Marathicized Konknni versus Konknni
Dr. Pratap Naik, S.J.
Finally after a lot of discussion and reflection the Congress Government decided to extend grants to English medium primary schools. While taking this decision the government has put a condition to teach Konknni or Marathi as a compulsory language from standard I to X. This is the historic as well as the right decision to promote Konknni and Marathi in Goa. Pseudo Marathi protagonists when they were in power under MGP government did hardly anything to promote Marathi. Konknni protagonists of Devanagari group too did nothing to promote Konknni in schools. Now both these groups who could not see eye to eye with each other have come under the common umbrella of Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) and shedding crocodile tears saying that the Congress government's decision would destroy Konknni and Marathi languages, local culture and Goan identity! These pseudo protectors of local culture who opposed grants to English medium schools will be the first one to send their grandchildren to prestigious English medium schools run by the minority community. To avail government grants they may even open new English medium primary schools.
Till 1975 these pseudo Marathi protagonists proclaimed vociferously saying that Konknni is a mere dialect of Marathi. They fought tooth and nail to oppose while Konknni is to be recognized as an independent literary language in 1975 by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. They also opposed Konknni to become the sole State Language of Goa. But they managed to manipulate to safeguard the interest of Marathi in the Goa, Daman and Diu Official Language Act 1987.
Devanagari protagonists of Konknni were equally cunning and shrewd. They convinced the minority community to introduce Bamunn Konknni in Devanagari script as a subject in minority schools after the liberation and even helped three minority schools in Margao to start Konknni medium primary schools in middle 1960s. When most of the minority schools switched over to Konknni medium in 1990-1991, these Konknni protagonists did nothing to promote either Konknni as a medium or even as a subject in their own schools. But closed their eyes when government promoted mainly Marathi in government schools and the majority community promoted Marathi and English medium primary schools! Their hidden agenda was to annihilate the minority institutions by forcing them to run Konknni medium schools. They always used Marathi as their trump card and sowed the seed of fear and animosity against Marathi in the minds of the minority.
During the language agitation in 1986, they succeeded to convince the minority leaders in KPA not to demand a place for Konknni in Roman script in the Language Bill by saying that if you demand Roman script, Marathi will become the official language of Goa and eventually there is a possibility of the merger of Goa with Maharashtra! They bluffed the minority community by keeping silent when Marathi was given more than a lion's share in the Language Act. If they were honest they should have opposed the Language Act and should have fought to make Konknni as the sole Official Language of Goa. Instead of this they tried to pacify the minority leaders. Why they did not fight only for Konknni? The answer is crystal clear. They knew very well that the majority community though speaks Konknni but will not accept written Konknni of Bamunn dialect in Devanagari script. Besides, the majority community will continue to use Marathi for religious, social, cultural and all other domains of their lives. Even today the majority community prefers to print invitation and greeting cards in Marathi. One single Konknni daily survives solely because of the financial support of a business house from Vasco. While 10 Marathi dailies are sold in Goa. Bamunn Konknni in Devanagari script has been totally rejected by the majority community. It is promoted mainly due to the government grants to Goa Konknni Akademi. It is a Marathicized Konknni and the textbooks are filled with any number of grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and lacking in originality and creativity. It is better to learn Marathi instead of Marathicized Bamunn Konknni in Nagari script. Hence why it should be preserved and promoted by the minority community in their schools? English medium aided schools have the two best choices, namely to teach either Marathi or Konknni. Let FORCE and others who fought forcefully for the English medium should continue their struggle to get the rightful place for Konknni in Roman script in school curriculum. The minority institutions have the right in the Indian Constitution to promote their language and script. Hence under the minority rights they could demand to teach Konknni in Roman script from standard I to XII. This is the only way to preserve and promote their Konknni. Otherwise students will continue to learn Konknni in Devanagari script which is a dead and unwanted language.