Kannadigas in Bengaluru - truths and hard truths

Although the Kannadiga character of Bengaluru needs no surveys to establish, allow us to draw your attention to a recent survey of FM Radio listenership in Bengaluru. Contrary to the belief of a few vocal people, Kannada FM channels have scored way, way, way above English and Hindi channels. On 22 Jan 2008, the Times of India reported that -
FM radio, the medium that has captured the imagination of young and old alike in Bangalore, shows that an average of 75% of all listenership is for Kannada radio channels. The rest of the radio stations, primarily programmed in Hindi and English, manage to attract only 25% of the audience.
So what about all the bullshit that Kannada is a minority language in Bengaluru? What about the notion among migrants to Bengaluru that Kannada is the language of auto-drivers and one-foot-in-the-gravers? Did the statistics surprise Mirchi? Rahul Balyan, business head, Radio Mirchi (Karnataka and Kerala), answers -
"This is not surprising at all. Two years ago, when we launched, we found that AIR Rainbow had more listenership than the only private FM channel in Bangalore at that time — which stunned us. When we looked at secondary data like mother tongue, language spoken and written and TV viewership figures, it was pretty obvious that Kannada was the language of a large majority of Bangaloreans . This was across all strata of society, and more so in the higher socio-economic (SEC) groups. Today, the four Kannada channels — Mirchi, Big, SFM and Rainbow add up to 75% of all listenership"

"The skew to Kannada is maintained even in the younger age groups."
Bengaluru's market is full of Kannadigas. What else did you expect?

Who are the buyers in Bengaluru? What is the purchasing power of Kannadigas? How many Kannadigas visit the funkiest malls in Bengaluru? Do Kannadigas mostly stick around stinking petty-shops? Will it work if businesses continue to use Hindi instead of Kannada in advertising? Naveen Chandra, Radio Mirchi's sales head for India, has answers to these important questions:
Advertisers need to break out of the common perception that Kannada is not hip. Kannada is very hot right now. Kannadigas have the highest purchasing power in Bangalore. We had commissioned a mall research in Bangalore through IMRB in 2007. It showed us that of all people visiting malls, Kannadigas had the most purchasing power and were the most likely to purchase goods and services available at malls. If any advertiser wants to reach the best audience in Bangalore, they have to bet on Kannada.
The truth which Naveen Chandra and Radio Mirchi have realized is apparent to anybody who just sticks his ear out and listens to the Kannada nature of Bengaluru, be it in malls or foodcourts or cinemas. Kannadigas, not others, form the market in Bengaluru.

Our failure to encash our own market

Given that the market is made up of Kannadigas and not anybody else, have we been able to encash on our own purchasing propensity? The answer is a sad no. Kannadigas have been happier playing the host while others “made hay” while the sun shined in Bengaluru.

That the first Kannadiga-run TV channel "Kasturi" took nearly 12 years to make an entry after Sun networks' foray into Karnataka is proof enough of the lackadaisical approach of Kannadigas in tapping even local markets.

While Andhra hotels are expanding into big chains, the likes of Adyar Ananda Bhavan setting up multiple outlets at various locations, TN based Subhikshas are penetrating into even the smaller towns banking on the purchasing power of Kannadigas, conventional Kannadiga enterprises like Iyengar bakeries or Udupi chains or Local co-op banks are finding fewer customers beyond the local Kannadigas. What's wrong with us?

Burning questions

Many questions remain unanswered:
  • Why was anyone under the belief that Kannadigas are a minority in Bengaluru?
  • Why was anyone under the belief that Kannada is spoken only by the lowest strata of society?
  • Why was anyone under the belief that Kannada is not considered "hot" by youth?
  • Why was anyone under the belief that Kannadigas go to Kalasipalya but not the Forum Mall?
  • Why did Radio Mirchi initially start off with Hindi programming?
  • Why have we been unsuccesful in tapping our own Market?
  • What does it take to turn this around?
It is not easy to answer the above questions. But there is no option for us other than to find the answers, get over the past and make the future ours.

Also read: ENGURU on customer service issues in Karnataka


Welcome to the English Blog of Banavasi Balaga. It's a pleasure.

Please make yourself comfortable while we begin to take off on a long intellectual journey whose destination is the Karnataka of our dreams. There is nothing that we Kannadigas cannot achieve, there is no force in the universe which can thwart our attempts when we become a People with One Goal: The all-round development of Kannada, Kannadiga and Karnataka (K3).

It is our intention to draw knowledge and experiences from every known field of human endeavor, from every land, clime and time. We'd like to become the forum of choice for the most constructive, hottest, coolest, most important, most intellectual discussions about K3 in the English language.

We have chosen to blog in the English language for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, as we learnt from our ENGURU experience, even after the introduction of Kannada Unicode, the world of computers continues to be somewhat partial to languages with linear scripts such as English, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian and the languages of Mainland Europe.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the English blog world which attracts many a Kannadiga reader has treated K3 with what one might describe as reckless abandon. Many Kannadigas themselves seem to think that they're left with no choice but to fall in line with and continue the tradition of those non-Kannadigas who possess dubious intentions about K3. Because of this habit, the neglect and abuse of K3 (particularly while employing the services of the English language) has become "cool" to Kannadigas themselves -- a development which is disastrous for our own future. From that "dreary desert sand of dead habit" we will attempt to free the English blog world -- with your cooperation.

And by the way, ENGURU will continue full steam. For your convenience, we've given links to the latest ENGURU posts on the sidebar of this blog.

Did you ask what we mean by the name KARNATIQUE? Keep guessing, fellas!