Archive for the ‘Academia’ Category
Tania Pérez Bustos is a PhD student from Colombia doing fieldwork in India. Her research is on the educational and gender dimension of experiences like FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) that aim to popularize technology. She says, “I really liked the statement in the (BytesForAll) website in which you assume a critical position towards ICT and the political context it is immersed in … unfortunately not very common.” Here, she talks about her work, and her encounter with India, Colombia, and the need for links between these disparate and distant regions.
Sukumar Anikar <firstname.lastname@example.org>  and Prasad <email@example.com> managed to get across to me a copy of a DVD … and what a DVD at that! It contained a whole lot of fascinating educational software for school children.
A couple of nights ago, I ended up ‘playing’ some educational games with Aren, 5, and told him that my friends had sent the same across free. “Did you say ‘thank you’?” he asked me in turn. In fact, he kept ‘playing’ on these games, though it was almost midnight, and even though he’s too small to obviously understand many of the concepts being taught here (decimal fractions, and what not … but big enough to be interested in the wild animals of the jungle and to try and comprehend how fruits and a balanced diet gives us the energy we need to do work). The ‘games’ sent across in this DVD work excellently and without flaw (so far) on my Ubuntu laptop. They have been adjusted to work with the GNU/Linux operating system.
It drew my interest enough to dash across another email to Sukumar and Prasad, requesting more programmes.Given the medium of instructions being used (and subjects taught) in Goa, I am particularly interested in software dealing with:
- English language
- Hindi language
- Environmental Science
- General Science
- Social Science
- Co-curricular subjects
Check out the long list of what’s available. http://www.azimpremjifoundation.org/html/E_Learn_Mat_table1.htm
The Azim Premji Foundation is actually keen to work with educational institutions (rather than with individuals, if I understood right) for obvious reasons.
Said the APF in a mail to me: “We always support the state governments by providing them the Digital Learning Resource (DLR) for deployment in Government schools. Generally, the support is by providing the right to replicate our content to the state, without any costs. Our Digital Learning Resource is not provided if the intended use is for commercial purposes. We also share content with NGOs and other institutions who manage schools where there is no barrier on admissions and where no fee is being charged.”
And Mr Anikar added, “Almost all our titles or Digital Learning Resource are trilingual i.e. in English, Hindi and in any one of the regional languages. While we have just 10 titles in Marathi the same is not available for immediate release as they have to be validated by a state government. However, we will share other titles that are in English and Hindi. Further, we are also in the process of making our content compatible with [GNU]Linux platform and hence for the present we will be sharing only such titles which are compatible with both windows and Linux and those that have been tested. The remaining titles would be shared on a future date and on completion of testing. We will be clustering our titles in a couple of DVD’s and send it across to you in the next week…. We also wish to state that there is a process that needs to be followed in implementing the Digital Learning Resource in schools which we will share the same with you once you confirm the receipt of Digital Learning Resource .”
And: ” Digital Learning Resource are not meant to help in computer literacy. The target group is children in the age group of 6-14 years and the Digital Learning Resource primarily presents concepts related to Maths, Science and Language related to the curriculum for classes Standard I to Standard VIII.”
By way of background, from their website: ” Azim Premji Foundation has commenced the digital content creation effort in the year 2002. So far, Foundation has created over 100+ master CD titles for the classes 1 to 8 and the same have been translated into various regional languages in India including few tribal languages. The content is created with the pedagogical focus to enable the children to directly use and learn where the teacher will act as facilitator. The attributes of the content are; curriculum oriented, child-centered, self paced, interactive and multimedia based content.”
You probably know that Azim Premji is the Chairman and CEO of one of India’s largest software companies, Wipro. Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azim_Premji] says he was rated the richest man in India between 1999 to 2005 (and is probably among the top five now). This impressed me: “Premji is known for his modesty and frugality in spite of his wealth. He drives a Toyota Corolla and flies economy class, prefers to stay in company guest houses rather than luxury hotels and even served food on paper plates at a lunch honouring his son’s wedding.”
Check it out. Really useful stuff. The educational content on the DVDs, I mean!
 Head – Technology for Education, Azim Premji Foundation, #134, Doddakannelli, Next to Wipro Corporate Office, Sarjapur Road, Bangalore – 560 035 Tel: 91-80-66144900/901/902 (Board) 91-80-66144922 (Direct) Fax: 91-80-66144903 Mobile: 09449820054 www.azimpremjifoundation.org
Needed volunteers who can translate old Portuguese texts into English, for possible republication, including Arte Palmarica. See http://www.divshare.com/download/4088057-e79 If you can help in any way, please get in touch. Also, needed volunteers to help put online, the digital versions of copyright-expired Goa-related books. FN, http://goa1556.goa-india.org … publishing Goa, not accidentally
Dr TERESA ALBUQUERQUE, a writer from Goa who lives between her homes at Anjuna (Goa) and Santa Cruz (Bombay) happens to be the sister of pioneering ex-editor Frank Moraes and the aunt of accomplished writer Dom Moraes. Incidentally, when we met last at the Literati in Calangute, I mentioned to her the idea from expat journo Eugene Correa
of having a Frank Moraes School of Journalism in Goa.
