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Is Mary Kom prepared for a crash course in Kannada?

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Karnataka sports minister Appachu Ranjan said the government would welcome Mary to the city. For the full report in the ToI, click here

"I have come to Guwahati to take all of you back to Bangalore. It is as much your city as anyone else's," said Ashoka. For that report, again in the ToI, click here.

While the ministers have been making those welcoming gestures, the reality is that unless Mary Kom and the North-Easterners (and, not just them) choose to learn Kannada fast enough, life is not going to be too easy for them in Bengaluru. And, while it is quite expected of a person, who moves to a new place and takes up residence there, to pick up at least a smattering of the local language, in Namma Bengaluru, though, that by itself will not do.

Now, for example,

1) If Mary Kom gets into an argument with an auto driver (which is inevitable), and she wants to report him to the police (hopefully, she won't give him a knock-out punch), she'll very likely find that she is unable to do so since the number plates are made out just in Kannada (check this). And, this practice is not confined just to auto's; even large sections of government vehicles are carrying on in this fashion - perhaps a case of competitive chauvinism.

Well, the Traffic Police have now determined that enforcing the rules in this regard is their mandate (check this), and are perhaps set to intensify the drive in the days to come. But, whereas this should normally have been treated as a zero-tolerance matter, having serious security implications as it has, the approach so far has been rather lackadaisical. One hopes that changes.

2) Further, if Mary Kom and her lot want to set up say a "North-East Solidarity Forum", and register it as a Society, the Registrar of Societies, Karnataka, will ask her to produce a "memorandum of Association", made out in Kannada (check here). Now, this being a legal document, it will require the language proficiency of a "Kuvempu" to make out head or tail of the contents. And, God forbid, there is a difference of opinion between the Society members, say a year down the line, leading to the matter ending up in court, and Mary loses out because of some technicalities in the original documentation, I am not sure the courts will entertain her plea, at that stage, that she had no idea what she was agreeing to, with the documents being in Kannada. She may have relied on an English translation. But, the quality of court authorised translaters being what they are, the chances of discrepancies are huge, and the resulting costs huge too.

Some Kannada (over)-enhusiasts wanted the High Court proceedings to be in Kannada too. But, Justice Vikramjit Sen said something to the effect 'sorry - don't ask me to master Kannada at this stage of my life", and dismissed the case - check here

3) As she settles down, Mary, the fighter that she is, finds herself cheesed off with some government agency (which again is inevitable), and seeks information under the RTI, she will get a response in Kuvempu Kannada. If the fighter in her takes the matter to the Information Commission, asking for a response in English, citing the Official Languages Act (where it clearly states that English continues to be an official language of the state), the Commission will tell her (of course in Kannada) that a certain Muralidhar Rao has already tried that, and we have told him that the RTI Act doesn't cover the matter (check here), and, if she so wishes, she could go to the court.

I am now in fact looking forward to Mary joining me to further the remaining part of the fight.

The simple question I am asking is 'when a small country like Switzerland makes its official documents available in 4 different official languages, why can't Karnataka do it in English, an official language of the state, that is understood by a large section of the population'.

Muralidhar Rao

PS: This is not a Kannada vs English issue, nor a Kannadiga vs outsider issue. So, please don't bring these up in the debate here. Debates on those issues are on-going on PRAJA, and if you wish to contribute, you may access them here, apart from other blogs.


murali772's picture

Think global; do local

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"Bangalore is considered an international city; even US President Barack Obama talks about its knowledge power" - Bangalore development minister R Ashoka. - - - CM Jagadish Shettar  took pride in the capital being ranked alongside international cities under various parameters.

For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.

International city, Cosmopolitan city, all very fine; but, a city whose government refuses to do business other than in its regional language.

Muralidhar Rao
psaram42's picture

Mary com is a fighter. She is

141 users have liked.

Mary com is a fighter. She is capable of sorting out the issues herself. If  a Murali can do it why not a Mary? 

psaram42's picture

English widely spread over the globe.

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I am a Kannadiga by birth. However I do not subscribe to going over board on the issue. Like any other well developed language Kannada has its own treasure of literature and Music.

Karnataka music is a very advanced music system of Raga, Tala and Pallavi, unknown to any in English music. English music has no comparison to Karnataka music for that matter to even Hindi music.  

