Monday, November 24, 2008

Goa’s “Romi”nce with Konkani

The challenges for Goa and Goans are continuosly emerging. One of them is the poser of the official language oGoan Romi Konkani scriptf Goa. For some time now, the debate in Goa for the official language within its own domain has caught sincere attention. It seems to be raising its head for another undesirable battle. This time the battle seems to be coming from within the realm of the Goan Konkani umbrella and fanning a flame on the outside to the patrons of languages of neighbouring states, who are waiting for the slightest opportunity to lay siege.

Insensitivity and to a certain extent malafide intention , on the part of the government of goa in the times of implementing the official language bill, seems to be the root cause of the entire impasse. Honestly the precision of meticulously referring to the use of only the Devnagri script in the official language act could have been well avoided. But it wasn’t.

Konkani for long has been Goa’s love and Goa and goans fought for the sake of Konkani . However fighting the cause were champions of two different scripts under the fullness of the one banner “Konkani”. In pursuit of the major goal of achieving their mission of catapulting Konkani to the level of the official language, the intricacy of the script it seems was left to conscience. The discussion on the use of the script it seems was not openly discussed. However conscience as one discovers now, wasn’t common enough and so we have two factions within the Konkani protagonists in Goa who find their own brand of Konkani as the preferred choice.

It cannot be denied that Romi Konkani is being widely spoken in Goa mainly within the Catholic community. Goan theatre if there is any, is only propagated through the Romi Konkani. And while there is little publication of the script, the Vavreadeancho Ixtt, Gulab magazine, Goencho Avaz etc are still in good circulation. So benefits for the enrichment of the language are therefore justified. However the opposition to the struggle to get equal recognition for Romi Konkani by its activists is only projecting the deep fissures in the Konkani lovers body.

One wishes that those who vouch for Devnagri see similar sentiments in the hearts of the Romi Konkani lovers and simply work together to bring about this little change in the official language act so that both scripts co-exist and grow. How does one Konkani script encroach on the other and where does the opposition find its place in this matter is a big question.

However if this debate within the Konkani language gets tougher, it could awaken the supporters of the Maharashtrian language Marathi, which is certainly not the language that even a quarter of the population uses in speech in Goa. and certainly is not welcome to be on par with the official language of Goa

So in effect there needs to be a consensus among the lovers of Konkani and if the Romi Konkani supporters are unable to get due recognition, the Romi Konkani lovers should encourage the promotion of the language through voluntary means , by popular contributions and provide the necessary impetus to the language to enable it to reach to a level when the government simply cannot ignore it any further. However a conflict within the Goan Konkani fold should be avoided by all means.

Also instead of imposing a medium of instruction of Konkani in primary schools the government and the protagonists of Konkani in Goa should show more character, practicality and foresight to understand that English takes precedence for medium of instruction over all other regional languages as it is the universal language and we need to be absolutely proficient in English if Goans want to make a mark academically both in India and in the world. Already the effects of a regional language medium are being felt when some of our Goan candidates fail to pass the interview for proper accent in some of the call centre companies.

However Konkani as a subject should be made compulsory at all levels of School education. This is the only way to ensure that Konkani as a language can find its place in amchem bhangarachem Goem.

Viva Konkani! Viva Goencar!

XIttuk Goencar

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