Centre puts bank recruitment exam on hold after backlash over language

People from Karnataka have opposed the use of English and Hindi as the only mediums of instructions for the exam, demanding the government to allow candidates to write in regional languages too

The Finance Ministry in a press release said the government has constituted a committee to look into the matter and give its recommendations within 15 days. Representative photo

The Union Finance Ministry on Tuesday (July 13) put on hold exams to fill clerical posts in Public Sector Banks (PSBs) after objections were raised from several quarters over the conduct of the examinations only in Hindi and English languages.

The Ministry in a press release said the government has constituted a committee to look into the matter and give its recommendations within 15 days.

“The ongoing process of holding the examination initiated by Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) will be kept on hold until the recommendations of the committee are made available,” the ministry said.

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka, has been at the receiving end of criticism over the issue and was accused by Opposition leaders of betraying Kannadigas by supporting the BJP government’s alleged imposition of Hindi in south India.

Also read: Kannada losing its way in Sahitya Parishat; caste rifts hijack language

In 2019, the issue was raised by Rajya Sabha MP GC Chandrasekhar of the Congress in the Zero Hour – Chandrasekhar said banking exams should also be conducted in Kannada so as to provide a level-playing field and to expand employment possibilities for local youths.

Back then, Sitharaman had stated that she would look into the issue and respond. Within a week, the government announced that examinations for direct recruitment of officers (Scale-I) and office assistants in Regional Rural Banks, would be conducted in 13 regional languages including in Konkani and Kannada.

Former chief minister and Opposition leader of Karnataka Assembly Siddramaiah has pulled up the BJP government over the issue. He said the demands of locals have not been heard even though the state has 25 members in Parliament, who allegedly were behaving like slaves to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“IBPS had called for applications to fill more than 3,000 vacant clerk positions in about 11 nationalised banks. Out of these, 407 posts are in Karnataka,” he said.

Siddaramaiah said that even though candidates before 2014 were able to write IBPS exams in regional languages, the Modi government has limited the medium to only the two languages of Hindi and English.

“When our government in 2013-2018 brought this injustice to the notice of Central govt, @nsitharaman had assured us in the Parliament to allow candidates to take exams in regional languages also. This promise is still not fulfilled. Kannadigas are ashamed of her,” he said in a tweet.

The issue had a far-reaching impact in Karnataka. Back in 2017 several complaints were raised against bank employees for not speaking Kannada during their interaction with customers. Then the Kannada development authority asked all nationalised, scheduled and rural banks functioning in Karnataka, to ensure that all its non-Kannada-speaking staff learn the language in six months.

Also read: How outsiders are learning to speak Kannada through social media

With a similar issue cropping up again in January this year in Kalaburagi district, chairman of Kannada Development Authority TS Nagabharana directed the Lead Bank of Kalaburagi to submit a report on the status of Kannada knowledge among bank employees in the district.

Continuing his tirade against the BJP, Siddaramaiah dragged Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa into this and called him a mouse. “BSY followers call him huli (tiger) but in reality, he is ili (mouse). He hides in burrows when he has to stand up in front of @narendramodi,” Siddaramaiah said, demanding the chief minister to resign if he cannot ensure justice to Kannadigas.

 

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