Monday, October 28, 2013


by Jason Keith Fernandes and Dale Luis Menezes
In 1987 subsequent to mass demonstrations composed overwhelmingly of bahujan Catholics the legislature of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu recognised Konkani in the Nagari script as the official language of Goa. This recognition of script was used to privilege a brahmanical project of fixing the identity of Konkani in the Nagari script alone, sidelining in this process the more vibrant and older tradition of writing Konkani in the Roman script, and its largely Catholic users. Consequently, a movement for the official recognition of Konkani in the Roman script emerged as a result of a systematic campaign of suppression of cultural and literary productions in the Roman script. More recently, with the Kala Academy,the premier state-supported cultural body announcing awards for literature in the Roman script, it is being maintained by some that the Roman script may in fact destabilize the status-quo that favours the Nagari script (and therefore brahmanical hegemony), leading to a number of persons coming out seemingly making concessions to the Roman script. One such overture was made by Prabhakar Timble in The Navhind Times, Goa. Timble is a legal expert as well as the former State Election Commissioner of Goa.
The recent statements of support in favour of the continuation of awards reinstituted by the Kala Academy for literary works in Roman script will possibly bring good cheer for the votaries of this script. However, it is important that these statements of support be examined for their logic, rather than the superficial support they seem to offer. In proposing this course of action, reference is particularly being made to the opinion piece, “Promoting Konkani Language Culture” by Prabhakar Timble in The Navhind Times dated 15 October, 2013.

While Timble seems to be supporting the recent decision of the Kala Academy to offer literary works in the Roman script to obtain awards, his real fear is that the status quo as regards the place of Konkani in the Nagari script will be upset if the demands of the Roman script activists is allowed to go further. This fear is clearly evident in his statement: “The official language accepted in Goa is Konkani in ‘Devanagiri’ script. This is a settled issue because of the sacrifice and enlightened minds of the leaders of all communities.” Indeed, the core of the demand of the Roman script is not that literary works in the Roman script get awards, but rather that Konkani in the Roman script be given its legitimate place in the Official Language Act (OLA). This demand has been made because even though this form of Konkani is an older version of Konkani, and continues a vibrant production of Konkani culture, it has been subjected to all kinds of abuse and suppression in the years since the OLA was enacted. Further, while Konkani alone may be recognised as the official language of the state, the fact is that the operation of the Act continues to give official language status to Marathi.  This has resultedin Goa having two official languages, de facto. The issue of the status of official language being awarded in favour of Konkani in the Nagari script is, therefore, by no means “settled”. Indeed, contrary to Timble’s suggestions, there are very large numbers of members of the bahujan samaj who refuse to acknowledge Nagari Konkani as a legitimate Goan language because they see it as a ploy to ensure brahmanical supremacy in Goa. Consequently, the lone Nagari Konkani newspaper that exists has one of the lowest figures of circulation, lower than Konkani newspapers in the Roman script, and many times lower than Marathi language newspapers. These bahujan samaj activists would possibly accept Romi Konkani as an authentic language, but continue to refuse to accept the Nagri version. It is in recognition of this reality of the operation of the OLA, and to ensure that Konkani in the Roman script also enjoys the status that these two other languages enjoy, that the activists for the Roman script have been agitating right from the days that the OLA came into effect.

Timble inserts a number of subtle arguments to ensure the exclusive privilege that Nagari Konkani activists seek to retain. Indeed, it is around such arguments that the votaries of both Marathi and Nagari Konkani have often ganged up against the proponents of Konkani in the Roman script. The first of these arguments is to suggest, as evidenced above, that the decision in favour of Nagari alone was made by “enlightened minds”. The suggestion, therefore, is that those who challenge this supremacy of Nagari are unenlightened “fanatics” who seek to sow the seeds of division. The problem, however, is, as Timble himself recognises, that the division already exists, perpetuated in large part by the suppression of non-Nagari Konkani by the votaries of Konkani in the Nagari script. This suppression involved state supported institutions like the Kala Academy and the Goa Konkani Akademi refusing to consider works written in the Roman script for state awards, the systematic disparagement of productions in the Roman script like the tiatr (a form of drama) and romans (novels or novellas) as lacking in standard. It needs to be recognised that the grant of awards is often not merely the establishment of a standard, but also a way for the state to extend financial support to the arts.

