Marathi Rajbhasha Andolan (MRA) and Romi Konknni Andolon (RKA)
22 October 2013
The Portuguese were invited in 1509 to conquer Tiswadi from Adil Shah of Bijapur by two Bamonns of Goa, namely, Timoja Nayak and Mhal Pai Vernekar! They wanted to overthrow Adil Shah and gradually establish their own Bamonn rule. Thus these two Bamonns and their colleagues were responsible to bring the Portuguese to Tiswadi and later to modern day Goa. During the Portuguese rule from 1510 to 1961, Bamonns of Goa learnt the Portuguese language and benefited from the Portuguese rule for education, jobs and other areas of life. With the arrival of the Portuguese Roman script and the printing press came to Goa. Up to 1987, Romi Konknni and Marathi were the two Indian languages which were popular in Goa as written languages and used for all spheres of life such as religious, spiritual, cultural, literature, educational, etc. Marathi was used as a written language in Goa at least from the early 13th century. The first Marathi inscription written in 1236 is found on a copper plate at Kasarpal of Bicholim Taluka.
Portuguese missionaries were the first one to start the written tradition to Konknni in 1556. They used the Roman script to write and print Konknni. Since then Romi Konknni developed as a written language. Till then Konknni was only a spoken language and it had no written tradition. But a few Bamonns of Devanagari Konknni proponents have created a myth saying that the first inscription of Devanagari Konknni is found in an inscription of 12th century at the foot of Bahubali’s statue at Shravanabelagola, Karnataka! All the known scholars and linguists have said that the inscription is in Marathi. In Tanjavore temple in Tamil Nadu there are plenty of Marathi inscriptions in Devanagari script. Due to various Maharashtrian kings, Marathi language had reached in certain parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
In 17th century whatever literature which Portuguese destroyed was either Marathi or Sanskrit and not definitely Konknni. How could they destroy Konknni literature which never existed? The myth that the Portuguese destroyed Konknni literature written in Modi, Halekannada script and Devanagari script was created by a section of Bamonn Community of Goa to hide their inferiority complex. They have created enough myths to prove that their community and the actual production and imaginary production of their community are superior, pure, holy, and standard.
In 1987 a Konknni dialect (Devanagari Konknni) of approximately 2% of Goans, namely Bamonn community was declared as the Official Language of Goa through their manipulative methods! Devanagari Konknni was created in 20th century by Vaman Varde Valavlikar, popularly known as Shanai Gõybab who lived and died in Mumbai. A few leaders of this 2% Bamonn community used this Devanagari Konknni to get recognition from Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi as an independent literary language in 1975 with the active support of Romi Konknni. In 1981 they convinced the Sahitya Akademi to accept the Devanagari script as the only official script of Konknni. They did this to have their sole control in the literary, educational, cultural, social and later on in the administrative fields. The Bamonn Community promoted the Devanagari Konknni to have an upper hand over the Catholic Community and Hindu Bahujan Samaj which identified with Marathi. Though the Bamonn Community widely uses Marathi still they promoted Devanagari Konknni and not Marathi because the Marathi used by them and the Bahujan Samaj is identical and it is influenced by the standard Marathi. The Bamonn Community knew very well that Marathi will not give them the greater advantage over the Bahujan Samaj. To suppress, oppress and subdue the Bahujan Samaj and the Catholic Community, the Devanagari Konknni was created and vociferously promoted. It was a Machiavellian or Chanakya’s conspiracy hatched by a section of the Bamonn Community to impose their dialect under the garb of the Devanagari script as the standard language over the rest of the Goans!
This minority Bamonn community very well knew that the Catholic Community and the Bahujan Samaj will not unite to fight against their hidden agenda. A section of the Bamonn Community put fear in the mind of the Catholic Community by saying that if they demand Romi Konknni, then Konknni will not become the Official Language of Goa, instead Marathi the language of Maharashtra will become the Official Language and Goa might be eventually merged with Maharashtra and thus Goa will loose its own identity! The Bamonn leaders brain washed the Catholic Community leaders who were members of the Konknni Porjecho Avaz (KPA) to accept the Devanagari Konknni as the Official Language of Goa. The leaders of the Catholic Community reluctantly accepted this proposal to prevent Marathi to occupy the status of the Official Language. KPA was funded and supported to a large extent by the Romi Konknni supporters. The vast majority of Romi Konknni users were under the impression that their Konknni will become the Official Language. When the Language Bill was passed on 4 February 1987, the Catholic Community realized that they were cheated and betrayed. Paul did the hard labour and Pandurang reaped the fruit! The vast majority of the Hindu Community, especially the Bahujan Samaj which was using Marathi for educational, social, cultural, religious and in other domains of lives too felt that their language and their community was reduced to the status of second class in their own State of Goa.
