Kannada or Devanagari? The dialect-rich Konkani sets off furious debate between Sahitya Academy & Konknnis

Politically powerful Devanagari lobbyists have argued that the Central Sahitya Akademi has only recognised Konkani written in Devanagari.

Though Konkani is written in 5 different scripts, namely – Kannada, Roman, Devanagari, Perso-Arabic and Malayalam – the Sahitya Akademi (Central), since the very beginning, has been awarding Awards, Assignments and Projects only to the literature in the Devanagari script.   Despite the fact that Devanagari is only the 3rdmost prolific script (after Kannada and Roman), the Akademi has been squarely ignoring and neglecting Konkani literature in other scripts.  When innumerable pleas and countless representations against this gross injustice evoked no positive response, Eric Ozario and 2 others (Vally Vagga, Mysore and Marcel D’souza, Mangalore ), on behalf of all Konkanis, have approached the honourable High Court of Karnataka, with a Writ Petition – WP. No. 35120/2011(GM-PIL) dated 8-9-2011.

The Writ Petition prays the High Court – ‘to issue a direction to the Sahitya Akademi, Respondent no. 1 herein, to recognize all the 5 scripts of Konkani Language viz., Kannada, Roman (English), Devanagari, Arabic and Malayalam as eligible for grant of Awards, Research funding and all other incidental works, for which assistance is rendered by the Akademi’.

While the High Court is considering this Petition, the ‘Karnataka State Konkani Linguistic Minorities Institutions’ have filed an application to implead them in the case and have pleaded to consider ‘only Devanagari for recognition’.  Together, they have issued a Press Statement (published on l2-6-2012) with false information.

Their statement claims that –

1.      ‘Devanagari is the official script of Konkani’.

2.      ‘The Constitution has given prominence to the Devanagari script’.

3.      ‘Konkanis use only the Devanagari script and not Kannada or Malayalam’.

4.      ‘If any script other than Devanagari is recognized, it will be detrimental to Konkani Langauage’.

Jagotik Konkani Songhotton (JKS) condemns these statements and wishes to expose the truth –

 Official Script –

(i)                  Who decides which is the official script of a language?  Does Devanagari become the official script, just because the Devanagari lobby declares so?  Such a decision has to be taken in a democratic process, at an assembly of representatives of all scripts.  Such an assembly has never been convened in Konkani.

(ii)                Moreover, this is not a question of the ‘Official script’. The Question is whether the Sahitya Akademi’s mandate is to honour and support the ‘literature’ of a language or the ‘script’ of a language.  If it is literature, then how can the Akademi pamper and patronize the literature in one script alone and completely ignore and disregard the literature in other scripts?

‘The Constitution has given prominence to the Devanagari script’ – totally untrue.  Articles 14 and  29 of the Constitution of India read as follows –

(i)                              Article 14 – Equality before law – “the state shall not deny to any person equality before law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”.

(ii)                            Article 29 – Protection of interests of minorities – 1. ‘Any section of the citizen residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same’

a.                   The Constitution of the Sahitya Akademi is very clear as to the script issue – the Constitution of the Sahitya Akademi – clause 3, sub clause 9 (a) ‘To improve and develop the various scripts in which the languages of the country are written’.

b.                  Not only that, in its reply to our Petition the Sahitya Akademi has admitted to the honourable High Court that – ‘ The mandate of the Sahitya Akademi is – fully to recognize and support the literary traditions of the given language”.  The literary traditions of Konkani being that it is in 5 scripts, the Sahitya Akademi has no option but to recognize and support literature in all 5 scripts of Konkani.

‘Konkanis use only the Devanagari script and not Kannada or Malayalam’.  This is the pinnacle of falsehood.  The truth is – According to the2001 Census, of the total Konkanis in India, 31.82% Konkanis live in Goa. 31.73% live in Karnataka.  All Konkanis living in Karnataka read and write Konkani in the Kannada script Goa is divided between Roman and Devanagari.  A Study conducted in 2011 reveals that only 12.7%Konkanis in India use Devanagari script; the remaining 87.3% use other scripts.  The use of Kannada script is the highest – 58%.

‘If any script other than Devanagari is recognized, it will be detrimental to Konkani language’. Our Response –

(i)                  Our fight is not against Devanagari.  We are not demanding that Devanagari be neglected.  Our demand is that the other 4 scripts also be considered, along with Devanagari.

