Skip to Content

Forcing medium of instruction - High Court verdict

What does praja say on the call made by the high court? Refer "kannada medium not must" for private schools.

“Without English, communication is difficult in many parts of the country, inter state communication is difficult. In a multi-lingual country English is a link language” the High Court said in its order on Wednesday. The Court said that hundreds of parents want their children to have an education with English as the medium of instruction and that the Government must not oppose this but should leave the choice to parents and children."

Court's logic - people have right to choose the medium of instruction. It said:

"Right to freedom of speech and expression includes the right to choose a medium of instruction and the State Government decision to impose a medium of instruction is a violative of it."

Star of Mysore reported that CM will move to Supreme Court on this.

[Did some formatting on this post - {blr_editor}]

silkboard's picture

medium vs local language - questions

Read these developments with great interest. See all news articles here (google news).

Court says un-aided schools can't be forced to use kannada as the medium of instruction, because parents have the right to choose. Quoting a newspaper, the court also said:

"The parents’ decision to impart education in a well-known international language like English cannot be bypassed. The government can make Kannada or (the) mother tongue compulsory in schools run or aided by the government"

Two questions that I got are:

  • Can this logic be extended by some schools to say that they can't be forced to teach the local language? Schools will say we will keep local language subject optional (elective) so that parents can decide what languages they want their children to study. I think Maharashtra and possibly some other states too have laws to make teaching local language compulsory i certain classes (Class 5 to 9 ?).
  • Why does this logic (freedom to choose) extend only to un-aided schools? Are the courts saying that aided or government schools have the freedom to force a medium of instruction, but unaide/private schools don't? So the poor people (who are more likely to go to government schools) don't have a choice, but middle and upper class do?
We know this is an emotive subject. Hope we can do a reasonable and sane discussion here :)
tsubba's picture


nothing new. basically, a ruling that is in par with the current shallow depth of the debate on medium and the generally apathy towards language. what is the honarable judge saying? to be able to communicate in a language we need to do all our learning in that language? that flies in face of the experience of 100s of millions of indian who migrate to different parts of the country and pick up the local language within a short period for all the communication. clearly the judge is no enthusiast, forget expert, in the field of communication. or in education ... if i have to lay blame on anybody, i would lay it on the intellectuals of KA. they have reduced this to an all or nothing proposition. no point in blaming private school walas, they are playing this education game to their depth and charging a pretty paisa for that too. as i said before, the only solution is to make education in government so good and so sexy that these private schools and conments become redundant.
s_yajaman's picture

Medium of instruction vs. quality of instruction

This ruling does not infringe on anyone's right to study in a Kannada medium school or to start one. 

There are always reasonable restrictions on any fundamental right.  I doubt schools can get away with not teaching the local language.  Schools would be foolish to bring the court's wrath down on them by doing something like this.

As parents I think we all like to do what is in the best interests of our children.  There might be volumes of data and evidence that learning in the mother tongue is ideal and so and so forth.  But leave it to the parents at the end of it.  I am responsible enough to decide these things for myself. 

Let us say tomorrow the government comes out saying that however sick your child is you must take him/her to only an ayurvedic doctor because we know best (4000 years of tradition blah blah) and also otherwise Ayurveda will suffer.  What would your first reaction be?

I also believe that the language is for the people and not the other way round (similarly the State is for the people, laws are for the people, etc etc).  To say that I must study  in Kannada/Telegu/Hindi whatever medium because

a. The government knows best in these matters.

b. Kannada/Telegu/Hindi will suffer otherwise

is unfair.  On the first one, the government's credibility is not particularly high.  On the second one between choosing to be the saviour of a language and trying to do what is right for my child, the latter wins everytime. My parents might have made the worst possible error in sending me to an English medium school, but given my personal experience, I don't think I suffered much by learning English. 

Bashing another language is easier than promoting one's own - start libraries, story telling sessions, classical movie screenings among many other things.  No one is stopping you.

Education is a state subject and hence the government can decide on what the medium of instruction is.  Sadly the poor don't have a say in most things in India.  The one way of overcoming this is to offer coupons which give BPL parents a chance to choose their schools too.  But there might be merits/demerits to this which I have not thought about.  We are capable of abusing and misusing any system in India.

IMHO, the real problem is not the medium of instruction but the quality of instruction.  Whether a child is taught badly in Kannada or in English does not change the fact that he/she is going to come out badly taught.  And I don't know which policy is addressing that?






Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

tsubba's picture


that is exactly the point here. quality is not anybodies concern. english & convent type education is now a sales pitch. as long as you can sell that there is no need to guarantee or provide any assurances in actual education itself. the entire purpose of education seems to be geared exclusively towards making us proficient in the usage of english there is no guarantee that i will learn science better, or develop intuition in math or develop greater civic sense beyond gaining a sense for cunning use of "sorry" and "thank you". for 90% of the people this - english & convent education - is the sales pitch that is made. the sad part is to this publicity glitz native languages are losing out. yeah english is important. but it is not that we have to out do the queen herself in speech, taste and practices. from my education in and out of school one of the things i have learnt is that diversity of worldviews and opinions is what it is all about. kannada is not some magical language, but it is a language that has its own worldview. in any other part of the world they would endeavor to preserve it.
tsubba's picture

faster than maggi

http://churumuri.wordpres... so basically, summary dismissal.
s_yajaman's picture

What would your ruling have been?


The judge is not an expert on education.  He does not have to be.  His job is to give a ruling that he sees constitutionally fair.  He hears both arguments - we have seen enough movies :).

At no point has he said that we need to outdo the queen.  His point was simply that the parents have a right to choose the medium of instruction for their children? You can disagree on his POV about English being the link language, etc.  but here we are communicating in that language.  The petition was not about the quality of education.

Still not sure why you confuse English and convent education :).

