Primal Fears

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
09 April 2011 12:50 IST

I thought I would also throw my hat into the quicksand of the medium of instruction row but I need to make 3 disclaimers first,

1)      My kids happily study at Sharda Mandir English School, a haven for the Swish set. I do so because I can afford it, and I have a choice. So I truly should have no moral, finger wagging, booming voice position on the medium of instruction issue. You don’t play rummy with your cards face up on the desk.

2)      For all the dirty dollars and dhirams, the most complex job in Goa, as of now is that of the education minister who has to make his choice and decision. Not a simple task when society is cracked down the middle on this sensitive, hot potato topic.

3)      I learnt my Hindi from Amitabh Bachachan and Salim-Javed. My Konkani from Ravindra Kelekar and Pundalik Naik; jacinto Vaz and Chris Pery/Lorna

After speaking to the protagonists of both groups, what I seek to explore is the key reason, the very basic driving force that makes them seek the course they’ve chosen.

Sift through the abuses and the innuendo the high pitched histrionics and the chest thumping and what you may discover is a very very fundamental human emotion—THE PRIMAL FEAR- that spurts this debate + demand.

Let me explain!


The demand of this brigade is a simple, time tested, corner stone of democracy” CHOICE”!

“If the privileged, swish set can exercise a choice to give their kids an English education and set them on an easy highway of prosperity, why should my kids not have the same opportunity?”

Konkani for all, whether rich or poor  OR  English as choice. The argument is always persuasive to a liberal, open democratic society.

And all the accusations of these guys being anti-national and communal only because they refuse to be jack boxed into a preconceived definition of patriotism is really  hogwash. These are simple folks doing the simplest of things to tackle their most PRIMAL FEAR!

How does my kid compete in this tough, rough & tumble globalised world?? Today, India is America and America is India in their perception and they’ve got to get their kids a head start to face the economic challenges sure to engulf Goa(and India) with the corporatisation of our lives.

Parents may be simple but they are bloody smart and farsighted. With their beloved Governments succeeding in only creating job opportunities of drug pushers, black jack operators, massage girls and mine shovellers or real estate pimps in Goa, parents want their kids out, to a more sensible,and sane future and they believe their passport to that is simply ENGLISH.

These guys don’t love ENGLISH – Not at all – They only love their kids infinitely more.


Theirs is also a highly surcharged, emotional and beautiful battle for survival. A tackling of another PRIMAL FEAR.

Again cut through the jargon and the unfortunate opportunistic RSS presence. Their argument is simple and also very persuasive.

If English is allowed to run riot in our tiny teardrop of a state, Konkani will be annihilated forever. No doubt (Marathi has too big an audience and patronage to be affected)

The bonding and extreme passionate love of a people to their culture, their roots and their identity is so strong that often it becomes non negotiable.

Just checkout if the French, the German or even the good old Portuguese would allow English to infiltrate and dominate their lives. I think not.

We’ll scream Goenkarponn and identity: Konkani Mai Bhas and Jai Goem but when it comes to putting our money where our mouth is, we scoot through the easy hole out (I also plead guilty on this count!)

Kerala is a wonderful, glorious example of a region where its people are proud and fanatically possessive of their culture and roots whether they are Hindu, Catholic or Muslim. Malayalam and Onam runs through their blood, proudly. Even Christmas, Diwali or Id does not share this prime space.

Sad, that in Goa the only cultural strong point we all share as one people nowadays is  SUNBURN OR DUM MARO DUM (Perish the thought)

So this brigade is also fighting the inevitable Americanisation of our culture but Manmohan Singh had cleverly launched that missile in 1991 and all of us had applauded him then. A missile destroys and we are left clearing the rubble. You can’t send the missile back.

Culture (and Romi Konkani is also  culture) is an emotional crutch for a lost and dying people, suffocated by the policies of their own political masters.

And when your culture is at peril, you come out all guns blazing!!! No matter what the cost.

Hence, when two Primal Fears collide, there is always an inevitable amount of bad blood, verbal and print abuse and slander and plenty of lobbying, elbowing and grand standing. A part of the game!!

What however one hopes is that this doesn’t degenerate in a slashing end game; slash the trust between communities; slash the peace of the land; slash throats! We don’t need no martyrs for this battle. Please!

Last heard; to find a solution to this vexatious issue our Chief Minister has devised a solution only he knows best. He’s set out on another multi-religious pilgrimage. God will solve this problem, he says, Don’t ask me how?

Post script: Whatever be the eventual decision on our mother tongue; one thing is absolutely certain: our mother earth is certainly Chinese.

