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Monday, July 25, 2005

Konkani 'Mai'- Victim Of Script

"An Article"

At the peak of the Konkani agitation in Goa in the mid eighties -- the Hindu Brahmins in Goa who rallied behind the "Konkani Porjecho Avaz" manipulated the "Cristaos" of Goan origin to accept Devnagiri as the script in lieu of Roman script (which they as well as the Church authorities were acquainted with) on the assumption that --- if the Devnagiri script was accepted the Hindu Bahujans (non Brahmins) would easily accept Konkani instead of Marathi as they were familiar with the Devnagiri script.

The gullible "Cristaos" and the Church accepted this and so also present MP Mormugao Parliamentary Constituency Mr Churchill Alemao the backbone of the language agitation fell head over heel and introduced primary education in the mother tongue Konkani in an unfamiliar non standardised language and worst still in the Devnagiri script -- (of course his son studied in a top english school in Panaji)

It was a prominent writer Mr Ashok Ravi Kavi of the South Indian weekly the WEEK and this writer in a write up in the then INDEPENDENT a national weekly from Mumbai who exposed the clandestine designs of the Hindu Brahmins led by Uday L Bhembre (Advocate) in Goa to ENFORCE THE DEVNAGIRI SCRIPT only to consolidate their supremacy and monopoly over the KONKANI LANGUAGE that they demanded the devnagiri script.

Over a decade now the divide between the various scripts has seen that the Konkani language in devnagiri script has resulted only in Hindu Brahmins (familiar with the nagri script) usurping all Government jobs, their women who would have otherwise remained dutiful house-wives have gained employment both in Government services and also as Konkani language tutors and the "Cristaos" have suffered with the unfamiliar non standardised language.

Today there is a tremendous upsurge in favour of the Roman script in Goa, while the people of Karnataka rightfully demand that Kannada be the script in the state of Karnataka.


There can be a language with diverse script.

Therefore "CRISTAO" Goans world over should demand that in Goa the Roman script Konkani be given equal treatment besides Devnagiri and that literature et al in KonkaniRoman script be given awards where due. It is hoped that the Church and the MP Mr Churchill Alemao realises the game plan of the Hindu Brahmins in Goa and undo the over fifteen year old damage done toKonkani in Roman script.

This year the organisors of WORLD GOA DAY 20th August 2005 should have as its agenda " KONKANI --- Roman script " as the day does not have any significance to "Cristaos" in Goa as Roman script was sacrificed on the altar of Devnagiri script.

Reproduced herein below is the text of the press release by Mr Eric Ozario of "Mandd Sobhann" Mangalore fame and President of the Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy. It would be advisable to circulate this press release to all and sundry so that KONKANI mai thrive is as many scripts world over. Our "Cristao" MLA's should support the recognition of Roman script Konkani as well.

In response to the barrage of anti-propaganda unleashed through the 'Konkani Minorities' Institutions' Association', 'Akhil Bharath Konkani Parishad', and so called one man organisation 'Konkani Bhasha prachar Sabha' the Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy President Mr. Eric Ozario has issued a detailed press statement. The Academy has which has recently chosen Kannada script to teach Konkani in the schools of Karnataka also reiterated that, if this group does not succeed in their evil designs, then Konkani will be introduced as a third language option, from 6th std. onwards, in schools in Karnataka, from the next curriculum itself. If they do, God forbid, Konkani is doomed, says the statement.

The main points of the press statement are as below.

(1) Konkanis live on the west coast of India, mainly in 4 states, namely - Maharastra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerela. Of these, the highest number of Konkanis live in Karnataka, around 25 lakhs, more than double the number living in Goa, and more than half of the entire Konkani population.

(2) Konkani has no script of its own, and it is being written in 5 scripts - Kannada, Devnagari, Roman, Arabic and Malayalam.

(3) The highest amount of literature is being produced and read in the Kannada lipi. Goa is divided between 2 lipis - Devnagari and Roman, while in Karnataka no literature, worth the mention, in other than the Kannada lipi, exists or is read. Also, the Kannada lipi literature has a rich heritage of more than 125 years in Karnataka, of good quality and considerable quantity.

(4) It is not true to say that the Devnagari lipi is the `natural' lipi for Konkani. Devnagari was not evolved for Konkani. How can a lipi used by so many languages, be the natural lipi of Konkani?

(5) It is not true to say that the Kendra Sahitya Academy has recognized only the Devnagari lipi.It is not for the Akademi to recognize any lipi. It only recognizes languages. What is true is that, the Devnagari lobby which has usurped all places(reserved for Konkani)in the General Council, the Executive Board and the Advisory Board of the Akademi, has made it a practice to award Awards only to literature written in Devnagari lipi and now, this practice is being projected as the policy of the Akademi. May it be known that the Kannada and Roman lipi practitioners are preparing ground for a legal battle against this gross injustice.

(6) When Konkani was included in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution, no mention of any lipi as its official lipi was made - and rightly so, because the Constitution of India recognizes the right of every lipi and boli to exist and be preserved.The Constitution of India in defining Cultural and Educational Rights, has ensured the liberty of choice of script: " 29. Protection of interests of minorities. - (1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.

