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

28 comments:

Raghavendra said...

It is a fact that most of the Bangaloreans speak Kannada and the notion that Bangaloreans do not speak Kannada is 100% false.

danda pinda said...

Finally the TRUTH! ALAS! Good points to answer the 'so-called' people who had the preset mindset of Non existence of Kannada in Bengaluru.

Great Blog (Truth) & good work Banavasi Balaga.

Anonymous said...

Would it require that Kannadigas show their majority through a silent assertion of collective choice on what they want to "hear " had we at the level of a single Kannadiga always insisting on "hearing" Kannada in any transaction and always spoke in Kannada as a simple "matter of fact".

Such a simultaneous act of millions of Kannadigas would make such surveys in any area redundant and any new commercial venture in BengaLuru would start off with Kannada as a default mode of communication rather than learn through such silent forms of assertion.

Entrepreneurship amongst Kannadigas in any sphere can only bloom if the ingrained quality of Complacency is killed slowly. Slowly and steadily the entire present generation of Kannadigas must be sensitised to 2 perspectives:

-How an opportunity lost at an individual level for each single Kannadiga adds up to a collective loss for the whole state in his own market and the accruing gains to non Kannadigas in the bargain. How a cascading effect can take root through geometric progression (of such impacts) that can put the situation beyond repair.

-How any injustice to Karnataka or Kannada affects the interests of a Kannadiga at an individual level.

Once this sensitivity is inculcated , the nature balance of an individual will inculcate whatever traits of entrepreneurship are required for combatting this.

lakki said...

Thanks to BaLaga to have given a fitting answer to all those kannadigas and non kannadigas who think that there in no kannada in bengalooru. Hopefully all business establishments/advertisers use kannada and not hindi to sell their products in this kannada land. This misconception should be removed permanently from the minds of people that kannada does not exist in bengalooru. how do we do it? always use kannada whereever you are and make it loud.. then people realise that they are in kannada land. if you dont, only other languages would be heard and everyone will think that there is no kannada...
regards,
lakki

Goli said...

75% of the radio listeners are kannadigas, but that does not prove anything. It still might be more effective in putting advertisements on English and Hindi channels, because I guess most of the target audience have lot of purchasing power. This may or may not be true, but I am just pointing out is that absolute numbers do not matter, it is the target audience that are more important.

--
Goli

lakki said...

Mr Goli,
when you want to target a segement of customers for, let us take an example of life insurance, i presume that it is not the wealthy customer. It is the large mass which is the market for life insurance, because they have all the packages which suit the common man, And the most sensible thing to do is to advertise in the local language to reach out to the common mass. The same applies to Telephone SPs. For ex. all Vodafone ads in bengalooru are in english. and mobile phone market is a mass market..can you see the skew here?

regards,
lakki

Goli said...

Hi,
Lakki

Completely agreed. So my point was only that it depends on what are you marketing and what is your target audience and numbers are not the only criteria.

lakki said...

hi Goli,

i agree that firms do the STP marketing which is segmenting , targeting and positioning:)
i am annoyed that even for the mass, it is done in hindi and english and for the psuedo kannadiga this looks absolutely perfect.
what say mate?? thats where i disagree.
mattondu prashne nimage.. GOLI andre marble? are you using this for the pun?
regards,
lakki

Goli said...

But does it really matter. I come from Gujarat, and there again everything is in English and Hindi. Gujarat does not even have a film/media industry that is as big as Kannada.

I guess the companies thought that most of the kannadigas understand Hindi but not vice-versa. And hence maximum masses can be reached by doing ads in that language.

But I still fail to understand how should this matter. I frankly believe that good things survive, say like Yoga survives against all the culture attacks even though it is not forced on people. People themselves realize the importance of this and learn it themselves.

Whatever is beautiful and has significance will automatically survive. You never have to force it.

Jagadish said...

Goli,

Make no mistake. It is good things which need force and human effort to maintain. It is bad that automatically survives. This is a natural law.

lakshmisha said...

