Not knowing Kannada: Does it mean disrespect to Kannada?

A Kannadiga, born and brought up in Kerala, Rakesh ponders over the language debate that is omnipresent in Bengaluru.

It was a fine Thursday morning – 10 am. I was waiting near Krupanidhi Engineering College Signal on Sarjapur Road on my two-wheeler. Many girls were holding some pamphlets on road safety and traffic rules, and were distributing them to motorists. When a girl approached me with a pamphlet, I saw the content was purely in Kannada and I asked “English?”

She probably realised that the pamphlet that was in Kannada can’t reach everyone. Then, she rudely shouted: “When you are in Karnataka, you will have to learn Kannada!”

The question that came to my mind is, whether we should be proud that we are Indian, or should we bother about our states too. I am not asking this just because of the above incident, but I have seen it many times.

We feel proud justifiably, when we live in a state where we are born and we know our mother tongue well. But does this mean that one who does not know the language is not a patriotic or concerned about the state? Many of us study English in school and college, and work for MNC companies that offer work visits aboard. Does this mean those who work abroad are not patriots or concerned about their state or country?

Instead of dividing the state in the name of religion, community or language, we should unite. We should not forget “United we stand, divided we fall.”

About myself: I have my roots in Karnataka, but born and brought up in Kerala. I can speak English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada, but I can write only English, Hindi and Malayalam.


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  1. skeptic says:

    The politicians seem to have reversed their stand. Earlier, there were a huge number of people who were moved around the country and this was encouraged in many ways (hey, I even remember writing an essay on how the railways were uniting India), and now slowly a new reality is emerging; the states were recreated based on language and now the intent is clear. In the heady days after “Independence”, India was united and our masters could only break us up based on our religion by poisoning our thoughts. Now our new masters are continuing the process by creating the environment for breaking up India based on language, hence Shiv Sena and the like are given power in EVERY STATE. Dont believe me? Go to any language based or state based forum and you will find nut cases or political plants extolling the virtues of the local sons of the soil. I expect India will be broken up into squabbling nations very soon!

  2. SKM says:

    The Sense of fraternity is quite common , but not a cause of concern.Every where you go in world or in any part of India ( BTW I have travelled almost all state of India ) there is a advantage of knowing local language. Problem is when you start getting victimisation based on your language.World is a interconnected by needs. If Coal from Bihar and madhya pradesh does not come , Mumbai will run riots. If Onion is not produce in Maharastra the whole of India will be in tears. Thus while installing pride we shoud not install disrespect to other.

  3. Shiva says:

    first thing that girl didn’t say you are a traitor. she said if you are in karnataka learn kannada. and its common if you are in some part of the world respect their culture, language n tradition. in normal words be a roman in rome. n it quite common this place official language is kannada so they are distributing it in kannada. n if you are living in some place you have to learn that place official language. n no offense what you hav asked her is like you will go to someone’s house n TELL THEM TO LIVE LIKE HOW YOU WANT.

  4. Rakesh HP says:

    Firstly Sorry I saw comments now only sorry for laste reply.

    @Shiva: I can understand what you mean but in conclusion you were telling “…what you hav asked her is like you will go to someone’s house n TELL THEM TO LIVE LIKE HOW YOU WANT….” so again your point diverted from the topic.

    I agree your point “you have to learn that place official language…” but it doesen’t mean if you know kannada to speak and not knowing to read is a offence. If i were in that girl place either I would politely say sorry we have only kannada pamphlet or I would have said sorry this is kannada pamphlet and it says about the traffic do’s n don’ts. Here I am not speaking about Knowing Kannada or not, I am saying that if someone don’t know a regional language it doesn’t mean he can’t live in that state till he learn to read and write. Then where is “athithi devo bhava”, you are telling guest, if you don’t know our custom and tradition you are not welcome here. Thanks

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