Serve and 'Wah'li in Kannada!

"Customer is king!" Such is the claim of all businessmen that have come to realize that the key to their victory in today's competitive market rests in the hands of the customer. And today's customer is not so easy to please, what with there being a multitude of parameters that matter when this customer makes a choice from among the competing candidates! To be effective in their courtship, each such business needs to run keeping such key parameters of its customers in mind, primary of which happens to be the language this king speaks!

Business - way to go!
Talking of business and its ways to find success in a market like ours, it is but affirmative for the businessmen to understand and keep high the spirit of this market - its cultural footprint. The strong interleaving of language with the culture of a society in general leads to this understanding that success of a business in a market is all about how well the business understands and aligns to the cultural and linguistic vein of the market. Failing on these counts could be detrimental to any kind of business, apart from leaving a trace of violation of the rights that rest with the customer.

Kannada in Karnataka means business
Business with a Kannadiga, especially when inside Karnataka, cannot happen without the involvement of Kannada language in every part of its activity - be it on the customer interaction front involving talking and liaisoning with customers, or marketing of products, or in the packaging and delivery of goods to the customer's end. The usage of any language other than Kannada in business with a Kannadiga is not only an unfair practice by the businessman, because by doing so the businessman has kept the customer in darkness about important product related information, but also a display of lack of business acumen.

Any kind of interaction with a customer is proved to be most effective (in a broad sense) when it happens in the language of the land - that is Kannada on Karnataka soil. The emergence of Radio Mirchi in Bengalooru at the top (leaving Radio City behind) after they resorted to 100% Kannada music is an apt benchmark for this.

Looking around

One casual look around the world at markets rife with local language activity shows that technology is never a limitation to exploring new avenues to use local language effectively in bringing out the best results in a business. Countries such as China and Japan have explored all avenues of technology to reach their goals of bringing their rather complicated scripts onto every medium that is involved in businesses - be it print or multimedia. The point here is that these people have figured out ways in which their language yields well into a form favorable for business. This motivation to effectively use such facets of local language and constantly upgrade it to meet market expectations to be successful in a business is what is required in our businessmen too. The key ability to tailor one's language to obtain that cutting edge in business is quintessential for successful business, and that is required in our businessmen too.
An urge to think out of the box, retain the common sense and conduct business in Kannada is all that is required to shine and make hay in business on Karnataka soil.

Lets "click" in the Kannada market!

Generally when we talk about Kannada, more often than not we talk about literature, film, music, drama, folk forms & similar ones. But we come across very little discussion on how these can be seen as products & services that people utilize or experience. It is rarely seen from a business perspective, as a potential market. It is very important for businessmen (Kannadiga & non-Kannadiga) to understand the market potential of these Kannada-centric products & services. Let us open up a discussion on this.

Products & Services
We can perhaps start by preparing a list of products & services possible around Kannada. The list below is not an exhaustive one and we encourage readers to let their imagination add to this list.
The information below is organized under two headings: Content & Delivery Channels. Content is language specific & the Delivery channels are the infrastructure to deliver this content.

Sl. No


Delivery Channels


Book, Print Media, Internet


Print Media, Radio, Television, Internet


Theatres & Multiplexes, Tapes & CDs, Television, Internet


Radio, Television, Tapes & CD, Internet

Plays & Dramas

Auditoriums, Television

Study Material

Books, Radio, Television, Tapen & CDs, Internet


Tapes & CDs, Internet


Radio, TV, Print Media, Public Spaces, Internet

We can drill down further a couple of levels under each of the line-items under Content heading and can define those as specific offerings in the market. For example, if you consider music as a category: classical music, light music (sugama sangeetha), film music, folk music, devotional music are a few sub-categories which can have specific offerings in the target market.
Newer opportunities that are emerging are:
  • Kannada specific voice based call center services,
  • Training centers to train people (wanting to do business with Kannada speaking people) on Kannada.
Market Size
There are two angles to look at the market size - namely the head-count of the existent market, and its size in terms of monetary revenue it can bring to the involved organization or body. On the former scale, head-count or population, the market is around 60 million + (with approximately 50 million inside Karnataka and 10 million outside Karnataka). On the latter scale, revenue, with a very conservative estimate, 60 million people spending an average of Rs 100 per month in this market bundles up to Rs 7200 crores per year.

Current Realization of Market potential
Low (may be 15-20 % market has been realized). There is tremendous opportunity in this market as the current players are small businesses run by individuals or families which lack professional management capability & there has been little effort in market exploration, tapping and development.

Although in the last couple of years, large corporations have entered the Television, Radio & Print Media, enterprises planning to enter these markets need to hire extremely talented people who are well-versed in Kannada and understand the pulse of the market. When this happens, the real value of the Kannada market will start getting tapped, and fetch attractive returns.

