Digambar Kamat’s Contribution to Goan Tiatr
He opened the doors of the Art and Culture Department to all artistes and forms of cultural and literary activities. Tiatr artistes started benefiting the Department’s schemes. The Department started giving financial assistance to organisers to promote mando and dulpods and other folk songs. Today there are at least five mando festivals that take place. A scheme for publishing books in the Roman scripts was started. Mr Kamat was instrumental in naming the main auditorium of the prestigious cultural complex at Margao after the Father of Tiatr – late Joao Agostinho Fernandes. By doing this he not only recognised the importance of Goan Tiatr but also brought honour to the whole Tiatr fraternity. To preserve and promote literature in Konkani in the Roman script he made budgetary provision to the Dalgado Konknni Academy thereby giving much needed support and encouragement those who wrote in the Roman script. As assured, he formed the Tiatr Academy of Goa (TAG) for the promotion, preservation and development of the most popular dramatic form of Goa - the Tiatr. He provided the TAG with adequate finances for a modern office, a conference hall and library. A praiseworthy act indeed!By Tomazinho CardozoDigambar Kamat completed three years as the Chief Minister of Goa recently. Considering Goa’s political scene, continuing in the office of Chief Minister for three full years is an achievement.
Different people have different opinions about him depending on the issues they have been directly or indirectly involved. Accordingly, protagonists of Konkani in the Roman script have a success story to tell.
Konkani became the Official Language of Goa in 1987 after a bloody agitation. Throughout the agitation the script issue was never allowed to surface because it would split the movement. However, most unfortunate was the introduction of the definition of the Konkani language in the Goa Official Language Act, which states: “Konkani language means Konkani written in Devnagori script.”
For me it was the greatest betrayal of the protagonists of Konkani in Roman script. With this one sentence, the hopes and aspirations of the majority of Goans were shattered.
Konkani in the Roman script was side-tracked at every level thereafter. The supporters of Roman script had no alternative but to fight back. Thus the Dalgado Konknni Academy put forth 13 demands before the government for the preservation, promotion and development of Konkani in the Roman script.
As the president of DKA then, along with other office bearers of DKA, I approached chief ministers, ministers and MLAs from the ruling as well as opposition requesting them to help us preserve, promote and develop Konkani in the Roman script along with Devnagori script. After listening to our grievances, some of them assured us of their support while some were reluctant to give any assurances.
At this juncture, we met Mr Digambar Kamat. He was the minister of art and culture besides power then. We submitted the memorandum of our demands and brought to his notice the injustice meted to Konkani in the Roman script. After listening to us patiently his brief assurance to us was, “I do understand your problem. I shall do whatever I can through the Department Of Art and Culture to help fulfil some of your demands.” He is the only politician, then as a minister of art and culture and now as Chief Minister, who tried his best to fulfil the assurances given to us.
The formation of the Tiatr Academy of Goa has helped tiatr, tiatr artistes and tiatr appreciators to work towards the development of the art form.
The Tiatr Academy Goa has initiated various schemes to raise the level of tiatrs. Some of the important schemes are: Oral documentation of history of tiatr, documentation of tiatr through research work, preservation of tiatr literature, promotion of tiatr, its song and music academically, promotion of tiatr music, promotion of award winning tiatrs, remembering tiatr artistes of yesteryears, financial assistance to troupes going to Mumbai/Poona and other parts of the country, encouragement to production of tiatr in villages, preservation of tiatr material, Popular Tiatr Festival/Competition, Konkani song and music awards, Lifetime Achievement Awards to senior tiatr artistes, encouragement to tiatr related activities, yearly production of a ‘model tiatr’, encouragement for the production of tiatrs/programmes on patriotism and communal harmony, regular orientation in dramatics, children’s tiatrs, promotion of Konkani songs like duets/trios/quartets, promotion of Konkani songs through choreography.
The impact of these schemes will have on tiatr will be seen within the next five years.