Pro-Kannada protests
In picture: Karnataka Rakshana Vedike activists participate in anti-Hindi protests outside the Kempegowda station of Namma Metro in Bengaluru on Friday, July 28, 2017.Twitter

The Kannada Development Authority has asked all the regional heads of nationalised, rural and scheduled banks to make it compulsory for all the non-Kannada speaking staff members to learn the language within six months, failing which they are likely to lose their jobs.

KDA chairman SG Siddaramaiah issued a circular to banks on Monday, August 7, and notified them of the new rule. "If employees fail to learn Kannada in six months, they should be relieved of their services in accordance with the recruitment rules," the circular said, according to the Times of India.

Siddaramaiah also said that many banks have not shown interest in implementing the local language and this may create an issue in the future. "I have sensed that there has been a lack of will in implementing the local language in many banks. We can't ignore the fact that not paying due respects to the local language can lead to conflicts in future. The banks have to take up the said measures on emergency basis," he added.

Apart from making sure that its staff members learn the local language, the banks have also been asked to set up Kannada units in all their branches in tune with the Hindi units that were set up earlier. Not just that, the KDA has said that banks must follow the three-language formula on its advertisements and the annual reports must also be published in three languages "keeping Kannada as the main language and they must be circulated among customers."

The KDA chairman also said that he will soon visit the banks in the state to take a note of the progress made in terms of implementation of the language.

Meanwhile, this has come as a rude shock to many non-Kannada speaking employees, who have now been asked to learn the language. International Business Times spoke to a staff member of a Bengaluru bank and she said that the non-Kannada speakers had been asked to learn the language as quickly as possible and they have now bought books on the basics of Kannada and have very little time to get a hang of the language.

Meanwhile, the language debate in Karnataka really seems to be heating up. Just a few days ago it was decided that metro stations in Bengaluru would not have Hindi signboards anymore. The decision came after there were massive protests regarding the use of Hindi. While it might have started on a small note when the green line was inaugurated, the 'Namma Metro Hindi Beda' campaign gathered steam with huge support from the residents of Karnataka as well as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Bangalore Metro Namma Metro Bangalore infra
Commuters disembark from a Namma Metro (Kannada forReuters file

The protests also saw the participation of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, which was seen blackening the Hindi signboards at various stations. Images showing people covering up the signboards with duct tape were also doing the rounds online, but BMRCL had said that they weren't responsible for it.

Later, the KDA also urged Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to fire all non-Kannadiga or Hindi-speaking engineers who are working with Namma Metro.