Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pseudo fights, plain hallucination or colonial hangover?

I read with dismay , disgust and amusement the views expressed by a senior freedom fighter in a leading daily dated November 10, 2008. It amazes me how the sound of even the “P” of Portugal violently awakens some Goans from their otherwise succegaad slumber. The title of the article is completely misleading and an euphoria of hate is sought to be created out of nothing.

In the last 47 years after liberation,Goa has been facing a host of problems from the mushrooming of slums to the rise of concrete jungles. From regional plans to garbage problems. From political impropriety of musical chairs to foreign sponsored Goa property fairs. Russians buying land wholesale in Goa to foreign drug cartels flourishing in our backyards . Casinos slicing our rivers and hills torn apart for bungalows with a view. Lay people are made to fight their own battles against SEZ’s and government is sitting pretty after issuing licences. Yet one hears very little or no protests from some of our freedom fighters of yesteryears who do not comment leave alone question these issues. Such issues seem to be of no concern for them .While Goa is being continuosly hurtling towards a state where the Goan will be outnumbered soon, some of our freedom fighters are least concerned to voice their mere resentment. Their only concern till date seems to be about Goa’s freedom and despite liberation given to us by India, they still seem to have not got over their enthusiasm and their zeal for demanding freedom for free Goa.

It seems that some of our senior citizens are still fighting the Portuguese who left long ago. That fight, it seems, was and is, their only motivation for the benefit of Goa. The very mention of Portugal seems to send electric energy in some of them and all these other issues are seemingly miniscule to them compared to the threat they claim is posed by Portugal in this world in 2008. The other urgent issues of today can wait their attention. But the burning issue of Portugal is their torch. And they are worried that the flame is dying.They seem to think that they invented nationalism and love to associate “nationalism” with being “ anti-portuguese”. It is as if they have a patented right to speak about nationalism and how it should be practiced in today’s Goa.

The above writer scoffs at art and culture, dance and music, food and drinks and leisure is looked upon by him with contempt. Little does he know that the same art and culture is the hotbed of tourism for Goa? That the dance and music is something that draws the world’s tourist to Goa? That our blend of west and east in Goa is something that the tourist comes here for? That this advantage of Goa has beaten Kerala who despite having the better beaches and stunning backwaters has perennially failed to woo the tourists merely by geographical beauty? That the ambience of leisure in Goa is our strength in promoting tourism?

Why is this obsession against Portugal still so rampant in some senior citizens? Is this some kind of a colonial hangover that our senior citizens have failed to shrug off? Is this some kind of a toy they are playing for far too long? And are they feeling disgruntled that the rest of modern Goa is not playing to their gallery? Or is it a guilt of failure to achieve freedom on their own and not through the benevolence of the Indian army haunting them for unknown fulfillment?

It is disgraceful the way in which the writer seeks to accuse some Goans who he says take pride in linking themselves with Portugal. Is it a sin to link with Portugal? Is it forbidden by the constitution of India? Going by the writers views, no Indians today should probably link with England.. India was brutally ruled by the British for centuries. The Jallianwalla bagh massacre, among numerous barbaric times with the British are bitter moments against foreign rule for every Indian. India should be continuously at war with England given those bitter memories. Yet India and Indians moved ahead. The past wasn’t forgotten. Instead it is being given lesser importance in favour of a brighter future. Today India and Indians have a fabulous relationship with England. The English language has taken India to the world. Indians have been recognized as a outsourcing hub for BPO etc mainly due to our knowledge of English, an area where China is a distant second. We owe it to the British. Indians are members of parliament in England and Indian businessmen have flourished in England. India and England have grown together and memories of the colonial rule are relegated to only history books. Even the occasional bollywood anti-British movie fails to stir up any semblance of a hate campaign. The celebration of Independence day sees no contempt or anger spewed on England. Interestingly the queen of England still flaunts with the priceless Kohinoor snatched from India centuries ago. The Portuguese meanwhile had the courtesy to return the Goan gold taken by them back to Goans.

