Roman Script in Administration
Implementation of the Official Language Act for all States, as I understand it, is to begin with using the local language in the State’s Administration, i.e. all correspondence in the State’s Government Departments including the State’s Legislative Assembly, to be carried out in the local language of the State.
But, does this really happen in other States? Does it really work? Will it work in Goa?
Let’s take the case of Maharashtra, for an example. Is all State correspondence at the “Mantralaya’ and the various Municipal Corporations in Maharashtra done in Marathi? Or, if not all, is at least “most of the correspondence” at the Mantralaya and other departments including the Municipalities in Maharashtra done in Marathi?
No. And why not?
Plainly because, administrative correspondence of the government in any State, is not the same as a ‘correspondence’ between two individuals.
State Government correspondence involves many heads and departments. The Cabinet, the concerned Minister, the Director of the concerned department, the Head of the department in the government office, the upper divisional clerks, the lower divisional clerks and the applicant himself.
The same correspondence further branches out to the related government departments, like Finance, Environment, Police, Traffic-Control, Collector’s Office, District Magistrate, Municipal Corporations, Village Panchayat etc.
This also further branches out to different places where the applicant may produce the Government response, like the Civil or Criminal Courts, engineers, Health Departments, educational institutions, employment agencies, religious institutions, etc.
In short, the correspondence that generates from a State Government is to be read and understood by all these people. Or else, it has to be translated at each level to enable the people at that level, to read it, understand it and take further action on it.
This is precisely the reason, that even the Government of Maharashtra (one of the most advanced States in India as far as use of local language is concerned), can push the “implementation of the Official Language Act” only to a limited extent. Beyond that, it is just not possible.
Every Government office has “Babus” coming from different linguistic backgrounds. They do not understand all the languages. They are also not expected to learn all the languages, simply because their jobs are transferrable and quite often at short notices. One posting of a “Babu” may be in Maharashtra (Marathi), the second in Gujarat (Gujarati), the third in Karnataka (Kannadad) and the fourth in Bengal (Bengali) and so on… How many languages will the poor “Babu” learn? And how soon?
Believe me, even if a “Babu” is kept posted in just one State only, throughout his working career, it is not easy for him to learn to read, understand and write in a language that is not his own.
Appreciating this situation, all the States in India, including Maharashtra have adopted the most logical path i.e. to necessarily carry out all Government correspondence in English, which is read, understood and written by all.
The very statistics of Maharashtra show that today, ‘MUMBAI’ written in the Roman script has more “mass following” than, the same word written in the Devnagari script. If this is the state of affairs in Maharashtra and other States in India, then can Goa be different? No.
The whole World is fast becoming a global village. It’s the price we all have to pay for “development” i.e. adopting a language and script that is understood by most of the nations. And it so happens that today, English written in the Roman script, is the language that is most read, most written and most understood throughout the world and hence most convenient for generation next.
Now, with these examples, am I suggesting that we give up on our mother tongue Konkani? Am I promoting English in the place of Konkani? No. Never! Globalization does not mean we give up our mother tongue.
Regional languages, like our Konkani have, and will always have a special place in our art and culture, our poetry and our literature. It is Konkani that will always give us our Goan Identity. And it is here that we should strengthen our Konkani base.
Fortunately for Goa, we do have a reasonably strong base for Konkani art and culture. But, we have a very long way to go for Konkani poetry and other Konkani literature.
I for one do not foresee any problem for strengthening the base of Konkani art and culture, because all the communities of Goa and the Konkan region as a whole are already working tirelessly and selflessly in this direction.
Although a joint effort by all the Goan communities could have yielded better results, the present situation is not all bad, especially considering every village protects its own folk art and the ever-growing popularity of the Konkani Tiatr.
It is the Konkani poetry and other Konkani literature that I am worried about.
Until and unless all Goan communities are allowed to contribute to this “pond” of Konkani poetry and other literature forms, it’s base will go on eroding and will one day simply disappear.
I said “allowed to contribute” because the Government of Goa’s Official Language Act of 1987” is partisan. I go to the extent of calling it “Communal”. It does not allow, rather bans poets and writers of literature using Konkani in the Roman script.
It treats the entire Roman script using Goan community as 2nd class citizens of Goa. This is the basic reason as to why the “pond” of Konkani poetry and literature is fast drying up.
Till this injustice is undone, I for one do not see any future for Konkani poetry and Konkani literature that is, at present, written by a handful, only in the Devnagari script.
The Official Language Act of Goa of 1987 needs immediate “Amendment” to include Konkani in Roman script and thereby help to save and strengthen the base of Konkani poetry and literature from total annihilation in Goa.
It is sad to say that the Government in power in Goa today has fallen prey to the ‘communal sharks’ that are determined to see Marathi poetry and Marathi literature flourish in Goa at the cost of Konkani poetry and literature. These communal sharks, have no backbones and are totally selfish. They fire by placing their guns on the Government’s shoulders.
They will, at the most succeed, in putting up “government signboards” in Devnagari script, which anyway will only add to the “confusion” that already exists.
– Wilmix Wilson Mazarello
(Convenor, Romi Lipi Action Front)