Born of Goan origin in 1930, at Poona, she was a student of St.Xavier’s College, Bombay, graduated through the University of Bombay in Arts with Honours in English and French, and then in Education, and has a Masters degree in History and Politics as well a Doctorate in History.
As a Fellow of Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, she was an active member of the Bombay Museum Society, Asiatic Society of Bombay, Church History Association of India, Heras Society and the Bombay Local History Society.
Dr Albuquerque has been a recipient of Mahindra Senior Research Fellowship of Heras Institute, was also awarded a scholarship by Heras Institute to undertake research on the Goans in Kenya.
In her micro-historical studies, she has delved into the colonial past of Bombay and Goa with special emphasis on the “Portuguese impress”. Dr Albuquerque has traveled widely, lectured on the subject both at home and abroad and frequently contributes historical articles to art journals and newspapers.
Books authored by her are:
SANTA CRUZ THAT WAS
URBS PRIMA IN INDIS : An epoch in the history of Bombay
(Promilla& Co. Publishers, New Delhi, 1986)
TO LOVE IS TO SERVE : Catholics of Bombay
(Heras Institute,Bombay, 1986)
ANJUNA: Profile of a village in Goa
(Promilla &Co. Publishers, New Delhi, 1987)
SANTA CRUZ : Profile of a village in Goa
(Fernandes & Co.,Publishers, Goa, 1989)
A LIFE WELL SPENT: Biography of Pascoal de Mello, MBE
(Speedy Printing Centre. Missisauga, Ontario, Canada, 1996)
GOA: THE RACHOL LEGACY
(Wenden Offset Private Ltd., Bombay 1997)
BASSEIN :The Portuguese Interlude
(Wenden Offset Private Ltd., Bombay, 1999)
GOANS OF KENYA
Michael Lobo Publishers, Mumbai 2000)
BACAIM TO VASAI
(Wenden Offset Private Ltd., Mumbai 2001)
Teresa Albuquerque can be contacted via email <firstname.lastname@example.org> In Goa, her telephone number is +91-832-2273676, and they expect to leave for Bombay on July 16, 2008. There, her number is +91-22-26499005
Mervyn Maciel has this speech, that raising interesting issues of the role played by Goans in colonial Africa, and the treatment received subsequently. I thought it was insightful. It’s called Revisitng our histories in Africa… from Henley-On-Thames.
Blogged with Flock
(Apologies for this somewhat lengthy missive)
I am a teacher educator based in Bangalore (see the link to my personal blog below for a better idea of who I am) and have been involved in an effort educatorslog.in – to create a free online space for people involved in India to CONNECT . SHARE . GROW — connect with other educators and those interested in education in India (pre-K through higher and adult education), share resources that are contextually relevant to educators and teaching in India, and grow through learning about exemplary practices and professional development programs that cater to the needs of Indian educators.
The idea is to serve the cause of education in India – to someday have a comprehensive repository of resources relevant to teaching in India, and a host of ideas from showcasing best practices in education in India, in addition to having a space that a teacher or anyone passionate about education in India can come to raise an issue, discuss, debate, voice, or perhaps even just announce a conference, a new book or product related to education.
This initiative was launched among a small user community in Feb. 07, and since March it has been opened up for general membership. You can catch some of the most engaging discussions (thus far) in the following threads -
* Grey areas of school admission policy, a search for new assessment ideas
* Indian school education: good or bad, why this dichotomy?
* The 100 laptop
* Sex education in our schools, how to deal with the taboo
* Should Indian languages wither away?
* Learning diabilities-1
The site is built on drupal, and uses web 2.0 features such as those for group blogging (comments, forward as email, no. of hits), tagging (each post can be tagged, and there is a tag cloud view available as well as the 20 most popular tags on the landing page), organization by themes and tags for easy searching and access.
In the interest of education in our country, it would be great if you could check out educatorslog.in and profile it on your blog or provide a link to it, or simply pass this email on to those you know who are involved in education and would benefit from being a part of this free community space.
We could certainly use some help to get the word out!
I know it’s too much to ask regular bloggers like yourself to post to other blogs, but it would be great if you could also contribute your thoughts/ideas/resources on educatorslog.in.
I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about this.