Back in Goa some of our freedom fighters sing a different tune. They wish to be at war with Portugal forever. Some of them will use any opportunity to spew venom. Portugal stings them like a bee. They are still fighting a battle.They still find Portugal a threat and they seem to dream about a usurpal of Goa as a reality. Is this hallucination at its best?

The writer mentions the bond between Goa and Portugal which he claims should be actually limited to strictly India and Portugal. This bond seems to give the writer sleepless nights and he seems to see that this relationship is on a weak foundation. The writer in his over enthusiasm to point out fallacies in the India-Portugal friendship , is willfully blind to understand the reason of the Goa-Portugal relationship . Portugal identifies with Goa. In India its culture is best showcased here. There can be a common sharing of views. The reciprocation is better. There is understanding of their language as well. And although Goa is a part of India it is common sense to associate with that part of India which a country can relate better with. It is convenience. Plain common sense.
And how does association with Goa change the scenario for India or Portugal? Portugal does have their embassy in New Delhi. Not in Goa. The consulate is just a facilitation office.How does such Goa-Portugal friendship pinch the writer? Is Goa an independent country? No. Does Goa issue visas for Portuguese citizens to visit the country? No. India does. So why should the writer feel threatened?

However since the writer is so bewildered at the Goa-Portugal friendship and finds it tough to digest it, he should also know that although we live in one India, Goa has separate laws governing our society. Some of these laws such as the common civil code are unique to Goa and Goa is the envy of India due to this law. Does that law make Goa a separate part of India? No. It is a fact of history which was inseparable even after liberation. And we have learnt to live with it.

The writer mentions about Portugal as a poor country and also wishes to feel threatened by Portugal . Can a country like India feel threatened by a poor country like Portugal? The writer tells the answer first and then poses the question. One wonders if the writer is posing a backward quiz.

In a desperate attempt to infuse life into his article, the writer mentions an incident which allegedly happened in the Portuguese consulate many years ago. Given his dislike for Portugal it is no wonder that he chose to observe every little move that happened. And much to his fortune as he claims there was no respect shown to the Indian national Anthem. Was the writer present at the function? If so why did the writer remain silent when the national anthem was disrespected? Why did he not register a vociferous protest and bring such disrespect to the notice of the Goans, the Portuguese and the country? Or was it a pseudo love for the national anthem only to be voiced backdoors and to be spoken of long after the incident is over, to score some brownie points? Whoever witnesses the abuse of the National anthem and remains silent should be ashamed and if unwilling of courage to counter the disrespect instantly, must learn to keep the silence forever for his own sake.

However it is ironical that there are people in our country who love to stand straight for the national anthem but who trample upon the constitution with regular impunity. They know that they need to be standing in rapt attention during the anthem playing but for the rest of their time they puncture and bleed the constitution and what the country holds dear. Our politicians are a fine example. What hypocrisy!

It is time that Goans wake up from pseudo fighters who rake up meaningless issues. They seem to be obsessed with spread of hatred . The latest target is the “semana de Cultura Portuguesa”. Such cultural exchanges should be encouraged all the more as they help us in numerous ways. Firstly we desperately need the knowledge of the Portuguese language.We have almost all our old property documents and other literature in civil records etc in the Portuguese language. Most of us do not know how to read them . Just like illiterates we need the help of translators who are declining like a rare species. How beneficial it would be if we all know the language? Our laws are lifted in many parts from the Portuguese law. How nice would it be if our lawyers, judges and common men know the language to understand these laws better?
Secondly, with such a platform, cuisine gets an exchange medium and Goa being a tourist place such exchange would only enrich our stature. Thirdly there is a mutual exchange on miscellaneous subjects such as dance forms, music etc etc which can only enrich our historical ambience and add to our knowledge.

Instead of influencing the public against Portugal, we should see what new challenges and dilemmas are posed on Goa. The world is changing. Nothing is constant. The Jews and the Germans were once sworn enemies. Now they share intelligence. The new enemies for the Jews are now the Arabs. All their intelligence is aimed to plan the fight against the Arabs. Not the Germans anymore. The US bombed Japan when it failed to mend its ways. Today Japan is not a threat to the US. Its an ally. North Korea is the new threat in that region.The USSR was enemy No 1 for the US. Today Russia is barely looked upon as a threat. The cold war is over. Instead the US has new enemies. New challenges. Islamic terrorism against US is the new threat. Vietnam is not an enemy of the US anymore. Venezuela is. They are focusing on the new threats. Not wasting their time and energies on old mannequins of history.

