Weird Language Policy in Namma Metro

- by Vallish Kumar
Pic source:indiarailonline.com
In the year 2011, Bengaluru got its first metro train, also called as 'Namma Metro'. From its inception, 'Namma Metro' has followed a weird language policy. It welcomes its passengers with sign boards and announcements in Kannada, English and Hindi. On close examination it becomes clear that the language policy of ‘Namma Metro’ is actually not driven with intentions to make navigation easy for the masses. Let us see how.

Flawed understanding of Cosmopolitanism
To justify the use of Hindi in Namma Metro, there are arguments that Bengaluru is a cosmopolitan city and hence, the use of Kannada and English is not sufficient. What such an argument fails to consider is that the cities like Dubai, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur which are much more cosmopolitan than Bengaluru, have only two languages used in their Metros. Language of the land and English, being the two languages used in metros there. The recently inaugurated Chennai metro has adopted two language policy, Tamil and English. Even the Delhi Metro operates only in two languages, Hindi and English. Does this fact make the city of Delhi any less cosmopolitan?

Language Policy Adopted in Namma Metro
When an RTI query was filed with Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited, seeking details on the language policy adopted in Namma Metro, the reply received was shocking. As per the response to the RTI query, BMRCL has framed its own language policy and has decided to include Hindi. There is no directive either from GOK or GOI to compulsorily use Hindi in Bengaluru Metro. With that understanding, let us ponder over two other questions.

  1. Is including Hindi language in 'Namma Metro' a people-friendly move, as a few claim it to be?
  2. Even if this language policy was formed internally by BMRCL, why was Hindi included?


More deserving languages than Hindi
Going by the population census, after Kannadigas, the next most populous linguistic communities in Bengaluru are Telugu, Urdu and Tamil speakers in that order. None of their languages has been used in ‘Namma Metro’.

Indian Readership Survey data of 2011 reveals that Kannada dailies, with a readership of 16.2 lakhs and English dailies, with a readership of 9.5 lakhs, dominate the list of top ten 'most read' newspapers in Bengaluru. Kannada dailies Vijaya Karnataka and Prajavani were the most read newspapers in the year 2011, followed by the English daily The Times of India. In the list of top 10 newspapers of Bengaluru, apart from Kannada and English dailies, only the Tamil newspaper 'daily thanthi' has found the eighth slot with 88,000 readers. There is not a single Hindi daily in the Bengaluru's top 10 newspapers' list. 

This data is enough to say that Kannada and English reach the masses in Bengaluru. It is unfair and illogical to give prominence to a language like Hindi, which ranks probably sixth or seventh in terms of the number of speakers in Bengaluru. Especially when the third, fourth and the fifth largest linguistic communities are ignored, just to accommodate Hindi. This leads us to the question, why does Hindi get importance always ahead of other much deserving Indian languages?

Language Policy of the Union Government breeds inequality
Answer to this question is in the flawed language policy adopted by the Union Government of India, ever since the current political India was formed. The constitution of India has made it the job of the Union Government to work towards making Hindi more and more acceptable across the geography of the Indian Union. The prolonged special treatment to Hindi by the Union Government of India, is what has caused the perception that everything related to Union Government must have Hindi in it. Such a perception has ensured that Hindi made its way even to ‘Namma Metro’, while the more deserving languages were pushed aside.
The three language policy that was supposed to be adopted in schools, seems to have found its way into every establishment that is associated with the Union Government one way or the other. Even the Kannada Development Authority, in a recent letter to BMRCL, has asked the BMRCL to ensure that the three language policy is followed. While there is no constitutional obligation on BMRCL to follow the three-language policy, the Kannada Development Authority insisting on three-language policy’s usage shows the awareness levels regarding the three-language policy. This lack of awareness displayed by the Kannada Development Authority is a different debate altogether.

End to discrimination
This preference to Hindi is nothing but discrimination against the several other linguistic groups that are part of the Indian Union. The only solution to this glaring discrimination is, to bring in linguistic equality in the Union of India. Linguistic equality can be achieved by declaring all the 22 languages in the eighth schedule of the constitution of India as the official languages of the Union Government. Only then, Hindi will stop taking place of other 'more deserving' languages, under the guise of being people-friendly.


11 comments:

Amit Das said...

What is your problem if Metro is using Hindi? Did it use Hindi replacing Kannada? I am afraid this article doesn't promote language equality, instead it is promoting Kannada and hatred against Hindi among common mass. West Bengal has 6 official languages considering the sentiment iflinguistic minorities in that state. They are not imposing Bengali on non-Bengali speakers. Why do you want to impose Kannada on non-Kannada speaking citizens?

