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Karnataka govt move to grant Rs 320 crore for Sanskrit university triggers row

Kannada organisations and netizens have taken to Twitter with a campaign called #SayNotoSanskrit, asking the government to first promote Kannada schools and colleges.

A letter in this regard was signed by citizen activists and members of RWA and submitted to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. (file photo)

The BJP-led state government received criticism from various Kannada organisations after it announced a grant of Rs 320 crore for the Karnataka Samskrit University (KSU).

Notably, the government’s move to promote the KSU came after a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a group of institutions, including those affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), blocked Kannada as a mandatory subject in undergraduate courses.

Kannada organisations and netizens took to Twitter with a campaign called #SayNotoSanskrit, asking the government to first promote Kannada schools and colleges.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, pro-Kannada activist Rupesh Rajanna said, “A lot of government schools suffer from a lack of basic facilities…guest lecturers have been agitating for job security. Moreover, Hampi University does not have enough funds. But for the Karnataka government, all of these issues are not important and it blames Covid-19 for the lack of funds. But it has got enough funds to promote Samskrit University. Do they not need to think about improving the conditions of the government high schools first?”

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The letter shot by the vice-chancellor of Kannada University, Hampi, SC Ramesh, to the state government seeking financial assistance of Rs 24 crore became a point of discussion in many of the groups on social media. A source in Hampi University said that many of the students studying in the university have not received fellowships, besides salaries for guest faculties and retirement benefits to professors have not been paid for nearly two years. The admission of new students has also stopped.

Karnataka Rakshana Vedike president TA Narayana Gowda called for an agitation similar to the Gokak movement claiming that there was a conspiracy to impose Sanskrit at the cost of Kannada.

Chairman of Kannada Development Authority (KDA) TS Nagabharana and former chairman of KDA SG Siddaramaiah, among others, have protested against the move of the government.

However, BJP leaders rallied behind the government and said that the KSU has not been promoted and developed despite being established 11 years ago.

BJP MP Pratap Simha said, “In every language, there is Sanskrit and it is the mother of all the languages. Dr BR Ambedkar had also proposed to make Sanskrit the national language and I do not think anyone opposing the move is bigger than Ambedkar. You cannot keep away Sanskrit from our culture, language and tradition,” he said.

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