What next?
The write-up above with a preliminary analysis of the Kannada-centric products & services was to initiate a discussion & present a different perspective. Karnatique readers who may be interested in working with Banavasi Balaga in researching these markets & working with the industry representatives in initiating market development activities in these industries, please respond to banavasibalaga AT gmail DOT com.

The concept of H- and L-Kannada: a disease called "diglossia"

There is widespread belief among Kannadigas that there are two types of Kannada, one of high prestige (H-Kannada) and one of low prestige (L-Kannada). The definition of what constitutes high prestige and what low prestige is nowhere written down, but somewhat implicitly understood by almost every Kannadiga, whether he belongs to the H-Kannada camp or the L-Kannada camp. The H-Kannada camp pats itself on the back that it uses the "correct" Kannada, while the L-Kannada camp simply deems itself to have been born with an impaired tongue.

This is a sociolinguistic phenomenon called "diglossia". In this short essay, we will show how Kannada's diglossia is detrimental to both the unity and progress of the Kannadiga people, then urge our readers to first wake up to this fact and second to stop either feeling a sense of pride for belonging to the H-tribe or a sense of impairment for belonging to the L-tribe. Both the feelings are false, and both break our unity and oneness of purpose.

H-Kannada is generally used for written Kannada (with the conspicuous exception of quotations or dialogue), as well as for any "decent" public usage -- such as in a public function or conference or meeting. H-Kannada has an abundance of Sanskrit words used without any modifications, while L-Kannada has very few Sanskrit words (with the handful borrowed Sanskrit words having been modified to suit the Kannada tongue) and has in general no difference between aspirated and unaspirated consonants unlike languages such as Sanskrit and Hindi. The lack of differentiation between aspirated and unaspirated consonants is a linguistic feature present in Kannada from thousands of years (from the days of Halagannada or old Kannada).

People of both the H and L tribes express discomfort if someone uses L-Kannada in situations such as public discourses or writing, considering the user to be unscholarly, uncouth and unpolished. In open defiance of glaring linguistic proofs, the H-tribe has even perpetuated the wrong theory that Kannada has been derived from Sanskrit. This wrong theory is implicitly assumed to be right by the H-tribe, and no proof is asked for. The fact that this unscientific behaviour stems from weak minds with lack of understanding of the basics of linguistics and lack of appreciation for the real worth of Sanskrit (which is, in one word, spirituality) is a different matter, and warrants a separate article.

The L-tribe, which is at the receiving end of the flawed theory that Kannada is derived from Sanskrit, stomachs it for want of erudition. The proof against this flawed theory, which is nothing less than a human population of nearly 4 crore Kannadigas, is openly ignored, openly neglected. This neglect, which overflows from the drawing board of flawed proofs into day-to-day neglect of 4 crore Kannadigas by the H-tribe is the first reason for the death of Kannadiga unity attributable to diglossia, and the first reason for Karnataka's stunted growth. The first is because neglect creates a rift between the neglecters and the neglected. The second is because the H-tribe which thinks it has the ability to take Karnataka forward in the right direction itself neglects nearly all of Karnataka, deeming it a relief from engaging with those whom it considers as "unscholarly, uncouth and unpolished".

Diglossia is a disease, nay an epidemic, which is slowly ripping apart Kannadiga from Kannadiga and destroying our oneness of purpose. It's high time the H-tribe stops pulling the legs of people from the L-tribe and instead works on ways of bridging the gap. It's high time the H-tribe stops patting on its own back thinking out of ignorance that it speaks the "real Kannada"! It's high time the L-tribe stops thinking of its version of Kannada as that of a lesser God. No, the Kannadiga tongue is golden and every way of speaking Kannada is to be worshipped and equally "real" and "correct"! There is no high, no low! It's all one and the same mother tongue! It's only an illusion that one version of Kannada is H and another L!

Arise O Kannadiga! Awake! Unite! Destroy the reason for our disunity! Destroy diglossia!

Kannada Film Industry : Potential Markets

Kannada film industry (KFI) has always been talking about having a small market in comparison to Telugu and Tamil film industries. If you look at the available information on the annual revenues of Telugu and Tamil film industries it ranges between Rs 1200 - Rs 1500 crores.

In comparison,
KFI's annual revenues are between Rs 200 - Rs 250 crores.

Since people who speak / understand a language watch the respective language films, there is a direct correlation between the number of people who speak / understand a language and the corresponding language film industry revenues.

Number of Telugu, Tamil and Kannada speaking people is 9, 7 and 5 crores respectively. Going by these numbers, Kannada film industry should have had a turnover of atleast Rs 500-600 crores. But why is the current turnover of KFI only 35-40 % of the potential market?

Fault lies with the Kannada Film Industry. KFI has never understood the potential market for Kannada movies and therefore have had no programmes to harness the potential market.

