Bengaluru: The decision of the H.D.Kumaraswamy-led coalition to implement English as a medium of instruction in Karnataka’s government schools came under sharp criticism on Friday at the beginning of a state-sponsored literary event held in Dharwad, about 430km from Bengaluru.

The criticism by eminent Kannada litterateurs at the beginning of the Akhila Bharata Kannada Sahitya Sammelana, came days after former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah hauled up Kumaraswamy for his plans to introduce English as medium of instruction in government schools.

Kumaraswamy had announced his plans in the state budget presented in July 2017.

Noted writers like Chandrashekar Patil and Jnanapith awardee Chandrashekar Kambar pulled up the government over the decision.

Kambar likened the decision to that of Thomas Babington Macaulay, on whose suggestion English had become the administrative language in British-ruled India, that continues to this day.

Maintaining that it is the responsibility of the government to protect language, traditions and culture of Karnataka, Kambar said “Kannada is what is required for daily business and cultural development".

Pro-Kannada activists and others have alleged that there has been a decline in growth of local language schools as they are being shut down to make way for private English-medium schools, many of which have politicians on their boards.

Kumaraswamy has said that introducing English will help increase the chances of employment of the state’s youth. The Karnataka government itself funds education of one lakh children in private schools under the Right to Education Act, 2009.

The previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had made Kannada pride a poll plank for the Karnataka elections in May 2017. It had proposed a Karnataka state flag and removal of Hindi signage at Bengaluru metro stations.

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