A number of things are sales pitches.  Why does one need to take a huge loan to buy a fancy car when a Maruti 800 will do?  One does so because I think it fit to do so and I have not stolen your money and have paid my taxes. 

There is no guarantee that I would learn science better if I learnt it in a  Kannada medium school.  There is no guarantee that I will learn anything in our schools except rote.  And the root cause lies elsewhere.  You really think this would have been solved by the judge giving the opposite judgement?

"from my education in and out of school one of the things i have learnt is that diversity of worldviews and opinions is what it is all about. kannada is not some magical language, but it is a language that has its own worldview. in any other part of the world they would endeavor to preserve it."  So what would your ruling have been to ensure this?



Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

atirtha's picture

The fence gobbles up the crop!

This is a classic example of how a handful people can jeopardize the interests of the state. The case in front of the high court was nothing to do with the fate of Kannadiga children at large. It was simply the criminal case of about 3,000 school-owners who had indulged in a breach of trust placed in the Government of Karnataka.

Those school-owners had signed on stamp paper saying they'll run Kannada Medium Schools, and in the absence of thorough inspection and Government follow-up silently started English Medium Schools. Now when Basavaraj Horatti fortunately woke up to this breach of trust, these school-owners decided to question the very agreement which they themselves had signed.

The point here is not which medium is better. That is immaterial to the matter at hand. The court's philosophizing about medium of instruction and globalization is pure bullshit covering up the real issue. Also, the use of clauses pertaining to the right of religious minorities to erect educational institutions stinks of diktats from Mr. Pope-the-converter-to-irreligion.

The judiciary has failed in its basic duty, which is to punish those defaulters. In the process, the court has set the precedent that in this state agreements made on stamp paper do not hold any water. The court has set the precedent that for all cases which are to be challenged in the future, breach of trust can start here and now.

After this verdict, why should anyone attach any significance to anything agreed on stamp paper? Why should anyone attach any significance to legal documents?

I urge Praja readers to contemplate on this real issue instead of raking up philosophical debate over medium of instruction. That discussion has its place, but that place is not here. Here it's just a question of the fence gobbling up the crop.

narayan82's picture

My Understanding

At one point, in my school days, the govt put a law that no new school can be set up in "English" medium. the existing ones may continue. But there was an exception to "Internatioanl" schools. They got a permit from the Ministry in the central govt. and were allowed to function in English Medium. hence the suddent sprout of "International schools." I do agree that the law could have been twisted. But wether its the school or the govt - the idea of Forcing a language on a child is unacceptable to me. It should and must be an option (the main and secondary language) To me a law that states that every school MUST offer Kannada as a subject seems more realistic and fair.
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
atirtha's picture

Focus on the real issue

narayan82, please focus on the real issue (see my post above).
idontspam's picture

And pigs can fly

"After this verdict, why should anyone attach any significance to anything agreed on stamp paper? Why should anyone attach any significance to legal documents?"

Yipee!!! lets reopen HAL tomorrow.

silkboard's picture

atirtha - case of those schools is not over yet

Calm down please. I think we are specifically talking about the part of judgment that quashes the government order of 1994 which made Kannada the compulsory medium of instruction in primary schools (primary school definition was updated from class 1-4 to class 1-5 in 2003). Courts are now saying this can't be forced on unaided schools.

Now, as per newspaper reports, courts have still not decided on the fate of the schools who have violated the undertaking (that they will impart education in Kannada medium) by teaching in English. To quote one of them, ToI:

"For those schools which started post 1994 ... this verdict will not apply ... case of the schools will be decided by the single judge bench in light of this verdict"

So please, don't get into blasting the courts and judges without reading the developments in full. Not this specific case, but the issue itself has a long history, goes way back to 1984 (or even earlier) when High Court had quashed a government order that had made Kannada as the first language.

The association of schools had specifically challeneged govt's 1994 order. I am sure they will not escape punishment for willful violation of their undertakings, courts will soon be back with their verdict on this specific matter of this episode. Bottom-line, those schools have not gotten away as you are making us believe.

murali772's picture

misplaced fear

The breach of the agreement can at best attract some penalty, I guess. The courts, with justification, did not confine themselves to just that, but went into the question of why the schools chose to breach the agreement. Here, they found that there was no merit in the government ruling to begin with, the same not being in line with the constitutional provisions, and hence the ruling.

The important question is whether with the ever-flattening world, and English's dominance, will all the other languages and cultures, eventually get confined to museums, libraries, archives, etc, quite like what happened to say the American Indians. The answer to that perhaps is that Kannada and most Indian languages have sufficiently deep-routed cultural and literary bases for that ever to happen, apart from the sheer numbers behind each of them. The flattening of the world is more an economic phenomenon, but which at the same time is beginning to promote Indian Art and culture, in all their forms, like never before. Could you have imagined Sotheby's auctioning a Hussein, apart from paintings by many other Indian artists, for millions of dollars, say some five years back. In my view, there's nothing to worry. On the other hand, the flatness, is coming with a slope in our favour as far as these aspects are concerned.

Coming back to teaching medium in govt schools, I would advocate English for science and maths, and Kannada for other subjects, like somebody else had suggested before, so that students from the EWS, who are dependent on them, are not deprived of a certain level of proficiency in English to be able to compete effectively in this economically flattened world.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
atirtha's picture

Silkboard, You view on this


You view on this is just too simplistic, assuming like in the olden days that the judiciary is all clean and personified by that blindfolded lady with the balance of yore. You will presently see that this verdict is nothing but the first step necessary to dismiss off the cases against those two-tongued school-owners. They will come out as the champions of globalization and nation-building temporarily detained by an erring government.

Take my word for this.

And as to what the English press is writing about it - what else do you expect? They are as involved in this whole scam as anybody else is. What else do you expect them to write?

