In Karnataka, Bank employees may soon have to deal with customers in Kannada language only

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Karnataka is considering a mandate that would require bank employees to learn Kannada and use it when interacting with customers in the state. This move comes in response to reported conflicts between non-local bank staff and customers. While a law to this effect was passed by the previous BJP government in March of this year, it has yet to be enforced, according to Santhosh Hangal, the secretary of the Kannada Development Authority (KDA).

“We anticipate receiving a government notification in the next few days,” Hangal stated. Under the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Act, banks and private industries employing more than 100 individuals must establish Kannada Cells to facilitate easier communication with customers and provide “Kannada Kalika Ghataka” (Kannada learning centers) for their employees. The government is expected to offer teaching staff and study materials at the banks’ expense.

It is worth noting that the Act does not cover nationalized banks, as pointed out by former KDA chairman Mukhyamantri Chandru. To be truly effective, Chandru argues, Parliament needs to pass a law with clear rules, penalties, and an implementation timeline.

The KDA has long advocated for bank employees to learn Kannada, citing difficulties faced by rural customers due to language barriers. In addition to communication issues between employees and customers, banks often fail to provide translations of forms, challans, and banking documents in Kannada.

As Karnataka approaches its 50th anniversary since being renamed on November 1 this year, the Congress government has announced plans to establish Kannada learning centers for non-locals and overseas citizens to promote the language.

The issue of Kannadiga identity has been a subject of political debate, with various parties claiming to be more pro-Kannadiga than others. In 2017, protests erupted in Bengaluru over the addition of Hindi signs in metro stations, with pro-Kannada organizations viewing it as an imposition of the northern language on the state. During the recent assembly elections, both the Congress and the BJP used various topics to criticize each other on the grounds of perceived anti-regionalism, ranging from the state cooperative milk brand Nandini to the lack of a Kannada option in central armed police forces recruitment (CAPF) exams.

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Comments

1 COMMENT

  1. This is sheer stupidity and not impossible to execute in Nationalized banks. Even with banks like canara which is karnataka based they won’t have enough local staff to post in their own state.

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