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Why retain Kannada numerals?

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While the use of the Kannada script (but not on number-plates) does certainly contribute to the propagation of the language and thereby the culture, the numerals do not serve any such purpose at all. The regular 1,2,3 can as well be read ondu, eradu, mooru, so on, without in any way diluting the purity of the language, but in many ways simplifying life, particularly for the non-Kannadiga's who then have only to grapple with the jalebi's, the prospect of which is less intimidating.

Perhaps it is time the Kannada numerals are given a decent burial in say a time capsule on the lawns of the Vidhan Soudha, and the state switched to using just the international 1,2,3, quite like a few other states appear to have already done.

Muralidhar Rao

[Short opinionated post, moving it off front page. {blr_editor}]


nijavaada's picture

grow up!

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If one can read enough of those kannada numerals - on a count basis - so many times every day - one can soon start reading those numerals much more easily - lack of which is what I perceive your problem is.

That aside, I dont agree to your quite-often-quoted-matter that usage of kannada numerals on number plates is not contributing to language and culture propagation. Today it is number plates, tomorrow there might be some more of your kind saying similar things about education in Kannada, ads in Kannada, newspapers in Kannada and so on.

Kannada numerals are there to be used where you intend to reflect a numerical quantity, in Karnataka or anywhere else where Kannada is the official language.

If you being a Kannadiga are inclined to accept those numerals to be jalebis, or whatever crap, you definitely stand no reason to blog about this topic.

Respect your tongue, and then go beyond it.


shobha koppad's picture

Murali, Any state or country

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Any state or country makes policies for it's people and not for the convinience of migrants.

Kannada numerals are part of it's glorious history and are one of the unique aspect of our language.

There is no point in starting something as absurd as this in our praja, where we have far better things to look at. 


murali772's picture

not surprised, but disappointed

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I am not surprised, but a bit disappointed, at the responses from the expected quarters.

This has actually been accomplished by a few states whose people, I presume, have no lesser love for their respective languages. So, why are we getting so emotional?

Jalebi is a sweet, a favourite of many, including me. Comparing the Kannada script to jalebi does not denigrate either.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
nijavaada's picture

how do you call it?

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Firstly, things done by other states (who have great love for their language) cannot all be imitated by us for various reasons.

For instance we dont want to be those that expect Madhya Pradeshis to speak to us in Kannada while we are in MP! We dont want to be people who go to the capital of a neighbouring state, and be shocked to find that people living there dont speak our tongue, even when being neighbours! Let our love for Kannada be in the fact that we know how to respect it, use it, benefit from it, make a living out of it - all where it should be.

1. Making number plates of Karnataka vehicles in Kannada certainly creates employment for those that can write Kannada. And this is one good reason for this idea to be upheld.

2. Number plates (including numerals) in Kannada are a lot easier to read for the majority of population in Karnataka.

3. I had a classmate in my school who could start reading Kannada characters/numerals within the first year after he joined us from Orissa!! Goes to show how a good enabling system can help any outsider in our context to quickly adapt to the surroundings. By giving them number plates in English, you're but making it more and more difficult for this outsider to gel into his/her surroundings. Choose your more considerate approach to this outsider!

That apart - Okay, I respect your emotion with Jilebis and I agree for now that you didnt deem that comparison a denigration. Needless, but I can quote several occasions where that comparison has happened with a note of denigration.

But pray, tell me how exactly you pronounce Jaliebi at home? Is it Jalebi or Jilebi? I have a gut-feel its the latter way. But here, in front of an audience, you seem to stick to the former - ever wondered why?

Sounds similar to masale-dose and the masala-dosa comparison, doesnt it?


silkboard's picture

love you guys

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Really, just when I think a violent outpouring of emotions would begin, this community gets to civil ways of discussion. Someday - not right now, we have some days to go - we may all look back and feel good about all this.

Having grown up eating jalebis for breakfast and evening snacks every other day, I can say that its both. The cook and waiters always called it jilebi (perhaps this is the authentic pronunciation in local dialect of the region that 'owns' this sweet dish), but we always said jalebi :)

I will have to side with Nijavadaa on this one. Murali sir, if you are talking about number plates of vehicles, english numerals make more sense - understood by most, plus its the law, follow it or get it changed, but don't just be a rebel - (don't start a debate on this, its my personal view). But, a general call saying the kannada numerals should make way for romans in the script itself, this is a bit much. Retaining its script in its originality is a local language's right. Letting other languages co-exist along with it, that is a separate point and debate.

murali772's picture

narrow domestic walls

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It was only a suggestion on the lines of what other states have already done. Apparently, during the times they took the decision, the language divides and polarisations hadn't reached today's levels, and therefore, taking such purely pragmatic decisions were very much simpler. Today, unfortunately, all decisions have to be more politically correct than factually correct. I have even to bother with how I pronounce 'jalebi'.

The English absorb words from the world over to enrich their language, whereas we want to retain our languages in their purest forms.