Just wait and see.


All I ask is that that penalty be actually imposed on the defaulters. I don't want to get into the argument you're starting about globalization here. That will have to wait, since I've already shown that the entire argument is out of place here and used by the perpetrators of the scam to dislodge public opinion from the actual crime taking place behind the scenes of the philosophical debate.

nijavaada's picture


Basically I see these as the important take-away points from this matter/discussion:

1. The pvt. schools had agreed to teach in Kannada medium, and now they dont want to abide by that.

1a. And our revered judiciary has favoured this law-breaking act of the seats of education in our society.

2. The judiciary is not considered to be expert in academics/education, especially so at the primary level - which in essence is supposed to be a govt's jurisdiction.

2a. The judiciary has, in its judgement, talked about education and academics as though it is indeed an expert there. "Let the children (and their parents) choose the language in which they want to study" -

2b. What crap!? I'd say, those judges should be born judges to not imagine that a child is not someone you can rest the decision process of education upon! Just shows how serious the judiciary has taken education to be in a civilized society. And we're to abide by its ruling, eh?! (Hitler was probably better, I guess!)

3. The court ruled saying govt. and aided schools should teach in Kannada medium until class-5, whereas pvt. schools can go free, and teach in English medium.

3a. If the judiciary were to think English is better indeed, so much for equality in schooling, eh? Govt. school kids are destined to be deprived of good education in that case! (only an example)

3b. If the jud. thought choice should rest with children, why then did it limit its thought process to English. China, speaking chinese, is going to dominate the market tomorrow, and "our kids" will have to learn Chinese. So being future-proof, our judiciary should have actually "protected" our kids by recommending them Chinese as another alternative, and just ruled out Kannada from the board altogether!

3c. What with Hindi being imposed left-right-center in India, our high-court-to-supreme(Delhi)-court judge will perhaps soon recommend Hindi as the "other" language that kids in Karnataka should learn - anyway, English will help them become slaves to the entire world (like most of us), and Hindi, can make the remaining few, slaves to their Hindi speaking (national) masters. After all, kids in Karnataka are destined to be that - is what the judgement seems to be spelling out.

(Editor, please dont change my words here and alter the message I want to convey)

Overall in this case the jud. has proven to be unfit to play a responsible role in these cases, and I think it actually needn't have flexed its muscles to this extent at all. Because I believe that primary education is something that needs to be legislated upon a people. There cant be anarchy (in the case of choice!) at such a primary and important level which is going to decide how its future citizens are going to be shaped.

Of course its another story where some people's kids are destined (by parents) to be citizens of lands far off. We were not talking about them here, I presumed. Correct me if I was wrong!!


shobha koppad's picture

What Mr.Rama Jois has to say

Mr Rama Jois, Ex Governor and Retired Judge has this to say:

High court has violated Supreme court's judgement. Reason? If anytime, any high court wants to challenge a supreme court's judgement, there is a separate law for that. As per that, only a 5 member high court judges committee can review and modify any judgement passed by 3 member supreme court committee. In our case, only a 3 member bench has passed this judgement, hence violating the supreme court judgement.

s_yajaman's picture

Some comments and questions - language policy

I have some comments and questions.  SOrry if my post is rambling and incoherent, but that only reflects the conflicts in my head around this.

a. Schools which violated the policy should not be let off scot free regardless of the merits of their arguments.  One has to be within the law even when fighting it.  The Hon. judge should have first come down very hard on them and entertained only those schools that honoured the policy while not being happy with it.

b. Our schooling policy is polarising society along class lines starting from a very early age.  The fee structure of schools ensures that children from different income groups end up in different schools. 

c. While linguists point to evidence that children learn best in their mother tongue, there is also evidence that children can learn upto 3 languages at the same time.

d. The 1994 policy recognises eight languages as mother tongue  Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Hindi, Urdu and English.  Strictly speaking, English medium schools could not be disallowed if children joining there had English mother tongues.

e. I don't understand why this decision is a blow to pro-Kannada groups. 

f. Prof. BKC says that the medium of instruction should be looked at through the eyes of society and not through the eyes of the law.  I can argue that the law has done exactly that.

Some questions

a. Was the 1994 policy one out of genuine enlightenment or out of vote bank/lobby politics? Coming as close to the elections, can the latter be ruled out?  What new findings came out in 1994 that suggested that we needed this policy?  Saying things (Moily) that even Mahatma Gandhi said that the mother tongue was the best, etc is no help.  The Mahatma said lots of things, many of which we ignore.

b. Are people who want their children (for whatever reason) to receive English medium schooling in a minority or a majority?

c. If they are in a majority, why do they want English medium? What makes them believe that a good education can only come from learning a subject in English? If this is not understood and addressed, how can this issue be resolved?  Parents are the primary care givers and decision makers for their children.  How can their aspirations not be taken into account?  Or are we living in the former Soviet Union?

d. If they are in a minority, then why the hullabaloo?  Is the worry that this is a growing trend and that mother tongues will lose out? 

e. Were CBSE and ICSE schools out of the scope of this policy?  Why? 

f. By having children from different linguistic backgrounds in different schools, are we polarising society in a different way? 

g. Can a solution be to ban private schools altogether or raise the bar for them so high (fees, surcharges, facilities) that a majority of them shut down or move 20 km outside Bangalore.  Is the government then capable of starting and running schools that meet the aspirations of parents across class lines?  There was a report today that there is a shortage of 8 lakh teachers in schools.

h. Does the medium of instruction changing enable a better quality of instruction? 




Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

atirtha's picture

Answers to Srivathsa

a) First of all, I'm glad you uphold law, unlike the verdict!

