Friday, August 7, 2009

Remembering Prof. Olivinho Gomes

Remembering Prof. Olivinho Gomes
● Tomazinho Cardozo

He held high positions in the Central Government, he put the foundation of Post-Graduate education in Konkani in the Goa University, he published over 40 books which included research, travelogues, translations and creative writings, he was the only Konkani writer who served Konkani in both scripts, Roman and Devanogori, etc., etc. Dr. Olivinho could be considered a one man institution whose mastery over Konkani language, its history and over Goa and its identity was simply superb. It pains to observe that such an experienced and literary-rich life is snatched away at the age of only 66 years.

Born in 1943 at St. Stevao, Ilhas, Goa Dr. Olivinho Gomes had his secondary education in Don Bosco High School, Panjim. Did Lyceum in Portuguese and successfully completed his graduation in English Literature and post-graduation in Psychology & Sociology with flying colours. He obtained his Ph. D. in Sociology. In 1969 he passed Indian Revenue Service (IRS) examination. He is one of the very few Goans who could do IRS. He was posted at various states in Customs & Central Excise by the Central Government. He also worked in the Finance Ministry at New Delhi at various important positions.

He had well settled in life as far as his lucrative service in the Central Government was concerned. But his love towards Goa and Konkani language was more prominent in him than anything else. Fortunately there arose an opportunity to serve Goa and Konkani language. He was selected as Professor of Konkani Language and Literature under UGC norms at the Goa University.

He became the first Head of Konkani Department at the Goa University and worked successfully to set up under & post-graduate studies up to Ph.D. He was Dean, Faculty of Languages & Literature in charge of French, English, Portuguese, Hindi, Marathi and Konkani Departments & Italian courses. He was the member of Goa University’s Executive Council and other bodies; Board of Studies in History & Chair of BOS in French, Konkani, Journalism & Mass Communications. He also served Goa University as its Vice-Chancellor. He served the literary field as an expert at various panels such as UGC, NCERT, U.P.S.C., K.K. Birla Foundation & other national academic /literary bodies, including that of Indian Languages Promotion Council headed by the Prime Minister.

A researcher par excellence he presented papers/lectures & chaired sessions at national /international conferences on history, language, culture, literature, sociology-anthropology, etc., in and outside the country i.e. in Delhi, Ranchi, Mumbai, Goa, Lisbon, Paris, London, Gottingen (Germany), Vienna, Oporto, Toronto, Sydney, Nihon (Japan), Beijing, Kuala Lumpur & Sungai Pettani (Malaysia). Some of his papers are collected under “A scholarly world of culture” (2009). So far he has published 40 books in Konkani & in English. He has won awards nationally as well as internationally for research and literary work in poetry, short-stories, translations, including National Sahitya Akademi Award for Translation, 1993, and that of V.X.Verodiano Foundation (USA),1997; and Research Fellowships from Portuguese Orient Foundation, French Government, U.G.C. (India), Dempo Trust, Commonwealth Fellowship, 1990 in London, and National Fellowship for outstanding artistes (2005-07) from Ministry of Culture, Goverment of India. He was associated with Authors’ Guild of India; The Poetry Society (India); Centre for Literary Translation; Indian Sociological Society; Indian Institute of Public Administration; Indian Society for Commonwealth Studies, etc., etc.

Although Dr. Gomes is one of the few Goans who achieved a lot on the literary field - Konkani as well as other languages – I regret to state that he had to face opposition from a section of the people at every level who consider themselves as the sole ‘pundits’ of Konkani language. When he was selected to be the Professor of Konkani Language and Literature in the Goa University, there was a sort of an earthquake among his opponents who went all out to see that he was removed from that post. Many other Konkani protagonists including me could observe the hidden agenda of these people and lodged a counter protest against those whose ego was hurt because Dr. Olivinho Gomes, a person from outside their caucus, was selected for that coveted post. In spite of opposition from our own people, Dr. Gomes did not deter at all and marched forward with dedication to achieve the goals set by him. He succeeded in his mission.

Dr. Olivinho Gomes was a great asset to the Konkani language. It is not because I say so but it is definitely because of his past records. But unfortunately he did not get due respect and recognition for his valuable works from institutions working for Konkani language in the present times. He was awarded Sahitya Academy Award for Translation and not for his creative writing. He deserved Padmashri or Padma Bushan more than any body else but in vain. This is a concrete example of our – particularly the people who matter in the Konkani world - crab mentality. May his soul rests in peace.

This Article was published on Gomantak Times dated 5th August, 2009

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