What have the Lithuanians got that we ain't got?

In the last month or so, democratically elected governments of two linguistic peoples from two different corners of the world have ruled that their respective languages shall not be neglected on signs and display boards in their own lands. The first people are the Lithuanians, the people of Lithuania in Europe who are a trivial 3.35 million in number:
A Lithuanian court ordered the removal of street signs not written in Lithuanian, dealing a blow to minority rights campaigners in Polish- and Russian-speaking areas around the capital. The ruling capped a yearlong legal battle rooted in a far older debate. Swaths of the Lithuania, including the capital, Vilnius, were Polish until World War II. When Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union, Russian was the dominant language in public life. After independence in 1990, Lithuanian was reinstated as the official language, creating tensions in areas where the majority speaks Russian or Polish. Local authorities have one month to remove the offending signs.
Second - are the Kannadigas of whom there are 55 million to count (nearly 16 times the number of Lithuanians!). Reports the Indian Express:

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa had announced last month that all shops and offices which don’t display their nameboards and other signboards in Kannada will invite a penalty of Rs 10,000. This move was also recommended by the Kannada Development Authority (KDA).
Whether it's Lithuania or Karnataka, and whether it's removal of non-Lithuanian signs or a fine for not displaying Kannada signs, this is an expression of the world's need to maintain its linguistic diversity. It's a different matter that the Kannadiga expression pales in comparison to the Lithuanian as an expression of authority: removal is stronger than a petty fine; the Lithuanian expression carries a stronger will than the Kannadiga expression.

However, while the international media looks at the Lithuanian case as an expression of its freedom and need to maintain its identity, the Kannadiga case is simply overlooked by it likely because of the prevalent feeling that all of India "must be speaking Hindi". That's the story of Hindi Imposition, and we don't want to get into that method of linguistic oppression in this article. Or perhaps it's the general neglect of anything Indian or whatever.

The point we'd like to make is that the English media houses in India - even ones operating in Karnataka itself - look at the move by the government at as something anti-development, anti-business and anti-India. Here's an example from the Indian Express which talks of the Government in the following light words:

Owners of shops and offices, those of you who are still not displaying their names and signboards in Kannada, beware. Because it is not just the activists who are out to get you, even the state government is not on your side.
We humbly ask: why are we like this? Why do we talk of a legislation which protects our own language as something that's "out to get us"? Why do we expect our own government to be on the side of those who display disrespect and neglect towards our own language?


Anonymous said...

ella politicians are lucha nanna makkalu. Averella shandaru. Namma Kannada kapadodu kannadigarada nammellara javabdari. Law gee anta summane kutukondare ee telugu, tamil ammata bere evaru kannadana mannalli haki muchi bidtare. Joke ella kannadigare eli eddeli matte ella ondagi...........Jai kannada

Clangorous said...

What have the Lithuanians got that we ain't got? ... Well, Kannadigas aint got even a small amount of swabhimaana about their own language.. they are bent upon boot licking English, Hindi and all other languages but Kannada... I guess no where in the whole world people show so much inferiority complex and indifference to their own language..

Time and again I see Kannadigas speaking to each other in horrendous English with screwed up sentence structures but still they feel it is superior to speak in imperfect english than speaking their own language which they would be most comfortable conversing in.... These people have even gone to the extent of making even kindergarten kids speak only english without even teaching their own mothertongue. These so called 'Cosmo' Kannadigas would be the very reason for coming generations finding it difficult to converse in their own mothertounge.

Above all these...most of the English Schools operating especially in Bengaluru punish kids who speak in Kannada.. What is the Government doing about such schools who fine/punish kids for speaking the language of the land ?... moreover our pseudo cosmos are more than happy to accept such rules... On one hand people are even ready to immolate themselves in our neighbouring state for the cause of civilians who speak their language in a different country.. but in our state capital, Kannadigas themselves are the biggest enemies to their own language... .

At the same time... when organisations like KRV are doing their best in the interest of Kannada... these cosmos make a big hue and cry accusing them of extortions, branding them as illiterates/dropouts who cant speak proper Kannada.. How many of these psuedo cosmos have seen them extorting with their own eyes.. ? even if they have, have they cared to find out which organisation those extortionists belong to... ? and have made an attempt to complain to KRV ?.. For these people whoever comes with a Kannada flag is KRV... . These Durabhimaani cosmos wont do anything for Kannada.. at the same time they wouldnt allow people who are genuinely interested in fighting for the cause of Kannada not even caring about the Lathis/Boots of the Police.

About the Kannada Signboards... have the government even cared to look at areas like Vivek Nagar near Koramangala ?.. Its filled with Tamil boards... Why are they turning a blind eye on such open flouting of rules ? .. guess only with a motive of illegal votebanks from the illegal slum dwellers ? ...

