Kannada-speakers in Kasaragod face linguistic issues

Karnataka State

Kannadigas complain that they are facing language barriers in the Kasaragod district of Kerala.

Kannada-speaking residents of the Kasaragod district of Kerala are facing cultural and language barriers in the state as they are considered minorities there.

Subramaniam, a Kannada- speaking resident of Kasaragod, said that he has faced language barriers and it is the responsibility of the government to safeguard the interest of the minorities residing there. “Last year it was my son’s marriage and when we went to apply for his marriage certificate, everything was in Malayalam.This is highly unacceptable.”

In 1961, the Kerala government had issued an order dated December 12 that all forms and other government publications should be issued in Kannada language also considering the linguistic minorities of the area.

In 2021, the Chief Minister of Karnataka B S Yediyurappa has requested the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to not to change the names of 11 villages in Kasaragod and Manjeshwara taluks in Kasaragod district.

However, Ajin, a Malayalam- speaking resident of Kasaragod said that linguistic and cultural minorities anywhere in the world will face such issues and nothing can be done about it.

Kasaragod is the northernmost district of Kerala. It was formed on May 24, 1984 after the reorganisation of states. It shares a border with Karnataka. According to the 2011 census, 13% of the population of the district consider Kannada or Tulu as their mother tongue.

Recently, a non-Kannada speaking teacher was appointed by the ruling government in a Kannada medium school in Kasargode, a move that led to protest from students and parents.

Subramaniam also said that only Malayalam was taught in anganwadis until the government intervened to change it.

However, Dr. C. Somasekhara, IAS, Chairman of Karnataka Border Area Development  Authority said that Kerala has a very good relationship with Karnataka and has recently announced that a cultural academy will be built in the name of Kayyara Kinhanna Rai, an Indian independence figure and author from Kayyar in Kasaragod district. He also said that the people in the border regions are emotionally connected to Karnataka.

In 2021, a linguistic minority report was submitted by special officer Neduvattom Gopalakrishnan Nair to the Chief Minister of Kerala by studying the issues of the Kannadigas and Tamil-speaking linguistic minorities in Kerala and has made a series of recommendations including appointing government officials who are proficient in both the languages.