Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Equal status sought for Roman script of Konkani

Row over official status to Roman script resurfaces

Equal status sought for Roman script of Konkani


Official Language Act, 1987, recognised Konkani in Devanagari script as the State's official language
It provided for use of Marathi for all official purposes

PANAJI: The demand to accord official status to Roman script of Konkani is gaining momentum ahead of the State Assembly election.

The Official Language Act, 1987, recognised Konkani in Devanagari script as the State's official language and provided for use of Marathi for all official purposes.

The issue of dual script of Konkani, which was then shelved to keep the demand of Marathi protagonists at bay, has resurfaced now after 19 years. Votaries of the Roman script feel deprived of the benefits of the Act.

Prince Jacob, Tiatr Academy convener, said: "For the past 500 years, Goan Catholics have been using Roman script for Konkani in their cultural, social and religious activities. Owing to this, a standard Konkani was evolved and it became popular."
Tiatr is a popular form of traditional drama in Konkani, which is prominently scripted (in Roman script) and staged by Catholic artistes.

Supporters of the Roman script have got the support of a section of the ruling coalition led by South Goa MP Churchill Alemao. But the Congress may once again find itself divided over the issue.

Protagonists of Marathi, who feel that the language was denied official language status, are also waiting to push their demand.

Protagonists of the Roman script were lobbying with ruling party MLAs and Ministers to push for an amendment to the Act through a private member's Bill. But it was a letter by Congress Vichar Vibhag to ruling party MLAs and Ministers urging them to oppose the move that sparked the controversy.

Uday Bhembre is chairman of Vichar Vibhag and an advocate of Devanagari as the uniform script for Konkani. The letter said: "There is no doubt that the writers in Roman script should be encouraged and that they should get facilities on par with the others, but for that no change in the Act is required."

"Unfortunately, in Goa, scripts are related to religious communities. This is not conducive to communal harmony and unity," Mr. Bhembre said.

Mr. Bhembre said that Roman script for Konkani was used only by a section of the Catholic community, which was a minority in the State.

If the Official Language Act was amended, protagonists of Marathi would find it easy to further their demand for equal status to Marathi, he said.

For the ruling dispensation, the issue has wider ramifications as the party relies heavily on the Catholic vote bank, at least in South Goa. Moreover, it is also seen as another handy weapon for Mr. Alemao to unsettle other Catholic leaders in South Goa Congress ahead of the Assembly election.

The ruling party's stance is that the Congress resolved the official language issue in 1987 and it will be an ill-conceived move to rake it up when elections are hardly a year away.

The Goa Catholic Church has so far kept itself out of the controversy. BJP Goa unit president Rajendra Arlekar told The Hindu that his party would not support amendment to accord official status to the Roman script as it was an alien script for an Indian language.

(The Hindu / 9 July 2006)

-gaspar almeida

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A big e-welcome to you. Tumcam Maie-mogacho ieukar. Enjoy Life - This is not a rehearsal! Konkani uloi, boroi, vach ani samball - sodankal. Hich Goenchi osmitai ani amchem khalxelponn. Goenchi amchi Konkani bhas! Ekvottachem saddon Goenkaranchem. This is Gaspar Almeida from Parra, Bardez, Goa, based in Kuwait and am connected with the website created by Ulysses Menezes, and as Moderator of the famous first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter (since 1994) and The Goan Forum and several Goan and Indian associations and forums and e-forums in Goa, India, Kuwait, The Middle East and worldwide.