Monday, December 26, 2011

The old order changeth…

The old order changeth…yielding place to new

(595 words)

By: Kalidas Sawkar

The more developed northern hemisphere of the globe is in turmoil, the USA and the Europe are witnessing economic and commercial protests on the scales seen for the first time, post WW II; India is having its own share of the tumult and is counting number of freedoms it wants, but what is making impact is the political and Governmental upheaval that is going in the Islamic world. All these are protests of various kinds, economic, social and political but can be summarised in a nutshell, the protests are against the establishment and hierarchy of the haves vs. have-nots. Old system is being challenged and the younger newer generation wants a larger share, having been told by the developments in societal, scientific and economic thoughts that they do not lag behind their peers in any way, in fact could be better. Arguments could follow but to illustrate interestingly, Veena Malik and her cover picture on FHM magazine would make a great impact as an example. The whole world loves a beautiful woman and they even love to hate her. Veena Malik’s photo would serve to conjoin economic, political and conservative vs liberal perceptions of archetypical societies of the world where culture hegemony has ruled supreme for an unduly long time.
The free and ever penetrating media has made the world knowledgeable on line and that, too, peacefully and quickly. If, we make a ‘deep impact’ and blast a meteor millions of kilometres away and bring back to Earth the material spewed by the rocket sent on it, just across the border, in India, things are happening; a raunchy Bollywood movie, ‘A dirty Picture’, where a scantily clad but charming woman is being wowed and appreciated by Indians, but, in Pakistan another woman is closeted by her society in a burqa. Whatever women there may opine, it is a woman’s biological need, social function and health requisite to be seen as much as to see. Rest of the world, too, is slowly waking up to its security needs and banning the burqa in public places. Essentially, what is achieved by making a woman wear a burqa, besides the demand of a segment of the religion? As Mark Twain experienced in his ‘Innocents abroad’, even a woman clad in burqa is well adept to signal a man of her romantic inclinations.
If, in India Anna Hazare can attract the multidimensional, cross cultural and multi-layered country together, it is an anguish of its citizenry that cries out against centuries old corruption by politicians, officialdom, corporates and even spiritual leaders. The process up to now has been nonviolent but if left unheeded would someday explode just as it has done during the ‘Arab spring’
(Referring back to our example, have a studious look at this charming and mild form of protest, not at what has been or not exposed but with what this was achieved. (This micro-mini shorty/panty is green in colour, with a star distinctly seen and just a crescent moon is missing to complete the Pakistani flag; more, a few pockets are strategically placed and a loud and clear abbreviation of ISI is seen on one arm, but what sends a signal is the hand grenade in the other hand with its pin about to be detached. Sex is a strong instinct and a good model makes it explosive.)Veena has just dropped a bomb on Pakistani terror cum socio-political system, that too doing it from the soils of rival neighbouring country. Would Pakistani society wake up or it wants to go invite the Arab spring into its nation? It would be dangerous considering the N-arsenal in that country.

Published in the Herald of 23rd December 2011, may be for diplomatic reasons sentence in bracket is omitted in published version.

Me, Kalidas on 18th December 1961

What went through the minds of simple Goans on 18th December: Ex… Me!

By: Kalidas Sawkar

Every Goan must have woken up that morning wondering about planes flying low at the top of coconut trees. My mother was under strict instructions never to wake up any person who is sleeping, but here she was shaking me excitedly telling ‘Kalidas, Kalidas, wake up there are lots of planes out there flying very low’. I turned over sleepily since the preceding few days that had become a usual phenomenon. But, mother didn’t give up I did, woke up and ran outside in our compound, my excitement at full blast. The unimaginable was coming true, becoming real and the freedom was at hand.

Whatever went into my mind, 14 years and 97 days old?

For self, my aspirations went sky high. The horizons of opportunities were opening up, education of varied kind would be there and I was game for it all. Next was, as a book worm I looked forward to easy excess for that great literature of which I had read only cross references and sighed. Before 1961, there were two libraries in Mapusa and I had ransacked them all. I had read practically every Marathi book in the catalogues and the librarian in charge would get exasperated with me. He would tell me to read English since he knew I studied in English medium school. He would continue, ‘there are so many books in English ‘even’ I wouldn’t be able to finish them’

I had understood, after completing my education I had to do something, work, but in Goa at that time nothing was working accept the match box factory at Ponda. This factory had become a permanent excursion spot for Goa schools and I had no intentions of working in a match box factory. For self, I had thought of inexplicable mirages, board rooms where important decisions are taken, real intellectual work as being done such as BARC, TIFR, looking at the stars for more knowledge of the space. Yes, in 1959, Russia had already blasted at the moon, which was among Lord Shiva’s protectorates and I rejoiced at that event, being a confirmed agnostic by that time. I wanted to attend meetings held by Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders, no not Ram Manohar Lohia, I thought he was a bit cranky, but I did not mind Atal Behari Bajpayee and a few others.