I am getting into the debate on medium of instruction only because you have already differentiated between the actual verdict and that debate.

b) Children from different income groups end up in differently endowed schools the world over, even in countries like Israel, Germany and Japan where neither courts nor schools are intellectually challenged, and where the true champions of globalization exist (unlike the coolies here). Even when elementary schooling in Kannada becomes compulsory (that day will dawn when the Goverment of Karnataka evolves into a vertebrate), the difference between rich and poor will remain. So that's not the point.

The point is - the verdict simply licenses schools to fall prey to the flawed theory that true education is possible only in English. The stinking, foul air in the empty heads of the Judicial champions escapes from their mouths when they quote globalization as the excuse for the verdict. Japan doesn't fall prey to this shit. Germany doesn't. France doesn't. No, even China doesn't (the Chinese only learn English as a language while all their education is in their mother-tongue).

c) Sure, children can learn up to 3 languages in their childhood. So go ahead and teach English. Who says don't. The point is not whether English should or should not be taught. The question here is of medium of instruction.

d) The question here is not of children whose mother-tongue is English. This is not the United Kingdom. The question here is of children whose mother-tongue is Kannada.

e) I'll tell you why this decision is a blow to anybody pro-Kanada (not just "groups" - that's a freakin' English Media word). It's because this decision stops once and for all any need for anybody in the future to try and improve education in Kannada. Government schools will also switch over to English medium (your equality argument is popular), thereby killing Kannada. And again, we should care about Kannada because that's what we are. That's the only medium which can help us get where the Japs have gotten, where the Germans have gotten, where the Israelis have gotten w.r.t. education and economic status. 

f) No, as I've explained above, the verdict has only looked at the amount of grease in the hands of the criminal school-owners. 

Finally, answers to your questions:

a) Geniune enlightenment.

b) Minority. But when educators start shitting on Kannada textbooks, they'll curse their birth and their mother-tongue.

c) Question not applicable.

d) The hullaballoo is becaue of the fact that this freakin' minority weilds power, and shal weild power in the future too. Remember, it cares a shit about the majority and its language.

e)  CBSE, ICSE and the likes are loopholes in the system created by the unfortunate fact that education is a joint-list item (which fact is due to Indira Gandhi).

f)  Yes, and remember that it's the majority which is affected.

g)  No. Private schools are good. The solution is to make private schools realize the merit in Kannada medium education. This realization will a lot of things start working out. Things like Kannada in administration, Kannada in entertainment, Kannada between to s/w engineers in Infosys, Kannada in govt. offices, Kannada in every commercial activity...and of course, where school-owners have empty air between their ears, Kannada by force or legislation.

h)  Yes, changing to Kannada medium enables a better quality of instruction. Today, most English schools are full of teachers who can't utter a single sentence in English. Today, most children going to English medium schools suffer the extra overhead of learning words of a foreign language before concepts. In that time, the Israelis win a hundred times more Nobel prizes.

idontspam's picture

Achieving lingustic orgasm thru children

Mr Athirtha said... "Japan doesn't fall prey to this shit. Germany doesn't. France doesn't."

I will tell you why they dont. Germany has only one language German, France has only one language French, Japan has only one language Japanese. Kids in these countries can travel anywhere within their country and still be able to study. India has multiple languages, when a child is taught in Kannada and the parents relocate to say Maharastra it is going to have to have a tough time understanding everything that is said in class.

Now we could have uniformity by standardizing on one language called national language  hindi but that an insult to our lingustic ego. So the next best option is English

But I am sure you wont understand because you may not have felt the pains of relocating to different places in India and putting your child thru torment. You will want to achieve your lingustic orgasm sitting comfortably at home and thrust it on the children so they can collapse under stress. 

I want you to put your children thru this expirement and then present your findings to the judge. If your children havent become mental wrecks then talk else until then you can put a cork on preaching

s_yajaman's picture

Japan, Germany, France and Israel


Just to clarify.  Israel has 8 Nobel Prizes as does India; ironically 3 of them are for Peace!  The Nobel Prize is not necessarily a yardstick of how good primary education is or what the medium of instruction in primary schools ought to be.

Germany and France were destroyed and in ruins after WW II.  The US Marshall Plan was responsible in no small measure for their prosperity post WWII.  To fight Communism the US spent close to $12B in those days to reconstruct Western Europe.  Today their unemployment is in the double digit %ages. 

Japan has been in a recession for the past 10-15 years. 

China has problems arising out of too much emphasis on rote learning.

Rest of your answers need some time to respond. 



Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

atirtha's picture

I'm ignoring idonspam

I'm ignoring idonspam because his/her remarks are just personal and lack stuff.

Thanks for the clarification on the # of Nobel prizes that Israel has won. I must admit I haven't checked it recently. My point remains, though, if you know what I mean. It's not even Karnataka which has to compare with Israel's # of Nobel prizes. It's just Bengaluru and Mysuru combined!

I do agree that the Nobel Prize is not the best metric for measuring quality of primary education. Okay, give me another metric.

You point out real problems with Germany, France, Japan and China. But what's your point? Is the point that those problems are because of mother-tongue education? I hope not! Every people go through economic cycles. That's a game played by Nature, if you will. What I'm trying to yell out is that we don't even qualify to get into the first round of that game because of our stupid language policy!

s_yajaman's picture

My point is

a. I did not claim to know what the right metric for primary education was.  You seemed obsessed with Nobel Prizes and their importance. 

b. You are also obsessed with comparisons with Germany and France and you have unilateral rules on what to compare with what.  Why should we compare Karnataka with Germany.  Germany is a sovereign country and you need passports and visas to enter it from France or UK.  I just wanted to point out that the countries you give as great examples have their share of problems.   



Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

atirtha's picture

Don't get me wrong


My intention in asking for another metric was to open the topic up for discussion since you did not seem to like the Nobel Prize metric. I did not mean to challenge you to produce the best metric. My point was that irrespective of the metric you choose, I can prove that our education system is substandard on average.