On one hand our Government declares 2009 as Kannada Implementation year... ironically on the other hand they cunningly open a back door for Hindi by even going to the extent of displaying Routes on Marco-Polo busues in Hindi, Funding Sanskrit Universities and including Bollywood Filth in our Yuva Dasara, Hampi Utsava and what not... . Heights of Hypocrisy at its best.

Concerned said...

All over urban India, Indian languages are getting totally polluted in speech. People speak a mixture of English and Indian language. It is good to be bilingual. But that is not the way one speaks a language. Especially sad, because Indian languages have very rich traditions running hundreds of years. At this rate, all Indian languages will be eventually destroyed. Only Indian people can do such things. It is not possible anywhere in the world.

Jai Veerupaksha said...

Even Today Mukhyamantri Chandru was lamenting that some Ministers in the Government were just doing lip service to Kannada. Even in the year 2009- which the BJP has proudly proclaimed as the year of Kannada, he claimed that some Ministers are still continuing to use English in administration.

At this pace we sure are headed for a disintegration so fast, that we would end up as case studies of what one should not be.Till Kannadigas realise that it is not just the Saahiti SammeLana's of the world or a few grants here and there for Kannada that will help Kannada flourish but that Kannada should get imbibed into everything that happens in Karnataka so much so that in the absence of Kannada, not a single thing moves....this is the state that we should attain.

Reminds me of a song from an old Ananth Nag movie.........Ninna Neenu MaratharEnu Sukhavide....tanna tanavu kOretharEnu SOgaside.........Wake up....all you hollow folks....PragnE tannkOLi.

Shashi said...

Good comment by Clangorous. There was a tamilian visiting my place, who knows 80% kannada. He was telling to me, that he has never seen such an apathy towards their own language, except for kannadigas. He said Tamil, Telugu, Malayam guys never do this. I completely agreed with him. He said when he went to visit a kannada friend (in UK), there were lot of kannadigas there always talking in English though my friend was trying to talk in kannada, those kannadigas were replying in English and all their kids didn't know a bit of kannada. This is the state of affairs for Kannada. Really, Kannada is in a very dire condition. We need to take as extreme measure as possible to improve the situation.

Devesh said...

most of them there speak 2-3 foreign languages but 33 lakh Lithuanians never felt their language as inferior. In fact
they have built many universities & study in their own language and still survive in the global economy. Not only that, the Present-day Lithuania has one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union.

We Kannadigas are 550 lakh people & think about how much potential we are destrying everyday by not building economies the way it should be built. By not promoting the education the way it should be promoted.

Just check the skyline of the Capital of Lithuania and be amazed..

Kishore said...

Hi Calngorous,

You are stressing on inferiority complex which is a serious mental illenss and takes time to cure. The political will cannot just exist without the society's perparedness to transform at least the present day governments wont take a chance to enforce anything. This is not possible in cosmos & liberal society, THE BANE OF so called classless, all are equal kind of uncontrolled democracy.

The solution lies with those who are educated on these issues and what they do before they enter their respective graves. The 20-30 years what they see before them is all what they have got to see some Lithuania around them.

Running the government is not a bad job in this recession period isn't it?


Clangorous said...

@ Jai Veerupaksha,

one small correction : Its Tanna Tanava Toredarenu Sogaside...holds good for English/Hindi bootlicking pseudo cosmos :P

@ Shashi,
Thank you, Whatever you have mentioned is so true...

@ Kishore,
Its Clangorous.

Please elloborate on takes time to cure... ? Common don't tell me we cant be cosmo enough with kannada ? ,,, True meaning of Cosmopolitan is :


So sophisticated as to be at home in all parts of the world or conversant with many spheres of interest: a cosmopolitan traveler.

It doesnt say, one has to compromise their own identity to be a cosmo...

There is nothing superior in English/Hindi nor there is nothing inferior in Kannada.. if people fail to understand this common sense.. a day will come when they would face identity crisis.

Its a proven scientific fact that kids learn the best in their mothertoungue..

About the all are equal quote.. it reminds me of a dialogue from Hirannayya's Lanchaavataara Plaay .. In our Country .. All are equal.. but some are more equal (read hindians)

Anonymous said...

What have the Lithuanians got that we ain't got?

Ans : Lithuania is nation. Karnataka is not even a proper federal state.

Lithuania is ruled by Lithuanians only. Karnataka is not only ruled by Kannadas but also by Telugus, Hindis and all the central govt. etc.

If Karnataka were a country, do we have any of these issue? Hindi immigration prevention problem? Classical Language issue? etc :)

Comparing Karnataka with Lithuania is like comparing a Lion in th e wild with a circus Lion :).


Anonymous said...

indian goverment is promoting english education because india is not ruled by indians.it is done so by agents of colonial rulers.so they educate the people to serve their masters.

Anonymous said...

It's high time Kannadigas put pressure on the govt to see that Kannada is the the thing as far as Karnataka goes. and the state is not abt one or two cities. the people must be in action for this to happen.

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