A great opportunity was waiting for me and my friends after liberation. Cricket. Period. The various grounds, the Brabourne stadium, the Green Park, The Chepauk, and so many others were for me on the ninth cloud. Nawab of Pataudi, Abbas Ali Beg, ML Jaisimha, Bapu Nadkarni, and others were my deities. I did not bother much about films then, nor now, but would have liked to know if one could touch these celluloid people or they were just like ghosts.

And last but not the least, the Gods own relationship, the cousins! A posse of them along with their parents were my chief attraction after liberation. Even though we met for Ganesh and vacations, I was ready for more of the good things. Portuguese had incurred my curses since they restricted any crossings across the border. I had been suffocated for relationships; I knew instinctively, I stand to gain positive impacts from them and wanted to check their reactions to me as well.

Possibly on that day as I went to bed I felt what Swami Vivekananda must have felt standing at Kanyakumari and facing India.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anna Hazare, secondfreedom and ground truths

It is intrinsically wrong to compare Mahtma Gandhi's fast with that of Anna Hazare. Gandhi was fighting against British colonial rule and he had no other way to fight since India did not have its own constitution then whereas Anna has all these facilities. The real reason for corruption in India is the implementation of law is (1) almost absent, (2) judiciary too slow and (3) interference by politicians of all hues and colours at all times. The last one takes place even at the level of traffic police and MV rules 1988.

Next, how long will it take to complete the cases of Raja, Kalmadi, Yediurappa, Kanimozi, Gujarat riots and a host of such high level problems and, how long will it take the concerned guilty to get and finish their sentences. In Karnataka, the Lokayukt told in a TV interview that he would have submitted the report two months earlier but LK Advani advised him to go slow for some time. The same thing would happen in case of Jan Lokpal as well. This is exactly my point against Jan Lokpal. One recent case is of Matanhy Saldana, an MLA in the last Goa Assembly whose disqualification case has been decided and quashed after the term of tha Assembly has been over and new assembly election has been held, another Govt been elected and functioning. However has Matanhy himself been judged in the spirit of justice? Has he lost favour with his voters for not being handed over the decision in time to fight the elections? In which way Jan Lokapal can increase speed in Judiciary which cannot be done now?

Besides Anna is creating one more source of interference with appointment of Jan Lokpal. However, with investigating agencies and judiciary spruced up by punishing the interfering person and who obliges him,things may sort out though I think more steps would have to be taken.

Taking environment as a cue, in 1998, there were about 60+ laws, rules and notifications in India to control environment damage, but we see everywhere rules being bbroken and still more rules framed, but our investigative,implementation and punitive agencies are lethargic to say the least, if they are active at all. Just how many more rules can improve the environment? This is not my opinion alone. I had a chance to talk with International Maritime Organisation deputy chairman who said in cross country meetings it is Indian representatives who want more and more rules to guard environment, however most other nations felt present laws are fine if you implement them. I agreee with this because you have to just know how many CRZ Environmental cases are languishing in HCs and the SC of India. They are in hundreds if not thousands for some states.

Last point on this, Reddy brothers were created by Congress and fostered by BJP. They will survive...Govts. may not!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Concept of Mahabharata

The Concept of Mahabharata (300 words)

Kalidas Sawkar

The boy's father asked the teacher "In the end everybody dies in Mahabharata. Coming to my obsession with eternal truth, who was right and who was wrong? What does all this mean when hundreds of thousands die, families devastated and nobody benefits"
The teacher says “Just as with truth there could be different perceptions of epics such as Mahabharata.

