Mangaluru: We played together, we had fun together, we sat in the class together- and that was during our college days at St Aloysius College, Mangaluru when we both completed our BSc there. Later for few years we lost touch, since I migrated to USA and my classmate went to Gulf. Three decades later we met again last year, we hugged and we were happy to see again and shared our college days memories and so on. This chum of mine is none other than Ronald S A Castelino, who is affectionately known as ‘ROY’, born to late Thomas and late Jessy Castelino, of Makale-Kulshekar here.
The reason why I want to call “Roy” the Man of “Joy”, because every time I see him or meet him, he is always filled with joy- being proud of all the work and achievements that he has accomplished. I feel proud of my friend Roy Castelino for his great achievements and I fully support and encourage him as the President of Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy, no matter what few jealous and hate mongers are spewing out some hate venom on him. Presently we are living in a society where, when you do something good, people start hating you. That’s sad and bad!
People who hate and act jealous are one of life’s constants. Sadly for such persons, life is one huge battlefield, filled with traps and bogeymen. Their way of coping with this skewed picture is to send forth their defensive hate monsters, to ward off the dangers they’ve conjured for themselves. And there is nothing more such people fear than someone who represents all the things they wish they were or had themselves. Thus, it’s a lot easier to hate on such people or to show outright jealousy, as it’s a lot easier than working on one’s own shortcomings. What do you do when you’re the target of their vitriol, minimizing and gossip? You stand taller, brush off and ignore the insults and keep doing what you’re best at. And that exactly what Roy Castelino is doing coping with some of the allegations slapped on him by some folks who call them Konkani litterateurs and artistes.
One of the leading English newspaper carried a report stating that, “Like minded Konkani litterateurs and artistes under the banner Konkani Writers and Artistes’ Association have submitted a memorandum to Governor Vajubai Rudabai Wala, through Mangalore University Vice Chancellor Prof K Byrappa, placing a request to repeal Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy President Roy Castelino of his position. According to a press release, the move of the like-minded Konkani enthusiasts has come in the wake of an alleged propaganda carried out by the Academy Chief, through magazines and newspapers, portraying him as the pioneer of the Konkani chair, which was established in the Mangalore University recently” (The Chair was established in the Mangalore University on 12 June 2015 after the State government granted Rs 2 crores in the annual budget 2014-15. It was a long pending demand of the Konkani speaking people in the city).
When asked to clarify on this issue, Roy said, “My friends with good intentions of my achievements had mentioned on the posters/banners/hoardings portraying me as the Founder/Pioneer of the Konkani Chair. I was not aware nor had any knowledge of this until someone raised the issue about this matter. No where during my tenure I have said privately or in the public that I am the founder of Konkani Chair. Everyone makes mistake, and this was a simple mistake made on the publicity materials, for which some folks have now made a big issue out of it”.
I also asked Roy to clarify on the complaints raised by some litterateurs and artists saying that “They were also unhappy that the Konkani litterateurs are not being given priority in Konkani chair”. Clarifying on this, Roy said, “The advisory council was not formed by the Konkani Sahitya Academy. The Konkani Chair is total responsibility of Mangalore University. Among the list, the University Vice Chancellor had selected the members going through proper channels”. When asked what he has to say about the memorandum submitted by these artistes and litterateurs asking the Governor of Karnataka to repeal his post as KSA president, for which Castelino replied, “Let law take its own course. I am fully confident that I have done nothing wrong. I have done my duties to the best of my abilities and I want to continue doing it for the growth of Konkani Academy and raise it to greater heights. Rest I leave it in the hands of God”.
Roy Castelino had his early education at Sacred Heart Higher Primary School, Kulshekar, St. Aloysius High School and obtained his Bachelor Degree in Science from St. Aloysius College, Mangalore. He had Entrepreneurial learning right from the beginning. After passing out from college, on the look out for work and greener pastures, he moved to Muscat and worked there for about 3 years. The entrepreneur zeal in him could not hold him there for long when he returned in 1985 to Mangalore to establish himself in his hometown. A family acquaintance led him into civil / construction work in which he plunged in full gusto.
The initial days of civil work started with telecom cable ducting works right from Mangaluru to Karwar, Mangaluru to Sullia and in the City of Bangalore and Mangalore. It is with sheer hard work and confidence in himself he established a name in the industry and slowly moved into residential, commercial and institutional buildings. Today being in the industry for over two decades, has branched himself as being a very successful Builder, Promoter and Land Developer also, under the banner of “Roy Constructions” Most of the structures that have come up in Mangaluru are landmarks which stand a testimony of the excellent quality and workmanship. It would not be out of place to mention here a God fearing man ‘he is’ has today built many Churches and Chapels in Mangalore Diocese. Roy Castelino, happily married to Dianisia D’Silva aka “Denny”, is blessed with a daughter Radhika. His hobbies include music, literature and travel; and involves himself actively in various community service.
From being: President of RACHANA, Catholic Chamber of Commerce and Industry; President of Lions Club, Kulshekar; Trustee of Sandesha (Foundation For Culture and Education; President of Pragathi Co-op. Society, Kulshekar Mangalore; President of Konkani Prachar Sanchalan; Director of Kalaangann, The Konkani Heritage Centre; Executive Member of Mandd Sobhann, World’s Premiere Konkani Cultural Organisation; President- International Federation of Konkani Christian Association-Mangaluru; Co-Convener-Diocesan Political Wing; Treasurer-Jagotik Konknni Sanghottan(A Global Konkani Organization);President of P T A, St. Agnes PU College; and last year being appointed as President of Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy, his plans were to focus on Konkani education, which he believed was important to promote the language, its culture and literature. Roy also headed the Konkani Prachar Sanchalan, a Mangalore-based Non-Governmental Organisation, which promoted Konkani in schools. The NGO worked toward getting Konkani introduced in 55 primary schools and 28 high schools in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.
