2003-03-11 16:37:29 UTC
From Pamela D'Mello
Panaji: A new form of Shiv Sena type sons-of-the-soil regionalism
is growing in this west coast state, with emotive arguments pressing for a
Goans First employment policy and a moratorium on sale of scarce land to
The Goa Hit Rakhan Manch (Protect Goan Interest Forum), a relatively new
political outfit here, is fuelling populist sentiment and has threatened
violence against government officials and companies that don't give first
priority to Goans in employment.
Recently, the Manch's first mid-sized rally demanded that Goans be
favoured for the estimated 15,000 government jobs falling vacant in the next
"Every industry that uses Goan land, water and power to set up here, must
issue a statement showing that 80 % of its employment is Goan", said
convenor Prashant Naik.
Over the past years, the Manch has scrutinised job advertisements that
disfavour local employment, targetting especially the Goa University, where
it alleges corruption ensures the sizeable recruitment of outstation
Arguing that "only Konkani can prove you are a Goan" for employment
purposes, it wants stringent use of Konkani in government and the
corollary insistence of its knowledge for employment, along with a fifteen
But Goa's bitter Marathi v/s Konkani language row in the eighties, and an
early 1960s referendum against merger with Mahrasthra makes this form of
The current debate was fuelled lately after Marathi protagonists here
apparently lost a court battle to make Marathi knowledge equally essential
for jobs in Goa.
While Konkani was deemed essential, Marathi knowledge was only desirable,
the court said --- a ruling that did not go down well with that camp.
A war of words between rival protagonists and jostling for government
patronage has kept the row alive here. A recent Marathi literary
conference dubbing Konkani as a mere dialect was seen as an insult
triggering a fresh round of acrimony.
Goa's BJP government, attempting to placate both camps, has however angered
Konkani supporters, led seen as dominated by upper caste groupings.
In now attempting to forge a regional exclusivist policy, the Manch claims
it wants to bridge the language and religious chasm in the state.It denied
charges of being a Konkani exclusivist forum.
Certainly concern has been mounting here in some quarters over the large
influx of migrants from Karnataka, informal service sector workers from
Orissa and Bihar, traders from Kashmir and Gujarat, and property holders and
speculators from all over. (ends)