Amidst a growing linguistic controversy in Karnataka, Narayan Gowda, the president of Karnataka Rakshana Vedika, recently voiced a strong stance. He emphasized that businesses opposing the 60% Kannada presence on their signboards should consider relocating outside of Karnataka. This statement came in the wake of the activist group’s demonstration in Bengaluru, where certain stores witnessed vandalism due to alleged non-compliance with Kannada signboard regulations.
The Karnataka Rakshana Vedika, known for its pro-Kannada advocacy, made headlines after some of its members were detained for causing disturbances outside Bengaluru’s Phoenix Mall of Asia. The group’s protest primarily revolves around the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s directive. As per this mandate, commercial establishments must ensure that over half of their signboard content is in Kannada. Establishments failing to meet this requirement by February 28 risk facing operational suspensions and license cancellations.
In response to these developments, the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) urged restraint from authorities until the stipulated deadline. The FKCCI emphasized the need for awareness, indicating that many businesses remained unaware of the rule’s governance by the BBMP.
Adding another layer to the discourse, Pralhad Joshi, a Union minister and Karnataka MP, weighed in on the issue. Amid accusations by Karnataka BJP leaders that the Congress government fueled the linguistic divide, Joshi highlighted the practicality of bilingual signages. He argued that signs should cater to everyone, emphasizing that writing in Kannada alongside English or Hindi would benefit a broader populace. In his words, “This is not England,” emphasizing the importance of local linguistic representation.
As the debate unfolds, the Karnataka business landscape finds itself at the crossroads of linguistic pride, regulatory mandates, and practical considerations, sparking conversations across the nation.