Visit any Chinese port and you’ll find an inscription “ In every corner of China there is a little piece of Goa – forever”

Mother Earth loses out to Mother tongue yet again. Darn!!

Blogger's Profile

Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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Previous Comments

I have something to say on this issue. The Medium of Instruction means, the child would be taught only upto 4th standard in Konkani and Marathi. Also no one has taken the right of parent to enroll his kid in English medium school.

This entire controversy is based on false presumption that `we will have to entirely study in Konkani or Marathi.'

State Government has miserably failed to educate people that Medium of instruction issue ceases to exist after 4th standard.

It's entire a non-issue.

- Rupesh Samant, Panaji | 18 th April 2011 19:43


It is wrong to say that English alone is useful in the globalized world. Managing people from different cultures, people who have different languauges is equally important. Indians do well as managers globally because they can manage other Indians. Knowing Hindi, Marathi and other Indian languages definitely helps in becoming a good manager.

A multi-lingual Indian has definitely much better chances of success in the globalized world than a Indian who only knows English well.

- Samir Kelekar, Bangalore | 18 th April 2011 00:19


mass people of Goa do not know proper English . child understands mother tongue better . we must not think in adult angle . & learning konkani at first five years will at all not harm development in ENGLISH language ,rather it is going to make him more better in his mother tongue & in foreign language too.please do not carry out with perceptions created by magical waves.

- vishant, sankhali goa | 17 th April 2011 15:40


whatever is government is not quality & private is standard is wrong concept in minds of general some extent this concept is true ,no-doubt. but what is reality that has also to be not ignored. many parent send to private schools & not English.

now church & other some institutes are brainwashing common society by misguiding them.

yes as INDIAN govt. has made situation in such a way that knowledge of English is very necessary. but at what stage?

some people in GOA do have very foreign mentality.They want every thing foreign . Dogs,Cats,cloths,etc.

with such mentality if some section of society demands English ,then .... there is no point in arguing what is right & what may prove worse in future.

- mayur, harvale-goa | 17 th April 2011 15:31


It is great fun to see almost -everywhere- many of the self proclaimed experts giving their free advise on the MOI. It is funny thing to read their views and the urge with which they want to impose their views on others. Let the parents decide what is good for their kids and let the Govt. help in this decision in whatever manner possible....

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 17 th April 2011 09:08


What a lousy article.

- Jim, USA | 15 th April 2011 23:01


Ask the elite class of Goa, why they need English run schools in Goa with CBSE syllabus. I would prefer them to stay put and shut their clams, and do not comment on the seeming present row over the MOI issue. It is not their business to be involved with. And those who call for an Opinion Poll, it was not easy. The difficulty in getting the Opinion Poll in place, was not easily done, it was a much bigger issue than the MOI. It was our future destiny, our existence. One simple thing they can do is ask all the parents, to give in writing their option, if English, alongwith Konkani, Marathi or Urdu, of the three major communities living in Goa. And only the parents of the primary level should be made to do it.

- Ludovico, Old-Goa | 14 th April 2011 17:02


India is a democrative country, people should have a choice and you cannot force someone for something.

We are living in the 21st century it’s all about being competitive and speed, we have to be ready for the World not just for Goa/India.

Regarding the medium of instruction, since the students are minor their parents are the best judge, if I have to vote I will go with English as MOI and Hindi and Konkani/Marathi as compulsory subjects, which was there then.

The language issue is all about vote bank it’s a sensitive issue for all of us, a simple observation in Goa legislative assembly in the recent assembly session 70% of the MLA’s conducted their business/debate in English and the rest in Konklish including the speaker, opposition leader and the chief minister.

So what are we fighting for????? let’s have a choice

- Roy Fernandes, Caribbean | 14 th April 2011 07:32


I do believe that, if your primary education is in mother tongue than your foundation will be strong . this is because when you are kid (at primary school level ) you learn lot of things from your parents and grand parents . but problem in GOA of mother tongue is unique . we have many parents and grand parents speak English at home so these parents will love to send their children in English medium schools some of them consider their culture is in UK /America or Portugal.

secondly some parents to give quality education send their children to pvt. schools and most of which are English medium (and runs on business model). Parents send their children to this school not because they love English but, because they want quality and accountability . which is missing in govt. schools

it is smiler like govt. hospital story. In spite of having so many govt. hospitals people prefer pvt. hospital by paying more.

- sanjay Sawant Dessai, Curchorem Goa | 09 th April 2011 22:10


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