Two illustrious Goans-famed cartoonist Mario Miranda who passed away on December 11, 2011 and intellectual Jose Pereira-finally received recognition for their body of work as both were included in the list of Padma awardees on the eve of Republic Day on Wednesday. Miranda, who was earlier awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2002 and Padma Shri in 1988, will posthumously be honoured with the Padma Vibhushan. Pereira, who is based in the US, and is known for his wide range of interests and contributions as a historian, musicologist, theologian and orator, will be conferred with the Padma Bhushan.
The name of the famed cartoonist and illustrator was second in the list of five others, including K G Subramanyan (painting and sculpture), late Bhupen Hazarika (vocal music), Kantilal Hastimal Sancheti ( orthopedics) and TV Rajeswar ( civil service).
The name of Pereira, a former professor, who taught theology of world religions at Fordham University, USA, figured in the list of 27 awardees, including Shabana Azmi, Mira Nair and others. He has also published more than 20 books on theology, history of art, architecture, Goan culture, language, literature and music.
A multi-faceted personality, Pereira also carried out research, and he along with S B Kulkarni, a former head of department of Marathi, Nagpur University, have said that two lines of inscriptions at the foot of the huge statue of Bahubali at Sravanabelagola in Karnataka are the earliest Konkani inscriptions in Devnagri script. Born in 1931, the reputed Sanskrit scholar and Indologist has written several books on theology, history, architecture, language and music. A fresco done by him can be seen on a vault of St Joaquim’s chapel at Borda while another painting was unveiled at Our lady of Rosary chapel, Fatorda.
The announcement of the awards drew happy reactions from a cross section of people. Miranda’s widow, Habiba, apparently overwhelmed by emotion, was at a loss for words, when contacted by TOI for her comments. “What can I say? I am glad,” was all she said. Majorda-based Damodar Mauzo, writer and Sahitya Akademi award winner said, “Mario deserved a state guard of honour when he died.” He, however, expressed satisfaction that Miranda’s services in the field of art have been taken cognizance of, though belatedly, by the Union government.
Agreed Kala Academy member secretary Pandurang Phaldesai. “We should be grateful to the government of India for honouring two Goans, who projected the good image of the state the world over,” he said. Commending Miranda’s work, he said, “His brush almost single-handedly put Goa on the world map.”
Goa Chitra museum curator Victor Hugo Gomes said the Padma Vibhushan award conferred on Miranda posthumously sounds like an insurance policy-money after death. “It is sad that the centre had to recognize Mario’s greatness when the state government refrained from providing state mourning to one of Goa’s greatest and most illustrious sons,” he said.
Gomes felt that the state government could repair the damage of a missed state honour at his funeral by naming one of the centers they have been restoring after Miranda. He mentioned the old secretariat or the old GMC building. In addition, he suggested that the government institute scholarships/awards for students of Goa Art College and have a series of annual lectures in Miranda’s memory.
Regarding prize money, if any, Gomes suggested that it be equally divided among the art and culture minister, director and the other MLAs so that they become sensitized towards art and culture, Gomes said. Regarding Pereira, Mauzo said, “The Padma Bhushan to Jose Pereira is a most deserving tribute to his multi-faceted personality. He was a musicologist, theologist and a polymath scholar who gave immense services to Konkani music, language and literature.” Phaldesai praised Pereira for his large body of work, which included dedicated research in Konkani. “People like Pereira make us realize how small we are. He learnt Sanskrit and Devanagri script and did research in Konkani and there are very few people like him,” he said.
Engineer and writer Jose Lourenco said the award to Pereira, which was long overdue, was on the merit of his great accomplishments in the fields of theology, art, architecture and music. ”His paintings and murals portrayed elements of Goan lifestyle. His contribution to Konkani is immense; he has written several books on Goan folksongs, including mandos, dulpods and bhaktigitam (devotional songs). As a historian, his research was passionate and very methodical. He was one of the greatest polymaths and I consider him the Leonardo di Vinci of Goa,” he said.