When he took up the task as president of KSA, he said he would have the Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy focus on three areas: Konkani education in schools, development of Konkani literature and development of Konkani culture. “Unless our children learn Konkani, they will not be able to produce good Konkani literature and develop our culture,” he said. Another priority is that the academy should have an inclusive character, especially since Konkani is a language spoken by a cross-section of people, with 41 communities speaking the language across three religions. He said, “Everyone should be given equal opportunity under one umbrella irrespective of their beliefs.” And as of now he has kept his promises and has done lots of development work for the growth of Konkani literature and culture.
Roy Castelino who is a builder by profession but for Konkani Sahitya Academy, and for growth of Konkani, he is the builder of the Konkani team. His contribution for the Konkani Language through Konkani Prachar Sanchalan and his efforts in introducing Konkani in Schools is tremendous and worth praising. I remember Roy’s assurances that he made during his acceptance speech as president of KSA, where he said, “As president of the KSA, I will work for the total development of the Konkani Language. We need Litterateurs, poets, writers and most of all readers to promote Konkani. Through Konkani Prachar Sanchalan we need to promote Konkani in all the schools in the state”. And I see that Roy along with a bevy of energetic team are doing a great job in promoting Konkani to reach to the highest peak.
Whichever ‘Dialect’ you may speak and whichever ‘Script’ you may use, whichever “Region’ of the world you may be from, whichever ‘Religion’ or ‘ Caste’ you may belong to – Yes, it’s time now for every Konkani person to stand-up and be counted. Since Konkani has been included in the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India, we need to strengthen Konkani among our Children first. If we want to retain any language or culture we have to speak, write and practice. Shetty’s speak Tulu language, Kodavas speak Kodava and Malayalees speak Malyalee, but why are our Konkani people speaking Konkani in English. Let Konkani community give importance to Konkani language and take it to the next generation. And for that matter, Roy Castelino has tried all his efforts to raise Konkani language and culture to greater heights, and he is proud of his achievements until now.
A successful entrepreneur, a cultural activist, a promoter of language, a patron of arts, a motivator of social transformation, and above all, Roy Castelino is a great community leader. He has been a great source of support to musicians, writers, theatre artists and cultural activists. He has established a “Research Grant” in memory of his dad, and also “The Best Konkani Teacher Award” in memory of his mom, which has been instituted by Maand Sobhann. Apart from this, through Maand Sobhann’s multifarious activities, Roy works incessantly for the preservation, promotion, and enrichment of Konkani language and culture; and to ensure the transmission of the Konkani heritage to future generation.
Following are the excerpts from the exclusive interview with Roy Castelino, in the presence of team Mangalorean.com:
Q: What’s your opinion about the progress of Konkani Sahitya Academy since its inception 12 years ago and under your tenure, for the cause of Konkani language and culture?
A: The progress has been going on very well, and many projects/programmes have been launched last year and this year. We have have getting a strong support from all communities. The “Konkani Mobile Van” that we launched is going on in full swing and we have started around 50 Konkani clubs in various schools and colleges. We have been releasing two Konkani books every month since I took over as the president of KSA 15 months ago. So far 30 books have been released. We organized 3-day cultural/literary programme in Honnavar and Karwar; held Annual Konkani Literature and Folks/Theatre Books award in Bengaluru and Dharwad; organized Konkani Teachers and Students conference, and also training programme for teachers; organized interstate Konkani programmes on literature/culture in New Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Calicut; KSA launched a half hour documentary on Konkani Backward Community, like Siddi and Mahar; fellowship for research programme on Mestha community; and many more.
Q: What are your future plans for the growth of KSA?
A: My main intention is to promote more and more Konkani education in schools and colleges-already 75 schools in Mangaluru and Udupi have adopted Konkani as IIIrd language. 30 high schools and 4 colleges have also introduced Konkani in their syllabus, to name a few- Lourdes Central School, St Theresa’s School, Rosario college, Padua HS and College; Konkani as third optional language in schools has played a vital role in popularising Konkani. Any projects/programmes that will go a long way in promoting Konkani language and culture will be undertaken without any hesitation.
Q: According to you what is lacking in the field of Konkani among the Konkani community presently?
A: First and foremost, there is no unity amongst us. No unity among litterateurs, artistes, musicians and so on. People should think that Konkani is not the language of Christians/Catholics-it is the language of many communities, including Hindus and Muslims. Without unity and understanding, the progress in the growth of Konkani language and culture will take a long time to prosper.
Q: Apart from you, name some of the strong stalwarts who have been the pillars in establishing KSA ?
A: Basti Vaman Shenoy, Paul Moras, Eric Ozario, Chafra D’Costa, Late VJP Saldanha, Late Raghunath Shet, Uniz Brotto, and many more.
Q: What is your message to the readers of mangalorean.com and Konkani speaking communities?
A: Konkani is a very ancient language, which has a thousand year old history. It is also the mother tongue of three major religions namely Hindus, Christians and Muslims. Konkani is spoken by 41 communities from three religions in the country. So Konkani is a language of both communal harmony and inter-community connection. It is a language of unity and diversity. Konkani speaking communities should be proud of their language which has rich cultural heritage and traditions, and should not ignore and neglect this beautiful language. For Konkani language to sustain, children have to develop an interest in reading Konkani books. We need to educate the children on the importance of Konkani right at the beginning, so that they can imbibe the language and be thorough with it. Let us all Read, write and speak Konkani as much as we can, and show our love and respect towards it. Thank You
As they say “Better late Than Never”- Team Mangalorean would like to wish Roy Castelino all success in his projects/endeavors during his tenure as President of Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy. May God bless him abundantly.