Goan youth oppose pro-Marathi moves

| 16 March 2001 23:45 IST

The age-old language controversy over Konkani and Marathi still haunts Goa while the young blood in the state is fighting to make knowledge of Konkani essential in recruitment, in order to stop increasing influx of non-Goans in the state.

The Bharatiya Janata Party government ruling the state since October last is under tremendous pressure from section of the Marathi media as well as organisations like the Gomantak Marathi Academy, besides handful of legislators, to make Marathi the official language on par with Konkani.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar has however succeeded till date to keep away from the controversy, stating repeatedly that his first priority is development of the state while granting official status to Marathi is last on the BJP's agenda.

The BJP is however being trapped within its own stand taken at its state convention in May last year to grant official status to Marathi. Though Parrikar - as the MLA - had even moved a bill in this regard in the monsoon session later along with another bill moved by the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, the bills were then sent to the governor without introduction, on technical grounds.

As the same private bills cannot be moved now since both the private movers - Parrikar and Pandurang Raut - are the ministers today, a fresh move is being made by the GMA through largely circulated Marathi newspapers to move a fresh bill in the coming budget session, beginning from 19 March.

The first attempt in this direction was made during the census operation last month, appealing to the Goans to register Marathi as their mother tongue. "Though all of us speak Konkani, it is our dialect and Marathi is the language which we read, write and use it in cultural as well as religious expression", states Gopalrao Mayekar, the GMA president and former MP.

The GMA also posted a 50-year old report to the Census of India, prepared by a committee appointed at a literary meet in Solapur, which stated that Konkani is the dialect of Marathi. "This pre-liberation report was prepared with a vested interest to merge Konkani-speaking Karwar, Supa and Halyal of Karnataka as well as Goa into Maharashtra without a single philologist representing the committee", points out Uday Bhembre, who had successfully fought against Goa's merger into Maharashtra in 1966.

Though people were bringing to power the pro-Marathi MGP till 1977, situation changed after Konkani was considered an independent language by the Sahitya Academy. It was also made the official language of the state in 1987 after year-long violent agitation and was included in the eighth schedule of the constitution in 1992.

As implementation of the official language has still remained on paper for the last 14 years, Goa Hit-Rakhan Manch - a body of youth - has now mobilised young blood from all over the state, demanding that knowledge of Konkani as well as 15-year domicile be made essential for any job in the state.

"We are least interested in the language controversy as it has only helped the non-Goans to come down and take up jobs here while our educated youth are still starving on the roads", states Prashant Naik, the GHM spokesman.

They have vehemently opposed the demand to make Marathi the official language as it would also make knowledge of Marathi compulsory in jobs, opening floodgates for the educated unemployed from Maharashtra to authoritatively come down and take up jobs here.

As the pressure of the young turks is mounting upon the government, Parrikar last week also refused to bow down before the Marathi protagonists when they demanded to introduce Marathi paper along with Konkani in the written examination conducted by the Goa Public Service Commission.

While congratulating the chief minister, the GHM has now demanded that similar recruitment rules be also made applicable to all the semi-government bodies as well as the aided educational institutions including the Goa University, alleging that its major faculties are captured by Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

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