Renewing interest in Kannada

There is always a lot of debate on Kannada not being spoken in Karnataka – and especially Bangalore – and the panacea, as usual, is on enforcing Kannada usage (and denunciation of folks using English – especially).

And that, in a free country is ridiculous, and not going to work. Kannada signboards make sense only if people can ‘read’ Kannada. A large percentage of students do not have Kannada as a language in their syllabus, so they might not even know kannada much less read/write in the language.

But even then forcing Kannada on every student does not make sense unless the curriculum can hold the student’s interest.

The thing I have observed is that in general the Kannada syllabus is 2nd rate – and boring to the point that student only focuses on getting through the exam. Funnily enough, the English syllabus has been the exact opposite.

Here’s what’s missing from the Kannada syllabus – exciting/interesting plays/excerpts from novels of Kannada greats – for example we have poems from Kuvempu, but none of his great Novels or essays. Kannada literature has captured 7 Jnanapeeth awards(the highest for any language, I’m told) – and none of those great Authors pieces find their way to the text books – much less the works of Pampa, Ranna, Bhasa or Kalidasa.

Instead you find drab articles on Mother Teresa, for example, or even worse ones on some faded monument(monuments are priceless no doubt).

Kannada literature is singularly unrepresented in the text books – if the so-called Kannada Development Authority wants to really develop Kannada, it should start by introducing school kids to the wealth of Kannada literature.

9 Comments so far

  1. Ravi (unregistered) on May 20th, 2006 @ 1:17 pm

    Very topical post, at least for me. What with school admissions being over, my kids now have to learn Kannada. It appears to them like a daunting task but my view has been that, with one’s own interest & initiative, anything can be learnt. So here’s to the KDA doing something fast to hold the interest of todays SMS & MTV generation of kids!

  2. Ambar (unregistered) on May 20th, 2006 @ 4:46 pm

    Totally agree with you regarding the curriculum. The state board Kannada textbooks were extremely boring, with the exception of the Hindi textbooks IIRC.

    I took Kannada as an optional subject in 8th std. when I was in an ICSE affiliated school. Weirdly enough, most of our syllabus consisted of reading a condensed version of Kuvempu’s “malegaLalli madumagaLu”. And it was sheer joy. It was the only time I ever enjoyed a Kannada course.

    Then again, Govt. produced textbooks have always been the very epitome of mediocrity. So there’s nothing surprising in any of this.

  3. BangaloreGuy (unregistered) on May 21st, 2006 @ 1:38 am


    I certainly hope so! The problem with things such as the KDA is their ridiculous notion that Kannada is weak on its own – and that it requires imposition.


    you were lucky, mate. The only joy I found was reading Ranna’s Gadhayuddha(again, in high school) – and it was a fantastic piece of prose on the Mahabharatha (and the first time, I really loved Kannada as a subject).

    I dont quite agree with the notion of Govt always producing shitty texts though – the English ones have remarkable breadth and depth.

  4. NParry (unregistered) on May 24th, 2006 @ 10:27 pm

    Back when I studied in National High School, Kannada medium (A section always) was always the stepchild compared to the more elite B and C sections. It is the mindset characterized by low self esteem and lack of pride among Kannadigas about their own language and its richness that is the principal cause behind the second-class status of the language on its own home-turf. Why can’t the KDA looking at printing well-produced textbooks in Kannada, instead of raising slogans and fighting silly battles over billboards, bus signs, etc.?

    “Sirigannadam Gelge” is becoming “Sirigannadam Gallige”

  5. Archana (unregistered) on May 27th, 2006 @ 10:55 am

    I would so like to disagree with you when you say Kannada syllabus is 2nd grade….atleast it wasnt when i studied, up until 4 years back…

