Prakash Kamat

PANAJI: People from different walks of life on Sunday congratulated eminent Goan writer in Konkani,Ravindra Rajaram Kelekar, 83, who bagged the Jnanpith award.

The octogenarian Gandhian writer, credited with promoting the literary culture in Konkani and also relentlessly crusading for its cause, was on Saturday declared joint winner of 42nd Jnanpith award for 2006.

The first Goan to receive the award, Mr. Kelekar is considered as a living legend of the Konkani language movement. A prolific writer with a number of books in three languages – Konkani, Marathi and Hindi – to his credit, Mr. Kelekar has been a freedom fighter who participated in Goa’s freedom movement.

In his reaction, Mr. Kelekar told The Hindu on Sunday, “This award is not merely mine, it is a recognition of the relentless struggle of several soldiers and stalwarts of Konkani language spanning over six decades, who fought for her recognition disregarding all adversities. Konkani was described by its critics as a dialect and not a language, many people opposed its recognition as a language by Sahitya Akademi, but we remained undeterred.”

Mr. Kelekar has several feathers in his cap. A Padma Bhushan and a Fellow of the Sahitya AkademiAcademy, Delhi,Chief Minister Digambar Kamat visited Mr. Kelekar’s residence on Sunday to personally greet and congratulate him on winning the award.