“However, first, you have to realize this epic is based on a historical war between princely cousins in north India over three to four thousand years ago. Even the idea of a nation was quite flexible then. Those days vocal recitation was popular rather than systematic documentation, which paved way for changes, insertions, dramatizations and addition of miracles to the original story. But above all, Mahabharata has one strong point and that is these changes also incorporate the changing societal structure, climactic phenomena and demographic patterns in north India over at least two thousand years if not more. The changes in social customs such as marriages, paternity concepts, class divides and human frailties such as greed, revenge and opportunism are beautifully portrayed; along with this you find friendship, promises, integrity and valour being honed and inspired into people. Another great gift of Mahabharata is it outlines the introduction of and changes in spiritual concepts in India some of which are prevalent even today.

Truly, nobody benefitted at the end of that war. Even great Arjuna, was looted post war by petty thieves; but, this is the natural end to every big war even today and that is the reason Krisn does his best to avoid it. However, once the war starts it imposes its own rules and regulations; and, at the end, wrongs are defended as aberrations or transgressions, as was done by Lord Krisn himself. That is Karma-Yog for you.”

From: Kaliyug ki kahania

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Truths and half- truths

Truth and the half-truths (295 words)

By Kalidas Sawkar

The boy came this time with his father. When the teacher welcomed them father said “I am still confused with truth. I am not at peace with the meanings you have told my son”
The teacher said “Since you do not comprehend truth and its characteristics, I shall endeavour by telling you about its opposite, the lies. The essence of this world is subjectivity of our mind. Sometimes we are subjective intentionally as well.

“In Mahabharata war when Guru Dronacharya told his enemies, the Pandavas, that the only time he would keep his bow down is if he has to hear the news of the death of his son Ashwatthama. The Pandavas immediately christened an elephant as Ashwatthama and then killed him. Their king Dharma-raja then declared that one Ashwatthama has died, however it could be a man or an animal. Hearing this Dronacharya with sadness kept his bow down and was thus killed by Arjuna.

“For telling this half-truth, Dharmaraja is punished later after his death by having had to spend some time in hell. However, tell me wasn’t what the King declared a lie even though they had named an elephant as Ashwatthama to escape being accused of telling a lie? A half-truth is as much a lie as lie itself could be. Dronacharya thought full truth was being told by Dharma-Raja and therefore died.

“Mahabharata is an epic for us to learn that perceptions of truth depend on the time that flows and perceptions that are held by people; teaching us that a war that started righteously, ended in all tricks and deceptions being used on the battle field; once, even Krishn broke his oath of not using any lethal instrument himself. At the base of this immoral massacre of armies is greed to rule and dominate the politics of that time and continues till this time.”

Source: Kaliyug ki kahania

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let Konkani be...!

Overview: Let Konkani be…! (1134 words)

This is the birth centenary year of an illustrious Goan litterateur B.B. Borkar who wrote in both Konkani and Marathi fluently and successfully; of the two especially creditable is in Konkani because during the times he was writing, Goa was still under Portuguese rule and Konkani was relegated only to speaking at home and humming Konkani folk songs in a sort of amateur fashion. However, in the 50 years after its liberation when Goans had all the opportunities to amalgamate and develop its language, have they succeeded in doing that?

Government Recognition: If Goa had found itself in political turmoil immediately after it joined the Indian union in 1961, its language Konkani has been undergoing the same fate. Owing to the colonial rule, there was no great literary work in Konkani in Nagari script but through Roman script it did achieve high but unacknowledged literary standards. Even though it was of foreign origin writing in Roman script had advantages since it was the script of colonial masters who understood and encouraged it. On the other side Konkani in Nagari script has earned its reputation only since Shantaram Varde Valaulikar (Shanei Goembab), B.B. Borkar and a host of other talented Goans started writing in the last 100 years.

Reportedly there are over 5 million people with Konkani as their mother tongue settled all along the west coast of India between Mumbai and Kochi besides Bangaluru, but most in Goa. Konkani linguists are in both main religions, Hindu and Christian. A galaxy of its literati has written in Konkani, in whichever script each word represented a neuron in their brains firing, and the heart pumping blood at its full throttle. This passion after much flow resulted in Konkani being included in the scheduled group of Indian languages. It even more importantly succeeded in making Goa a rightfully independent state of India. Besides, it has been awarded the prestigious Dnyanpith award and a basketful of Sahitya Academy and other literary awards.

Amen! Konkani, as if till this point, had scripted its own progress. Up till the time statehood was declared there was no big noise about the fight over script. A few divergent views were overheard and ignored. The picture looked unrealistically rosy.