An obsession to compare Karnataka with Germany is of a far more ambitious and logically correct nature than an obsession to compare India with Germany. The latter comparison is flawed in its very inception on accounts of area, population and demography. It is correct on all three accounts to compare Karnataka with Germany. The fact that Karnataka is not a sovereign country like Germany need not prevent us from making the right comparisons on a global scale. Nor can Karnataka's lack of sovereignity be the excuse for economic and educational poverty. The problem is not that Karnataka needs no separate visa. The problem is that its policy makers / thinkers resort to "nomadic shit".

I never said that the countries I quoted have no problems. I also clarified that every People goes through its cycles. Those countries have a whole lot of problems. I was only talking about education and economic status. Japan, for instance has the problem of overworked indivuduals. The status of women in Japan is worse than here. But that's not the point here. The point I made was that those countries have got the basics right in choosing the language of the land for education and occupation. Actually, they did not put in any extra effort to do so. It's only in India that extra effort is put up by the so called cognoscenti to come to unscientific conclusions about language.

blr_editor's picture

Please, No personal attacks.

No personal attacks please. Have deleted some comments that were purely that. There are some more that are on the border. And, please watch the words you use.

Some have said why even talk the subject when we know what it will lead to. But why avoid something which many feel is important? Let this community challenge itself on whether it can carry on fact based, constructive, and civil discussions on all matters.

Thanks prajagale for your cooperation.


narayan82's picture

Continued Education

Again, here is how I see it. The medium plays an importantly in the learning of a child. Hence he cannot keep switching between medium. What happens after he passes 10th Std? What happens after he passes the 12th? and which college does he go to for his Masters? So now, do we change the medium in colleges also to Kannada? In that case is the CET going to be written in kannada? And if not, then wont the students who come from other states (english medium), have an advantage over Local students in the test? What if a Kannada Medium Student, wishes to study at IIT or BITS or RECs - will the change in language be a disadvantage? Personally I am glad I studied in an English Medium school - but again I am also very proud that I can speak, read and write the local language!
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
nijavaada's picture

not a crime to dream, and realise them..


I think the point you're trying to convey needs support of the fact that one needs to always dream of things far bigger than one can easily achieve.

So, if you're talking abour higher education in Kannada - answer is clearly an Yes. It should happen in Kannada.

And ditto about CET. How it manifests to students that need to cross borders to take up this examination need not be the first item to be kept in mind, and need not be the driver to deciding ways to conduct an examination predominantly meant for students on this side of the border.

And if its an IIT you want to attend, I am sure its not big to dream of an IIT in Karnataka - at least a couple of them. An IIT per state just like an NIT that is already there in every state.

But then as you've said, if thats how you see it, I am sorry thats not enough 'cos it is very clearly missing the real point. You seem to be thinking that real, good education rests, and is always going to rest, some place out there, and is not going to be our bastion, ever in future! That is going to true, as long as we keep shooting ourselves in our feet with judgments such as this one. 


s_yajaman's picture

Statistics in today's TOI on the state of education

Please read today's TOI.  There was a report on the state of education in India.  Pratham (an NGO) conducted some assessments on the state of primary education. 

It assessed how well a child in Stds 3-5 could do the following

a. Read in his/her mother tongue

b. Do subtraction at the minimum

c. Read std 1 English

Karnataka featured in the WORST performing states in all three.  Kerala featured in all three in the BEST. 

Sadly there was no deeper analysis on govt. schools vs. private schools, district level data, English medium vs. mother tongue medium.  I will check the Pratham site and see if there is more data available.



Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

narayan82's picture

Re: Nijaavada

I belive right now dreams of people pursuin higher education is "out there." This can change if we can develop such world class institution in the state by the state. But before implementing a compulsory medium, we must make sure we have enough supporting education to go with it. Else we are restricting/trapping our own children's education. Again, if every state in the country were to have its own and only its own langauge - medium of education, then again, as a country we are creating thicker and stronger borders inside. People would think twice before moving to other cities, and maybe even work against it. I see this as a contraint to a way of life. Interestingly - what language would an Army school be in within their National Integration Policy?
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
murali772's picture

I'm not ignoring idontspam

idontspam, in my opinion, is the most eligible person to comment on the issue having himself studied in the Kannada medium. At least he is not a hypocrite unlike the many politicians who, while advocating education in Kannada medium for others, quietly send their children to English medium schools.

Many states like Gujarat pursued the 'local language as medium of instruction' policy strictly before. They have all become wiser now, after paying a heavy price, and relaxed the rules considerably.

Like it has been stated before, forcing it down on others, is the biggest disservice you can do to your own language.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
nijavaada's picture



for now, all I can say is that it is but unfortunate that things like "What should be the language in Army schools" come up as "interesting" stuff during a discussion such as this one.

What we're talking about here is "the english medium of instruction upheld against its kannada counterpart, in the land that actually speaks Kannada!" and you're extrapolating it to an apparently unrelated context of an army-school, and do it as though intending to say that the language to be used there needs to be the language the entire state/nation needs to follow as medium!

Anyway, heeding to your interest in that matter, what according to you needs to be the language in these army schools doing rounds in your mind?

I really dont want to address your other points there 'cos they are going to lead this discussion farther away from what it should be about. So lets talk about people-free-to-go-anywhere-in-India(-like-they-were-born-to-do-just-that) thingy somewhere else..


spry's picture

What is "Mother Tongue"

It might be off topic but out of curiosity what actually we mean by mother tongue. Is it same as what we call "Local language". As there is some research which suggests that mother tounge is ideal for primary education. Does it mean that native bangaloreans and also those we came here pre-post independence should send their kids to the school whose medium of instruction is "mother tongue" of the kid. I am afraid if that is the case then we need to have Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarti...etc..medium of instruction..not only kannada and english..if we really care about primary education in our state.

