Updated December 28th, 2023 at 23:07 IST

Know what is '60 per cent Kannada' row that embroiled Bengaluru in linguistic uproar?

The '60 per cent Kannada' mandates all commercial establishments to use sign boards with more than 50 per cent written in Kannada.

Abhishek Tiwari
60 per cent Kannada row
The '60 per cent Kannada' directive mandates all commercial establishments in Bengaluru to use sign boards with 60 per cent written in Kannada. | Image:Republic Digital

The capital city of Karnataka, Bengaluru has been embroiled in a linguistic uproar these days after the civic body governing the city issued a ‘60 per cent Kannada’ directive. The order mandates all the shops and other commercial establishments to use sign boards having more than 50 per cent written in Kannada.

After the guideline, pro-Kannada activists went on a rampage on December 27, holding violent protests and demanding that ‘60 per cent Kannada’ be used on all sign boards across shops and other establishments. Activists went on to vandalise sign boards and hoardings of business establishments written in English.


5 FIRs have been registered against those involved in violence, say police

The violent outbreak in the city, reignited the language debate in the state. Activists of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV), dressed in yellow and red scarves, stormed various business establishments and violently broke and tore down the signages written in English. During the protest, they even destroyed multiple properties.


Considering the situation, the police had to intervene and hundreds of protestors were detained. As many as five FIRs were registered by the police and a few protestors were arrested.

For a long time, the language divide in the state has been the bone of contention with the natives pressuring the outsiders to learn the local language and use it in day-to-day conversation.


What is the 60% Kannada rule?

It all started when the Bengaluru civic body, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) passed a guideline on Christmas, directing all the shops and stores in the city to display sign boards having at least 60 per cent of the content in Kannada. Not only this, Tushar Giri Nath, chief commissioner of BBMP, had also warned of legal consequences, if the commercial stores in the civic body’s jurisdiction fail to comply with the directive.


It was being said that to ensure the order is being strictly followed, a survey would be carried out in the area. During the survey, if any store found to be not following the instructions, a notice will be served to the store owner.

Following the notice, the store owners will be given a February 28 deadline to implement Kannada language nameplates and submit compliance to the respective zone commissioners.


Congress-BJP appears to be on same page

Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has issued a statement asserting that action would be taken against the culprits involved in the protest and violence across the city. He also said that he had no objection, if Kannada is being displayed on signage.


Sending a stern warning to those who are involved in violent acts, the chief minister said, “I don't know what the protesters are doing. I have got information that Narayana Gowda is protesting about having Kannada name boards. We will take action against those who took the law into their own hands.”

The issue that has created a massive outrage harming the peace of the city has the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) standing supportively along with the Congress-led government in the state on the civic body’s decision.


Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, who is also a Karnataka MP, has backed the order and has asked, why the protestors resist using 60 per cent Kannada on signage. He said, "Everybody should be able to read the signs, and not everyone can read English. This is not England. What is the harm in writing in Kannada as well as in English or another language, like Hindi?"

Over 44 percent population speaks Kannada

Being known as the IT hub city of India, Bengaluru, accommodates people from across India and world to reside. This is the reason, despite being a South Indian city, it boasts linguistic diversity.

Apart from Kannada, languages like Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Malayalam, Marathi, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, English and a few foreign languages as well. However, Kannada is spoken by a big population amounting to around 44.5 percent. 


Published December 28th, 2023 at 23:07 IST

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