Internal Predicament: The bane of India and its societies is also the bane of Goa and its language. The caste and religious divide! Goa, always a bit ahead of the rest of India in societal emancipation never had as much social discrimination as elsewhere, possibly due to the Portuguese presence but it had indeed existed at subtle levels in many imperceptible ways. As Goans who moved out in search of career aspirations and brought back reports of events and happenings in the rest of India, the resident society was unknowingly and psychologically alerted to pursue applications of the imported knowledge when the Portuguese dominion ended. One such problem has been the caste oriented accents and semantics. Every Indian language including Hindi has accents which may differ from community to community. And, just as in Hindi, often the words originated and transformed with the migrating communities ever since the first settlers decided to make Goa their own home, even before Konkani as we know now existed. Any person who loves languages and its main purpose, to communicate, appreciates these humane variations. Sensitivity of tongue (pun intended) is so fine, an ancient Sanskrit proverb says it all, ‘a language changes about every 5 kilometers, food every 100 kilometers and dress every 500 km’. Even in the style crazy and quick air transport of today, this is quite apparent as one travels within or away from Goa.

The most serious charge often made by many people is that there is no standardized way of writing Konkani as an established language should have. Every caste and religious group claims its Konkani is the real language. Some of them are migrants to Goa often with similar sounding dialects as in Malwani from Maharashtra. Add to this the confusion related to Roman and Nagari scripts. Modern science is finding out the need to communicate or speak in different languages lies at the root of human intellect. In fact, this need and ability possibly encourages intellect. It is, then, utterly wrong to summarily dismiss the practice of writing in Roman script with a whole gamut of quality literature being produced and referred to in it, which was being followed for hundreds of years by a community of hundreds of thousands, and ask them to forget Romi Konkani, as it is called, ASAP.

Building bridges: One of the tenets of management methodologies of the 21st millennium is about discussing and accommodating rival view points. This is similar to building bridges over deltaic mouths of a river. Goa’s Catholics are not primarily averse to learning Nagari script, which would help not only in understanding nuances of refined Konkani but providing linkages across many other Indian languages, too. Goa’s Catholics have been blessed with social consciousness, progressive minds and ability to keep steps in tune with time. Their entrepreneurial skills are a legend and this step of learning Nagari script should immensely benefit them than not learning it. Moreover, with the above mentioned qualities this would help position them as leaders of the Goan society.

The problem lies in self centric and myopic views of protagonists of any accent or script. However, unlike the older generations few of the younger leaders are sufficiently futuristic minded. These youths have the necessary resilience, firmness and people friendly approach but importantly, are not unenthusiastic to breaking new grounds. There are acclaimed Konkani writers who write in different scripts and in a host of other languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Marathi and English. They could well be the architects to build the bridges.

Tides and Tones: Language is an expression of one’s personality, his manner of communication to interact with the world. It is intimately connected with his life and even career. It becomes richer not with vocabulary alone, but varied nuances in pronunciation, accent and meanings across its varied dialects. It would be excruciatingly boring if everybody had talked and written a sterilized language.

In Goa’s coastal village Sancoal while discussing with a fisherman his own ‘mother-tongue’ assumes an extra dimension of musical quality with backdrop of sea breeze, pounding waves and salty air. A flat intonation of any holy language including Konkani would sound incongruous and rhythm less along the Goa’s coast whose livelihood depends on sea. One has to go to a Velsao beach and listen to this symphony of language, its speakers and environment. Could anyone say Velsao fishermen should talk properly? Better still do they talk Nagari or Romi Konkani? It is Konkani through and thorough and Konkani with a lilt at that.

One may only say, let Konkani is where is!