(7) We in the Konkani movement always believed in the concept of `Unity in Diversity'. Unity of Konkanis can not be achieved by imposing any one lipi or boli on all others. Only by accepting regional/local pluralisms is unity possible. The attempt from any quarter to impose the Devnagari lipi on the Konkani people of Karnataka is not acceptable and deserves condemnation.

(8) Teaching a child a language is not a technical or a politico/ideological issue, but a practical one. In the selection of the lipi, care must be taken to see that enough literature in the regional/local variety is available to the child in that particular lipi. If one accepts this norm, then in Karnataka it will be a crime to teach Konkani in schools in any lipi other than Kannada.

(9) Children in Karnataka learn Kannada as the first or second language, at the primary level and therefore are well-versed with the Kannada lipi by the time the third language is taught. And as Hindi and Sanskrit are the other options, along with Konkani; to teach Konkani in Devnagari lipi, the child would have to be taught the lipi first and then the language. This is not only impractical but also a burden on the child. Hence Devnagari is ruled out on this single count.

(10) A bogus argument that is making the rounds is that Kerela has accepted the Devnagari lipi and so should Karnataka.The truth is that Konkani literature, in any lipi, including Devnagari, is conspicuous by its absence in Kerela. The tragedy of the Konkani movement in Kerela is that - only fancy name boards remain, no organizations; only ageing leaders survive, no followers;only Konkanis exist, no Konkani. Karnataka does not, most certainly, wish to follow in Kerela's footsteps.

(11) We suspect that the protagonists of Devnagari in Karnataka, have a hidden agenda and their only intention is to sabotage the introduction of Konkani, in Karnataka schools. We say this for the following reasons:

(a) They and the section they belong to, hardly read and write Konkani, by and large. And what little literature they produce, is all in the Kannada lipi, which includes their official community paper.

(b) Their claim to be the only organization to teach Konkani is also false. While the fact is that in only one school they teach Konkani outside the curriculum. On the other hand - regular `Saturday Konkani School' is conducted at Kalaangann' (the Konkani Heritage Centre) and Konkani is being taught inside the curriculum, as a language, at the graduation level, in St. Aloysius College, in Kannada lipi. The same college conducts post graduation Konkani Diploma Courses through its Konkani Department, in Kannada lipi.(c) As they do not have a literary heritage(in any lipi in Konkani), they have nothing to lose if an imported lipi - be it Devnagari or Mandarin, is imposed.(d) Their selection of the Devnagari lipi is political, and, their declared political ideology is based on fascist principles. They propose 'one language, one lipi, one samaj, one sahitya'- which argues for the distruction of all other lipis and the imposition of one lipi over the others. (e) The truth is, dictated by their political ideology, they are already teaching Sanskrit/Hindi as the third language in the handful of schools managed by them, which arrangement they do not want to disturb. They fear being exposed. Even if Konkani is introduced, they would still prefer that their children study Sanskrit or Hindi and not Konkani.

(f) It does not take much for anyone to realize that this group - having done nothing to teach or learn Devnagari lipi or to popularize it in Karnataka - has an ulterior motive in insisting on it now.For these reasons they, in effect, are proposing the teaching of Konkani outside the curriculum and would do everything in their power to sabotage its introduction in the curriculum. Their counter proposal to teach Konkani from 1st to 5th in Devnagari and Kannada, and from 6th only in Devnagari (outside the curriculum) is ample proof.

Taking all the above points into consideration, the Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy, constituted by the Govt. of Karnataka to work for the welfare of Konkani, convened a meeting of `Konkani People's Representatives'(the true experts in this matter) on May 15, 2005. Representatives of all Konkani Organisations, Konkani periodicals, Members of the 5 Konkani academies appointed by the Govt. of Karnataka (ours is the 5th in line in the last 11 years), and all recipients of the Academy's `Gaurav Prashasti', so far - from all over Karnataka, 121 in all, were invited. All were requested to record their opinions in writing on 2 specific questions - namely - (in the context of teaching Konkani in schools in Karnataka) -

(1) Which `Lipi' should be used? (2) Which `Boli' should be used?

Every one present recorded their opinion and another opportunity was given to all those who were not present to record theirs. On May 30, the General Body of the Academy met, and after taking into consideration -

(1) these opinions - 65.7% Kannada, 28.9% Devnagari, 2.9% Roman (2) the results of the survey of schools that was conducted by the Academy last year (in which the opinions of students/teachers/parents of 102 Higher Primary Schools were recorded), wherein 84.36% voted for Kannada and 11.72% for Devnagari;


As one can see, the decision to adopt Kannada lipi has been taken after allowing prolonged public debate to take place and through a very transparent democratic process. We have stifled no voices and have not excluded anyone from this process. The irony is, that our detractors were more enthusiastic than others in their participation. They not only willinglyregistered their opinion, but also circulated a letter goading people to vote for Devnagari .

Now that they find themselves in a minority, to blame the process and insist that the minority opinion should prevail over the majority, is tantamount to a party having lost elections stubbornly staking its claim to form government.

The decision has been taken. The work of preparing the text book has begun in right earnest. Now it is for all those who believe in democratic principles to uphold this decision and defend it. Defend it, we will, with our lives.

The Konkanis of Karnataka have every right to their local/regional identity, and no power on earth is going to snatch it away from them.

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