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Questions of script apart, it is the Konkani language that can save Goan culture and identity, says Tomazinho Cardozo

Goa:- The second Konkani Literary and Cultural Conference organized by the Dalgado Konkani Academy which began on Saturday will end on Sunday at the Frank Fernand Nagar, Ravindra Bhavan Curchorem-Savordem. The conference is basically organized to recreate the lost enthusiasm among writers and readers of Konkani in the Roman script.

Since the passing of the Goa Official Language Act, 1987, in which the Konkani language was fraudulently defined as "Konkani language means Konkani in Devnagari script", thereby intentionally attempting to crush the influence of Konkani in the Roman Script, writers and lovers of Konkani in Roman script have been subjected to much injustice.

Although the major strength of Konkani at the time of the language agitation was lovers of Konkani in the Roman script, they were betrayed by introducing the above definaition of the Konkani language. The lovers of Konkani in the Roman script fought with all their might to make "Konkani language" the official language of Goa and not "Konkani in Devnagari script" the official language of Goa. This was nothing short of a conspiracy.

Since 1987 the lovers of Konkani in the Roman script have been literally humiliated as their written works not considered for publication nor were they given importance at any level.

The architects of the Official Language Act have been controlling all the government and semi-government bodies, which decided on the activities of Konkani in Goa. These people were all out to eliminate Konkani in the Roman script. Some examples are:

Goa Konkani Akademy was constituted by the government. The lovers of Konkani in the Roman script were neglected. One in the Roman script were neglected. One or two, who were sympathetic to the Roman script were included in the committee which has a strength of 12 to 15 members. They ere never considered for the post of president and vice president.

The same criteria was followed while constituting statutory bodies at the state, as well as national level, including the advisory board of Sahitya Acaemy, New Delhi

The sahitya Academy stopped entertaining any literature written in the Roman script becasude of the definition of Konkani language in the Act.

Kala Academy used to give annual literatary awards for books in Konkani in the Roman script right from the inception of those awards. That too was stopped.

No writer or lover of Konkani in the Roman script was appointed for any job in Goa Konkani Academy. Institutions like the art and culture department, the then official language cell, All India Radio and Doordarshan, where Konkani activists were accommodated in large numbers, sidelined lovers of Konkani in the Roman Script.

The literary works of Roman script writers were not considered for awards at any level. The blunt message from the leaders of Konkani in Goa was: If any one dreamt of awards then one had to write the book in the Devnagari script.

"One Script, One Language and One Society' was the new "mantra" of the protagonists of Konkani in the Devnagari script. This thought is fascist in nature as it attempts to destroy all other scripts and all other dialects of the Konkani language.

Due to this anti-Roman script attitude of the Konkani leaders, writers and readers of Konkani in the Roman script were demoralized. Creative writing came to a halt. The reading habit in Konkani in the Roman script was adversely affected. During the last 18 to 20 years Konkani in the Roman script has lost an entire generation of writers and
readers.

The only satisfaction was that children, youth and elders continued and still continue to perform all their religious activities in the churches of Goa, which uses Konkani in the Roman script for its liturgical purposes.

It was also observed that lovers of Konkani in the roman script, instead of sending their children to study Konkani in the Devnagari script, preferred English.

As such the number of students in the Konkani primary schools, run by the Archdiocesan Board of Education declined and continues to decline. On the other hand the number of English schools and students in them increased.

If such a situation is allowed to continue we shall be responsible of driving away our own people from the Konkani language, which means disconnecting them from Goan culture and Goan identity.

It if for this reason that since lasty year Dalgado Konknni Academy started organizing annual conferences, with the sole aim of encouraging creative writing and keeping the flame of Konkani, irrespective of scripts, burning in the hearts of the Konkani people.
Only Konkani language, in al scripts and not in a particular script, can save Goan culture and Goan identity.

-         Source: Sunday Times of India, Dated February 21, 2010, Goa Edition

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