Congress Wins MoI battle

By Prabhakar Timble
04 June 2012 20:59 IST

The Congress lost the war and faced humiliating defeat at the 2012 elections. However, Congress emerged victorious in the battle on medium of instruction. This was because Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had decided to concede the win on the MoI issue to the Congress during the election campaign period itself.

The issue actually was simple. It was an issue of providing government grants to pay the salaries of teachers working in 105 primary schools run by the Diocesan Society of Education without insisting on any commitment on the medium of instruction. It was not an issue of medium of instruction at all. The Chief Minister has clearly stated today that the medium of instruction is Konkani or Marathi or regional language. And when CM Parrikar says it so clearly, none should doubt and criticise it as a lip-statement. Beware!

This decision to provide grants to 105 Church-run primary schools and at the same time to none others could be in one way a total sell out. The Congress government policy could have brought in more players in the field of primary education. It was to this extent democratic. The present step forecloses competition. This creates an island of 105 primary institutions enjoying monopoly in English-medium at public cost. Knowing the quality status of many government schools, the choice for the parents in the villages is almost non-existent. It can be only the school run by the DSE. The Archdiocese Board of Education (ADE) would be raving at this windfall. 

Test of Law

Does this policy satisfy the test of law? To my mind, there can be no allegation of violation of law. Just as the medium is a right of choice of parents, grants to institutions is the right of the government. No court could have forced the Executive i.e. government to provide grants to primary schools in English-medium, if the government does not wish to do so. Similarly, no court would strike down the decision of the government to release grants to 105 schools. If the Executive desires, is willing and able to provide grants, who are the Courts to come in the way?

The Courts would interfere only if the policy is discriminatory. So, the statement that no grants would be provided to any other primary school in English-medium except the chosen 105 who in fact faced contempt of High Court proceedings could be a grey area. The government will have to come clear on this issue with a policy-frame and reasons for such a cut-off. The gates cannot be closed for other primary schools in English-medium to apply for grants. To my mind, this issue is still open. It is not a closed and shut one. Government would have to record the special reasons for the special treatment of the 105 schools.

BJP & RSS also win

I started by saying that the Congress party has won on the issue of medium of instruction. The BJP and the RSS has also skilfully worked to win. The formation of the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) had sown the seeds of split in the secular Konkani camp. The Church can afford to have common goals with the RSS to the extent to which it is mutually beneficial since a divided community serves their mutual interests better. The unceremonious removal of Sahitya Akademi award winner and activist Dilip Borkar as the President of the Konkani Academy and installation of Pundalik Naik had not drawn even a murmur of dissent from Konkani lovers, writers and artists. This was one barometer to measure the success of the policy of dividing the Konkani movement. The silence on the part of the veterans and youth showed that the policy of separation and division was working. Though a small matter, the government of the day was making a big statement. The implied message was that literary bodies would be treated like other government corporations and writers and artists can be humiliated through the back-stage manipulation that none will protest.  We are marching forward for a strong Konkani Academy Bhavan of granite and marble with our unity in shambles and the Konkani movement disintegrated.

Now, the present policy may lead to trading of bad words in the Konkani camp. Some may try to alienate the Catholics spreading that this community is not interested in local language. They are denationalised or less nationalised because of choice of English. The reality is that the total number of children of Hindu community doing their primary education in English medium is more than that of Catholics. The BJP and the RSS may want this rift to happen. This is the time for all harmony loving Goans to come together under the banner of ‘mai bhas’ Konkani. We should not allow the grants policy to divide our communities at any cost. The DSE and Konkani activists should come together to work out other modalities to strengthen the local language and our secular culture.

The four lessons

Finally what are the lessons from all this:

1. Parents fail to understand  the weak correlation between medium of instruction at primary level and future career. It is not English language at primary level which puts the career graph higher. Growth depends on the overall development and the nursing of abilities to think.

2. Parents do not realise that regional medium at primary level does not mean a NO to learning of English at that level.

3. Dearth of good schools in regional medium at primary level is a reality to be addressed. The Rs. 12 lakh one time grant for schools in regional medium announced by the government should be profitably used to develop infrastructure.

4. Trust no politician whether from the Congress or BJP. The BBSM was also packed with politicians. Some educationists also give top priority to politics. I still cannot digest the sudden withdrawal of the MoI petition from the High Court. The more educated the politician is, the more is the trust deficit.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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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

so now where are all the marathi premies and konkani mogis and hindutva lovers when parrikar is doing blatent catholic apeasement. Or are they afraid that their chlidrens lives will be threatened if they criticise parrikar. Chamchagiri is a old decease, it was there in congress too. But it has reached sky now. Specially among so called artist and intellectuals.

- ramesh karekar, porvorim | 08 th June 2012 02:33


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