Published in Herald on 14 December 2010
Kalidas Sawkar, Caranzalem, Panaji Goa---9158985758:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Parenting and childhood

Parenting and childhood
By, Kalidas Sawkar
Published in Paths of Wisdom on Herald of April 12, 2011

The boy came to the teacher a bit disturbed. He asked with frustration “Why my father does not teach me, when he is supposed to have been a good student. The teacher first solved the boy’s difficulty and then said,
“Your father has had his own childhood disturbed by a variety of problems that occur in a family system. He was typically an individualistic boy. Such children should be guided and encouraged in honing their talents rather than ignoring or trying to divert their natural paths somewhere else. For a growing child, its life is too precious and when desired strongly their learning should be channelled even if they may possibly fail to achieve their goal. Failures become worst when they are not allowed to be experienced. Contrarily, they turn in positive results on child’s life. At best, they do not blame their parents nor become sadists when dealing with their own children.
When this attitude propagates across generations, the society itself suffers and turns highly conservative and corrosive. What was good for my father and me, is good for you, is the worst approach in dealing with new generations especially one which wants to branch out. This would make the family tree grow stronger and more robust like a banyan tree. In this age, with multiple opportunities old trades, careers and concepts change with changing environment. The world is accepting individualism in a pragmatic way without the bond between a father and his son being cut.
Sometimes, the inheritance of family trade and ideological concepts has to be cut to liberate the society from shackles of conservatism which happens to be a bane of this nation.

Source: Kaliyug ki kahania

Friday, March 25, 2011

Truth and the cabbage

Truth and the cabbage

by…Kalidas Sawkar

The boy said “My father says this is not the truth he meant, he knows truth is truth; its size does not matter. He wants to know what the ‘Eternal Truth’ is.”
The teacher took him to the garden and picked up a cabbage. “Look, with this you will understand how the eternal truth is.”

The boy took the cabbage and peeled off its outer leaf. Under it was just as he had often seen at home. He peeled another leaf and threw it away and continued peeling and throwing them away. The teacher kept smiling. In time, all the leaves were peeled and thrown away with the boy having only the harder stalk left in his hand.
The teacher asked “Now, what do you have to say?”
“Teacher, is this the Eternal Truth? Oh, where is it?” boy asked.

The teacher swept his hand over the strewn cabbage leaves. “All this is the Eternal Truth in whose quest you came to me. Every occasion you threw a leaf away you cast aside the Truth of the Moment imagining Eternal Truth to be something dramatically different from the everyday truth arriving at the end. My child, ‘Eternal Truth’ is the description of every second that we ignore anticipating the holy moment when something hallowed will appear and introduce itself to us. In doing so, we spurn every moment and the opportunity that comes riding on it. The end is the hard reality of the moments we have not exploited and that shall not return; earlier leaves were the youthful part of this hard stalk, too. In simple words, live every moment fully, do not wait for the holy enlightenment.

From…Kaliyug ki kahania

Published in “Paths of Wisdom” in ‘Herald’ of March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Truth and the cauliflower

The boy went to his teacher and asked of him, “What is the meaning of ‘The truth’?”

Teacher said, “Come with me. It is easier to explain truth to you with some easy examples. Let’s go to the garden behind my home”. There, he picked up a cauliflower lying by a plant and said “truth is like a cauliflower, take and you will find the meaning of the truth.” The boy looked intently at it, carefully moved a small portion from the whole cauliflower and another, and kept them aside. However, the boy noticed that every big portion was like smaller one and that bigger divisions were made of smaller similar bulbs. Only the size differed. The boy had often eaten cauliflower at meals but it had never struck him this, a part just like the whole. He looked at the teacher enquiringly.

The teacher smiled and responded” Truth is like this, smaller bulbs are just as the bigger ones all having the taste and nutrients of the whole cauliflower. Lookalikes, too!

“Cauliflower, which interestingly looks like a human brain, is a nature’s product in fractal design. Nature loves this design and employs it often. As one example, electrons, who bring us electricity move around atoms, and Mother Earth, which carries all the matter that is these atoms, moves around the Sun. The stars move around in a Galaxy, which moves around the center of the Universe. Another fractal pattern!

“In fractals and in truth exemplified above, the size does not matter, ‘design’ does. There is no smallness about truth! Just as about corruption, little or big does not matter. Smaller corruptions accumulate into bigger scams”

From…Kaliyug ki kahania

Monday, February 28, 2011

Age, information and truth

Age and information (words 269)

…Kalidas Sawkar

The boy grew up, was 12 year old, intelligent and smart. The conservative father enquired certain information of his friends, all between 20 and 25 yrs. None knew the answer. The 12 year old son had the answer, but there was command in the family that when elders are speaking, younger generation should not butt their nose. After not getting the answer the father rebuked his friends for not telling the answer. Then, one replied, “when the answer is not known, how and what could be said”. The father in his dominating ways said, “Ok, guess”. To this the 12 year old thought, ‘since nobody knows, I might as well give the answer’. He gave his reply, but father was angry because a child has interfered with the elders.