Some body was saying we should learn form china, germany...Good point..We should also learn from revolutionaries of today's economy Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Dell and our own Dhirubhai Ambani..They all were college drop out..should we ablolish college education in Karnataka... My point is..try to compare apple with apple..



tsubba's picture

mother tongue

in terms of education mother tongue really is a social concept rather than biological. its not something hardwired or magical. what they are talking about is the language in which the child is placed within the house and immediately outside it. the language in which it experiences its immediate world. if you teach a principle in physics, can you relate it to examples in the surroundings and describe it in a language that is fairly intuitive to the kid. they are also talking about the language in which the kid is curious and in which its curiosity is answered - the language in which it asks questions to its parents and to its friends. this is all not rocket science. fairly common-sensical really. in bangalore perhaps for many kids english is the lingua franca both at home and in the playground and perhaps such kids should go to english only schools where, within classes and outside it, english is mandatory.
tsubba's picture


sri you are right it will be preposterous for me to assume that either i or my ward do anything in service of a language, culture or country. i guess it is for my own experience and enrichment.
s_yajaman's picture

TS - apologies for any insensitive remark


If I have offended you somewhere up there with any insensitive remark, my apologies.  It certainly was not my intention. 

I was also hoping that you would answer some of my questions up there.  We both probably sit on the opposite side of the divide on this one :).  Fortunately or unfortunately. 

One thing that annoyed me were the remarks of the several Kannada organizations.  Their first response was - "Kannada will suffer".  If their reaction was "Children's education will suffer" it would have been a different matter.  This issue I believe is about children's education first and then the glorification of a language.

I agree(!) with Nijavaada on some of the things he/she has said.  Policies should be made keeping in mind the good of the vast majority of the people.  People like me tend to view things through our own elitist eyes.  Having said that, policies need to cover exceptions.  Inter-state migration is a reality and is allowed without conditionalities by the consitution.  People have transferable jobs (sometimes out of choice, sometimes without it).  It is like saying that visually handicapped people are a minority and why should we care for them - let them adjust or perish.  (On his/her remark on license plates, I think there are better ways to employ Kannada literate people than that). 

Here is the link to the full Pratham report on the state of education.






Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

Dumma's picture


I would like to add my thoughts to this discussion.

A) As a parent, I am paying for my child's education. I will have the best interests of my child in mind. I should have a right to choose which school I educate my child and the medium of instruction. Nobody (whether it is courts or government) can tell me how I spend my money.

B) Bangalore attracted a large no. of industries (manufacturing, PSUs) in the late 50s and early 60s and later the IT industry and BPO firms because of a large talented workforce available here who could communicate with other parts of the world without getting tongue tied. All this was before the 1994 language policy. So we are reaping the benefit of the earlier 3 language policy where science, maths and social studies were in english and english, kannada and hindi were taught as languages.

C) As an engineering student, I have seen students from UP, Bihar and other places where everything is taught in hindi struggling to understand basic engineering concepts because they could not think in any other language other than hindi. Similarly I have seen engineers in eastern european contries struggle to communicate concepts and ideas (brilliant ideas actually) with people in other parts of the world. All this is because of a flawed language policy. Many countries such as China, Singapore etc where every thing was taught in the local language are now holding crash courses in english so that their future generation is 'world ready'

D) There are many other ways to enrich a language. Forcing it down the throats of  unwilling people is not the way. Let us encourage the love for the kannada by making our text books of kannada more interesting. Let us make the teaching of the kannada more interactive so that the child grasps the nuances of the language rather that just rote learning. Let us teach the history of Karnataka to students in a way that they are proud of it. Only then can there be love for the language and only then will the language improve.

I know that this discussion has veered from "medium of instruction" to "love of kannada" But I believe that both are in some way interlinked.

tsubba's picture

sri easy does it

what are you saying sorry for? you dont have to apologize for anything. actually, wait. apologize for unncessarily apologizing. :) well, that has been my thesis all along, i just stated it explicitly. everything basically comes down to what it means to the individual. i keep hoping around wrt many of my thoughts but that has been my thesis all along - true education will not only connect you to external world but also to your internal world. true education. medium gedium are all secondary in that these are all mere tools towards that goal. what i am convinced about is that true education would teach aesop's fables as it would panchatantra and would not ever forget the govina haaDu. dharani mandala madhyadoLage ... true education is one that will teach us roman aquaducts and harappan sewage systems and kempegowda's rainwater harvesting, who btw, as kaangeya of churumuri once wrote, was a true urbanist, but who nevertheless would not be mentioned in the same sentences as say a le-corbusier in our intellectual circles.
tsubba's picture

sri contd.

sri btw, i recently discovered some interesting stuff. apparently there is a theory that meaning and understanding arises from juxtapositioning of two contrasting diametrically opposite views neither of which may be true. this is opposed to the held belief of logical arrangement and even rhythmical flow of nature. one proponent of that theory upon further digging, i learnt that there are a bunch of unassuming villagers in heggoDu,shimoga who have been giving fundas like this and more on world cinema in kannada since 1945. founder subbanna even got a magsaysay. whatever is the education system that will allow for this to happen state wide i am for that system.
s_yajaman's picture

TS - thanks


No worries.  Written conversation is always open to misinterpretation due to the lack of other cues.  I just got the feeling you were a bit miffed with one or the other thing I wrote. 

I completely agree with you that education should give children as wide a worldview as possible without biasing them in any direction.   I strive to do this with my own boys (whether successful or not all the time is a different matter).  (IMHO) the purpose of education is to enable children to think for themselves.  It should also prepare them for change. 

