Thursday, 26 February 2009

Non Resident Goans - PEN revolution

There is a famous saying “The Pen is mightier than the sword”. Non Resident Goans (NRG’s) like Rajan Parrikar, Freddy Fernandes, Mario Rodrigues, Rick Fernandes & others, write frequently to the Goan Newspapers, on saving Goa & its identity. However, time is running out and we need more impact; More NRG’s must, at least write frequently, to the local Goan media.
Many NRG’s are skeptical that letters have any impact, so let me argue the
(1) Many activists have told me that NRG letters not shape public opinion but also inspire these activists to carry on their fight for Goa, against the more powerful & well financed destructive lobbies, backed by a corrupt government. These activists at least need our moral support; which I must say, does work wonders!!
(2) Vested Interests spread false propaganda. The key to Saving Goa is mobilizing Goans via awareness. As more people write on facts & solutions, Goans will be better informed & more confident, to go for the Change!!
(3) Regular writing will undoubtedly fuel a VERY STRONG UNSTOPPABLE MOMENTUM
amongst Goans, to rise & speak/act.
(4) Surely lack of interest from Goans (particularly NRG’s) can de-motivate Activists in Goa.
(5) Minimum 30% of Goans are outside Goa, exposed to various new ideas & best practices around the Globe; can’t we contribute something back to Goa?
(6) Writing could be your first step to getting involved with the Goan cause; rather than doing absolutely nothing
(7) I firmly believe in the famous saying "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing - EDMUNDE BURKE".

Many Goans are quite successful overseas; please “NEVER FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM”; you now have a Golden Opportunity in your one lifetime, to give back & help your people/home, when they need you the most!! The choice is yours; allow Goa that you know to die or do something to save it!! I believe that with increasing number of Goans joining the effort, the hope of saving Goa & its identity will only increase!!

Arwin Mesquita (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Goan Catholic Casualty

During my schooling years in Kuwait, I was overwhelmed by the Goan Community or shall I say the Goan Catholic Community via the various functions, tiatrs etc. I perceived Goa’s Identity as Catholic, but to my gradual realization, Goan Identity was actually, an amazing cohesion of the Goan Hindu, Catholic & Muslim entities. I think many Goan Catholics don’t appreciate that the fact, that Hinduism in particular, has a significant positive foundation/influence on the Catholic community and both these dominant religions together, have shaped Goa’s Very Unique Identity; making us different, from other Indian & Global communities. I think with respect to Goan Identity, both Goa’s predominant religions, can’t do without the other. But then, we see divisions amongst these religious communities, to the effect that most of Goa’s critical identity issues are not addressed, to the benefit of corrupt politicians & non-goans who (with respect) are taking increasing control of Goa and making us irrelevant in our own land i.e. the disunity/suspicion amongst the religious groups are pushing Goans towards extinction. For instance, despite the fact that a significant amount of Goans relate to Roman Konkani, this script is being opposed; do Goans prefer to promote Konkani or to see non-Goan languages i.e. Kannada, Malayalam, Urdu etc getting increasing prominence via the back door i.e. uncontrolled migration, migrant vote banks & other factors. Let’s understand that Konkani (Devanagiri & Roman) will be irrelevant, if Goans become a minority in Goa.

I will address issues in my Catholic community. “Goan Catholics must realize that the first clear casualty of Goan Identity will be Catholics themselves” and surely in the long run, it will be all Goans, including the Hindus & Muslims. We Catholics, will have only ourselves to blame and in my view, are significantly responsible for Goa’s deteriorating identity, via the following facts: (A) Short term Gains in land sales to outsiders; many times unnecessary, (B) Konkani shunned by the so called educated/elite class, (C) USA, UK, CANADA, AUSTRALIA etc appears to a give a imaginary boost to the self-esteem of many Catholic Goans; many of those who emigrated then come to “Hopeless Goa” looking for prospective Grooms/Brides for themselves or their siblings (D) Most Goan emigrants give various excuses i.e. better life, education for kids etc; It is the permanent overseas residence (not temporary) that I am referring to. I appreciate that there are economic reasons for emigration, but let me pose the following questions (1) Do we really lack a long term vision, to see that the economic power is shifting east and so, do Goans really need to go west today? (2) Why can’t well off Non Resident Goans, use their resources to improve Goa and realize the very better standards that they use as an excuse to emigrate? (3) What about true value of material gains vs. the actual social/value losses? (4) Yes, there are reasons for specific emigration but then, can’t they give back anything to Goa or have they abandoned the land of their ancestors? (5) Don’t we appreciate that all developed countries were actually backward but the residents there “made it happen”; and now with respect, many Goans (particularly in the Gulf) are migrating to those countries, instead of trying to develop their home to the desired standards; I think that together, we can make Goa a world class state. It easy to run away from problem’s & emigrate; but is this right in the long run? The Goan Diaspora has the world’s best practices but only a few have/are giving back to Goa. I believe that most issues causing Goans to emigrate can be resolved, some immediately, some in a reasonable timeframe and some a bit more time. The Goan Diaspora can play a key role in the latter with their Global Skills/Strengths; but will they?