Mr Goli,
Yoga survives not only because it is good but also because people practice it. If people stop practising yoga, it will cease to exist, which is the same for a language. Stop using a language in your day to day affairs and its ceases to exist.
Moreover ours is a nation which is divided into states based on the languages people speak. Just because a percentage of population has migrated to our state, it is the onus on part of migrated population to adjust to local language, culture, flavour and life. Now, if this section starts assuming things and neglect the local language what does the majority locals do? it is their right to listen to ads, info, entertainment in their local language as this is the federal set up we have.
It is also very stupid as some people think Hindi is the national language and everyone should know it and they use it for ads / entertainment etc.. which is absolutely hilarious:)
what say?

regards,
lakki

Prof.T.V.Mahantesh Swamy said...

Banavasi Balagakke Vandanegalu. Nimma ee seveyannu tumbaa mechhiddeve. Kannadadalle usiraadi, Kannadadalle matanadi, Kannadakkagi jeevisi. Kannadavu tanna sthanavannu tane kandukolluthe. Dhanyavadagalu.

kssomeswara said...

we should make non kannadigas to learn our language. This should be insisted at their work places. Our Kannada zealots (chaluvaligararu) should note this instead painting the sreets with their agitation for every reason

kssomeswara

Anonymous said...

Hello,
Really Nice Blog! Great.
The Problem is not with the Non-Kannadigas, its with our very own Kannadigas. I have seen many of my friends communicate with vendors and other people in hindi, even though they are born and brought up here and know Kannada very well.
I would be happy when this sort of false feeling that communicating in Kannada is not Cool or whatever is totally eradicated!

Thanks

kssomeswara said...

kannada FM channels are popular because they broadcast only new kannada songs. They should dedicate more time to old cinema hits and sugama sangeetha which is an unique musical form across the country.In on FM channel morning devotional songs are reeated every day. They should change this format for variety. Even our private channels are firm footed with only film based programmes. The Chandana channel(dooradarshan) has variety of programmes which TV viewers should watch.

kush said...

Good blog but well, I wasn't under any of the beliefs enlisted at the end -- and I think not many are.

kssomeswara said...

Many in our midst though educated will not speak proper language. They will use alpaprana for Mahaprana and vice versa. Today in a programme on humour in one of the private TV channel one of the participant was profusely using such kannada. This can be seen in many comperers of various programmes and their use of English even for ordinary words. The channels should see that good kannada is spoken every time

Priya said...

A very nice blog and a very good topic to discuss. I think what many people said is correct, we have to strictly use kannada whenever we go out for these malls and big shops. It may be true that Kannadigas have the buying power and they are the majority in Bengalooru but one of my experience made me feel i am somewhere in North India. I had been to a restaurant(don't remember the name)in the HSR Layout layout BDA complex. There everyone from the cleaner to the owner was speaking in hindi and most of the customers were also speaking in Hindi. We were asking them in Kannada for which they never answered properly that too with lot of delay...with that i got a feeling that these shop keepers who come from outside will start thinking that they can do business without speaking in Kannada also and thats how they don't try and learn also. We should not let it happen.

One more thing is that i have visited quite a few shops run by outsiders but who have learnt Kannada and speak in Kannada. I have appreciated them also. Like this they will get encouragement i feel.

I have some queries also...i am working for an MNC with most of my colleagues being non-Kannadigas(out of 24 ppl there are 5 are Kannadigas rest all a mix of Hindi, Telugu & Tamil).

* During lunch we can't speak in Kannada to even the people who know Kannada 'coz all others on the same table can't understand and they object. Its true that we don't let them speak in Hindi as well...so we end up using English only. how do i make an attempt to change the situation?

* We have a magazine that comes out every quarter. There is a Kannad section in that which is intended to teach Kannada to non-Kanndigas. But hardly anyone reads it!! How to make more and more people read this and learn Kannda? They don't do it 'coz they aren't feeling it a necessity.

* There is a library with a non-technical book collection. Currently all are English books. I proposed them to start a Kannada section also. They said ok but they also expressed their doubt about how many will be taking Kannda books? i think i will still go ahead with that idea of starting a Kannada section.

kssomeswara said...

Regarding Priya's comments my suggestion is that there some institutions which can teach Kannada to non-kannadigas at their workplace. Here the cooperation of the employer is needed. The free time of the employees can be utilised for the same. 20 mts a day may be sufficient. Above all, the urge for learning should come from individuals. MNC's can introduce this Kannada teaching which will help promotion of language.

Goli said...

@Priya, I really dont think you can force people to learn Kannada. Even if you, they will not learn it. Simply because they dont see the necessity for it.
Culture prospers, not by forcing other people to follow it. It grows from learning from different people.

