through forceful means. A Kannadiga must insist on speaking in their native tongue in public places. Later, start interacting with a non-Karnataka residents in Kannada, they will surely pick up words and learn the language. But this must not be forceful,” he clarifies.

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