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In Bangalore, capital city of Karnataka (which used to be Mysore) English is the language used in the call centers and for other information technology tasks. If you have called for assistance with your computer or your cell phone or your iPod, you have undoubtedly spoken to an Indian knowledge worker.

The language issue is--and has been since 1947--a divisive one. Language conveys a common culture; a common language binds a people together, not to mention enabling workers to communicate around the world.

In a recent move by provincial activists, schools in Karnataka are now being required to enforce the 1994 court ruling that prescribes Kannada (a Dravidian language, not an Indo-European one) as the primary language of instruction in elementary schools.

Parents are naturally upset, as they see English acquisition to be their children's ticket to success; business leaders warn that English is the basic substratum to India's recent technological success.

It is virtually impossible to express modern concepts in Kannada without resorting to adopted English expressions molded to fit the Kannada language.

Most educated Indians speak English as a second language, or in many cases, as their first language. They are aghast at the provisions which restrict children's learning to Kannada only, with no English until later in their school years, after two or three years of primary education.

Here in southern California we can tell you all about how well that has worked for our Spanish-speaking children.

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