Tuesday, August 4, 2009



By Valmiki Faleiro

Goa suffered a severe slam when, on 30th July, death snatched a noble son of the soil,a stalwart of her native language, in the prime of his life. Though retired, he had many productive years ahead of him. Prof.

(Dr.) Olivinho Jose Francisco Gomes, IRS, was as much at home with Konknni as he was with Hindi and Marathi. He was facile with both the Roman and Devanagri scripts. Hailing from the picturesque isle of Santo Estevam, where he was born on 20-Jan-194, he scaled great heights of scholarship by sheer dint of hard work. Schooling at Panjim's Don Bosco, he passed SSC with Hindi and Latin in 1959. He then completed the Portuguese Lyceum course in academic year 1961-62. 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. Management studies from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute, Bombay and the German Mewes Institute, rounded off a notable academic career. He passed the 1969 Central Civil Services exam and was assigned to the Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Customs & Central Excise, in the 1970 batch.

He was among the few Goans to date in India's elite Class-I administrative cadre. He held many ranks, among them as head of an anti-smuggling outfit set up for the first time in Ratnagiri (1972-76.) In his multifarious roles with the Union Finance Ministry, he had a challenging job as Senior Analyst in the Tax Research Unit, the bones that work out the flesh for the annual Union Budget. He served there 1976-78.

He was Addl. Commissioner of six Divisions in the Aurangabad Commissionerate(1984-87), when Konknni's call knocked at his door on 18-June-1987. He quit the IRS to become Professor of Konknni Language and Literature at Goa University,under the rubric, "Outstanding scholar, with established reputation and significant contribution to knowledge." He served Konknni as a mission, in research, literature,and teaching. At the nascent Goa University, he set up the new Department of Konkani at the post-graduate level, and even structured an under-graduate course. He designed university syllabi, organized national seminars on Konkani literature with the Sahitya Akademi, presented papers and lectures at international seminars. Many of his papers were later published in the U.K., France, Portugal, Australia, Malaysia, China,Canada, Germany and Japan.

He was Vice-Chancellor of Goa University in the interregnum of Feb-June, 2002. He served on many local and national public bodies, like the Goa Board of Higher Secondary Education, Central Institute of Indian Languages, Dept. of Education of the Union Ministry of HRD, National Council for Educational Research & Training(NCERT), University Grants Commission, Union Public Service Commission, and the National Book Trust. On non-government fora, he was on KK Birla Foundation,Gyanpeeth Foundation, among myriad others. A linguist, he was. As Dean, Faculty of Languages, he supervised post-graduate academics in English, French, Portuguese, Konkani, Hindi and Marathi, and coursesin Italian, languages he knew. But at heart was his Konknni.

He worked closely with the Konkani Bhasha Mandal, the Goa Konkani Akademi andother fora from 1987 onwards. He successfully completed a major research projecton "Reconstruction of Old Konkani Literature," for the University Grants Commission(1994-97.) He served several Union Government ministries like Human ResourceDevelopment, External Affairs, at times in sensitive capacities.

Prof. Olivinho Gomes' academic record at the national and at world levels is too bigto be enumerated here. As would be the awards, honours and decorations he was bestowed with. That he has more than two dozen papers at world conferences published, besides his 41 books (and one recently submitted for publication), in diverse scripts, languages and subjects speaks more than what anyone could writeabout him.

The above article appeared in HERALD and GOMANTAK TIMES (Goa), in their respective editions of July 31, 2009

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