Till date the Devanagari Konknni has not been fully accepted by the all members of Bamonn Community members for written purpose! They either use Marathi or English for written communication! Both the Catholic Community and the Hindu Bahujan Samaj have not accepted the Devanagari Konknni which is labelled by a few as Bamonni Konknni. The Devanagari Konknni survives on State and Central Governments’ grants, projects, schemes and advertisements. On the other hand the Romi Konknni and Marathi have the popular support of the people. They have survived and will survive without State and Central Governments’ support. Marathi Plays, sale of dailies, periodicals, books, DVDs, number of Marathi schools prove the fact that though the Bahujan Samaj speaks a dialect of Konknni, they do not accept it as an independent language, rather they consider it as an oral language and a dialect of Marathi. Till 1987, for the Bahujan Samaj, Konknni meant Romi Konknni. In Romi Konknni Tiatrs, weeklies and periodicals, DVDs are very popular. Devanagari Konknni is a parasite, which lives with the support of a few members of Catholic and Bahujan Samaj communities.
The Devanagari Konknni though lacks popularity and support of the people, it has been forced on Goans as the Official Language! It has created division, intellectual vacuum and harm in every area of life of the Goans. Due to Devanagari Konknni, the social unity of Goa is shattered and stunted. Even after 27 years of the Official Language status, Devanagari Konknni has not yet become popular and it has been rejected at all levels by the majority of the Goan Community. The proponents of Devanagari Konknni promote the fascist principle, “One language, one script, one community”. This principle is against the Constitution of India which promotes “Unity in diversity”.
To undo the great harm caused by the Devanagari Konknni and its proponents to the Goan Society and to foster social unity in Goa, Marathi Rajbhasha Andolan (MRA) and Romi Konknni Andolon (RKA) have come together on a common platform to jointly demand for the change in the Official Language Act 1987. The time has come for the Bhaujan Samaj and the Catholic Community to come together to build a stronger, peaceful and united Goa. Up to now the proponents of Marathi and Romi Konknni were independently demanding to change the Official Language Act to obtain the official status for Marathi and Romi Konknni. In the past politicians promised them but did not fulfil their promises. Even the present Chief Minister before coming to power had promised both the groups that if his party (BJP) comes to power, he will do justice to both Marathi and Romi Konknni. Now he has conveniently forgotten his own promise. Hence now the time has come for MRA and RKA to fight together for their rights.
MRA and RKA demand from the Goa Government, Ruling Party’s MLAs, Opposition Party’s MLAs, MPs of Goa to change the Official Language Act 1987 and pass a new bill which declares Romi Konknni and Marathi as the Official Languages of Goa.
We demand from the Goa Government to present and pass a Language Bill in the winter session in the month of December 2013 or to call a special session in the month of January 2014 and once and for all to settle the issue of Official Languages of Goa before the Lok Sabha Election 2014. The Official Language Act 1987 has played havoc in Goa and divided Goans and created hatred towards the native languages.
If the just demand of MRA and RKA is not fulfilled at the earliest then the agitation will continue throughout Goa and it will have unprecedented political implications both for Parliamentary election and Goa Assembly election. In democracy the just and lawful demands of the majority should be respected and fulfilled. We earnestly call upon the Goans to set aside their past prejudices and to support MRA and RKA to make Romi Konknni and Marathi as the Official Languages of Goa to unite the Catholic Community and the Hindu Community. A few states in India have more than one language as the Official Languages. For Example in Bihar: Hindi and Urdu; in Uttar Pradesh: Hindi and Urdu; in Haryana: Hindi and Punjabi; in Andhra Pradesh: Telugu and Urdu; in Delhi: Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi; in Jharkhand: Hindi, Santhali, Oriya, Bengali and Mundari; in Tripura: Kokborok and Bengali; Daman and Diu: Marathi and Gujarati. If Romi Konknni and Marathi become the Official Languages of Goa then both the Catholic Community and the Hindu Community can live peacefully with unity and friendship. Let all of us who care for Goa make this dream a reality without further delay.
Mr. Pradeep Ghadi Amonkar Fr. (Dr.) Pratap Naik, S. J.
Convenor of MRA Convenor & Spokesperson of RKA