The way I see is that it is a great thing, that people are able to survive without Kannada in Bangalore. which has led to so many companies coming to Bangalore, and because of which so many jobs have been created. Imagine had these companies not been there, so many poeple would be struggling to get jobs.

Kannada will prosper by not forcing people to learn it, but by producing works of literature, Theatre, films, which are rich in culture . People will automatically learn kannada to experience them.

Also I dont understand how a language is going to die, just because few people non kannada guys have shifted to Bangalore. Kannada is much more than that.

Chinmayi said...

Very nice blog and interesting article!
Kannadalli daari kelidre, Hindi nalli utthra kododu Bengalooralli Maathra.
Adhu nanna anubhava. Vishaadaniyavaada vishaya enu andre, utthara kottavaru Kannadadavare.

Why can't Kannada be compulsorily taught in Karnataka Schools till at least 10th Std?

Now schools would rather teach French and German rather than Kannada and Sanskrit. Obviously it is a money making business.

kssomeswara said...

modalu kannada bhasheya ucharneyannu ariyaagi madabeku.kely cinema nataru, tv kalaavidr, tvnalli kaaryakrama nadesikoduvavaru ivrugala naalige shuddha golisbeku. hosdaagi bhashe kaliyuvavarige ivaru prerane aagbaaradu.

Tarale Seena said...

Come on, Bengalurinalli Setu galu, Sindhi galu, eega Gulf Return Mallu galu bandu vakkariskondirovaga,
how can you measure Kannadiga buying power?

Anonymous said...

Mr Goli, the jobs created have not benefitted kannadigas - so we don;t need those jobs, we don;t mind if the companies migrate to places where most of the employees are from - it will relieve the pressure on the infrastructure of bangalore.

I live in the UK - have lived in both England, Wales and Scotland, visited France, Germany, Italy etc.

Not sure whether you have travelled and lived outside India for lengthy periods - you will find that people who migrate to those countries are expected to blend in; if not take themselves off to whereever they blend in. This is common even in other Indian states. There is no point in creating insulated pockets of 'different cultures'whilst not making any effort to integrate with the local community - and learning the language is the first step.

Anonymous said...

why it so hard to interpret this anger as frustration? because it is so hard to hear Kannada in Bangalore like in IT companies, we have reached a threshold in Karnataka particularly in Bangalore. The English media is not doing much to highlight this. My question do the other states are so welcoming? be it in Kannada movies, TV channels...it's like u don't know the state language you cannot survive in other states unlike in karnataka. Just to get that "cosmopolitan" tag we allow some (read cinema,business) to come down here and they setup...so that others can follow and enjoy that as you don't need to know kannada!!!!

suresh said...

ಈ ವಿಷಯ ನಮ್ಮ ಟಿ.ವಿ ಚಾನೆಲ್ ನವರಿಗೆ ಗೊತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದೆನಸುತ್ತದೆ. ಯಾಕೆಂದರೆ ಅವರು ಹಿಂದಿ,ತಮಿಳ&ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ ಸಿನಿಮಾಗಳು ಬಿಡುಗಡೆ ಯಾದಾಗ ವಿಶೇಷ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮಗಳನ್ನು ಪ್ರಸಾರ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾರೆ.ಅತೀ ಹಚ್ಚು ಪ್ರಚಾರ ಮಾಡುತ್ತವೆ.ಈ ಲೇಖನ ಆವರ ಕಣ್ತೆರೆಯಲಿ. ಧನ್ಯವಾದಗಳು!

KIRAN JL said...

WAKE UP KANNADIGAS WE NEED REVOLUTION i.e MEAN KANNADA/KANNADIGA/KARNATAKA REVOLUTION.WE WANT KANNADA ANNA HAZARE.KERALIGARU NAMMA BENGALURIGE DALI IDUTTIDDARE.ECHARA KANNADIGARE ECHARA.

KIRAN JL said...

KANNADADHA RASTRAKUTA/CHALUKYA RAJARU KERALADINDA MADYAPRADESHADAVAREGE ALIDDARU.EEGA NAMMA KANNADIGARU KEVALA ONDU BENGALOORANNU ALALU SADYAVILLAVEKE ? KANNADIGARE NAMAGE KANNADA REVOLUTION BEKU.

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