Blogged with Flock
Even when going for something related to music, one needs to find some other ‘peg’ in it. Say, some photos to be clicked or the promise of an interview. Thursday evening was different. Longtime cyber-friend (even if we disagree over some issues) and Goa Engineering College alumni Joao Paulo (John Paul) Cota, now based in London and sometime a Goanetter, invited me to the 100th birth centenary celebrations of his grand-dad Maestro Jose Santana Cota (b 1906) on December 28 at his village of Santa Cruz (Tiswadi).
John-Paul has kept close contact over the years, and one can’t but help appreciate his initiative in promoting concepts like the Goan Musical Society there. HIs grand-dad, known as Mestre Cota, learnt violin in his parochial school at Betalbatim, went to Bombay to play in the cinema during the silent era, and returned home early.
For much of his 83 years, he taught and played a generation and more of Goans. He was Mestre-Capela at Santa Cruz (Tiswadi), led bands and choirs, taught music to priests-to-be and at Don Bosco’s in Panjim, performed on Emisorra Goa (Wikipedia: Goa was once home to the Emissora Goa, a powerful radio station that was widely listened to when this small region was still a Portuguese colony. After the end of Portuguese rule, this station was replaced by a station from the All India Radio network.), and more. Leave his mark he did. “They’re the musical family of Santa Cruz,” as my friend Marian explained.
His compositions include the funeral marches Lagrimas de Oiro and Ultimo Caminho, and the Marchas Populares. After a few (but not short) speeches, the evening saw a mix of Latin brass band, mandde, violin, flute, deknni, an English Carol, and even “operatic style manddo” and “rhapsody dulpod”.
Now how more demonstrative of Goa’s diversity, and its melting-pot nature, can that get?
Young Chriselle Mendonca put up a solo performance of Cezar Franck’s Panis Angelicus (Wikipedia: Panis Angelicus is one of three hymn texts written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi as part of a complete liturgy of the Feast including prayers for the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours), while Joao-Paulo was spirited in his performance among the brass band playing the ‘Marcha de Santa-Cruz’.
Before the intermission (with a spell of ‘tombola’, what else!) the Rachol Seminary Choir, suited and suave, put up a creditable performance of the Marshal Bartholomew-arranged African-American spiritual “Keep in the Middle of the Road”.
One had to run, for no other reason than it was getting late. Riza had made friends with some girls, and they were all playing ‘catching cook’ at 9 pm! December-end dew enveloped our two-wheeler seat, as we got back to the vehicle. An entertaining evening.
Nice to see expats (and locals) taking the lead in building skills in a sphere where Goa once held sway. For sure, the Net can play a role in building awareness about this. Lot more is possible.
Ritanabooks.com has just announced a release of a title, Abbe Faria: The Master Hypnotist Who Charmed Napoleon. It’s by Diogo Mesana Fernandes and was released in New Delhi on October 22, 2006. Governor S C Jamir released the book at the Habitat Centre in New Delhi.
Rajat K Sharma read the excerpts from the book. Dr Yogesh Choudhury, a clinical hypnotherapist spoke on the relevance and use of Hypnosis, ["as discovered by Abbe Faria"] as a therapeutical tool today.
A press statement says: Author Diogo Fernandes spoke of the tremendous research that went into the preparation of the book. He felt that the book accurately brings out the trials and tribulations that Abbe Faria suffered during the course of his work with hypnosis. The book goes a step further to bring to life the philosophy of Abbe Faria. He felt the book must be read and debated upon.
Ritana Books publisher Rock Furtado said that the book is a not only a biography of Abbe Faria but it essentially covers the work that Abbe Faria did on the subject of past life regression and hypnotherapy from the perspective of a lay reader. The understanding and appreciation that one gets on reading the book is phenomenal, he said. And the claim:
“That Abbe Faria practiced hypnosis on Napoleon and others and got positive results, almost two centuries ago, would go a long way in bringing back this phenomenal and fascinating subject to the forefront.”
For those who might not know: Abbe Faria was born Jose Custodio de Faria on May 31,1756 to Goan parents, CaetanaVictorio de Faria and Rosa Maria de Sousa, of Candolim Village in Goa, India. A Jesuit [or so says the Press release!] priest, Abbe Faria was one of the first to study hypnosis scientifically. Faria claimed that hypnosis worked purely by the power of
suggestion, a thesis that is now accepted throughout the world.
And some more background: Faria discovered a scientific explanation for hypnotism and clairvoyance. He was also the first to propose a psychological theory for examining the phenomenon of somnambulism, giving the therapeutical suggestions in an extraordinary manner. Recognizing his contribution to the progress of medical science, Faria was made Member of the Medical Society of Marseilles-no mean achievement in those times for a non-medical person.