Well, whatever, things have to evolve. From the earlier rupee, anna, paisa, which had all kinds of odd relationships, we switched to the decimal system with just rupees and paisa, dumping the anna in the process. Likewise, we have had to dump quite a few things along the way. Now, all of them had some kind of emotional attachments for somebody or the other. If we were to pander to all of these, no progress would ever have been possible. I suppose the divide stems from the definition of the word 'progress', to begin with. But, I take heart in developments like at

It was sitting on the beaches of our very Karwar that Gurudev Tagore had scripted the 'Gitanjali'. The words ring out starkly - "where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls, into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake". I end repeating the prayer to myself silently.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
City.Zen's picture

Why retain Kannada numerals?

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It is noteworthy that this discussion on Kannada numerals is held in English!

Many busses from Maharashtra (MSRTC) come to Belgaum and the name boards including numerals are in Marathi.  Though, we studied the Devanaagari script as a second language upto SSLC, we still had difficulty in reading the nameboards of these busses.

The migrants in Bangalore are lucky in that the Bangalore city busses show the route numbers in Roman numerals.

Coming to Mangalore and Manipal, the hospitals in these places receive thousands of Malayalee patients from nearby Kerala.  So, most of the nameboards here are in 3 languages, namely, English, Kannada, and Malayalam.  Practical, convenient, and yet without compromise on anybody's love for a language.

Similarly, the temples in Mantralayam, Tirumalai, Srishailam in Andhra show noticeboards in Kannada for the benefit of their devotees from Karnataka.




City Zen
goli's picture

Does it really matter

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Does it really matter, I think there should be  both English and Kannada. (or Hindi or Kannada)

I learned lot of tamil (in Tamil Nadu) just by seeing those Tamil and english one below the other, it was easy to relate, in Tamil Nadu busses. 


I never understood why are poeple so obsessed with this subject, I love kannada and am also learning it. But I do also believe that if you force people they will never learn it. And I wish instead of taking out rallies in favor of kannada or whatsoever if poeple could start some classes it would make people learn.


I would be grateful if anyone in the group here would point me to a place where they teach kannada. I know couple of them but the timing are not at all "working people" friendly, hence have been relying on learning kannada from collegues, neighbours and so on. :)



nijavaada's picture

Yes it matters, and here's why..

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Dear Goli,

Yes it matters. Thats my answer if you ask does language of numerals on number plates matter.. Let me explain with this example.

Lets say you take driving classes in Bengaluru. Now that you're not (yet) aware of driving, especially the talent of driving in a crowded city such as Bengaluru, can the traffic laws go loose on you such that you're allowed to commit any mistake according to this law? Are you privileged to cross the red-signal, are you privileged to pak in the middle of the road, all this just because you are new to driving itself? No, isnt it? So a system needs to function the same way, no matter if it has people learning this system at whatever stage.

Similarly in the system of the engine that drives Karnataka, Kannada needs to be the fuel driving it. If there're newbies here, the system need only cater to provide the best possible resources for these guests to learn Kannada in the most effective manner. But as a friendly gesture information in English is also welcome.

The point being discussed here is that while the system enables displaying information in English, its main intention should be to make sure information at any point in time is received more in Kannada  than earlier - and to this end, the system needs to be in Kannada, to begin with.

Now that you've talked about learning Kannada, if you're in Bengaluru, you can perhaps visit Hosmat hospital during weekend mornings (10am+) and ask for Kannada classses. I am sure you'll find just what you need. You can even volunteer to help more of your friends who have similar interests. Or if that doesnt suit you either, I am sure people they can recommend you people who can tailor classes to your (group) needs..


idontspam's picture

Kernel in Kannada

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I agree with Nijavaada's approach, the kernel should be kannada driven. There can be shells in English/Other languages to enable friendly interface with the core processes where required.

Good example is RTO (I havent been there in a while) all forms/displays and interfaces with officers were in Kannada while for people who needed to fill the kannada form help was available in terms of translators to help fill the forms and navigate the place/process in your local language. It worked without a hitch no complaints from newbies/visitor alike 

For daily interfaces like license plates etc there will be a combination of Kannada/English to ensure that people dont have to look around for translators in a hit and run case or when KA vehicles travel interstate. In fact I saw a police officers ambassador yesterday with a kannada/english license plate.

nijavaada's picture

English - the only other language

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Again, here I'd like to augment to what idontspam has commented.

There needs to be just this English, apart from Kannada of course when it comes to display of information in Karnataka. There's an obvious step taken back if the system enables usage of any language other than Kannada and English to communicate information - because the original goal is to ensure that people that're new here shouldn't be troubled, but that shouldn't happen at the cost of the original goal to promote increasing usage of Kannada in Karnataka.