The other argument that Timble throws up, and one that must be subjected to greater scrutiny, is his suggestion that the “Romi script is an accident of history”. It was this very suggestion that formed the basis of excluding the Roman script from the OLA. The implications of this argument are extremely dangerous since it suggests that the people who spoke the Konkani language had a certain trajectory of cultural development already chalked when its fulfilment was interrupted. The interruption implied is clearly: the arrival of the Portuguese and the establishment of theirrule in the subcontinent. If the arrival of the Portuguese is seen as the cause for this accident of history, then surely there are a number of other accidents that occurred. The most crucial of these is the conversion of a sizable portion of the Goan population to Christianity. Must this Christianity also be seen as an accident of history because its growth coincides with Portuguese rule? Timble may well suggest that this “accident” be accepted and understood, but it is because these historical facts are seen as accidents that the Roman script and its cultural productions have been consistently deprived their rightful place in officially recognised Goan culture. Even if the state celebrates aspects of Goan culture that result from Portuguese intervention in local society, these are seen as exceptions rather than the rule. Herein lies the problem where Catholics are regarded as outsiders and foreigners to the acceptable national community, and any assertion of their difference is construed as being unacceptable. This intolerance of difference is amply evident in Timble’s suggestion that “‘One language, One Script, One community’ is not a wrong dream. But, it is an ideal paradise whose time has still not arrived.” Like the other votaries of the hegemony of the Nagari script, Timble too clearly believes that difference is a problem that must ideally be erased. By this logic, one can imagine that in Timble’s paradise all persons will be Hindu as well.

In conclusion, the statements of support by persons such as Timble should be read with caution. These statements do not recognise the legitimacy of Konkani in the Roman script, nor the demand that the Roman script be given an official place in the OLA. The sole purpose of Timble’s statement of support is to ensure that the delicate balance of linguistic power that currently exists in favour of both Nagari Konkani and Marathi is not tilted towards Marathi and Konkani in the Roman script. The fact is that while Konkani in the Roman script continues to be patronised by its loyal supporters in Goa, Konkani in the Nagari script has failed to achieve this position largely because it is an artificial creation that has sought to suppress Konkani in the Roman script, and has failed to achieve the trust of the Hindu bahujan who continue to use Marathi as a weapon against this particular Konkani.

(This response was first published on, on 28 October, 2013

To read the same article in Konkani, see here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Otumbrachea mhoineant, 2011 vorsa Sahitya Akademichem ‘travel grant’ mhaka favo zalem. Hea onudanak lagon, desachea ‘north-east’ kon’xeak aslolea Meghalaya rajyant bhonvddi korunk mhaka bhag mell’lem. Bhonvddi korta astanam tea rajyantlea borovpeanchi bhett gheun tanche sonvskruti ani sahitya vixim thoddem tori xikchem, oso mhozo hetu aslo. Dekhun hanvem ‘internet’-antlean gorjechi toyari keli ani xekim hanv Meghalayachi rajdhani, Shillong hanga pavlom! Meghalaya rajyak bhett diunk mhojem anink ek karonn aslolem: Meghalaya ani Gõychi zaitea mollancher sor korunk zata. Gõyche bhaxen, tanche-i 2 Lok Sobheche  ani 1 Rajya Sobhecho protinidhi asat. Bhaxechea ani lipichea babtint amkam zaitem Meghalaya rajyache poristhitintlean xikunk mellta.
            Mhoji poilich bhett Dotor Streamlet Dkhar hiche kodden zali. Dr. Dkhar zavn asa Khasi bhaxechi ‘professor’ ani North Eastern Hill University hanga ti xikoita. Tedna ti Sahitya Akademint Khasi bhaxechi ‘representative’ asloli. Tiche lagchean Khasi bhaxe vixim zaiti mahiti mhaka mell’lli. Konnuim Khasi borovpea lagim zori tor tanche bhaxecher bhasabhas korit zalear to tuka rokhdoch sangtolo ki survatek Khasi bhaxek lipi asonk na mhunnon. Hanvem lipicho proxn Dr. Dkhar-a mukhar dovorunk nam, punn tinnench zavn Romi lipichi khobor keli. Sahitya Akademint ticho aspav aslolean tika Romi-Nagri vadachi khub mahiti asli. Khasi bhas Romi lipint boroitat, punn te bhaxecher Bengali bhas boroitat ti lipi thap’pacho proyotn zalolo, karonn Khasint borovp chodd korun dhondo korunkuch vapurtale. Dr. Dkhar sangta te pormonnem to proyotn nirfoll zalo karonn Bengali mon’xeak  Khasi munis patiyenaslo ani dekhunuch Romi lipi Khasi bhaxek thuimsorlea lokanim apnnaili.