During his stay in Paris, he was the most talked about and written about [surely a Goan exaggeration here! --FN] subject of his time. He had praises and abuses showered upon him by newspapers in France and elsewhere. He acquired a reputation as a magnetizer and hypnotist in Marseilles.
Faria became a trusted counselor and friend of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Emperor was very impressed with Faria’s skills and vast knowledge of the esoteric science. Faria gave Napoleon the priceless French translation of Chinese manuscript The Art of War. Napoleon cherished the gift, learning from it and keeping it with him all through his victorious years. About a century later Dwight Eisenhower, the American President who made good use of it during his days as a general, bought the manuscripts.
Diogo Mesana Fernandes was born in Goa on October 9, 1942. He is a journalist and has worked with various newspapers in Mumbai and Goa. He contributes articles and stories to newspapers and magazines in Macau. His published works include The Golden Censer, Sir Richard Burton of the Thousand Nights and a Night Fame, The Goddess Who Came to Live Among Us: A Story of Mother Teresa. He lives with his wife in Macau, and has a son and a daughter.
Ritana Books describes itself as being
established in 1984 as a distribution house for books imported from the UK, USA. Gradually it has carved a niche for itself in the world of publishing. Coffee table books on Indian Air Force, published by Ritana Books, are high quality all colour publications which are available throughout the world. Recently, Ritana Books published Born Again by Dr Walter Semkiw, which became a phenomenal bestseller and a much written and talked about book in print and electronic media. The buzz on Born Again is said to be one of the highest in Indian book publishing.
Nice page (brief but informative) that I came across
Andre is doing his second year of his PhD at Stern Finance. and he’s talking about:
* Perl scripts
* ImageMagick’s convert
* PDF output from his Gauss programs
* A perl script he wrote “to automate the TEX-ing of output and the writing of
it to a destination accessible to a browser, which has saved me so much
work it’s unbelievable.”
He writes: “I am a Goan from Goa. My home is in Nachinolá, but I spend a lot of time in Anjuna. No, I don’t spend my time getting drunk (the two times I’ve gotten near-drunk, I was in New York), or doing anything unbecoming. Though of course, that depends on how you define unbecoming. My view of Goa is home. Take a look at some pictures.”
What happens when you really like to read… but life conspires simply not to allow you to? You just live to regret it, and make much of it in public… like through this note. Anyway, I just confessed to myself that it has been years before I completed reading any single book cover to cover … and most of one’s reading has been magazine-related, tonnes of screen-based stuff or just flitting across pages that catch one’s interest. A colleague just thinks this is a problem wtih “you techies… missing out so much in life”!
So one was not terribly surprised to realise that I had quite missed earlier
noticing Derek O’Brien’s *The Mumbai Factfile* (Penguin ISBN 0-14-302947-9
Rs 250 pp 309, 2003) though it has been on the stands for two or three
For those not knowing him, O’Brien is being called “Asia’s best-known knowledge game show host” who started his career as a journalist. (So, there’s actually life after journalism, eh!) Like all high-quality quizzers in this part of the world, he lives in Kolkatta. Which makes us ask the question: what must we be doing to build up expertise in various fields that Goa *can* excel in? Other than being so hyper-efficient in simply indugling in infighting, that is?
This book is said to contain “over 1200 detailed factoids” and “a comprehensive and fascinating one-stop guide to everything that makes the city of dreams what it is”. City of dreams? Maybe it was… in the ‘sixties. Now, politics (and it’s no point blaming the “terrorists” alone) has conspired to make this a city of blasts, riots, floods, and intracine Shiv Sena clashes within that intolerant parivar (heard yesterday’s news from Dadar and Shivaji Park?)
O’Brien’s book covers a range of topics. “From history and heritage to food and nightlife, from business and commerce, communities, religions and customs to landmarks and local specialities, from Bollywood, cricket and theatre to dabbawalas, BEST and Parsis….”
One of O’Brien’s two assistants has this very Goan-sounding (could be wrong) name of Fiona Fernandez. Apart from that, Goa peppers the book. VM de Malar and me just can’t agree whether Goans have been “edited out” of their cultural contribution to Bombay (and Mumbai), or if it’s just a fate we deserve … for getting so complacent with our early achievements there. Anyway….
Some quick links to Goa:
* In the 18th century, the famous Maratha admiral Kanhoji Angre ruled the seas between Mumbai and Goa. The Kennery Island off Mumbai’s coast was his stronghold. Angre and his successors built a strong naval force that spelt terror for the Siddis, Dutch, Portuguese and later the English between the waters of Mumbai and Goa for nearly fifty years. His father Tukaji served under Chhatrapati Shivaji, and Kanhoji carried his legacy of developing a powerful navy to keep these foreign forces at bay from 1698 to 1729. (page 3)
[Wikipedia identifies Angre [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanhoji_Angre] as a privateer [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privateers] and notes that his opponents called him a pirate. History is amazing: A privateer was a private ship (or its captain) authorized by a country’s government to attack and seize cargo from another country’s ships. So one man’s pirate is another flag’s privateer … or vice versa!]