My granduncle (lived all his life in a small village near Sringeri) once pointed out (some 20 years back) as to how structured the Brahmi alphabet is.  If you observe the progression of consonant lines, you will find that they move from the very back of the mouth to the lips.  This struck me as just amazing.  He used the word "scientific" maybe when he meant structured.  And then I discovered that most of the South East Asian languages (Thai/Khmer/others) follow the same pattern.   

There is other fascinating research into the origin of languages, the search for a proto language.  They have found marker words like "tik" which means one/line in different languages.  Google it if you have not done so already.

There is another theory/maxim call it what you will that "for every deep truth, the opposite is also true".



Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

nijavaada's picture

Re: Forcing

Well exactly the point mentioned by Dumma here.. all those countries that had been studying in their own language until now, are now fighting the cause of bracing for the international interaction that they have to do in English.

Thats the very point here, right? Only after you've proven yourself good enough will you need to interact with the world.. as a master, I mean; not as a slave. Otherwise one can always learn (things in) English and send off one's wards as slaves to the English speaking world.

There's a clear difference between the two approaches - basis of which is in the real understanding of the purpose any language serves in one's context. Kannada in our case serves to build us up, and English happens to be the pedestal on which we can stand and get applauded world-over.

And about the textbooks and stuff - while you're right in your way by saying that the textbooks need to be more attractively conveying what they contain and all that, have we ever paused and looked at the books in English anyway? I dont think they have any major plus of that kind to have gained fame today. Its just like what a constant acquaintance would lead anyone to - a strange love for the acquaintance. You love the home you live in, no matter how good or bad it is. You cant even reason this love! So it is in the mind that like/dislike and such emotions come up.

I agree that the school books in Kannada need to be made better, but as I've shown above its in the mind that the likes/dislikes are born. So if a liking for books in English can be born in minds, seeds of love for books in Kannada can most certainly be sown right away. And in the background the improvement of books, as your rightly mention, can keep happening. If we dont take this step today, so will our children not do it tomorrow, and so on. So what will we achieve in the coming centuries down the line? Not even a zero I'd say. We'd have taken a zillion steps backward on the lines of progress.


Vasanth's picture

My personal experience

Well, I had my schooling in Mysore in Marimallappas. Mysore being a tier 2 city is not that English savvy. Although English Medium, it was coached both in English and in Kannada so that everyone understands clearly. Exams etc were written in English only. Wherever there was option for Kannada, Kannada was used. For example, during Sanskrit exams, we could either write in English or Kannada, we were writing in Kannada and out notes were given in Kannada.

This school outscored many Bangalore english hifi schools during 90s with almost highest number of ranks in the entire state of Karnataka.

Main aim was to make the students understand the subject. I think this should be the motive. Students should be taught both in English and the local language. Those who are poor at English can pickup using local language and those who donot know local language should be able to pickup in English. 

atirtha's picture


I conclude what I have to say about this topic with the following:

It is a scientific fact that education in one's own language is best for human beings.

This scientific fact applies to Kannada and Kannadigas too.

But Kannadigas have rejected this scientific fact and adopted English as the language of education, especially any education which matters.

Having done that, Kannadigas do not reap the full benefits of education, but only obtain a trivial portion of the full fruit.

The trivial portion itself seems astronomical in size to hungry Kannadigas.

The time of the idea of complete education in Kannada has not yet come.

It will come one day. And when it does, there will be no stopping Kannadigas. The trivial fruit of English education today shall seem like rubbish. That day will dawn.

Good bye.

gowriv's picture

The Education Perspective

I am entering this discussion late and so I will try to add my thoughts based on educational research I've come into contact with.

That is not to say that this issue shouldn't be politicized -- English was used as a tool for subjugation by the British and it would be silly to imagine that the role of English in India today isn't related to the way power is distributed and the way cultural hierarchies have been handed down for generations.

 But a few points that help me to think about this issue.  This isn't, after all, JUST a political issue.  It also has to do with how children learn to read.

 1) Educationists the world over agree that mother tongue instruction is the best kind of instruction.  This is mainly because it's easier to learn to read  in a language in which you've already developed a vocabulary that helps you find meaning in what you read.  Learning in your mother tongue improves not only your skills in your own language but also your ability to pick up new languages and even your ability to learn math and science.  

3) A different kind of point.  When the court talks about unaided schools, it's not talking about the old convent schools.  The law that has been struck down only applied to schools opened after 1994.  We are not talking about Bishop Cotton's here.  We are talking more about the hundreds of low-cost private schools that hvae cropped up all over urban India, claiming to teach good English to children of parents who don't know how to tell if their children are actually learning in good English or not.  (James Tooley has put out some interesting studies on this) All they know is that the rich people they see speak English.  These schools are Kannada-medium on paper.  If you look at Pratham's ASER report, you will also see that many of these schools aren't particularly better at teaching children to read and do math than government schools.  Parents just choose them because they teach in English.

3) A language doesn't have to be the medium of instruction to be well learned.  If Kannada-medium schools taught English superbly, this whole discussion would be irrelevant.  Solid bilingual education has worked well in English-Spanish-speaking communities in the US and tends to improve children's learning in all subjects.

To me it's unfair to children when the discussion on language focuses on the "development of Kannada" instead of "the development of the child".  Obviously they do not lead to opposing conclusions, but they can lead to different policy structures.  For example, focusing on children's learning would lay more emphasis on the fact that lots of children in Bangalore -- nearly 30% according to my research -- actually speak Urdu and Telugu and Tamil and tribal languages and Hindi and Gujarati.  Kannada is a second language for them.  It also would bring more weight to the argument that sometimes, even if the state doesn't like it, the parent's decisions for her children must be respected.  It's not just an argument on principle.  If parents want English medium instruction, they will find it.  James Tooley found that parents preferred unaccredited schools -- literally just opened up by a local entrepreneur who wants to make some extra money -- to government schools just because of medium of instruction.  