            Bhasabhas kortana, Dr. Dkhar-an mhaka sanglem ki 2010 vorsa (khoinchea mhoineak tem ti tedna visorloli) ti Ponnje zalole eke zomatent hajir asloli mhunn. Hi zomat Romi-Nagri vada vixim bhasabhas korunk apoiloli. “Tujea mota pormonnem, eke bhaxek don vo sabar lipiyo asunk xoktat?” hanvem tika prosn kelolo mhaka ugddas zata.  “Hatunt koslich oddchonn na,” tinnem zabab diun fuddem uloiloli, “bhaxeche udorgotik jem zai tem tumi korunk zai.”
Shillong-ant astanach hanvem Dotor Sylvanus Lamare-chi-i bhett ghetloli. Sant Edmund kolejiche te ‘principal’. Tednam ani atam-i te Sahitya Akademiche ‘General Council’-ache vangddi asat. Tache mukhar hanvem Konknnicho ani lipiyecho prosn manddlo. Tannem mhaka sanglem ki Konknni borovpeank pustokam chhapunk jeo arthik oddchonneo yetat teo Sahitya Akademiche ‘funds’ vaprun pois korunk yeta mhonn. Romi-Nagri vada vixim, “Lipi fokot bhaxeche sur khunnaita,” oxem tachem mot aslem.
Punn jednam sorkari khatim pustokam chhaptat, tedna ek bhov mohotvacho mud’do  ami somzunk zai: Konknni bhaxent Sahitya Akademi fokot Nagri lipik ‘official’ mhunnon manun gheta, zalear Romi lipiyentlea borovpeanim ani vachpeamnim kitem korop? Oslech mud’de hanvem Dr. Lamare hanchea mukhar manddle.
“[Sahitya Akademicho] Konkani Board sorkaran dilole ‘funds’ vaprunk khottpott ani thokos ghena,” oxem tannem mhaka sanglem.
Hea don gozalincho hanga porot ul’lekh korpacho hetu itloch ki Romi lipiye vixim Sahitya Akademint her rajyantlea vangddeamchem  mot veg-vegllem asa. Konkani Advisory Board-acher aslolea nagrivadi borovpeank Romi lipik manachi suvat divpak naka. Tannim Sahitya Akademi aplea tabeant kelea. Atanchea kallachi goroz asa ti oxi: Romi mon’xean aple bhaxek hok’k mellunk rajkaronnantlean nagrivadeank nikllavunk panvlam marunk zai. Nagri lipi ghoddiye uronk zai, punn nagrivad ani nagri fuddari amkam nakat.
Romi lipintle Konknnintleanuch khori Konknni jivi urlea ani urtoli. Konknnichi udorgot Romintleanuch zatli, hem ami visrunk favo na.

Ho lekh hanvem mhoje Meghalaya rajyache provas-vornnonantlean toyar kela.

Read my travelogue of Shillong, Meghalaya here.

(Ho lekh Amcho Avaz-acher uzvaddak aila, tarik: 26 Otubr, 2013, pan 6) 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


borovpi: Dale Luis Menezes, Amita Kanekar, Jason Keith Fernandes, R. Benedito Ferrão, ani Albertina Almeida