* The early Roman Catholic converts from Bassein, Salsette, Daman and Goa settled in an area called Cavel in Girgaum, south-central Mumai. They were converted by the early Portuguese settlers. Cavel still has the highest Roman Catholic concentration within the city. (p 34)
* One of the oldest coastal communities typically found in Mumbai are the Konkanis. They are settlers from Ratnagiri, Sawantwadi and Goa in the Konkani region. They are settlers from Ratnagiri, Sawantwadi and Goa in the Konkan region. Some also live along the Karnataka and Kerala coast. Their history dates back to the Maratha rule in the 15th century, though sometimes it can be traced back to the movement of these tribes (sic!) to the region of present-day Goa in the 11th century. They speak a variation of the Marathi language that is written in the Devanagari script, first used in 1675. (So, Mr O’Brien, can we expect some controversy about language and script?) (p 37)
* The Gaud Saraswat Brahmins arrived in Mumbai from Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra. These GSBs, as they are popularly called, belong to a regional caste of Brahmins. Their ancestors were said to have lived to the north of the Vindhyas and they gradually moved southwards into Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and the rest of India. There are five subdivisions within this caste. They usually speak the Konkani language. (p 40)
Other entries cover Goa Portuguesa (not the pre-1961 state, but the restaurant which “stocks meat and masalas from the markets of Mapusa and Margao. Four of Goa’s leading cooks — Ram Gaokar from the Mandovi’s Rio Rico, Salu Fernandes from the Taj’s Holiday Village, Shanker from Nova Goa and Piedad Gomes from Purvorim’s [sic] O’Coqueira — are in charge….”) page 80.)
There’s also another on Roce (the pre-wedding ceremony for East Indians and Goan Christians) on page 65 and Cavel or Matharpakady in Mazagaon.
“Cavel was formerly occupied by Koli fisherfolk who were converted to Christianity by the Portuguese. It is a corruption of the Portuguese word for chapel after the Cavel church called the Nossa Senhora de Saude (Our Lady of Health) was built as part of the family chapel in 1794. Besides, it could also be a Portuguese rendering of Kolwar, a Koli hamlet. Its native name is Gaowadi, from the the beef shops that once lined this area or from the cows, that once grazed in the locality. (p 93)
For obvious reasons — and their early involved with Bombay/Mumbai’s history — there are as many as nine references to the Portuguese, one to Franciscans, two to missionaries and one to the Portuguese language in Mumbai (the Barretto Charity School in Cavel and De Souza School at Gloria Church in Byculla were the “first centres of Portuguese education”).
The Jesuits once owned most of the northern parts of the island (Mahim, Worli, Dadar, Sewri, Byculla and Parel), Garcia da Orta and his 16th century Manor House jutting out into the Arabian Sea near present-day Colaba, and more… Hey, if you’re wondering what else is there… just buy the book. You may take this as an advert for it, but I’m just tired of typing in all this and need to get down to work.
The Functioning of Gram Sabhas in Goa
Ms Seema Fernandes
Goa Institute of Rural Development & Administration
Ela, Old Goa
No date mentioned. 107pp.
There’s so much being written on Goa, but because it’s not widely catalogued or uploaded to cyberspace, it’s difficult to keep track of what all is being said. Here’s a book one came across because of a chance visit to the Goa Institute of Rural Development & Administration at Ela, Old Goa, in a wholly different context.
Seema Fernandes’ conclusions: Goa’s overall panchayati raj (rural governance) system needs improvement. Most people are ignorant about the “entire working of local self government in Goa”. Some didn’t know that ordinary meetings and special ‘gram sabha’ (village council) meetings are convened in the panchayat.
Most women said their husbands attended meetings, but very rarely discussed matters at home. Others were ignorant about the quorum needed to conduct gram sabhas. Most had never attended a gram sabha meeting in their life — they don’t feel the need to attend, or see it as a “male dominated meeting”.
And check this out: “The people did not attend meetings because they feel that the Panchayat (village council) is not working for the village. They have selfish motives and due to (their) affiliation with political bodies, only promises are made but hardly fulfilled.”
Other issues raised include:
* Elected women representatives do not address women’s issues at the gram sabha meetings.
* At meetings, people appear “least bothered” to hear the minutes of the earlier meeting, and “are not bothered” on other crucial issues like the expenditure of the outlay of previous years.
* Some issues dominate the meets: issues pertaining to the grant of NOCs for constructions, water connections, which gutter or road or culvert has to be built or re-constructed, why a particular person was given a construction license, or illegal houses.