Priyank said...

@Amit Das,
It doesn't look like you have read the article. The other more deserving languages have been sidelined to make way for Hindi, is the main argument in this article. And you are calling it "Kannada imposition".

Amar Kumar said...

@Vallish,

I totally respect your views about the Linguistic equality. I also know that Non-Hindi speaking population is in minority in Bangaluru. But does this article really promote what you actually want to convey? Doesn't it sound a bit Anti-Hindi. I am not being biased or against any language. But please don't take the name of any specific language every time. You took an example of Tamil Nadu, did the state government put any other south Indian language in their metro operations? Don't you think there are Kanadigas and other community people hailing from different languages and cultures dwell in the city? Why didn't they include Telugu and Kannada as the metro language? I know that you will take the name of Delhi metro. But my friend, the amount of population there from this region is minimal. We never said that remove Kannada from metro operations. And let me give you a choice that if you have to chose any three language removing Hindi, then which three languages would you suggest? Remember you have only three choices and you have so many languages to select from. My friend, stop discriminating on linguistic basis and start respecting every language. Also lease being Anti-Hindi and set an example for a responsible and wise citizen of India.

Dharmatej said...

My problem with Hindi imposition in Namma Metro is very simple. I am not very good with reading Hindi. Some of the sign boards of Namma Metro can display only one language at a time.( Sign Board on Metro showing destination for example and they are not changed to other languages very quickly.) Now, why should I struggle to read sign boards in My own city, even though I can read both official languages of the land.

BABA said...

If you are talking about linguistic equality, it should start with Delhi Metro where it will display info in all 8th schedule 22 languages.
It is simple, if the national capital Delhi cannot use kannada in the metro, why should BLR metro use hindi in it?

Aravindhan arvi said...

@Amit Das: This is the problem with these type of people. They will read the title and straight away starts commenting in favour of Hindi. First read the article fully.

If Bengaluru metro wants three languages it should be Kannada,English and Telugu.
If it wants Two languages it should be Kannada and English.

Sandeep Kambi said...

Yeah, I agree with Priyank. If reaching out to different linguistic communities was really the concern, Telugu, Tamil and Urdu should have made it instead of Hindi. And I do not understand why Amit calls it Kannada imposition when Kannada should be the natural choice, as it is the vehicular language here in Bengaluru, and English will anyways be retained for travelers, visitors and other people who do not follow Kannada.

BABA said...

@Amar
When most cosmopolitan cities use only 2 languages, local for natives and English for everyone else. Why is this mindset that 3 languages are reqd in BLR metro?
The contention here is only 2 languages are sufficient in BLR metro.

Vallish Kumar S said...

@Amar:

But does this article really promote what you actually want to convey? >> I wanted to convey that Hindi is getting prominence in places where it does not deserve. It has been written using the same words.

Doesn't it sound a bit Anti-Hindi. >> Anti Hindi-Imposition, not anti-Hindi. No hatred towards any language.

But please don't take the name of any specific language every time. >> Why not? Hindi is the language that is being imposed on non-Hindi speakers of this country. It makes absolute sense to point it out.

You took an example of Tamil Nadu, did the state government put any other south Indian language in their metro operations? Don't you think there are Kanadigas and other community people hailing from different languages and cultures dwell in the city? Why didn't they include Telugu and Kannada as the metro language? >> What languages should be included in Chennai metro is not my interest. All I wanted to say is that they have "rightly" used 2 languages. The reference to Telugu/Tamil speakers in Bengaluru is just to highlight that Hindi does not deserve even as much as these languages do.


I know that you will take the name of Delhi metro. But my friend, the amount of population there from this region is minimal. >> Hindi speakers are also not as high in Bengaluru, what is the logic behind using Hindi then?

We never said that remove Kannada from metro operations. >> Any person in good mental condition would not say that.

And let me give you a choice that if you have to chose any three language removing Hindi, then which three languages would you suggest? Remember you have only three choices and you have so many languages to select from. >> You are wrong. We don't need a third language. Two is enough, pls read the article once again with emphasis to the paragraph that shows IRS data.

My friend, stop discriminating on linguistic basis and start respecting every language. Also lease being Anti-Hindi and set an example for a responsible and wise citizen of India. >> Please give this moral advice to the Govt of India which has been carrying out discrimination against non-Hindi speakers of this Country. I am worried you cannot make out the difference between anti-Hindi and Anti-Hindi imposition. Get it right soon.

koti said...

Nice article

Unknown said...

Eventually English is going to take prominence among all the other Indian languages. The fight about using which language where and when between our countries languages is just going to take us nowhere. But i personally feel a two language policy is better. its short and sweet.

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