He asked, “How do you know?”
The child said, “My friend told me.”
“How old is your friend”.
Father said “My friend is 22. Now, tell me is number 22 bigger or 16 is?”
Son said “22 is bigger, but knowledge does not depend on age”

This was followed by the father’s tirade on dependence of knowledge on age and sage for a couple of hours.

As it turned out, the answer by son’s friend who was 16 turned out to be factual. However the generation gap persisted and so did the difference between old ways and the new, old perceptions and the newer information and a father and his son. A child is the father of man, they say, so fathers should try to be sons to have new perceptions of the changing society for harmony in family.

…From Kaliyug ki kahania

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nipping terrorism in the bud

The child woke up a little late in the day and feeling hungry started walking towards the kitchen. It was a big family and all the people were busy with their day’s chores. Hearing the cries, family members were telling one another to look after the child. The passing buck did not stop. Getting hunger pains the child started crying and then screaming. A woman came to help and said soothing words to child but they were not sufficient to douse the fire of hunger. Child was given a ball to play. He took it up and threw away. The ball hit a window pane followed by the noise of cracking glass. People scurried and brought food for the child.
The next day the story repeated itself. But now, the child had learnt its lesson with previous experience. Today, no ball was required, the little human understood important thing was to break glass. Seeing no food forthcoming, it looked around and found a small steel cup close by. Inspired by previous lesson, it bent forward and lifted up the metal cup and went to hurl it at the window.
Suddenly he felt lifted up and clasped in a warm embrace, with soothing words springing from his grandmothers lips. In between hugs and kisses she started scolding those around to get him food. Feeding the child grandmother told it how Lord Krishna was as prankster and how he became so good that when he grew up people called him a God.
This boy, too, grew up and became a good man, at the least, remembering and appreciating his grandmother lovingly feeding him.

From... Kaliyug-ki-kahania

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Myth of Mothertongues

Part 2:Primary languages in place of mother tongues (words 1168)