* Meetings tend to lack decorum in conduct, aggravated by the fact that no time is given for the discussion of agenda items. This leads to a lack of interest in meetings, boredom, and walk-outs. “Many a times, discussions get heated and uncontrollable by the presiding officer; people would gherao
the elected representatives over issues affecting them,” says the study.
Ms Fernandes stresses the role of gram sabhas in rural socio-economic development. But she says it can be a meaninfgul institution only when a majority of the people are involved. In reality, attendance is very thin. Average attendance is around 30-50 people, except in rare cases. So,
the majority is absent when decisions are taken.
“In the first place, the majority of the people are quite ignorant of the role and importance of the gram sabha,” says the study.
It adds: “People have expectations from the panchayat and this hampers the participation at gram sabhas… Lack of sound financial resources, adequate staff, instability of the sarpanchas, interference at all levels are some of the
reasons hampering the success of the panchayat.”
Ironically, though decisions are binding on the panchayat, “it remains only on paper”. Participation in Goa’s gram sabhas is selective and “therefore it can be called as a group of people who have vested interests in attending the
meeting, and as such it can be called an autocracy.”
This 94-page report (plus annexures) comes with seven chapters. An introduction, another on the efforts towards strengthening gram sabhas, a brief overview of literature on gram sabhas in India, the Goa panchayati raj act, people’s participation, an analysis and conclusions.
Interesting issues for those wanting to understand this issue of vital relevance to today’s rural Goa. But it’s not printed as a book (yet) or available for sale. Such work needs to be widely disseminated and discussed, if Goa’s panchayats are to have a future beyond window-dressing.
Here’s a list of some useful articles available in the Konkani research bulletin (Sod) brought out by the Thomas Stephens Konkkni Kendr of Alto Porvorim, which was out in April 2006 (just got a copy late):
* Konkani Myths: Pratap Naik SJ
* Social damage done by Goa’s language controversy and (the) conspiracy behind it. Ramnath G Naik
* Roman script, the soul of Konknni. Nelson Lopes.
* Socio-economic growth of the Goan community through the Konkani language. Tomazinho Cardozo
* Roman script for Konkani, a must: now or never. Godfrey Gonsalves.
* Script controversy. Eduardo Faleiro.
* A response to “Konknni Myths”. Alito Siqueira.
* Scripting controversy: debating the war of the Konknnis. Jason Keith Fernandes.
* An attempt to understand Konknni language assertion movement. Sammit Khandeparkar.
* Mother tongue blues. Madhavi Sardesai.
* Konkani versus scripts. Matthew Almeida, SJ
* The African, Portuguese, Kannada, Marathi, Malvani, Hindi and English influences on the hybridized Siddi-Konkani dialect. Geralda de Lima Angenot
* English medium primary education for better future. Cypriano Lopes.
* Response to “English medium primary education for better future’> Joe F Vaz.
This issue is priced at a reasonable Rs 50 (100 pp) in Goa.
By way of background, the TSKK has long been solidly in favour of the Devanagiri script. Recently, it rethought its position, and its director Dr Pratap Naik sj is one of the leading campaigners in the movement to get recognition for the Romi script. While this perspective obviously dominates the publication, there are also views that question it (like iconoclast Alito Siqueira’s essay, he’s always there to raise some thought-provoking point of view). Check it out if interested in language and how this intertwines with other complex social realities in today’s Goa!
PS: You can contact TSKK on tskk AT sancharnet.in or find out more about it via
http://www.tskk.org or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Stephens_Konkkni_Kendr
Last weekend, I missed the chance of reminiscing about old times and
Goanet. This was because of a visit to New Delhi just then, spending
two days marooned at the guest house and spacious campus of the IIT.
There was more-than-full access to all that highly-subsidised food
that goes into building our elite team of technologists in these parts
of the world; but there was virtually no access to email for almost
two entire days.
Felt like kicking myself hard not making a decision fast enough, over
that Reliance datacard . It now costs less than five thousand
rupees (just a wee bit less, Reliance style, it’s actually priced at
Rs 4990). This datacard allows you to access the Net via a laptop from
almost any part of India. No worrying about ISPs (internet service
providers) or changing all those complex settings to get online again.
And rates are affordable too. Rs 1500 pm unlimited access to
cyberspace. Speeds are said to be fast too, one is told, both on this
service and on others like Airtel (a bit more costlier; they’re
offering Blackberry in India too, but at quite a stiff price).
If you don’t want an unlimited Reliance account, Rs 400 pm will get
you free 10 pm to 6 am surfing, and the rest of the day at 30 paise a
minute. Little higher than what a fast cybercafe charges, with the
bonus of mobility. Across India (minus remote areas, I guess).