There are many cultural events & conventions in Canada, Australia, UK, USA etc surely all these, will not be relevant, if Goan identity is extinguished in Goa. Sometimes, I think that with the exception of the very few, most of these events are just socializing opportunities for the Goan Diaspora and there is actually no serious will, to do anything for Goa. I read somewhere that Mississauga Canada had the largest concentration of Goans outside Goa; the Goan source appeared to be very proud of the same, to which I can sadly say that with the current high rate of permanent Goan migration from Goa, Mississauga could have the largest Goan Population in the world and that identity too will gradually wither away, with no distinct Goan majority homeland, in the near future.

In Politics, we Catholics are slaves to deceitful “Secular Parties” and vote for “Catholics” irrespective of how much his/her image is tarnished? Many of our Catholic religious leaders blindly call to vote “Secular Parties”; are they really secular or are they “wolves in sheep’s clothing” under the deceitful garb of secularism? How different are these parties vs. the labeled communal parties. I think parties like the Congress-NCP are doing more damage & destruction to Goa than say the BJP i.e. (1) Migrant Vote banks that changing demographics, creating social imbalance/problems & Manipulating Democracy, (2) Water Contamination, (3) Illegal conversion of Agricultural land, (4) Facilitating large scale land sales to wealthy non-goans (5) Un-necessary mega-projects destroying fragile environment/ecology and again changing demographics (6) Coercion/strong arm tactics/false police cases to subdue genuine activists fighting for Goa (7) Deliberately flawed employment policy, for illegitimate monetary gains from outsiders, which works against Goan employment and forces Goans to leave Goa etc. I am not lobbying for any particular party but ask Catholics to vote for the right candidate for Goa. If we really want to back “secular parties” then let’s DEMAND that they put up good & Untarnished candidates? Else let’s put up peoples candidates via the Gram Sabhas? It is high time, we Catholics take a long hard look at ourselves & realise how our actions/non-actions are destroying Goa & its Identity. Let’s change our mindset else we probably will deserve, what is to become of us!!

Lastly, there are so many Goan Non-Catholics, who are also very keen to save Goa & its Identity; so let’s work together towards the common goal. Pessimists will say all that can’t be done or how nothing will change. IF we want to truly realize the Goa that we want, then FIRST let’s change this negative mentality & adopt a “CAN DO” attitude”. Quoting Henry Ford “if you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, either way you're right”

Arwin Mesquita (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Saving Goa’s Prized Identity will be a lesson to world

GOA, one of India’s most beautiful states is a major tourist attraction due to its natural beauty, beaches & most importantly its prized identity; a blend of east & west. Goan Identity today has the best of both worlds’ i.e. strong values/links from the Indian Subcontinent, coupled with a distinct western flair. My plea to the Indian/Goa Government is to preserve our precious jewel, because the way things are going, Goa’s Identity will be soon eliminated and will be clear case of “killing the goose that lays the golden egg”

