Saturday, 20 June 2009

Goa’s Freedom Fighters Priorities

The only major press coverages, I ever read about Goa’s Freedom Fighters is on opposing anything & everything Portuguese. This letter is not to support the former Portuguese rule or belittle any true sacrifices by Genuine Freedom Fighters. My point is that if at all, Goa’s Freedom Fighters want to act/speak for Goa’s interests, they must address the critical/ current issues of today, that are destroying Goa & Its identity, i.e.
(1) Scarce land sales to Non-Goans gradually putting Goa, in hands of Non-Goans.
(2) Uncontrolled migrant influx & vote-banks, which can result in Goans having no political say, in the affairs of Goa.
(3) Mega-Projects that are not only creating un-necessary employment for migrants but also bring in majority non-goan residents; to the detriment of Goa’s environment & demography.
(4) Large scale corruption which is gradually destroying Goa
(5) Governments faulty employment/industrial policies favouring non-goans and facilitating Goans to leave Goa in hordes, due to lack of opportunities at home.
(6) Intimidation/Threatening/Oppression of activists fighting to save Goa & its identity; in actual fact, have we actually replaced one group of oppressors by another i.e. Portugeese oppressors by now Indian/Goan oppressors?
(7) Exploitation of Goa by the privileged few; including Politicians, Mining/Builders Lobbies etc to realize huge illegitimate profits; at the cost of destroying Goa & its Identity!!

Unique Goa should have got safeguards in 1961 to protect its identity i.e. when Goa joined the Indian Union, via military action. With all due respect, Goa’s Freedom Fighters could have helped Goa get these safeguards, as then not only did Goans know of the special constitutional exceptions, for some other states e.g. Kashmir’s, but also had many other key factors in Goa’s favour. I understand that we can’t change the past, but surely the Freedom Fighters still have the power to influence Goa’s Future threatened by today’s issues, rather than dwell on past glories!!

Arwin Mesquita, UAE.


Mike Sequeira said...

Arwin..your posts are interesting..unfortunately we lost our "Goan-ness" a long, long time ago. This demise started when many Goons left Goa to seek better opportunities elsewhere. They included migrants who gave their kids Hindu names (retaining their surnames when it was convenient) and left for better pastures in Bombay, Calcutta and other locales. They included those - like my father - who sought better opportunities in Africa. These expats only connection to Goa was the continued use of Konkani(mostly spoken at home), the carrying of some religious, social and culinary traditions and the vacations back in Goa when they happened. Their place back home was taken up be the influx of Indians from neighboring States post-"liberation".

As you point out, indigenous Goans are just 40% of the population now. How do we reverse this trend? The reality is that the Goan Diaspora is not about to pack up their bags and come home. In the same token, their soapbox can't be visible and effective from merely being offshore. The fact is that the demography of Goa has evolved very naturally and as much as you and I regret it, this path is here to stay and get wider.

Many many years ago(1971) I asked the then Lt. Gov of Goa - I was a visiting reporter/writer then - if all we merely did was replaced one set of occupiers with another. His reply was "time will tell". My question to him related to the sudden and overnight decree that everything Portuguese in Goa must be changed to Indian. If my memory serves me correctly Rua Vasco da Gama was changed to include Mahatma Gandhi. With no disrespect mean to the latter, I pointed out that 450 years of Portuguese influence could hardly be wiped away instantly with a repainting of the street signs. At the time we were sitting in the Governor's palace which was renamed Cabo Raj Niwas. When I asked the Lt. Gov. what was the relevance of the name to Goa, he didn't know.

Goans had a unique identity that combined the essences of a long history of peoples that occupied the land(many hundreds of years before the Portuguese arrived) along with the more recent history of a colonial past. Unfortunately this got politicized and might even have had a religious bent to it. Regrettably we lost the best of all those worlds in our search for the better pasture and now all we have are snippets of a more recent past.

The next generations of the Diaspora will lose even more of the connect over time, while the people who stay and continue to make Goa their home will evolve into a "Goanness" that will be quite different from the uniqueness of the pre 1961 Goa sans the Portuguese rulers.

As the expression goes: "This too is the reality!"

Mike Sequeira

sidney said...

very interesting letter there mike too.i think it would have been better if we were under portuguese rule.what has the invasion done for goans?i wonder..i have settled in portugal not for economic reasons but cause i think i am a portuguese goan.the freedom fighters i think the ones who wanted autonomy for goa were the real ones.those who wanted a merger with india were not real.after the invasion many goan police and military people were detained for what?opposing indian military invasion?that was what they were supposed to do.very good that you questioned the lt gov in 1971 abt the name issue.forgive my english it was not my first language .i was brought up speking portuguese. kind reagds joaquim luis