Soon as you bring, lets say Hindi/Tamil/Telugu et. al. you're bound to have people demand more languages, and that means more chaos; apart from hindering progress towards the original goal. Information should come like information, and not as confusion which happens if you have boards in, like, 10 languages! Who needs it after all? The underlying idea is but to ensure we convey the idea, but always remember Kannada is supposed to be the main carrier of this idea, for all times to come. Similarly it better be Marathi in MH, Oriya in Orissa, and so on..


malini's picture


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malini All over the world vehicle number plates are in English and Hindu numerals written in English. Writing a number plate in regional languages defeats the purpose of registration. In states like Kerala the local language numerals are not used at all and everything is in English. This enables the locals as well as visitors to move around freely and understand bus boards etc.

English should be used along with regional languages. Otherwise each state will become a water tight compartment and that will imperil national unity.

goli's picture

@English the only other language

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I agree with previous comment of Nijavaada, that Kannada should be the first language, and there should be a second langauge based on need basis.



this is only because of my understanding that most people boarding this busses know kannada and that is what makes sense to me if I were BMTC.


Also the goal of BMTC busses should not be to promote kannada, it should be to provide effective transport. If 80% of people using the busses were to understand spanish, it makes sense to have boards in Spanish. The decision should be purely on the basis of how it can serve effectively.

Most of my collegues in office,who are kannadigas dont travel by KSRTC, because they dont like the movies in Kannada, they rather travel by all this private busses because they put english/hindi movies. That does not mean they dont care for their culture and all, I mean, it depends. But in all this things KSRTC loses customers. But all I am saying is that call has to be taken by KSRTC based on what most of its travellers prefer and what they want, because their goal is not to promote kannada. Their goal is to ensure they provide better service, get more profit, increase pays of other people and make it the best bus service. Same goes with BMTC.



shashi kumar y's picture

consider this.

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This to all.

Whether you are kannadiga or tamilian or AP or KL or what so ever. 

Just one example. 

When you go to some one's house for a visit.... Do you demand your needs or do you adjust to their living???

If you are a gentlemen, I think you wouldn't demand but you wuld rather adjust to that person's living. It is your duty to adjust or rather leave his/her house. 

The same way, when you are going to some other state or country, it is your responsibility and manners to learn that language.

I feel proud that Karnataka Govt has given so much liberity in language mainly in bangalore. 

If anybody visits to TN/KL/AP... their it is strict local language. I too agree for that. 

The migrants have no rights to demand their wish of language. 

If the migrants doesn't show respect to any language, then I'd say they are mannerless uneducated. They are treating even their mother tongue with the same way.

In general, I would say. WHO DOESN'T RESPECT(what so ever) OTHER LOCAL LANGAUGE(when the migrant is in other state), HE/SHE IS TREATING HIS OWN MOTHER( not mother tounge) WITH NO RESPECT.

That's all.

murali772's picture

Admin to take note, please!

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This new comment by Sashi Kumar, which does not add much of a value to a debate that had been conducted in a fairly mature way and had remained closed from long ago, would have been ignored by me had it not been for this particular bit - "HE/SHE IS TREATING HIS OWN MOTHER( not mother tounge) WITH NO RESPECT".

While I am sure the Admin will edit the comment immediately the same comes to their notice, I expect they will also put the ID on the "watch list" for future.

Muralidhar Rao
imran_huq17's picture

Shocking Comments....Shameful

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The comments by shashi are really shocking really condemnable.

To clarify my credentials as a kannadiga, both my grandparents are from Karnataka.I myself studied Kannada as 1st language till 2nd puc.When many of my friends took other subjects to get more marks in 10th and PUC I still stuck to kannada as i found the language beautiful and fascinating.My mother taught in Kannada in a PU College,my father studied his graduation in kannada medium……..not that I want to blow my trumpet but making sure that people do not get me wrong because of my name.I can very well READ and also WRITE kannada very well and READ HALEYGANNADA as well..

I am very patriotic about my city,state,county,language , however it does not mean you can be rude to others and the worst is to speak in the manner which shashi has done.

@ shashi, I am sure if your parents read these comments of your's, they will  not like it.



shashi kumar y's picture

wrong interpritation

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Hello to one and all. 

I'd like to bring to notice to every one that, I didn't point to any one person nor to those who hate any other language. 

My statements was like this, when some migrant hates other language in which they are staying. How can they expect others to treat other state languages.

Example: If X doesn't like Y state's language, then How can Y like X state's language.

Hope some one got my point. I'm not against any language.  

Well, let me not argue at this point of time. 

Pardon me what so ever it might be... because we are all a family here for so cause. 

I agree either my statements are wrongly judged or might be I have put them in a wrong way. 

murali772's picture

some basics

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My statements was like this, when some migrant hates other language in which they are staying. How can they expect others to treat other state languages.

If a migrant chooses not to learn the local language (for whatever reason), it doesn't mean he hates it. And, neither is he demanding that his language be loved. If one can't appreciate such basics, I don't think one can make much of a contribution to the debates on PRAJA.

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