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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Effort to promote Konkani language gaining ground

The Konkani Sahitya Academy is confident that the State Government will introduce Konkani as a third language in 100 more schools in the State from the next academic year.

In compliance with the trilingual formula, the academy has played a key role in the implementation of Konkani as a third language (from sixth standard) in 55 schools, covering 1,586 students in Konkani-speaking areas across the State from this academic year.

The academy has been urging the State Government since 1994 to consider introduction of Konkani as a third language in primary schools. Though the Government deliberated over the issue in 2004, it could not implement it reportedly due to financial constraints.

Although the academy’s approach to educational activities has attracted criticism, it has set a precedent in defining what purposeful role an academy could play in the area of social development.

Thanks to the chairman of the academy Eric Alexander Ozario, who took pains to elevate the status of the academy from the routine award-presenting and book publishing body to an effective implementing agency, the Konkani Sahitya Academy has now earned a pride of place among the various State-run academies.

There are an estimated 25 lakh Konkani-speaking people in the State.

According to Mr. Ozario not many are aware that several backward communities in Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu and some districts in the Malnad region, and also those in other urban areas speak Konkani. Besides, the politically and economically influential Konkani Christians and Gowda Saraswath Brahmins speak Konkani.

Realising that the number of those speaking and writing Konkani was dwindling, the academy resolved to protect and develop the language. In the process, the academy had to encounter problems over choosing the script for the language, as Konkani has no script of its own.

“After a thorough debate, the academy chose the Kannada script. Supported by public contribution, it launched a pilot project and has engaged established Konkani writers to coordinate the literary activities. This has resulted in the Konkani-speaking people evincing interest in their mother tongue. I will not be surprised if Konkani becomes a medium of instruction in the future,” he said.

Academy activities

On the activities of the academy, Mr. Ozario said it had published many books. A Konkani-English dictionary has also been brought out.

The Department of Kannada and Culture is all praise for the Konkani Sahitya academy for being the only one to fully utilise its annual grant of Rs. 20.5 lakh.

It has launched many novel programmes such as Samskrithika Sangama, a periodical interaction with Tulu, Kodava and Urdu academies.

However, Mr. Ozario wants the Government to rename the academy as Konkani academy as the existing Konkani Sahitya Academy will limit its activities.

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