(ii)                Their attempt is to destroy all script variety in Konkani and impose their variety on everyone.  This is detrimental to the unity and development of Konkani.  We condemn this and seek legal remedies.

Variety in Konkani is not in script alone. There is plenty of variety in dialect, religion, caste, traditions, customs, practices, folk-arts, cuisine, costumes, festivals, rituals etc. etc..  In the midst of so much variety to seek unity by destroying these varieties and by imposing one’s variety on all, is utter folly. ‘Unity in diversity’ is the mantra of our nation’s unity.  ‘Unity in diversity’ is also the formula for Konkani unity and future.



Incredible India: Andhra teachers asked to ‘train’ students in abuses

Imagine a teacher writing filthy abuses on the blackboard and explaining their meanings to students.

Shocked? This is exactly what schoolteachers in Andhra Pradesh are being told to do. A handbook designed by the state government to train schoolteachers has a peculiar chapter that has left teachers blushing.

This chapter suggests that they should make students list out women-specific filthy words or abuses, generally used as slang in society, and explain their meaning.

The offending chapter in question, Discrimination in culture”, says: ‘List out such words and ask students to write them down along with their meanings. Explain why most of these vulgar words are related to sex of women, their chastity and doubting their fidelity. Tell the students whether such gender abuses are there in other countries, too and what they are.’

The handbook, which was distributed among teachers at a training programme across the state recently, basically deals with gender discrimination in society and how teachers should educate their students on eradicating this evil.

It was prepared with the support of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Rajiv Vidya Mission (earlier Sarva Siksha Abhiyan) programme and Jana Ganam, a voluntary organisation.

The handbook states the chapter’s objective was to make students understand why discrimination against women in the socio-economic fields has been reflected in culture.

Several teachers at the training programmes expressed the view that though the handbook was designed with a good objective, it will be highly embarrassing for them to talk about vulgar words.

‘It is ridiculous. How can we mention vulgar abuses before students, leave alone telling them to write them down and explain their meanings?’ G. Rama Devi, a state teachers union member, said.

Senior teacher L. Ravinder Rao said those who designed the chapter might not have taken the teachers’ sensitivities into consideration. (courtesy: A. SRINIVASA RAO  & MailOlineIndia)

The Tamil Problem: just social brawl led 80% murders in TN!

Law and order maintenance and traffic control need to be intelligent, perceptive and sensitive. Better living conditions and social equality is an ideal that one should work towards. Being smart is better than being tough.

In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu last year, around 80 percent of the murders recorded in the state were committed by people who are otherwise not criminals; and the murders appeared to have occurred at the heat of the moment, not by history-sheeters or sociopaths. It is not organised crime and money that kill people here, but socio-economic conditions in the state . This includes quarrels within or between families and between people, personal enmity and passion.

G. Pramod Kumar writes in Firstpost.com:

Out of the 1715 murders in 2011, the highest in the last ten years, “family quarrel” accounted for the highest number – 440. Interestingly, this has been the trend in the state for years. Mostly, the numbers hovered around the 400s. The next is, personal enmity. It accounted for 421 precious lives, followed by crime of passion, which the state police categorises as “love affairs and sexual causes”, that claimed 347 persons. “Wordy duels,” which possibly means petty quarrels or quarrelsome arguments had an equally high toll – 325 people.

The biggest cause of avoidable deaths in Tamil Nadu, however, is road accidents. More than 15,000 people lost their lives on the roads in 2011. About 0.44% of the vehicles in the state were involved in fatal accidents. In other words, one out of every 227 vehicles on Tamil Nadu roads is involved in a fatal accident. The number of accident deaths has been rising progressively over the years. Till 2005, it stayed below 10,000; but since then, it just kept rising steeply. However what is redeeming is that the percentage of vehicles that get involved in fatal accidents is certainly coming down. In 2002, it was twice of what it is today. In fact, it has even improved from last year. Even the percentage of deaths attributed to the number of vehicles is improving. The combination of factors in the traffic-statistics indicate sheer rise in number of vehicles in the state and the possibility of lawlessness on the roads. However, the reduction in the relative possibility of accidents and deaths hovering around the vehicles perhaps indicate better infrastructure, traffic management and trauma care services.