The Karnataka Development Authority on Monday demanded that bank employees in the state learn to speak Kannada in the next six months or face dismissal. The organisation said services in the rural areas had been impacted as bank employees had refused to speak in the local language.

The KDA issued a circular to the regional heads of all nationalised, rural and scheduled banks in Karnataka. “The Institute of Banking Personnel Selection clarifies in the banking application form that preference should be given to candidates who can speak local languages,” KDA chairperson Professor SG Siddaramaiah said in the letter. “There is also a provision in the rules for dismissing the personnel who have not learnt Kannada.”

He said Kannada units must be set up in all branches of the banks. “We can not ignore the fact that not paying due respect to the local language can lead to conflicts in future,” he said, adding that all advertisements used in the banks should be printed in three languages, keeping Kannada as the main language.

“I will visit the banks soon and take stock of the situation,” the KDA chairperson added.

In July, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had demanded that people from outside the state adapt to the Kannada culture. “We will not tolerate any attack on our language, land and water. Protecting Kannada land and Kannada people is our responsibility,” he had said.

On July 28, he had asked the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited to temporarily redesign the signs at metro stations and remove Hindi names from them. “...The cultural aspirations and sentiments of the people of Karnataka need to be respected,” Siddaramaiah had said.

Kannada activists have been protesting against the use of Hindi on signage at metro stations by blackening them.