BANGALORE: Kannada is the official language of Karnataka. The State capital Bangalore is buzzing with both Kannadigas and non-Kannadigas. Of late, the number of non-Kannadigas is on the rise following the boom of IT ITES and other sectors. Bangalore, once fondly called as “Pensioner’s Paradise” is the “IT Capital of India” now. With the metropolitan tag, the number of Kannada speaking population has dwindled over the years. The pleasant climate, lucrative jobs, especially in the IT sector, quality education, world-class health care facilities and many other reasons are making people across the country to come to Bangalore and settled down here.
With the change in lifestyle and other things, opportunity to speak in Kannada for non-Kannadigas has become almost nil. But the knowledge of Kannada is required when people want to communicate effectively especially with maids, vendors, autorickshaw drivers and others.
Many are of the opinion that Kannadigas are becoming a minority in Bangalore. However, a number of organisations are teaching spoken Kannada as well as written Kannada to non-Kannadigas and efforts are being made to popularise Kannada among the non-Kannada communities in the city.
Bangalore Tamil Sangam
The Tamil Sangam in Bangalore started much before the formation of Karnataka state is offering Kannada classes for the past four decades. According to Damodaran, one of the Sangam’s Committee members who is also in-charge of the Kannada classes, said that the organisation has so far conducted Kannada coaching classes (including spoken and written) for more than 60,000 candidates.
Damodaran explained that people speaking other languages than Tamil are also part of this large number. “Lawyers, IAS and IPS officers, High Court judges come to our classes offered during weekends for a period of three months,” he said. The Sangam runs classes in association with the Department of Kannada and Culture. “The department was providing a teacher till some five years ago. Now, we have got a teacher and told students to pay the fee to the teacher directly. The Sangam’s office hall is given free of cost for the purpose. We do not charge any fee from the students,” he clarified. Interestingly, Damodaran, a retired ITI who hails from Tamil Nadu, learnt Kannada some 35 years ago at the Sangam’s office.
Kannada Development Authority
Though Kannada Development Authority (KDA) is not involved directly in teaching Kannada, it is funding organisations which conduct spoken Kannada classes. KDA Secretary S M Shantaraju said that there are a number of Kannada teaching centres not just across the state or country, but in abroad too.
“In Karnataka, there are many pro-Kannada organisations in public sector undertakings, Union Government offices and also in other private firms which teach Kannada to the non-Kannadigas. We provide a grant of Rs 30,000 for a period of three months to such organisations,” he added.
At present, there are 24 centres in Karnataka including 18 in Bangalore, three in Dharwad and two in Shimoga. There are Kannada teaching centres at Mumbai and Maindargi of Sollapur district in Maharashtra and New Delhi.
Apart from this, Kannada organisations outside the country are also utilising this benefit. “KDA is funding four centres including two in UK, one each in America and Bahrain,” he noted.
Some four months ago, the North America Vishwa Kannada Association (Navika) had got some 50 students (whose parents from Karnataka has settled down there) to Bangalore. “KDA issued certificates to those students,” Shantaraju said.
Kannada Prasara Parishath
Kannada Prasara Parishath is conducting Kannada classes since 1990.
According to B V Raghavan, convenor of the Parishath, so far they have trained more than 0ne lakh candidates across the world. “We even trained around one thousand foreigners who was in Bangalore for a short term,” he said.
Raghavan explained that they have trained techies working at Infosys, Cisco, Oracle, Texas Instruments, Motorola, HP and also for those who are working in Canara Bank, Accountant General’s Office, HAL and many more firms. “For techies alone, we have conducted around 50 batches ranging from two to three months, depending on the time allotted,” he said. At Hosmat Hospital, the Parishath is conducting higher Kannada classes which includes reading and writing. When asked about the interest among non-Kannadigas to learn the language, Raghavan said, “They (non-Kannadigas) are very much interested in learning Kannada. We just need to provide them a platform.”