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Kannada Bill: Quota in higher education, push for jobs to locals

The BJP government on Thursday introduced a bill in the Assembly to reserve Kannadigas in higher education, linking incentives to industries with jobs for locals, among other pro-Kannada measures.

Kannada & Culture Minister V Sunil Kumar filed the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill, which aims at “extensive use and dissemination” of Kannada. The enactment of the law will cost the government Rs 3.21 crore.

The bill defines Kannadiga as a person, one’s parents or legal guardians who have been living in Karnataka for not less than 15 years with knowledge of Kannada reading and writing.

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According to the bill, Kannada has been adopted as the official language of Karnataka. The state has enacted the Karnataka Official Language Act, the Karnataka Local Authorities (Official Language) Act, the Kannada Development Authorities Act and the Kannada Language Learning Act. The state also has a legal body called Kannada Development Authority (KDA).

“Despite the above ordinances, notices and orders, there has not been much (sic) progress in proper implementation of the official language in the state,” the bill states. “The Kannada language has been introduced as one of the language subjects in schools, but there are no proper facilities for learning the Kannada language in higher or technical or professional education,” it states.

The bill says there is “failure” in the implementation and use of the Kannada language in offices, industries, shops and establishments. “Even the KDA, although a legal body, does not have the proper authority and machinery to ensure the implementation of Kannada as the official language at all levels,” it says.

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Under the bill, Kannada will be taught in higher, technical and professional education courses. Students who studied Class 1-10 in Kannada medium will also get a reservation in higher education.

Borrowing from the state’s 2020-25 Industrial Policy, the bill proposes denying land concessions, tax credits and other sops to private companies that fail to recruit the prescribed percentage of Kanandigas. Industrial policy requires companies to provide 70 percent jobs to Kannadigas (100 percent in the case of Group D workers).

All persons who want to get a government job must pass a Kannada exam; those who passed class 10 with Kannada as a first or second language are exempt.

The bill further requires the government to establish an employment portal for government agencies, public corporations and private companies to report job openings.

Also, the bill makes Kannada a must in lower courts, tribunals, banks and other financial institutions.

Industries, shops and commercial establishments that violate the provisions of the bill will be fined Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 including license suspension.

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