The state government, trying to fulfil one of the assurances in the budget speech of the Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar, is imparting training in Konkani language to its all India services officers under the Rajbhas Prashikshan Evzonn or state language training programme of the Directorate of Official Language.
The Chief Minister had assured to ‘introduce compulsory training in Konkani language for all the officers of all India services posted in Goa, for enabling them to understand issues facing the people and to reduce communication gap between such officers and the people.’
The Chief Secretary, Mr B Vijayan told ‘The Navhind Times’ that the IAS officers did attend the Konkani language training  sessions, held earlier this year, all of which collectively stretched to not more than 15 hours.
“We all definitely have the feel of the language, but then it is not possible for anyone to know new language in 15 hours,” he added, pointing out that with such limited training, it is impossible to even put notings in Konkani on the file, leave aside communicating in the language.
“But what is important is that the IAS officers are taking interest in the language,” the Chief Secretary said, stating that when the Chief Minister speaks in Konkani, they can certainly make out what he is saying.
“However, it will take time for us to get well conversant with the language,” he maintained.
The Goa Government Employees Association, on the other hand brushed aside this training as an ornamental exercise, and maintained that even today cent per cent of the work of the state administration – in written as well as oral form – is carried out in English language.
“The IAS officers may suddenly use one or two sentences in Hindi, in the midst of their conversation, but by and large, English language still dominates the secretariat,” the president of the GGEA, Mr M L Shetkar maintained.
It may be recalled that the Chief Minister, delivering the budget speech in the capacity of the state Finance Minister, earlier this year had said, “(Besides, training in Konkani language), the (all India services) officers will be subjected to a comprehensive study tour of the entire state, to acquaint them with the rich history, heritage, culture and the geographical features, and area specific issues of the state.”
“This will enable them to appreciate the ground realities and issues before the administration in order to discharge their administrative responsibilities in a responsive manner,” he had added.
The director for official language, Mr Prakash Vazrikar, told this daily that a month-long training programme in Konkani language comprising of 22 lectures, was conducted from July 2 to August 9, 2012 for all India services officers, through university level academicians, as also two tours were conducted for them around Goa, in rural areas like Keri, in Sattari taluka.
Altogether 38 officers – 20 IAS, 5 IPS, 12 IFS and one IES – participated in the Konkani learning programme. The faculties included Mr Suresh Borkar, Ms Priyadarshani Tadkod, Mr Bhushan Bhave, Mr Damodar Ghanekar and Ms Anju Sakhardande.
Speaking further, Mr Vazrikar said that the all India services officers need to have at least some knowledge about the language of the place, where they are posted.
“And there was no facility in Goa for them to learn Konkani language,” he added, pointing out that when the course was introduced for the first time, earlier this year, these officers were more than happy to learn.
 “And now, we are planning an advance refresher course in Konkani for them somewhere at the beginning of the next year,” the director for official language informed, mentioning that yet another month-long course in Konkani is scheduled for civil service officers of directorial level and below, for which centres in North as well as South Goa have been identified, and assistance assured by the Konkani Bhasha Mandal. 
When asked about the use of Konkani language in state administration, Mr Vazrikar said that the Chief Minister and some of the government secretaries are already using Konkani language to put their notings in the files.
“The terminology in Konkani is under standardisation,” he added, opining that the Konkani/ Marathi vocabulary also needs to be put in use frequently so as to make the officers well conversant with the language.
Incidentally, the state cabinet had recently approved a decision to restrict the relaxation of the ‘Knowledge of Konkani and Marathi’ rule only to posts that require very high qualifications. Earlier, in the Goa Public Service Commission recruitments, knowledge of Konkani was compulsory and knowledge of Marathi desirable, but in case of non-availability of suitable candidates, this clause could be relaxed for all posts.
Henceforth, relaxation from knowledge of Konkani and Marathi will only be given for posts in professional colleges, consultants in directorate of health services and highly technical/ scientific posts. The government felt that there was no need for this relaxation clause for posts like deputy collector, mamlatdar, etc because there are enough candidates available with knowledge of Konkani and Marathi in Goa.
The government will also depute one officer in each of its department, who can understand Konkani and Marathi, so that he can respond to the letters written by people in local languages. [NT]