The Politics of MoI

By Prabhakar Timble
08 August 2015 05:06 IST

Let me begin with a categorical statement that the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) and the Konkani Lok Shakti (KLS) have every right to assert for government grants-in-aid for primary educational institutions in the regional medium including the right to oppose for grants to such institutions adopting the

English-medium. It is their privilege drawn from the premise to preserve, protect and promote the regional languages. Research studies and reports of expert groups also testify in favour of local language at the elementary stage of learning. However, this cannot be a patriotic licence to use foul mouth and derogatory tongue painting the organization Forum for the Right of Children’s Education (FORCE) as anti-national and the Church or the Church-run primary schools as denationalized. The BBSM is under a mistaken identity that they are sole storehouses of culture and nationalism. I would consider this as a gross abuse of the right resorted with the intention to whip communal passions and exploit the opportunity to aggressively motivate a division between minority and majority groups. I would avoid going into the politics of convenience and abetment which made the BBSM to hibernate and acquiesce with the then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar joyfully allowing him to mute their otherwise loaded voices.

Right of choice

Managing English-medium primary educational institutions does not make anybody anti-national. Such institutions owned and administered by majority community are in plenty. Hindu parents enrolling their children in English-medium schools cannot be accused to be de-cultured and denationalized. English is the medium of instruction at all other further levels and none raises black flags espousing nationalism and patriotism. The constitution bench of the Supreme Court has unanimously held, "We hold that a child or, on his behalf, his parent or guardian, has a right to freedom of choice with regard to the medium of instruction in which he would like to be educated at the primary stage in school." The apex court has clarified that the state could impose 'mother tongue' as medium of instruction in government and government-aided and recognized primary schools. But private unaided schools and linguistic as well as religious minority educational institutions would remain outside the purview of 'mother tongue' as medium of instruction.  

 

Any organization has a legitimate right to demand and agitate for government aid. It is for the government to take a call on grants-in-aid. The fumes of denationalization that the leaders of BBSM discharge point to an agenda other than education and language. Dumping the major minority community as anti-Goan and anti-national is a decree of aspersions to ignite the gullible forces in the majority community to eye the Goan Catholics with suspicion and contempt.    The controlling forces in BBSM have conveniently planted “bharatiya bhasha” denying the unequivocal place to the ‘mai-bhas’, Konkani. These calculating forces in the BBSM and the right-wing political fronts know that Konkani and a sense of belonging to the soil is the unifying force bonding all Goans irrespective of religion, caste and community. It is this unity that is put under the acid test.

Multilingualism

I have absolutely no reason to doubt the passion and commitment to Konkani of those who espouse for grants only for mother-tongue at primary stage of education but they show no displeasure at grants for Marathi or even when exclusive Marathi primary schools are established by those who call the shots in BBSM. In the same breath, I also do not hesitate to read love for Konkani and the land in those who demand grants for English-medium primary schools. 

I am myself a votary of primary education in local language as I am convinced that learning at the elementary stage should be play and fun. At the same time, the local language opens a window to other Indian languages and nurtures affinity to local culture and environment. However, I do not give weight to such a correlation at further stages of education. I would not align to the argument that English education is the cause of India’s educational backwardness and would refrain from buying that English education promotes pro-British sentiment and indirectly amounts to accepting slavery of a foreign language. Though, it is true that local culture is better expressed in local language, the contention that English destroys culture is unsustainable. The modern times are of multilingualism and the need is to orient students to express fluently in two or more languages. This thought should take the place of medium-of-instruction from primary stage of education.

The fears of threat to promotion of local languages in the age of global competition and market orientation indeed exist. But, these fears cannot be addressed by flying the kites of culture, nationalism and denigrating communities. I see some answers in multilingualism. 

Konkani language and culture is known to be secular, tolerant and accepting diverse lifestyles. If this is lost, then the Konkani verses would sing the songs of hatred, discrimination, blind faith and authoritarianism. I am reminded of Rudyard Kipling--- “OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”. This should never happen with the minority and majority in Goa. If this is what transpires, then Konkani may stay but it would not be the sweet “Goemkarachi bhaas”.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Excellent response by Prabhakar Timble to the shocking and intemperate outbursts by Uday Bhembre whom I did respect and admire

- Excellent response by Prabhakar Timble to the shocking and intemperate outbursts by Uday Bhembre whom I did respect and admire , Aldona | 08 th August 2015 11:39

 

The following observations by Shri Prabhakar Timble squarely support the CPI-M's analysis that the whole fight is not only about trying for a communal polarisation on linguistic grounds, but also for asserting that RIGHT TO SELL PRIMARY EDUCATION THROUGH THE ENGLISH MEDIUM REMAINS A LUCRATIVE BUSINESS, and unfortunately, even the Supreme Court has not considered this point.

"The apex court has clarified that the state could impose 'mother tongue' as medium of instruction in government and government-aided and recognized primary schools. But private unaided schools and linguistic as well as religious minority educational institutions would remain outside the purview of 'mother tongue' as medium of instruction."

- Thalmann Pradeep Pereira , Panaji | 08 th August 2015 11:24

 

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