Here are a few suggestions that could go some way in realising the potential market for Kannada films:

  1. Encourage more Kannadigas to watch Kannada movies. This would result in an increase in the number of Kannadigas (inside Karnataka) watching Kannada movies.
    • Today KFI's turnover is Rs 200 crores. (Back-of-the-envelope calculation : At present, about 1 crore Kannadigas watch 4 movies per year at Rs 50 per ticket entry. If this could be increased to 2 crore Kannadigas watching 4 movies per year at Rs 50 per ticket entry, turnover will increase to Rs 400 crores)
  2. Encourage non-Kannadigas within Karnataka to watch Kannada movies.
    • Today, very few non-Kannadigas in Karnataka watch Kannada movies. If we could have 25% (25 lakhs) of the total non-Kannadiga population in Karnataka watch 3 movies per year at Rs 50 per ticket entry, additional turnover becomes Rs 35-40 crores.
  3. Distribute / Exhibit Kannada films outside Karnataka (within & outside India) so that non resident Kannadigas get to watch Kannada movies.
    • Today, very few Kannadigas outside Karnataka get to watch Kannada movies. If we could have 25% (25 lakhs) of Kannadiga population outside Karnataka watch 3 movies per year at Rs 100 per ticket entry, additional turnover becomes Rs 75 crores.
    • These 3 revenue streams would all add upto Rs 500 crores which is more than double the current annual revenue of KFI.

What needs to be done to make this happen?

Few actionables for KFI:

  1. Produce quality movies
  2. Increase no of theaters that screen Kannada movies (within Karnataka)
  3. Promote / Market Kannada movies in a big way - use all available channels / avenues to promote / market Kannada movies
  4. Promote / Market Kannada movies among non-Kannadigas in Karnataka and among non-resident Kannadigas
  5. Distribute Kannada movies outside Karnataka
  6. KFI: Run it like an industry. professionalize, professionalize & professionalize

Few actionables for Kannada organizatons:

  1. Create a sense of Kannada identity in Kannadigas.
  2. Create awareness among non-Kannadigas in Karnataka that they need to learn Kannada and become a part of Karnataka mainstream.

If only KFI and the Kannada organizations work together on this initiative for the next 5 years, there is no reason why we not only harness the potential market for Kannada films but also expand the market.

Getting entertainment in one's own language is extremely important part of one's identity. We have seen the problems a linguistic community faces when the major source of entertainment of that linguistic community is another language. For example, Marathi. In spite of being 8 crore strong, Marathis have allowed Hindi film industry to dominate their own Marathi film industry. One of the reasons why the Marathis face a serious identity crisis today is because of this. Since Marathis learn Hindi through Hindi films, they end up conversing with Hindi speaking people (who migrate to Maharashtra) in Hindi. And Hindi speaking people migrating to Maharashtra never learn Marathi.

Any lessons to learn, Kannadigas???

Bengaluru should learn from Beijing

ANNE FU of CCTV reports from Beijing how the new Beijing International Airport flaunts the Chinese culture and language in everything:

At 29,000m long, terminal 3 looks like a Chinese Dragon lying at the northeastern corner of Beijing. The ball that the dragon is playing with is the parking lot and the subway terminal. The dragon's head, body and tail are the main buildings of the terminal.


The interior decorations feature traditional Chinese characters.


Passengers here can take leisurely strolls through Chinese gardens.

One asks how much of Kannada culture our Bengaluru International Aiport will be displaying. Being what we are, we shouldn't be surprised if it is built after the Taj Mahal, that hackneyed monument which 99% Kannadigas have never seen or been to, and whose patron King (together with his dynasty and race) hadn't even heard of the Kannada language, and who at best would have looked at Kannadigas with the eyes of a predatory bird, if at all.

According to CNN Beijing, Chinese engineers want the new terminal to be world class, but with recognizably Chinese features.

CHEN GUOXING of the Beijing Capital International Airport Co. Ltd. proudly declares:
I want every passenger to be able to tell once they arrive that they are in Beijing, even without seeing a sign that reads Beijing.
Ah! now to our own Bengaluru International Airport. This will perhaps be world class too, but what about the "recognizably ___________ features" ? What will fill the blank? Do you think it's gonna be Kannada? Do you think it should be Kannada? We've already argued how what shall be is gonna be divorced from what ought to be, didn't we? Passengers to our Bengaluru International Airport will be able to tell once they arrive that they are in New Delhi!

Yeah, you bet our airport it's gonna be full of English and Hindi, with Kannada not even featuring inside the toilets! We had reported in ENGURU how a union minister visited the airport site a few months ago and pulled the curtains down on plans of making the interiors reflect Kannada culture. His point was that that takes away the international sheen. Takes away the sheen my foot! All it would have taken away is the ignorance of that minister and servile fools who still can't get over the feeling that Kannada and Kannada culture is non-International. All it would have taken away is the illogical, ill-begotten, ill-conceived, undemocratic Hindification of India at the cost of Kannada language and culture.

When will we grow up? When will we stop feeling small? There is no external trigger necessary or sufficient. It has to come from inside. We need to start feeling from inside that we Kannadigas have got balls too. Yeah, international balls.