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Anti-Hindi or Pro-Kannada? The Cry for Equality in Linguistic Rights Gets Louder

While many on social media lauded the BJP-led central government for allowing railway exams to be conducted in regional languages, linguistic activists believe that this is the bare minimum the government could do.

Stacy Pereira | CNN-News18

Updated:February 21, 2018, 6:53 PM IST
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Anti-Hindi or Pro-Kannada? The Cry for Equality in Linguistic Rights Gets Louder
Representatives of different language groups as seen during the seminar organised by The Campaign for language equality and rights (CLEAR) in Bengaluru on February 21, 2018.
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Bengaluru: While many on social media lauded the BJP-led central government for allowing railway exams to be conducted in regional languages, linguistic activists believe that this is the bare minimum the government could do. Celebrating #International Mother Language Day, representatives of various linguistic groups gathered to declare the Bengaluru Resolution of Language Equality and Linguistic Rights.

"The provision to write railway exam in regional languages was started by Mamata Banerjee when she was railway minister, somewhere down the line the centre surreptitiously junked it. Now, after pressure from non-hindi speaking states and MPs the Centre has backtracked and brought the provision back and now they are claiming it as their victory. This is like looting someone and returning the loot to claim you are a benefactor," said Dr. Garga Chatterjee, Asst. Professor of India Statistical Institute, Kolkata.

As part of a two-day seminar organised by The Campaign for language equality and rights (CLEAR) in collaboration with banavasi balaga, the Bengaluru Resolution follows the Chennai declaration in 2015 and Delhi demands of 2016. The demands put forth through this resolution were to declare all languages listed in the 8th schedule of the constitution as official languages with equal status.

Among the 16 points made in the resolution, the demand for conducting entrance exams and interviews for union government jobs for positions in banks, railways, army etc. in native languages was also made. A similar demand was made by pro-kannada organisations when they conducted a massive rally in December 2017.

"It is not only that exams should be conducted in regional languages, the government should also make sure that if there is a job opportunity in karnataka, then the the 1st right to the job should be for a local or kannadiga" said Anand G, representing Kannadigas at the seminar.

Provisions to enact a law making it mandatory to dispose information and services of government and public sector entities in native languages was also listed. In July 2017, Bengaluru witnessed activist blackening Hindi signages in the city metro while the hashtag #stophindiimposition trended.

On the occasion of International Mother Language Day (21st February), Joga Singh, President CLEAR, told the audience that this movement was not Anti-hindi but that it is an essential tool for one to know their mother tongue. "Administration needs to be people friendly, if we cannot communicate among ourselves, then it is a harmful for the peace and unity of our country" he emphasised.

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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