Our freedom fighters need to instill a fundamental change of mindset. They need to identify the new challenges facing Goa in modern times and voice their opposition to the decay of Goa. The new threats facing Goa are from many quarters. Foremostly from the Russians. This threat is for real. They got the money, the mafia, the drug cartel, the girls and now prime Goan property. A perfect recipe for Goa’s disaster. Half of Morjim belongs to them.And many other beachfronts in Goa too. Russian flags, Russian communist leaders’ statues, Russian language signs etc will greet you in morjim as all such merchandise is adorning the village. The locals are being outnumbered and outwitted. The money is too much for anybody to speak leave alone protest. If any Portuguese had to own half the property as these Russians own, there would have been a new satyagraha. New freedom fighters would emerge and the old ones would instigate them . But nobody has the courage or the mere will to question this proliferation of the Russians on Goan society. Instead some of our freedom fighters love to thrash out non- issues of their favourite whipping boy Portugal .
The Kashmiris are flooding the beach belts and their credentials are not even asked for leave alone checked. The Israelis, the Nigerians etc are forming alarming cartels which rule Goa in a geographical divide and any encroachment into each others domain is gang war. Are our freedom fighters even aware about this? Do they care? Instead of carrying the enormous burden of an alleged 45,000 Goans with Portuguese passports, our freedom fighters should be worried about the sword of democles hanging over our heads with thousands of Russian passport holders enjoying the sun sea and sand of Goa illegally and spreading poison among our youth at their whim and fancy.

Our senior leaders should have the wisdom to understand that Goans are seeking to work in Europe and improve their financial conditions by virtue of the opportunity of the Portuguese passport. Goa has the beauty, the charm and the nostalgia.The love for Goa can never die in the Goan. But it is in quest of a better living that Goans are using the opportunity . Such financial balance is not available in Goa. Instead of complaining about the goans who still have Indian passports our Freedom fighters should instead petition the government to allow special status for Goans and grant us dual Nationality by virtue of our historical unique transition.
The government of India has understood the dynamics of Goa being merged in India after liberation and there exist separate income tax laws for Goans since we have descended from a different law history.The common civil code is another example. The same is being continued. Surely the government would consider such a proposal because it would be in the interest of India as valuable foreign exchange would continuously flow. Also only true Goans would benefit the status. Not everybody who is residing in Goa. However the writer is more interested in toying with far-fetched hypothetical situations of a clash between India and Europe and has passed his own wishful judgement that Goans will be disloyal in case his dream comes true. What a waste of thought!

The writer is still living 50 years backwards in the pre-liberation era. Globalisation and liberalization is a reality that the writer mocks at. Internet, ecommerce, net banking, video conferencing etc must be a crackling joke to him. The writer instead prefers to stay in his shell and shout slogans and write anti-portuguese verbatim. Some like him are still expecting Portugal to usurp Goa once again. In fact it seems to be their wishful dream. And in pursuit of this hallucination they want all Goans to ride their bandwagon. However to the writer’s misfortune Goans know to think for themselves and cannot be fooled by such hate campaigns, hallucinations and false propaganda as such campaigns will take us nowhere.

Reminds me of the movie full of hallucinations called “Maine Gandhi ko nahin mara”.

Having said all of the above I would also like to take this opportunity to thank and salute every true freedom fighter who fought against the erstwhile Portuguese rule and never gave up untill India finally annexed Goa. However it is time to move on. Time to see freedom in a different light.

Will the real Goan freedom fighter please stand up? Will he show relevance to his fight for freedom in modern Goa? Or will he push himself for the pleasure and strange joy in re-living an old battle already won by India long ago?

Long live Goa . Long live India. Long live Portugal!

The BigGoan

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