[And no, this isn't an ad for Reliance... I agree with Samir's
criticism of their corporate ethic. This is not a company I admire.]
In Delhi, the highlight of the trip was the priviledge of shaking
hands with Jimmy Wales (40), the founder of the Wikipedia.
Just before he rushed off to speak, I asked him  how one brought
together scattered bits of information in one place, on the Wikipedia.
“Yes, a portal would work,” he shot-back. And, like true leaders, he
was honest and encouraging at the same time, “You … just do it…. I
don’t know how it’s done myself,” he added, with a mischevious smile.
At the same conference , there was another of the persons whose
work I had been an admirer of for long. For more about Eben Moglen 
see the Wikipedia… definitions going around in circles, eh?
Like the other Jewish leaders whose ideas and work (and sometimes,
flesh and bones) one encountered — Free Software Foundation leader
Richard M Stallman, Karl Marx and Jesus Christ — Moglen too came
across as very millenarian in perspective. If Christ’s belief in the
inevitablity of changing the status quo actually brought about a
self-fulfilling prophecy that ultimately contributed in the collapse
of the Roman Empire, Marx too envisioned the inevitability of the
Revolution. Never mind that he got it wrong about where it would break
out (the affluent world would have nothing to do with it, and have,
ever since Marx’s warnings at least, been too well taken care of to
In turn, Stallman’s own heroic work is making the global Free Software
reality is clearly spurred on by his view of proprietorial software
being sinful, not just extortionately expensive and inconvenient.
Then, there is Moglen’s confidence that the proprietorial software
model simply cannot last.
Doubting Thomases like me can never be sure. But, at the end of the
day, when the history of computing gets adequately and fully written,
we’ll anyway all be very grateful that a few emails actually brought
down someone like Richard Stallman to Goa, and Farmagudi earlier in
this decade. This happened at a time when everyone was forgetting RMS,
the “Linux” and “Open Source” movement were overpowering “GNU” and
“Free Software”, and the media obsfucation of the debate and its
origins were almost wholly complete.
Moglen’s own confidence in the victory of Free Software brought out a
few unsupressable smiles from my Indian-born Chinese-descent
lawyer-friend Lawrence Liang and myself. But we were all in awe of the
fluency with which he spoke about issues involved (the dangers of
software patents, why anything worth copying is worth sharing, the
creation of Copyleft and more).
“He’s been part of the movements which created these ideas,” said
another friend. That probably explained why he could speak so fast,
and so fluently, almost as if he was playing a recording… having me
struggling to take down notes for a change!
It was a great learning experience.
Jimmy Wales had some inspiration for me personally on how
not-for-profit initiatives (though he runs for-profit ones too) in
cyberspace can be run. And how important it is to actually get the
fundamentals right. More than enough food for thought…. including
discovering that he ran a site offering “adult” services in the past
Moglen — a former software hacker at the age of 13 turned professor
of law and history of law at Columbia University who now serves pro
bono as General Counsel for the Free Software Foundation, and is the
Chairman of Software Freedom Law Center — kept mentioning the need
for “having fun” while creating software. Maybe we journos should
equally think of enjoying our supposed-to-be-creative work.
It was also nice to meet very briefly with Mishi Choudhary, a young
lawyer who had emailed me a few times in the past. When she had said
she planned to bring Eben Moglen down to India, I didn’t quite believe
her (but then, never let anyone know of your doubts… you never know
when they pull off something *you* thought impossible).
Not just that, she actually went ahead to found the India branch of
the Software Freedom Law Centre. (This is a network to bail out guys
who try to create quality software and then run into trouble with the
law or with arm-twisting ega-corporations. See what another youngster
from the Free Software movement in India, Anand Babu, now in the US,
achieved in the Fairplay case  The PlayFair project enabled people
to play their purchased iTunes tracks on “non-Apple authorised
hardware, provided an authorised key is available”.).
While in Delhi, Osama Manzar handed over a copy of the book offering
links to prize-winners of the Manthan Awards, for e-content in India.
Many innovative ventures there. Not surprisingly, Goa didn’t even get
a single mention; not even a nomination! Which made me thing: we
probably have a long, long way to go … still. .
Reviewed by Frederick Noronha
One problem with books in Goa is that you never know when a new one is published. Obviously, book reviewing is a task not done very much seriousness here (except for a few publications like Goa Today). While castigating others, this reviewer also needs to accept blame for some long delays sometimes. This very title, for instance. That it is a labour of love is no excuse for not getting it done on time!
Reviewing Edward de Lima ‘Spoken Konkani: A Self-Learning Guide’ 2006 cannot be an easy job. He’s an agreeable person, one you couldn’t pick up a fight with in public. And he was also in charge of our National Cadet Corps troop during the lone year one tried this out almost a generation ago. He could immediately build up a rapport with boys in the troop.