Gõycho Katolk Hindu sonvskrutayentlean ghoddla vhoi?  Oxem Gõycho Mukhel Montri Manohar Parrikar mhonntta. Gõycho itihas ani atamchi poristhiti – hea vixim kelolea chukichea vidhanachi hi anik ek govai zaun asa.  Zaite pavtti Gõychea Kristanvanchem kristanvponn, tanchea Gõykarponnak ani Bharotiponnak (Goanness and Indianness) sobonam oso arop Gõychea Katolkancher zata.  Zalear dusre vatten poryottonak vav mellunk ani thollavea unchlea-zatichea lokanche sovloti ani mouje khatir, Gõychea Katolkank tanchi oprup osmitai – ji Portugez kallantlean tanche kodden pavlea – samballun dovrunk dobhav asa.
Gõy ani Gõyakaranchi Kristi dhorma kodde itihasik gantticher ek dhanvti nodor marlear, Kristanvam vixim Parrikarachem mot chukichem asa oxem disun yeta. Gõyant ani her kodden zalolim Kristi dhormantoram thollave sonvskruticher adharlolim aslim ani hantuntlean novim ani khaxelim Kristi dhormanchim toyar zalolim rupam ani chali, dhormantorit zololeamni apnnailim. Dhormantor zalolo bhavarth aplo kortanam ek oprup kristi ollokh toyar zali. Oslo itihas amkam Gõyantuch nhoi, punn sonvsarachea dusream zageamnim zhoim dhormantoram zaleant, thoim disun yeta. Zori ami mantat ki Gõychem Katolikponn thollave sonvskrutint riglam tori je sonvskruticho Parrikar ul’lekh korta ti mat hi nhoi.
Portugez rajvottke adim Gõy hem Hindu thikann  aslem oslo sur jedna  Parrikarachea sangnneantlean disun yeta tedna tantuntlean sabar Islamik rajvottkenchea itihasacher dampnnem ani kallokh poddta. Dil’li Sultanshahi, Deccan Sultanshahi ani Islamancho probhav poddlole Vijayanagara razvottken (tanche raza Sultani pod’dotin aplo karbhar choloitale oxem itihaskar amkam sangtat) sumar don xekdde, Portugezam adim, Gõycher  rajvott choloili ani tantuntlean tanchea tabeant aslolea choddxe Muslim-nhoi te porjecher pasun porinnam zalo zaka itihaskar Inglezint ‘Islamicate influences’ mhonntat. He toren, Gõyant zalolea Islami sonvskrutayenche probhavanche purave  pusun uddounk Parrikar proyotn korta.  Punn  hem hanga somponam.  Islamik rajvottki sthapche poilim Gõyant vividh sonvskrutayeo asleo.  Thuimcheo somudayeo thollave pod’dotin jiyetaleo ani oslea pod’dotink Hindu pod’dot mhunnonk zainam. Kaim raj korpeamni tor halinch Hindu pod’dot apnnailoli. Kristachea zolma fattlean Gõyant, girest toxech probhavi, Jain ani Buddha somudayo Gõyant vostaleo hache purave melltat – jeo somudayeo Hindu bamonnvadachea virud’dh nirmann zaloleo.
Hindu raxttrvadi itihaskaranchem mot asa ki Kristi ani Islam dhorm he videxi dhorm asat ani hea karonnank lagun her Bharoti nagrikam poros Kristanv ani Moir lok unne nagrik (lesser citizens) thartat. Parrikarachem vidhan oslench mot ugddas korun dita. Victor Ferrao-a sarkilea vidhvanamni dakhovn dilam ki Purtugez vosnnunkponnachea kalla adimcho kall ‘Hindu’ aslo oxem mhunnop mhollear zativadak yevkar divop karonn oslem chintop, ‘shud’dh ani boxttavlole’ (purity and pollution) hea totvak dhorun bhitor yeta.  ‘Colonial’ kallant survat zalolo Kristanv dhorman, shud’dh aslolea Hindu dhormak  boxttailo oso tacho somoz zata ani dekun kristanvank kaidexir hok’k ani nagrikponnakoddlean pois dovorta. Kristanv lok mukhel rajki jivitantlean bhair urta. Tea khatir jedna jedna Gõycho Katolk aplea hok’kanchem magnnem korta ani oslem magnnem Hindu raxttrvada add veta tedna tedna Katolk lokank ‘anti-national’ va dexdrohi mhonn bottam dakhoitat. Romi lipint boroilole Konknni bhaxek manachi suvat ani Inglez bhaxentlean mullavea xixonnak sorkari onudan mellounk jedna magnni zatat tedna osle arop Kristanv lokancher zalole amkam disti poddtat.
‘Hindu’ ho xobd mhollear “sonvskrutik” ani nhoi “dhormik” oxem jedna nettan Parrikar amkam sangta tedna tacho orth oso zata: zo konnui munis Islam ani Kristi ani ‘videxi’ dhormacho asonam to  ‘automatically’ Hindu tharta. Ani heach pasot Parrikara sarkilea zaitea zannak dista ki je Katolk ani Musolman nhoi te Adivasi – zancho dhorm khub vattamni Hindu dhorma savn vegllo asa – te soglle Hinduch mhunnon.
Parrikarachea hea vidhanant ekuch sotachem kirnn jem disti poddta ani tem mhollear, Gõyche Igorz-matent aslolea unchlea-zatinchea Katolkanchem raj. Zoxem Hindu zati manpi somazant ghoddta toxench Gõyche Igorz-matentui he unchlea-zatinche Katolk lhan ani sokoilea-zatinchea dhormantorit zaloleam bhitor bhed-bhav (discriminate) kortat.
Gõyche Katolk Hindu nhoi. Choddant chodd kednach nasle. Oslim vidhanam jim Parrikar ani tachea sarkil’le kortat, tim somazantlea somudayank ekvottit kortat kai distat, punn khoreponnim tim aichea somazant dusvas ghaltat ani asloli vividhtai ibaddun uddoitat.

(Ho lekh poilo uzvaddak ailo hea zagear. Konknnint Amcho Avaz-acher: Otumbr 12, 2013)