SACHI NAIK | NT BUZZ
A decade back, writer and retired HOD of Economics in Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts and Science, Margao, Sham Verenkar was asked to write in Konkani on any topic by Asmitai Pratisthan, an organisation dedicated to the service and upliftment of Konkani language.
A keen lover of the Konkani language, Verenkar has previously been instrumental in structuring a special course names ‘Konkani Shikshak Sanath’ for Konkani Bhasha Mandal to train Konkani teachers and professors. Konkani writer, Madhavi Sardesai also played in important role in the making of this course. He has also previously written books like ‘Konkani Bhas- Sahitya Ani Sanskrutay’, ‘Konkani Lalit Nibhand’, ‘Dhalo’, ‘An Outline of Goan Folklore’ and edited ‘Gomantakiy Dashavtari Kaala’,
This time around, Verenkar chose to write on pre and post-liberation Goa. “Now that I am 78 years old, I felt the need to document at least the important events of Goa’s history in the form of a book so that the matter doesn’t go waste,” he says. Although Goa has a rich history and Verenkar has a lot of matter on the same, he chose to focus on the Opinion Poll and the language movement in Goa because of the significance of these events on Goan history.
The first part of the book ‘Goychya Itihaachi Don Pana- Opinion Poll Ani Rajbhash Andolan’, centres on the Opinion Poll and will be released on August 23 at the Art and Culture Department, Panaji.
After the liberation of Goa in 1961, the Opinion Poll that took place in 1967 is an important event in the history of Goa. “Some of the people in today’s generation are not aware about the Opinion Poll. If they do not learn about this, the next generation will not know about their Goa’s history at all. My book intends to inform and explain the history of Goa and the major events it faced during and after the Opinion Poll,” says Verenkar.
In fact, it was because of the Opinion Poll that Goa got an identity of its own, he states and this ultimately led to its statehood in 1987. “Prior to this Goa was a union territory and governed by the central government. It was a decision by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru because Goa was still suffering with the after effects of Portuguese rule,” says Verenkar.
At the time of Opinion Poll, people living in and around Goa were divided into two groups. One group wanted Goa to merge with Maharashtra for better development as it was a large state. The other group wanted Goa to continue as the Union Territory and dreamt of achieving statehood. In this vein, those who supported Goa’s merger with Maharashtra supported the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), while the United Goans Party (UGP) supporters comprised of those not in favour of merging Goa with Maharashtra. Verenkar, who himself was not in favour of the merger with Maharashtra, has systematically presented reasons in detail behind the opinions of the two parties.
Verenkar’s book also presents the constant tussle between the acceptance of the state language in Goa as both Marathi and Konkani have its roots in history. Supporters of MGP opined that Marathi should be the language of Goa and Konkani, just a dialect but those in favour of UGP wanted an identity for Konkani, which they believed was a language in itself. “At the time, much was written in Marathi and nothing was written in Konkani. This is one reason why many wanted Marathi to be the language of Goa,” explains Verenkar.
In such a political scenario, the Opinion Poll was the perfect solution that allowed people to take their decision. “Jack Sequeira played a leading role in resolving the issues of Goa. Opinion Poll was specially made for Goa to solve their issues. In fact, we face so many border issues, river issues, etc even today where Opinion Poll can prove to be a smart solution,” states Verenkar.
Verenkar states, that he has given a neutral view of the scenario in Goa during the time of Opinion Poll. “I have referred to more than 50 books, and also many newspapers and articles. My book also includes the events I grew up watching and experiencing. I experienced Portuguese rule in Goa and I was present at the time of Opinion Poll. I saw how MGP and UGP objected each other’s opinions. The book is purely based on the facts and not on my opinions or views,” he says.
Maintaining the sequence of the movements and issues faced during pre-liberation and post-liberation of Goa, Verenkar has also touched upon different sectors like politics, administration, and the media in Goa; and the Portuguese division of Goa into old and new conquest. The Portuguese captured and ruled over the old conquest for around 450 years, which is almost double the time they ruled in the parts of new conquest.
The book can prove most effective and beneficial for the youth and students who look forward to study history of Goa and Opinion Poll issues in detail.
The second part of the book will focus more on the movements and struggles for the language of the state and will be released in October this year.
(‘Goychya Itihaachi Don Pana- Opinion Poll Ani Rajbhash Andolan’ by Sham Verenkar will release on August 23 at the auditorium of Art and Culture Department, Panaji.)