This is a simple book by him, which promises to teach you a bit of spoken Konkani, not too much, in a simple and easy manner. It has 20 ‘units’ — the author’s long years in academia shows. Dr Lima recently did his PhD on the Dharwad-based Goan writer Armand Menezes.
This is a welcome addition. One says so because of where one comes from, and one’s belief in the need to promote and encourage a diversity of languages (Konkani, whether Devanagari and Roman and its many other scripts, Marathi, English, Portuguese, Kannada, Malayalam, Sanskrit too … and anything else).
It is obviously a departure from the dogmatic days of Devanagari-Konkani-alone approaches. Strange how so many writers (of the non-Devanagari camp) just took a break in their writing, without even realising how dogmatism was blocking creativity, ever since Devanagari became the lone accepted script post 1987.
Lima proffers to teach you Konkani by way of conversations at situations you are likely to encounter. The post office (with email around, it’s not that important anymore), the hotel, the doctor’s, the restaurants, and so on.
At the start of the slim book, there’s a guide to pronunciation. What one found useful was, at the very end, a listing of months, Konkani numbers, time, useful words and phrases, spices (mossalo), taste (ruch), nature (soimb), cereals (dhanya), vegetables (tarkari or bhaji), fruits (folam), Goan fish (Guenchem nustem), parts of the body (kuddiche andde), animals (zanvaram), birds (suknni or sonvnim), and the ever-complex set of relationships in Konkani (nathem). As an aside, I just disagree with Lima when he says “hippy” is a derogatory term for a foreigner in today’s Goa.
People in coastal Bardez will use this term for any Caucasian, without the bat of an eyelid. And why blame them, when hippies are the foreigners they first encountered (post Portuguese departure)? Even my decent academic friends get labelled thus quite frequently.
This is Lima’s third release. The second was a reprint. When we met many moons back, and I promised to do the review, he told me the earlier publications — in 2001 and 2002 — had done well. Artist Ramanand Bhagat has a neat illustration on the cover. Maureen’s at Panjim is the printer. The book, priced at Rs 100, was printed with a 50% financial assistance through the Goa Konkani Academi’s educational scheme.
It’s devoted, rather quaintly, “to my mother whose words I first learnt to lisp”.
Released in February this year, the book was inspired, says the author, by his several cousins — second-generation Goans in England, Canada and Australia — who were keen to learn to speak Konkani, while just on holiday in Goa.
Says Edward da Lima (58): “I wrote the book in the Roman script because it would enable all English readers easy access to the language. To learn Konkani in the Devanagari script would have been a formidable task, as they would first have to learn the script.”
It’s written in the dialect predominantly used in Bardez in North Goa, or Bardeshi. “I found it easier to write in that dialect as I speak that dialect myself,” the author told me. He says Konkani has the strong form of consonants like n, t, d, ch and l — which do not exist in English — and hence his transliteration guide could help readers navigate this “treacherous sphere”.
Any challenges while doing this work? Says Lima: “The problems are the same faced by all translators. There cannot be an exact translation of any sentence from a source language like English to a target language like Konkani without compromising its core meaning. It is a difficult task to find an accurate, meaningful and creative synonym to each word.”
Did you know that the the English words “please”, “excuse me” and “sorry” do not have their Konkani equivalents. Of course, this does not make Konkani a rude language! Check out the wealth of words to describe fish, different forms of rice, and so on.
On the script row, Lima feels: “There are many reasons as I see it. One is, Roman script writers do not get due recognition. The second is that financial assistance is only made available to the Devanagari section by the government. And the third is that Roman script writers face discrimination at government interviews, as they are required to write in the Devanagari script.”
He’s pragmatic when he says knowledge of English the international language is essential, even while “Konkani is our lifeblood”.
Incidentally Lima belongs to a generation that never had to — or got the opportunity to — study Konkani. He learnt English, Hindi, French and Portuguese. An alumni of Monte de Guirim in Bardez, he recalls times when it was the biggest school in North Goa, with 400 boarders at its height. He was there from 1953 to 1963, and recalls times when “boys from all surrounding villages used to come up like ants” climbing up that hillock.
I guess purists would attempt to write off this slim book as too basic. But, then, we have long complained about the lack of accessible language learning tools in Konkani, isn’t it?
%T Spoken Konkani
%S A Self-Learning Guide
%A Edward de Lima
%I Vikram Publications, 515 Lima Vaddo, Porvorim Ph 832.2413573
%C Porvorim, Goa
%O paperback, references, bibliography, index
%G ISBN not available
%P pp 63
%K Konkani, language, Goa, Roman script