Change of mindsets, a global requirement: If, with Konkani as their mother tongue Goans have kept their identity alive through tumultuous 5 centuries as a Portuguese colony and later during the period 1961-1985, when its viability as an independent state wasat stake, it has been now another debate. This outlines the struggle between emerging futuristic aspirations of a vibrant society and rooting for identity in chaotic globalization, springing up not just in case of Konkani but amongst all other Indian languages, too.
This is a larger issue of opening avenues of progress with wider horizons, where English rules supreme; diverse socio-economics, two world wars and the post war meteoric progress in science &technology have resulted in this situation. Britain itself might have never planned or visualized such turn of events. Even in Balkan countries such as Sweden, which has never been under British Crown, English or French are compulsory second languages, however, most students choose English. This is remarkable because the European Union as such has been formally announced only about 10 years back. An argument often forwarded in India in defence of education in mother tongue has been of China, Japan and Russia amongst others who educate their children in their own Languages. But all these countries have been following this practice since early times, especially much before the Second World War. This period of mid twentieth century has become crucial not purely because of the war itself, but, during this era there was another explosion with far reaching ramifications than a nuclear bomb. It is primarily in the field of the information technology, and added to it are the developments in science & technology, economic implements and global societal developments as never before in the history of mankind. All these avenues function through English.
Freedom and aspirations: These developments have been decisive for native world languages because soon after the WW-II, old European colonies attained self rule and hundreds of millions of impoverished and illiterate people in these societies suddenly had to fend for themselves, from governing their fledgling nations, feeding their hungry poor to educating them. With prima facie social security, and food in the stomach, aspirations in no time started waking up in the breast of the ambitious modern man. This is exactly what freedom is all about!
To manage the issues involved, the United Nations, established after the WW-II, assumed the moral responsibilities of guiding these vulnerable democracies through their nascent days. Even though the Allies during the war, mainly US and UK, were English speaking countries, to provide education in English to hundreds of millions was beyond the infrastructural capabilities of UN which was itself quite unsteady at that time. Besides, selection of mother tongue as a medium of instruction was a matter of common sense and a readymade workforce for imparting education was available in almost all these countries. An offshoot of freedom in most colonies has been a surging sense of patriotism almost as a delayed passive response against the just overthrown colonial suppression. And what could be better way than through one’s own mother tongue, which is intrinsic to human communications. The mother tongue protagonists appeared on national scenes in every region especially in a country such as India, which was culturally more advanced than many other newly formed nations. To support or speak in colonial languages such as English became a sign of betrayal to ones mother land and its freedom fighters.
In Goa, similar to rest of India, this tussle has predictably coursed into a fight between mother tongue protagonists versus parents of young children who demand the choice of ‘sky is the limit’ prospects for their wards. Unfortunately for children, the parents do not have an organization to put their cases across, whereas the language groups are well organized and can pressurize governments. However, if the language groups and governments insist upon education through mother tongue, almost each one of their leaders and anybody else who can send their own children to English medium schools does so. Even during peak Marathi vs Konkani strife,in throughout ‘70s and ‘80s Maharashtrians in Goa sent their children to English medium schools when excellent Marathi medium schools were being run in all towns of Goa. This exposes the hypocrisy of mother tongue lovers.
As India's Supreme Court (SC) has said on July 21, 2009, it is parent's right to decide the medium of education and not any language protagonist. SC said if mother-tongue is sought to be imposed on the students, it would only further aggravate the problems of those studying in villages. “Otherwise, students from villages can’t compete with their peers in urban areas,” the Bench observed.
The phrase ‘mother tongue’ gets flaunted very carelessly but without any rigorous definition. Dictionaries all agree on one point, the language is spoken since childhood and not necessarily from mother. The matter is best resolved by science.
Brain research to help: Typically, science does not use the arguable word mother tongue, but mentions it as ‘early languages’ or better still, ‘primary’ languages’. These are languages learnt before the age of around seven, in whichever environment, in family, school or neighbourhood, but for all of them human brain forms a primary language center. The later languages learnt in years such as 10 or upwards have a separate secondary language center formed in our brains. Science does not make an issue of number of languages, but it says there could be even four or five primary languages (read mother tongues). These researches were done with a state-of-the art tool very popular with modern brain scientists and called functional MRI or f-MRI. Nature (vol. 388, p 171). The results cast doubts on the very concept of mother tongue as a single holy language. Besides the work in science & technology and its well accepted perception of primary and secondary languages, a simple observation around will guarantee that people who knew number of languages since childhood owing to transfer of their parents, or else, have done excellently in a very different language in higher education. In the end, what is the number and diversity of vocabulary offered by each of the varied mother tongues in India? The crux of the matter is do not limit your child to only one language even in school. Reading books in the language is many times more important than simply learning it on mother’s laps.
A mother tongue is an emotional issue embedded in human psyche. Working in a truly multi linguistic, multi caste-religious organization I was surprised to observe that mother tongue transcends caste and religious boundaries even within varying rungs of professional hierarchy. To communicate is an inborn need of all life forms at their own levels of evolution but most clearly it has been of humans, who may proficiently converse in many different languages with equal fluency.
Identity, aspirations and education: In summary, keep up the identity, but let education be according to parent’s choice and child’s talents.
Published in Herald of January 26, 2011
Kalidas Sawkar

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kaliyug ki kahania

Nipping terrorism in the bud(submitted to 'Paths of Wisdom' in Harald)

By...Kalidas Sawkar

Child woke up a little late in the day and feeling hungry started walking towards the kitchen. It was a big family and all the people were busy with their day’s chores. Hearing the cries, family members were telling one another to look after the child. The passing buck did not stop. Getting hunger pains the child started crying and then screaming. A woman came to help and said soothing words to child but they were not sufficient to douse the fire of hunger. Child was given a ball to play. He took it up and threw away. The ball hit a window pane followed by the noise of cracking glass. People scurried and brought food for the child.
The next day the story repeated itself. But now, the child had learnt its lesson with previous experience. Today, no ball was required, the little human understood important thing was to break glass. Seeing no food forthcoming, it looked around and found a small steel cup close by. Inspired by previous lesson, it bent forward and lifted up the metal cup and went to hurl it at the window.
Suddenly he felt lifted up and clasped in a warm embrace, with soothing words springing from his grandmothers lips. In between hugs and kisses she started scolding those around to get him food. Feeding the child grandmother told it how Lord Krishna was as prankster and how he became so good that when he grew up people called him a God.
This boy, too, grew up and became a good man, at the least, remembering and appreciating his grandmother lovingly feeding him.

Kaliyug ki kahania