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)

No comments: