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Mis-use of Kannada by Registrar of Societies

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Governance

The Registrar of Societies has a very important function to perform in the state, particularly with associations multiplying in their numbers by the day. As it is, they are short of capacity to handle the job they are assigned, effectively. On top of it all, are the fresh problems, brought on by themselves, in the name of promoting Kannada, but essentially for making under-hand money for the officials involved.

And, the Kannada usage is not confined just to correspondence, but extends to the entire set of related documentation.

Now, the Karnataka Official Language Act, 1963 (the latest amendment being on 9.3.82), clearly states that "English is to be continued to be used for official purposes until the government otherwise directs". And, the government has not directed otherwise until now, as per my understanding.

When questioned about this, under the RTI, the RoS responded (again, totally in Kannada), citing a government notice, which essentially directs the promotion of Kannada, but chose to remain totally silent on the legal aspects of the matter. I have of course gone on appeal to the Karnataka Information Commission.

We, in PRAJA, are ourselves a victim of this, with the office of the RoS sending us around in circles, while attempting to register as a society, since even a 'Kuvempu' will not be able to manage the language technicalities they are invoking. We have drafted and re-drafted our Memorandum of Association some five times, each time translating it into Kannada. And each time, it has been rejected, on account of some 'short-coming' or the other, the language mis-match becoming an effective tool in their hands, in the process.

The truth came out last week when a friend told me about how he 'sorted out' the matter with the help of a broker, the job getting done in a jiffy, but for a consideration of Rs 5,000/-, in cash, of course.

When I made a posting of my blog on a related matter on the 'SaveKoramangala' Yahoo-group, the following is what a true-blue Kannadiga office-bearer of an association wrote back to me:

Dear Mr Murali,
I am a Kannadiga by birth and Kannada is my spoken language. It has become almost impossible to deal with the RoS. I suggest that a group of associations should meet the Revenue Secretary to appraise him of the troubles they are facing due to Kannadisation. It is alright to sumit the covering letter in Kannada, but not the translations of technical details of the Minutes of Meetings of  the AGM etc. Pl read the attachged letter I wrote to the president of an NGO whose details I tried to file with the RoS
(The letter is attached, with the names masked).

The best way apparently to counter this would be for the Kannadiga's themselves to speak up, like the Koramangala resident has done, and to say a loud 'saaku' to misuse of their revered language.

Muralidhar Rao
 

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RoS-vagaries.doc26 KB

Comments

kbsyed61's picture

If push comes to shove!

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Murali Sir,

If push comes to shove, you will be left with no other alternative but to shove. I think it is time to talk to revenue secretary and apprise him of the circles we have to go around. You can't take it laying low.

-Syed

srkulhalli's picture

We should promote local languages

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If you were Spain, you would trouble yourself to learn spanish right ? or any other country for that matter. Just because the hosts are nice, doesnt mean we should not be nice to them and learn their language !

If they are corrupt, they would be corrupt in English as well - language has nothing to do with it - dont mix up issues.

Suhas (long time !)

Suhas

murali772's picture

who's mixing issues!

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@ Suhas

When you come on after a long time, it will be good if you could go into the fuller details of what is being written, and then make your comments, instead of mixing issues. As for promotion of local language and culture, there are many better ways of doing it - here's an example

Muralidhar Rao
srkulhalli's picture

Local languages

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I didnt read through everything - at some point I will -  but we need to at some time discuss this at length - this is one of my new interests - saving our native languages - they are going to die out unless we work hard at preserving them

A lot of Kannada only folks face much bigger problems because they dont know English that well - thats probably more unfortunate because thats in Karnataka - we need to also be speaking up for them as well.

Your case is more red tapism - if they were genuinely interested in promoting the langauge they would have been nice to you since you took the trouble to get it translated. At least I am happy you did that much :)

Suhas

murali772's picture

everybody is with you there

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@ Suhas  -  Every body is with you in not just saving, but even promoting the use of local languages. But, whereas it's all very fine when it comes to art and culture, if you want to extend it to law, engineering, medicine, etc, it's going to take a lot of doing. And, I am not quite sure it's worth the effort. I have elaborated more on that here. And, anyway, that's a separate debate altogether, a lot of which has already taken place on PRAJA, for eg here and here.

Also, the letter that I had appended (in the original post), in a way alleging reverse discrimination by the GoK, is by a true-blue Kannadiga (perhaps, more so than even you), who loves his mother tongue no less than a Kuvempu does. And, very clearly, these doings of the government johnnies do not come out of any love of the language.

So, let's be clear about what we are talking.
 

Muralidhar Rao
srkulhalli's picture

More language discussion

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@Murali

This time I have read through the posts :). Want to continue the discussion - not sure the right place  - you can change this posting place if you feel like. A couple of questions -

1. You talk about balance. I agree. Practically where do you think that point is ?

2. You also said you would want to improve your English - " I for one would like to gain greater mastery of the English language in order to acquire more knowledge on all matters ..."  What would your or anybody's motivation be to learn Kannada (or any local language for that matter)

Suhas

murali772's picture

all's well

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@ Suhas  -  I had attended this seminar today, which, as is the general practice these days, was conducted in a mixture of both English and Kannada. And, being on the 74th constitutional amendment, even the people who made presentations in Kannada, used slides made out in English. And, my knowledge of Kannada was good enough to follow most of the proceedings. Beyond that, I have no specific interest in furthering my knowledge of the language.

As compared to that, someone like say Dr U R Ananthamurthy may want to keep furthering his knowledge of the language, perhaps to appreciate the finer nuances of a Yakshagana performance. And, as many there of the likes of me, there are enough of the likes of Dr URA, to ensure the vibrancy of the language and the culture associated with it. And, with globalisation, their number is in fact growing. I may even venture to add that our own Shastri and Tarle are perhaps more Kannadiga's today as NRI's than they were when living in Karnataka.  