 So I would say the best approaches are 1) to make the teaching of English excellent in Kannada medium schools -- perhaps even through a bilingual school model -- so that children have the benefit of learning in their mother tongue while developing the skills their parents want them to have in English and 2) to develop the demand for Kannada medium instruction by investing in Kannada art and culture without becoming so tyrannical that Kannada gets associated with the police state and English seems like the language of democracy and freedom.  


idontspam's picture

Excellent Gowri

Excellent conclusions gowri based on practical experience and facts. I hope inputs of people like you who have worked on the field are taken when making policies.

I repeat I request people not to use children to achieve selfish adult ends. You dont know how vulnerable they are. Parents themselves are spoiling children already, mosty due to ignorance, please dont add to it.

I find Kannada is being given a raw deal in the general public sphere where it is easy to get people involved non-invasively.

blrpraj's picture

easy guys..let's not be the next taliban

I think the judge has aptly pointed out that the choice of medium of education rests with the parents and the children. Beyond that the topics of kannada suffering OR which medium of education should be rammed down the throats of children due to language chauvanism does not merit a discussion when there are more pressing matters like how to add value to the education to create an overall complete individual in this day and age and other matters pertaining to the rut the country is in.

It is an indisputable fact that English has placed India on the global map for the right reasons without which we would have been somewhere else. Agreed other countries have done it without English but India is a unique situation of misplaced priorities where we would have ended up as a set of egoistic language chauvanistic states/people fighiting over which language to use to communicate in thereby losing the big picture. In schools and colleges I am sure we have studied with a number of people from all backgdound and ethnicities so the concept of local language becomes really relative. I am not sure why people don't view it in that perspective, language need not always necessarily be constrained geographically since nowadays we have people from different regions marrying giving rise to mixed ethnicities and the demographics are changing. With these changing demographics the issue of mother tongue/father tongue becomes really complicated and irrelevant in the big picture; the big picture being children being educated to become overall individuals and being able to communicate with the widest possible audience and peform their jobs and duties. Leave it to the people which language they want to learn or talk in their homes and free up the education resources to teach civic sense, road sense, corruption and it's consequences ...there are a host of topics that we can pick up to add value to the education curriculum.

One more thing regarding local language... in Karnataka itself we have Tulu & Coorgi; now should kids there start learning Tulu+Kannada+English+Hindi? or Coorgi+Kannada+English+Hindi??!! Gimme a break :-) Why should there be politics and government interference?

kishoreyc's picture

Achieving lingustic orgasm thru children ?

So Now I understand that the medium of instruction for 5.5 crore people should depend on pains undergone by children whose parents have to migrate. Thanks for enlightening me.! Well imagine this.. crores of people struggling to learn english in their own land and becoming mental wrecks.  Till date even I used to believe that English language only can help us understand the world around us.

We are in a strange kind of Germany where Japanese is being thrust in our throats. 

silkboard's picture

Why so much digression?

Courts said - government is free to teach in the medium it wishes. And last I checked, 85% or more of primary schools in state are government run or aided (unsure of this stat, picked up from some magazine I can't recall right now).

Courts said - those who cheated the government (by teaching in english medium whereas they signed to teach in kannada medium) are not going away scotfree.

So clearly, there is no need to sound this out as kannada killing judgment. The way I see it is is something Tarle and I have discussed a few times - universal nature of education. I will speak gowri's language here - we are talking education, and the focus on "quality of schools" is giving way to sure very important, but not the most relevant subject of language.

Lets admit it, reality (atirtha sort of said it in sad sounding tone somewhere above) is that English learning gets your better and more "rotis" today. Call it catch-22 situation or whatever, the day when we will be prosperous enough to regard education as cultural subject more than a training-for-job exercise is a decade away. Its not just about local languages, think about the history we read. Isn't it sad enough that most of our ancient national history we read is as was written and uncovered by mostly European historians of 19th century? Think about music and dance - aren't they all dying as well?

The point is that artistic and cultural aspects of a civilization get good mind-share and attention only in times of prosperity. We are pretty poor by most means, still learning to stand on our own feet. That is what is reflecting in us striving to learn English (roti first) to gain foothold or whatever in the globalized world. English is global today because couple of English speaking nations are the engines of world economy today.

But we aren't doing that bad, nobody is deserting over to English. I would be worried if any data proved that native kannada speakers are turning away from local language and 'moving' over to English. Making migrants learn the local language is a relatively trivial matter in this context (few lakhs vs 5.5 crores, and Bangalore alone is not Karnataka).

Leave this digression aside, come back to the point about universal education. 1) English gives you jobs plus an edge, 2) average quality of government run or aided schools is perceived to be lower than unaided schools, 3) standard of english teaching in kannada medium schools is below par - these three things combine to create a situation where those with money have an advantage by way of better access to quality English as well as primary education.

All of above may come across as mixed up or offtopic. But its all relevant and to be seen together. Teach all kids in English, or teach them all in Kannada. But let it be structured such that children have equal chances to propser. Education is the only equalizer we have, so it must be universal, either by way of eqaul quality across all schools, or by way of same content in all schools, or both.

blrpraj's picture

Re: Achieving lingustic orgasm thru children ?


Not sure what you are trying to get at in this post -

Could you please explain? comment guidelines

Posting Guidelines apply for comments as well. No foul language, hate mongering or personal attacks. If criticizing third person or an authority, you must be fact based, as constructive as possible, and use gentle words. Avoid going off-topic no matter how nice your comment is. Moderators reserve the right to either edit or simply delete comments that don't meet these guidelines. If you are nice enough to realize you violated the guidelines, please save Moderators some time by editing and fixing yourself. Thanks!

about seo | forum