Today is late Chandrakant Keni’s birth anniversary. He was an icon of the Konkani movement and the Opinion Poll, having dedicated his life to draw the country’s attention to our native language.
In his death on 3rd February 2009 Goa lost a very distinguished son. The very articulate and versatile Chandrakant Keni never retired. He always had that zeal and determination to keep going. Besides being a distinguished journalist, he was an outstanding writer who penned in Konkani, Marathi, Hindi and English. His writings were thought provoking and his language was simple, clear and comprehensible. The very humble, unassuming and outspoken, Chandrakant Keni even in his last few years despite his very failing health was always on the move with a passion and resolve.
A very staunch Gandhian, Chandrakant Keni’s nationalist stirrings began at the tender age of 14 when he made his first public speech at the immersion of Gandhi’s ashes at Colva in South Goa.
I had the opportunity to first interact with the very knowledgeable and resourceful Chandrakant Keni in January 1979 during our student agitation for 50% bus concession. Our relationship later strengthened over the years.
Dedicated to the cause of Konkani literature and in particular to the Konkani movement, Chandrakant Keni played a pivotal role to get our language recognition of the Sahitya Akademi. While encouraging several young writers he created a league of successful and established writers.
Chandrakant Keni had firmly asserted that Goans owed it to themselves to preserve their unique culture while lamenting the Goa government’s uncoordinated educational and industrial policy which attracted immigrants from other states and they making Goa their permanent abode. “This is gradually reducing the local population to a minority and diluting the linguistic and cultural identity of Goa” he had warned. He was very persistent that Goans outside Goa should integrate and participate in the development and future of their land.
In 2001 when Chandrakant Keni was appointed as Chairman of Goa’s NRI Cell, he got Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to appoint me as Vice-Chairman, a government post I flatly declined to accept as I was fighting against various illegalities of the government. Chandrakant Keni was very upset but he respected my decision.
Over the years whenever we met we had a very frank and enriching exchange of views with his advice and guidance being very invaluable. Though we had a 25 year age difference we understood and respected each other’s views. He was a very caring person, always very concerned about me.
I always held Chandrakant Keni in the highest esteem and respect while those memories of our interactions on various topics and issues concerning Goa will forever be cherished. I was blessed to have known the very outstanding Goan Chandrakant Bab Keni. A very sincere and dedicated true Goan he always was.