    The syllabus that you study depends on your preference. If you’ve opted Kannada for a second language you cant expect to be given the works of Jnanpith award winning writers in your text book… give me a break [not that i want to compare]…7th grade 3rd language Hindi text books contain alphabets and small lessons… and well, 10th grade 2nd language English textbooks dont contain ‘A midnight summer’s dream’ or ‘Julius Caesar’ by Shakespere….what they do include is poems by William Wordsworth… now do you blame the entire system? I wudnt, it depends on your choice..
    I’ve studied Kannada as a first language from day 1 until my 10th grade… our first lesson in 10th was that by Bendre [one of the guys who won the Jnanpith award] I did have lots of Halegannada [old kannada] poems written by Pampa…and a few verses from Gadha Yuddha by Ranna that I clearly remember… Honestly, I’ve loved studying every bit of Kannada as a first language that I did….from a vibhakti to a shatpadi. For my love, I’ve still kept my texts intact…I could show them if you want to… infact even our Kannada teacher at school did not ever say our syllabus was bad…

    dont know what you’re speaking of in a public space..did you do your research before commenting or Is it Kannada-a second language by any chance?? all i can suggest is, pick Kannada as a first language if you are so interested in the literature bit…and oh, expect what you’ve chosen…after all its your choice…
    Sorry for my outburst, Im a Kannada literature fanatic…..and thats only cos of the syllabus I studied :D

  6. BangaloreGuy (unregistered) on May 27th, 2006 @ 9:03 pm

    NParry, Archana thanks for your comments.

    NParry, great one-liner!


    English textbooks did have other authors – good ones. I recall O’henry, and Ruskin bond being there. I think H H Munro was also there. Shakespeare is not THE only english author worth reading, you know? So having or not having him doesnt make much of a difference – as long as a wide spectrum is represented. Literature is not just the classics, dont you agree?

    Its not done in Kannada text books – and just because a language is taken as a 2nd/3rd language does NOT mean you need to be deprived of its literature or its beauty, does it?

    I dont recall having anything from Pampa, but I do recall Ranna’s Gadha Yuddha, yes.

    If I may say so, its not the teacher who’s to be the judge, its the student, who’s to be the judge of whether a language’s syllabus is interesting enough.

    The outburst’s alright – but your expecting anyone who takes Kannada as anything but a first language to have a drab syllabus is not.

  7. Archana (unregistered) on May 28th, 2006 @ 2:15 am

    The English text book thingy is what I gave as an example…though [i had it as a second language] i dont remember studying ruskin bond or munro..
    but anyway what I was trying to say..
    when you take up a language as a 2/3rd language you’re choosing it because you dont want to study literature, because you want it to be easier than your first language rite? well, that maybe cos you dont know the language too well, or you’re not interested in it, or your not comfortable with the language….whatever the reason….its your choice. The works of Jnanpith writers [bar the poems and simple ones], Pampa, Ranna etc etc are too COMPLICATED and DIFFICULT to be studied by a person who’s picked it up as a second language. Students who are really interested in studying the literature bit or as you call it the ‘beauty’ :D bit of the language would simply choose it as their first language. And since I’ve studied it as a first lang. out of choice, when a STUDENT, I wasnt disappointed by the syllabus.. Why I actually quoted my teacher is because he’s experienced and well, he loved the language so much…
    “but your expecting anyone who takes Kannada as anything but a first language to have a drab syllabus is not.” — if its not dull, then its not easy…if its not easy then it wouldnt be a second language…
    Gosh, I’ve got my exams, dont know where i found the time…see ya!

  8. Rational (unregistered) on May 30th, 2006 @ 7:47 pm

    Stop the nonsense and try to learn the local language. everybody loves their mother tongue, but that doesnt mean that we have to hate or show disinterest towards other languages. Kannada is the language of karnataka. as long as people stay in karnataka, one should learn it. if you are in andhra, learn telugu, if in tamil nadu, learn tamil and in north india, learn hindi. thats it. you people cannot understand kannada because you do not want to learn it. its your fault and its your lethargy. students are taught hindi because its our national language, not because it was thier own mother tongue. similarly they have to study kannada as it is the local language. no language is booring, its only your thinking and your mind that is booring. change your mindset and everything looks good.

  9. Mahesh (unregistered) on June 9th, 2006 @ 8:37 am

    Sakathaaagi bariddidheera Archanaravarey….nimma maathugalu aksharashaha nija…….

    Yaare yene helali namma kannada anno manobhava belisikolli neevu saha kannadakaagi nimmindhaaguvaa sahaya maadi…

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