Facing Our Political Present – V

We have been discussing the political nature of the present. One chief conflict that hunted Goans for a long time is the battle for Konkani. This battle is not something of a distant past but is hovering over our living past. Displacing Konkani in Nagri script through the choice of english by a significant number of people in Goa is a re-placing English and Nagri-konkani. The issue is political and profoundly complex. It has humiliation and has become a badge of shame on all sides of the divide. The divide in this case does not have just two sides. A significant number of Goans re-place Konkani in Nagri with Marathi and they and others do replace it with english. Unfortunately, the basic terms like Konkani, Marathi , english and English do not mean the same thing to all involved in the divide . This can be clearly noticed if one takes pain to trace these terms in actual use and not valorised as separate objective terms having their fixed essential meaning. The parents in Goa are not choosing English that the proponents of the Konkani in Nagri as medium of instruction think that they do. They choose english, the language that promises them a future and economic security for their children. This means there is not just one English there are several English as well as there are also several konkanis. They reside in different discourses that shape the political life in Goa. They flow from certain assumptions about language, truth, power and privilege. Language is central to this politics because it provides the terms in which the truth itself is constituted. Hence, control of language becomes the door to power and privilege. This is why the discursive formations of all sides in the polylogue over Konkani cross each other and are even determined by one another.

The question of Konkani does not offer easy answers. How we answer it deeply defines the self and the other relations in our society. Being subjected to subjects, it shapes the identity of all involved in the conflict over Konkani. We in Goa are interpreted or called into being by how we relate to Konkani. The relation of our identity with Konkani is inescapable. Konkani interpalles us or makes us subjects. But it is difficult to decide who is a good and bad subject because everyone is locked within a mode of thought that one seeks to deny its other. All love Konkani but each one does it differently. The choice of english among the parents is a choice of Konkani in Romi or Marathi . Maybe the Marxist notion like overdetermination might assist us to understand how complexities of pain and humiliation operate as multiple causes to convert the choice of english as a substitute to Konkani that one truly loves. Sigmund Freud’s notion of substitute might also bring insight into the Konkani that is replaced by a choice of english. It seems that the sublime object of us Goans is our mother tongue, Konkani. It also appears that we will have to find several battles on its turf for the time to come. Konkani in a very significant way will decide the destiny of us Goans.

Unfortunately, the battle for Konkani exhibits a Manichean aesthetics. This aesthetics expresses the centre /margin, self/other, good/ evil binary. Our society is profoundly marked by this Manichean duality. Maybe it is emerging from the purity/pollution worldview of a caste laden society. We seem to be reacting and not responding to each other. We have to move beyond the good and evil type of Manichaeism in the context of Konkani. All Konkanis are good. We cannot allow other konkanis to die so that only one may live. We need to choose our response that is salutary to a society that is divided by the love for their mother tongue. No Konkani is to be de-konkanized by upholding one single form of it. All konkanis can grow together. Those who singularize plural Konkani will end up killing Konkani on the altar of standardization. We have to come to terms with our love for Konkani as well as recognize the love of others too. There are many ways of loving Konkani. No one enjoys the monopoly in this regard. Sooner that we Goans ,our Government and our Konkani institutions realize this truth better it is for our society. Konkani in its plural form is our true strength and not our weakness. It is fullness and not a limitation. Only when we understand this fact will we bring true harmony in our society.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao