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Marathi vs Konkani debate continues in Goa
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May 30, 2007 16:12 IST

Even as poll-bound Goa celebrates its 20th anniversary of statehood on Thursday, the vexed issue of official language status to Konkani and treating Marathi on par with it still continues to invite strong reactions.

Goa's tryst with wanting a separate identity for itself began soon after its liberation from Portuguese in December 1961.

Demand for statehood and granting official language status to Konkani in Devnagari script was an offshoot of the search for identity, which was finally met during the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1986.

The Goa Language Act granted official language status to Konkani and treated Marathi on par with Konkani.

Considering the fact that Goa always had the tradition of Marathi ethos, culture and language, it was demanded that Marathi be granted official language status.

But the demand was rejected and the language was treated on par with Konkani as the government said that there cannot be two official languages for a state.

Konkani protagonists asserted that even though Marathi was spoken in the state, everybody including people who spoke Marathi were well-versed in Konkani.

The identity crisis for this tiny state was such that an opinion poll was held in 1967 asking Goans whether they want to merge with Maharashtra or remain independent. Goans voted overwhelmingly in favour of an independent identity. 

Sahitya Akademi recognised Konkani as a language and it was even included in the 8th schedule of the Constitution.

A petition is pending before the Supreme Court demanding official language status to Marathi as well.

Senior journalist Jagdish Wagh told UNI that Marathi newspapers published from Goa have good readership. There is only one Konkani newspaper Sunaparant, which is doing well.

"Industrialist Vishwasrao Chougule who started the first Marathi newspaper Gomantak in Goa after Liberation also brought out a newspaper in Roman script Konkani called Ujwad but it had to be closed down in two or three years because of the lack of patronage," he recalled.

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