KARNATAKA

`Dalits should learn English to get justice'

The Minister for Transport, Mallikarjun Kharge, with the Jnanpith Award winner, U.R. Ananthamurthy, at a seminar on empowerment of Dalits, in Bangalore on Sunday. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

The Minister for Transport, Mallikarjun Kharge, with the Jnanpith Award winner, U.R. Ananthamurthy, at a seminar on empowerment of Dalits, in Bangalore on Sunday. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.  

BANGALORE, AUG. 1. Dalits should learn English to acquire the skills and wherewithal for empowerment and social justice, a speaker said at a seminar on "Empowerment of the Dalits" here on Sunday, while other speakers dwelt on the need for the continuance of the system of reservation in job provided by the State and in the field of education.

The seminar was organised to mark the 63rd birthday of the Water Resources Minister, M. Mallikarjun Kharge.

Initiating the discussion, the Jnanpith award-winning litterateur, U.R. Ananthamurthy, said the best way to beat the "English-speaking community" was to learn to speak that language. That was, in fact, the highlight of his recommendations to the Kerala Government, where the Chief Minister, A.K. Anthony, had set up a committee to reform the education system, particular at the primary level.

Karnataka should consider the benefits of teaching English as a language and as a medium, and the most important benefit would be that the exodus to English-medium schools would stop. People sent their children to those schools because English, which was perceived as the language of empowerment in the modern context, was not accessible to them in government schools, Prof. Ananthamurthy said. "This is the only way to ensure that those who ruled us for 200 years do not come back and exploit our ignorance," he said.

Widening gap

The Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, said, "How long are we going to be a community that keeps pushing memoranda and pleading for the powers-that-be to give us our Constitutional rights? We should be there, at the top of the political pyramid, holding the power in our hands, and watch the way the world looks at us."

Everyone spoke of equity and equality but it rarely turned into action and there was no system that created an environment to make that happened.

Mr. Siddaramaiah added that there were power centres that keenly ensured that it did not happen.

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