Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Goa’s liberation and special status ref http://www.epaperoheraldo.in/Details.aspx?id=8154&boxid=33840515&uid&dat=12%2f5%2f2012 Goa’s liberation and special status Lawrence Fernandes Recently there have been wide ranging talks, discussions and debates on Goa’s past and future. Most Goans will remember very well the sequence of events that occurred in Goa on the two fateful days of December 18- 19, 1961. In fact, the reason for writing this article is to enlighten the generations of Goans who were born after 1961, as I don’t think they ever learnt this in Goan history books. India’s armed forces took control of Goa by force much against the wishes of the United Nations Organisation ( UNO). The USA’s official reaction to the invasion of Goa was delivered by Adlai Stevenson in the UN Security Council, where he condemned the armed action of the Indian government and demanded that, “ all Indian forces be unconditionally withdrawn from Goan soil.” To express its displeasure with the Indian action in Goa, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee even attempted, over the objections of then President John F. Kennedy, to cut the 1962 foreign aid appropriation to India by 25 per cent. Kennedy even went to the extent of telling the Indian Ambassador to the US, “ You spend the last 15 years preaching morality to us, and then you go ahead and act the way any normal country would behave…. People are saying the preacher has been caught coming out of the brothel.” That was not all. In an article titled India, the Aggressor, The New York Times in its edition on December 19, 1961, stated that “ With his invasion of Goa, Prime Minister Nehru has done irreparable damage to India’s good name and to the principles of international morality.” Many things happened thereafter. When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was attacked by sensible nations on all sides, as some consolation, he promised that Goa would retain its “ distinct identity” and that the people of Goa would be consulted on any decision about their territory and future. Again, in 1963, he promised that Goa would remain a Union Territory for ten years after which the future of Goa would be decided in “ accordance with the wishes of the people of Goa.” However, MGP was unwilling to wait for that long hence the Opinion Poll was held on January 16, 1967. The reason for the MGP being so keen on merging Goa into Maharashtra was not very clear but one of the reasons they cited was the language~ that Konkani is a “ dialect” of Marathi and the most people spoke it! Maharashtra is now trying to pull Belgaum into its net on same grounds. The MGP further lost its cause when in 1975 the Sahitya Akademi recognized Konkani as an independent language and in 1992 Konkani was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. We do hope that the Nehru- Gandhi dynasty will remember the promises made by its patriarch, and that very soon Goa will at least get Special Status if not autonomy, so that Nehru’s soul will rest in eternal peace. Goans need this primarily to: a) to safeguard their interests, customary law and procedure, its language, culture and ethos, b) ownership and transfer of land and exploitation of the resources and the preservation of its natural and architectural heritage, c) protection of age- old traditional institutions such as Gaunkaris ( Comunidades and their assets) d) protection of the original SCs, STs, gauddes and dhangars belonging to the State.