So, nobody need have any apprehensions. The Indian languages, deeply embedded as they are in the local culture, are safe and sound. The impositions, particularly out of mercenary pursuits, are what constitute the threat, if at all.  

And here, besides, I am talking from a legal stand-point.

 

Muralidhar Rao
srkulhalli's picture

Let me be clear

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Murali aware, I realise I am not communicating well ! Lets see if I can explain  my viewpoint

On the govt. demanding Kannada be used, I see nothing evil about it. Just like Germany demands all document in German, France French and so on, I dont see anything instrinscially wrong in a state govt. expecting that documentation be in Kannda. Not the legal position, legally you maybe right, but in principle I see nothing wrong. Corruption is a different problem. A lot of times, govt departments use procedures and laws in an obstructionist manner, try getting your house drawing sanctioned. Does not mean we do away with the laws and guidelines alltogether. Red tapism will exist even if you make them accept English, they will use someother way to pain you to extract money.

Both you and me have alluded to larger issues, are our languages in danger, and should we do something about it. Let me not address it here, I will take out a seperate blog post someday for the same.

Suhas

murali772's picture

dismissed again

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My appeal (no:KIC8603PTN2010) came up before the Information Commission yesterday, and the Commissioner dismissed it supposedly on the following two grounds:

1) That only if RoS rejected my registration application, citing the specific reason stated, there can be a case, and not on a hypothetical question. He seemed in no mood to entertain my argument that I was seeking an information in advance, which I believed was what the 'right to information' was all about. Even my telling him that we had in fact submitted the draft documents made out in English, that they were rejected because of that, and that we were told to have them made out in Kannada, did not cut much ice with him.

2) That the RoS has to abide by the government circular directing the usage of Kannada for administrative purposes. When I tried to bring up the legal position saying that the circular had no legal authority, and of English continuing to enjoy the status of an official language of the state, he asked me to pose that to the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal.

Going by my earlier experience, cited here, it was clear that this was also going to be a largely futile exercise, considering that most of the Commissioners are from government background, and not generally given to independent thinking.

Whatever, I had already referred the earlier case to a senior lawyer (another true-blue Kannadiga, born and brought up in namma Bengaluru), and when I spoke to him after this verdict, he expressed interest in pursuing it in the tribunal or the High Court, as may be applicable, after the vacation break. Simultaneously, let me see if I can revive the matter with the NAC.

PS: After the hearing, when talking to the new RoS (who had attended the hearing), he seemed fully appreciative of my stance, even to the extent of admitting that the court is likely to uphold my position. As a via media, for now, he suggested that we make out the documents made out with English translations following every Kannada paragraph. I told him that I may be OK with Kannada translations following every English paragraph, meaning essentially that in case of disputes, the reference points will be the English text.

He has said that he can possibly consider that. If we are in a hurry for registration, I think we can manage it now, without the 'customary payments'.

Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

@Murali, Lets pursue legally!

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Murali Sir,

Bit disappointed to know that your efforts didn't materialize. Still, your perseverance on this account deserve appreciation. I will take a bow for your commitment.

Moving ahead, I would vote for taking up the legal route by challenging in the court. If we succeed, a precedent would be set for others to 'NOT TO PAY' the mamool.

Once again, a great effort.

-Syed

murali772's picture

Why can't what is applicable to courts be applicable to RoS?

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Due to the technical reasons Kannada  language can not be made as an administrative language in High Court, said  Chief Justice Vikramjit Sen on Monday.

- - -Justice Sen observed that Kannada can be used along with English in district and session courts.

During the hearing of petition filed by R K G M M Mahaswami, Justice Sen said that if Kannada was made  the administrative language in High Court then it would violate Section 348 of  Constitution. A petition was filed before the Delhi High Court to make Hindi the  administrative language but it was rejected as generally English is used  everywhere and advocates can argue their cases anywhere in the country. “If Kannada is made the administrative language then it may make the hearings in the court difficult,” observed Sen. Chief Justice N K Jain committee recommended to use Kannada as administrative language along with English in district and session courts. The state had issued notification in this regard.  ‘The court can not make Kannada as the administrative language,” Sen remarked.


For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.

When the Justice N K Jain committee recommendation was for use of Kannada as administrative language along with English in district and session courts, shouldn't the Registrar of Societies, Karnataka, also be allowing documentation in English if a society prefers it that way, like in the case of the international organisation referred to in the attachment to the original post?

More and more, it looks like only directives from courts will be obeyed by the government agencies.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

perhaps, another PIL

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While seeking Justice Santosh Hegde's opinion on the "right to response in English" issue (check here), I also referred to the related matter of the Registrar of Societies, Karnataka, insisting on all original documentation being in Kannada, apart from the Information Commissioner's remark "the petitioner is enquiring about future course of action from the respondent, is not information as defined under Sec 2 (f) of RTI Act" (refer para 5 of the order, accessible here and here).

Justice Hegde stated that categorising seeking of "clarification with regard to a future course of action" as "not information" was facetious mis-interpretation of the sections of the Act, the Information Commissioner had grossly erred in making such an interpretation, and that the same needs to be challenged lest it becomes a precedent and others start mis-using it in future.

Well, that's another job on hand now.

PS: I had obtained Justice Hegde's permission before making this post, though not of the exact text. Since the matter involves quasi-judicial bodies, I wish to add that Justice Hegde is not to be held liable for any inaccuracies.

Muralidhar Rao

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