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Humble Tribute to Prof. Dr. Olivinho Gomes on his Seventieth Birthday

 

 

A Humble Tribute to Dr. Olivinho Gomes on his 70th Birthday – Gunaji Desai

 

“Prof. (Dr.) Olivinho Jose Francisco Gomes, IRS  a prominent Goan who made everyone proud by occupying the post of the Vice Chancellor of Goa University. He was a self-made man of amazing qualities and a great scholar who kept himself occupied in the quest of knowledge.  His contribution to translation of Indian classics and his commitment to Konkani language and education at the university level are commendable. The literary work of Dr Gomes has both local and national flavor and is a great source of inspiration to upcoming Goan writers. He was a rare Goan in the Indian Revenue Service.  With constant curiosity he devoted his time to conducting impressive research on Konkani language and literature.  We have lost a gigantic Konkani personality” these were the feelings expressed by many people from different walks of life belonging to Goan society after the death of Dr Olivinho Gomes.  Today is the 70th birthday of Dr. Olivinho Gomes.

A noted scholar, Dr Gomes has presented papers and lectures at regional, national and international seminars and conferences in India and abroad on topics relating to language, literature, translation, historical, sociological, cultural in wide-ranging covering inter-disciplinary themes, some of which were later published in reputed professional as well as specialized journals and conference proceedings. His Konkani writings of exceptionally high standard which had resulted in him being on the executive board of the National Sahitya Akademi representing Konkani language, a member of the expert’s panel of the UGC, NCERT, UPSC, K K Birla Foundation and other national academic and literary bodies including the prestigious Indian Languages Promotion Council.

Born in St Estevam, Goa, on 20th January in 1943, he passed SSC with Hindi and Latin in 1959. He then completed the Portuguese Lyceum course in academic year 1961-62. He served as the official translator (Konkani, Portuguese, French and English) for the Goa Government Secretariat from 1967 to 1970. He pursued his education and surpassed all the posts in the hierarchy of promotion. After his IAS, he joined the IRS (Indian Revenue Service –Customs and Central Excise, Class-I) in 1970. With a BA in English Literature and Sociology, and a Masters in Sociology, he did his Ph.D. under the guidance of the eminent Prof. Vilas Sanghave, all from Bombay University. He retired as Additional Collector of Customs and Central Excise at Aurangabad, Maharashtra in 1987.

He quit the service to serve the cause of Konkani as the first full professor of Konkani language and literature at the new Goa University, in accord with UGC norms to join the newly opened Department of Konkani. He set up a brand new department of Konkani Language and Literature at the post-graduate level in the university while introducing it at the under-graduate level. He formulated courses from under-graduate to post-graduate levels of education in Konkani for the first time and implemented them in a phased manner.

I being the student of first batch to get education in the full-fledged course developed by the Department of konkani and the first student of this full-fledged course had great opportunity to interact with Dr. Olivinho Gomes. When we were discussing on issues related to Konkani language and literature or when he was speaking to me on any issue related to present state of Konkani people, I used to listen carefully the set of guidelines. He used to speak continuously on any topic during the discussions especially about his foreign tour experience while presenting conference and seminar papers. The profound knowledge of his rich experience was seen through his convincing thoughts and novel ideas. When we were discussing over a longer period, the family members specially Ms Eslinda Gomes his wife (I call her as Teacher) and their children used to admire my patience for listening to the high level of Dr. Olivinho Gomes. The history of Konkani language and literature along with Goan culture were the fields of his interest. He was a very good creative writer but due to lot of groundwork for the development of Konkani language and involvement in academic and administrative work he could not devote more time for creative writings. The folios being typed by Dr. Gomes were worth reading with lot of foot notes and explanations. I use to always admire his typing skill and ability to seat at one place for extended hours.

We are aware that Konkani language is being written in five different scripts. Hence the literature created by one section of Konkani people and the community cannot reach cross sections of Konkani community and  hence has been neglected by other community in Goan society. There are three dominant basic groups in Konkani society working very hard for the development of their own Konkani written in their own script. Each one looking with absolute suspicious mind set at the other group. One section of the people is thinking that the other Devnagari group protagonists sections of the society have used Romi group protagonists for their own benefit. These are the real culprits who are acquiring the maximum benefit which the language gets after the inclusion in the eighth schedule of the constitution. The protagonist of each section of the script blames the other section as they are culprits and they are grabbing the benefits. Denying the benefits is the key word in one of the section of the Konkani community. “Tanni amkam nagoile, amcho aplea faidya khatir vapor kelo” is a group of words we hear at times in the discussions of Romi protagonists.

In this present age of globalization the native people speaking various minor languages are going away and losing their feel from their own language. Some of the people speaking Konkani language consider it as under developed and if they learn a under developed language, the future of their children will be at stake. They think English is the only language which will give them the bread and butter for their survival.

Dr. Gomes was having different view on this issue. He used to tell that both Devnagari and Romi scripts are to be preserved and used by the native speakers of language. Romi script cannot be the natural script for a language having roots with Sanskrit language. The natural script of Konkani has to be Devnagari. And to support his thought he was explaining by giving various examples like the first printing press, typesetting, language of European missionaries, their language peculiarity, their pronunciation, the history of native people, why Christian community people speak Konkani in a different style, why their structure of syntax is different from Hindu community people, why most of the Hindu people are considering Marathi as their mother tongue, their issues of cultural identities were some of the topics of our discussions. The ideal solution should be Devnagari to be taught to all the new generation students and Romi script to be used for the benefit of older generation only.  Over a period of 20 to 25 years this problem will be resolved and then we can have only one script in the entire state of Goa. What a beautiful idea and a vision. But it could not materialize for the reasons known to most.

The specialty about Dr Olivinho Gomes is he was a productive reader and a hard core researcher. He was a one man army and a one man institution with abundant knowledge. Along with Konkani, Hindi and Marathi were the other languages which he could speak, read and write fluently. I consider this aspect of his life has to be highlighted among the youth of all religions staying in Goa and outside Goa. A son of the soil, very much interested in the development of his own language in his life time also must be highlighted in the arena of colleges from Goa. I strongly believe that his research oriented writings will encourage the younger generation students to do research and the investigative frame of mind of our students will get morale boost. But it is possible only when they read those research articles. The understanding of the language and the creation of love towards the language has to be influenced by the present generation teacher’s taught by Dr. Olivinho Gomes. It is the prime duty of the band of young Konkani lecturers who are talented and teaching in almost all undergraduate colleges in the state of Goa. The number of Ph.D. awarded by Goa University in the subject of Konkani is not that much encouraging, but it is certainly taking the pace and I am confident, in the years to come the situation will improve. The curiosity among the present generation of student has to be encouraged. Only when they become curious to know facts about their own language and the atrocities faced by their language will change the mind set of our younger generation.

Dr. Gunaji Sadanand Desai,

Dean, Faculty of Languages and Literature,

Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts and Science,

Margao Goa

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