Recent ratings by some national bodies stating Goa as one of the India’s best states, is surprising!! Actually, Goa is India’s most corrupt states. National & Local politicians loot Goa at will i.e. rampant illegal conversion of Agricultural land to satisfy greed for huge apartment complexes, mostly for non-locals and passed even after violating laws; merciless hill cutting; destruction of forests; illegal mining; displacement of locals; pollution of fields; water contamination; destruction of sand dunes on beaches; major Coastal violations by wealthy builders; Malaria; Major Garbage issue; Scarce Water/Electricity etc. Social activists fight a difficult battle against so many illegalities & are intimidated by false police cases filed under political pressures, constant delaying tactics by Quasi-Judicial Government bodies which are influenced by Corrupt Politicians, wealthy mining & building lobbies etc. Also, the Complex Judiciary system & its timeframes are not helping Goa. Builders hold impressive real estate exhibitions in other Indian States & Overseas; Prospective buyers must understand that they are actually helping destructive elements destroy our beautiful state!! Most politicians are only interested in amassing as much wealth as possible, to secure their political future at the cost of Goa and are now making Goa’s Politics, a “family business”. The Government under pressure, is contemplating ban on agricultural land sales to outsiders; which is an eyewash, as not only agricultural land is and can be illegally converted, but also the critical issue of preserving scarce land for Goans is not met!!
The rapid rate of land sales to Wealthy Non-Goans will soon mean that many Goan future generations will not be able to get land for themselves; leave alone afford it!! Goa’s 1961 liberation is now being questioned, as whether it was liberation of Goa from the Portugeese or from the Goans. Yes, Goans are Indians but surely India is not one but a rich mosaic of so many cultures & identities, and Goans want to preserve their part of the mosaic. India is a great country based on UNITY IN DIVERSITY; as also highlighted in our National Anthem; that’s why (1) There are many states (2) Hindi is official but each state has its local language (3) Each state has its own distinct culture & identity. We need an urgent peaceful dialogue to save Goa’s identity & culture, which is being eroded today: The Goa Government is reluctant in formulating a policy, to ensure right employment opportunities for Goans vs. the educational output and hence many Goans migrate from Goa; Huge Mega Apartment Complexes coming up change local demographics, destroying landscapes & pollute the environment; Migrants Vote-Banks are encouraged by politicians and in many constituencies, democracy is clearly manipulated; Voter cards are given to migrants without nullifying their voting rights in their home states & worse, false details are put on their voter cards e.g. House No. etc.
Critics say that Identity Erosion is the result of Globalisation; to which I ask (A) Do we follow the herd mentality or we adopt a think global act local approach (B) Aren’t countries at the forefront of Globalisation enacting measures to protect local identities e.g. Western Countries continuously improvising already strict immigration norms, mandatory knowledge of local language, history, identity & culture. In India, most states can maintain their unique identities because of their big size & population. Each state has limits to sale of land sales & intake of migrants (today minimum 40% of Goa’s population). Unlike other states, Small Goa has way crossed the tolerance limits & now needs safeguards. Critics conveniently use the Indian Constitution excuse to subdue Goa’s genuine concerns; of course most of them i.e. Politicians, Builders, Bureaucrats & Wealthy Outsiders make huge monetary gains on the destruction of Goan Identity. Charity begins at home i.e. by preserving & having a world class state with a unique identity; Goans can be even better Indians. Critics also use the Capitalistic excuse to justify land sales to the highest bidders (mostly from outside Goa) but ignore the fact that Capitalism can’t take precedence over the society’s overall interests. For instance, aren’t there Government controls on basic food essentials; what if these were at the mercy of capitalism? Goans have the right of priority to live in decent clean, disease free environment with stable infrastructure, reduced contamination levels, sense of identity, maintaining livelihoods etc. Current land sales rate will make Goans irrelevant & no community will accept the same for themselves. Many with illegitimate wealth, invest in Goa’s Properties; should Goans suffer because they generally don’t have this illegitimate wealth?
Goa’s officially spoken language i.e. Konkani is gradually being by replaced by other Languages. Those quoting the Indian Constitution must appreciate key facts i.e. (1) India annexed Goa much later on a military action and as such Goa was not actually part of the constituent assembly, that framed the Constitution, (2) Goans were never given a say in the future of their state and (3) There are provisions in the Constitution i.e. Article 19(d) put in by India’s visionary founding fathers, to protect local state identities. I believe Goans, as all other Indians have a right to protect their respective local identities, culture & language. I think there the world is a very interesting place with so many cultures/identities. Why for example are many fascinated with Rome & Paris? Identity forms the Value Systems of individuals/communities. Do we prefer being “something to everybody” or “nothing to nobody”? Like Goan Identity, many identities across the world are at risk; should India succeed in safeguarding Goa & its identity, it could be a lesson to other threatened identities in India & the World. Goans are peace loving people who are proud of beings Indians but whilst preserving their identity. We are not against anyone & respect all, but at the same time request Non-Goans to respect our genuine right to Identity. I would like to end with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi “I will open the doors and windows of my house and allow the winds of different parts of the world to flow through it. But I will not be swept off my feet” Kindly spread this article as far & wide as you can