We Kannadiga should understand that Governance is not and should not be language specific / biased. 

psaram42's picture

If the number plates are in

135 users have liked.

If the number plates are in Kannada, what is the problem? Take a picture and send it to the police along with a complaint against the Auto fellow, instantly!! In the era of mobile phones esspecially Apple it is just fun and frolik. Especially with I phone-4S Apple has created a flutter in the mobile market.

In the days of online translation, we can look forwatrd to instant automatic copies in any language Murali sir.


murali772's picture

lessons for Mary Kom

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“This is my city and I will fight for my space here,” she said. Swar, 32, agreed that the situation on the road might have worsened because she is from the northeast. “I may look different and that may have escalated the issue. But women from other states who don’t know the local language often face this kind of harassment  Gender and racial discrimination always go hand in hand,” she said.

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

From a reading of reports in other papers also, one gets the impression that Swar was perhaps not totally blameless too. But, when a lady travelling alone (and one who doesn't understand the local language) gets into a bit of a spot, shouldn't the cops be handling the situation with a bit more sensitivity? Perhaps too much to expect from the over-worked traffic cops as of now; but, shouldn't that be the eventual target?

Worse was the heckling by the crowd - one had thought that chivalry was not dead yet in Bengaluru.

Muralidhar Rao
srinidhi's picture

lot of gaps in her story..

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All I could see from her story was she was angry at a vehicle hitting her from behind..let me pose another version of the incident..

She waits at the Netkallappa jn..and doesnt move on the green..the waiting people get frustrated at the one lane junction and honk and try to make way through the traffic..a scooter touches her car..she gets down angry and blocks all traffic and causes more frustration to public wanting to get out of the junction..they wave at her saying 'munde hogi' probably assessing the damage is negligible..but madam doesnt understand any kannada and gets even more angry at the 'hecklers'..and her anger is vent on the cop who comes to pacify..

All that was needed was the number of the 2 wheeler and she cud have gone to the cops to complain ..that is if she wanted and insurance would have taken care of everything anyways ..instead she managed to make it a communal issue and get some attention from press..probably in the northeast too!

Naveen's picture

Story full of holes

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instead she managed to make it a communal issue and get some attention from press..probably in the northeast too!

Yeah - her story is full of holes. I was in Mumbai that day & the papers there reported pretty much the same thing -- that she did not move the car, blocking the road & this led to the spat.

blrpraj's picture


150 users have liked.
Karnataka music is a very advanced music system of Raga, Tala and Pallavi, unknown to any in English music. English music has no comparison to Karnataka music for that matter to even Hindi music.

I don't think language should cloud out judgment on music or for that matter fine arts, literature etc. Each language has to offer unique things. I once knew a Bengali friend who had this belief that no other language came close to Bengali in terms of music....he he he..pretty much the same statement you made. Person from each language will say the same thing.

I am a Kannadiga by birth. However I do not subscribe to going over board on the issue. Like any other well developed language Kannada has its own treasure of literature and Music.

Correct, agree with with you 100% this.

murali772's picture

Mary Kom's regional cousin's plight

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Another vexing problem is in trying to decipher the destinations scribbled on the boards in Kannada. "I identify the bus to my house and workplace by the route numbers written on the dashboard on the front of the bus. If there is no number written, I am forced to ask the driver. But they give me such a dirty look that I feel humiliated," complained Priyanka Thapa, techie, from Koramangala.

For the full report in the ToI, click here

After the north-easterners' exodus, and subsequent return following the promise that they will be treated well (including by the Home Minister), one had thought there will be a change in the mind-sets of the government servants. Alas, it's a long way to go there, too.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

breaking up the country into fragments by narrow domestic walls

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Though the CM has said that he wants to connect with the younger generation via social media, he has failed to take into consideration, while creating the Kannada only website ( that more than 50 per cent of this city is made up of youngsters from other states. A non-bilingual website makes it difficult for people in this cosmopolitan city to 'connect' with the CM. 
For the full text of the report in the Bangalore Mirror, click here.
May be the CM should bother to click here to listen to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.
Muralidhar Rao
xs400's picture

Follow the money

120 users have liked.

C'mon Murali sir - let go of the poor devils.

The reason why the site is in kannada is very simple - they needed to give a project to some company that could only come out with a kannada version before money ran out or something like that. It has more to do with some kickbacks, money, bribes. No offence meant to non-kannadigas! 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!

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