G.H.A.N.T.I

By Dr Oscar Rebello
16 March 2011 13:11 IST

Gaganappa Hassan Ali Nagarjuna Tennyson India  ( G.H.A.N.T.I for short ) is an old friend of mine.  Now, graying at the temples, he has been working is Goa, for years now making this little land his home, away from home, since the early 60’s.

His perception and critical analysis of Goa, her socio-political climate and her tortured history is something, I usually listen to with rapt attention.

As we sit down, at Clube Nacional,  over a glass of feni, these are the pearls of wisdom he proffers.

“Goa, is completely fed to the dogs, don’t you think ? Many people blame Goa’s disastrous woes on you, the “ outsider” the perennial “ Bhailo “, I said menacingly.

He smiled knowingly : No doc “ he said.  “ I share your sentiment, that the Goa we all know and love so much is being destroyed by powerful economic forces, both from within and from outside who care a fig for  Goa, her people, her beauty and her splendor as long  as their private profits are ensured “.

“Mmm“ I responded, “ but then despite democracy, despite a reasonably fair electoral process why can’t we tame and destroy these forces that are driving a dagger through our soul “?

“Simple “ he grinned cunningly . “ because you Goans have NEVER EVER been united throughout your brief history in your small land,” NEVER”!!!

“He then went on to elaborate,  dissecting our history.

1961: “Some called it “Liberation “ some still call it “ Invasion “, so, you guys still could not reconcile if you guys were free or enslaved.  Your first blow against unity”.

1966: “Opinion Poll. The overwhelming majority  opted to retain  Goa’s  separate  unique identity.  And some wanted out, to merge, it with Maharashtra . Look at it this way. Whatever the analysis of the historic opinion poll. One set of Goans won and one set lost.  Did you all as a community ever try to figure out why the almost entire Bahujan  Samaj want to merge with Maharashtra then ? Were their grievances suitably addressed ? or was the Jalyach Payge “  war  chant always  seen as an act of betrayal. The fault lines between communities continued through this period”.

 

1986: “The historic language agitation.  Again  a vicious battle of Goans V/S Goans.  Kokanni won, Marathi, sort of, lost.  But in a repeat of Goa’s divisive history one Goan won, the other lost.  In addition, Romi Konkani was given the short end of the stick.  Their grievances mounted.  The  faultlines now threatened to  be come an earthquake”. 

“Hence”  he patiently explained “ when the unprecedented economic boom of Manmohan Singh swept into Goa, where land, minerals, sand and other natural resources were all put up for auction and Goa’s future was on the chopping block,  your leaders, beneficiaries of your historic  divisions, sold you guys down the river, like disposable tampons”.

“And as this tsunami of destructive development is ready to swamp, you and drown you out of existence, you still can’t figure out if you should cry for help in Romi or Nagri Konkanni or Marathi or rush to a church or to a temple to seek divine succor”.

“ But the migrant influx in slums is choking us out of reckoning “ I protested strongly.

“ True doc” he countered.”  The slums are traditionally fixed vote banks with recurring  compounded interest to highest bidder”. But things are changing.  The youth in the slums unlike their parents are rebelling for being treated like toys without dignity.  And in any case, can the migrant vote ever match you, if you guys stay united?”.

“But where do your loyalties lie “ I asked this crackling, sharp G.H.A.N.T.I? “ Whose side are you on ?”

“Unfair question doc” he murmured. “Having lived off this land, my loyalties will always lie with Goa and all that you are fighting for.  But talk to us, engage us, win us over to your side.  We are tired of being pawns in the chess board of dirty politics. True, there are bogus voters amongst us, huge blocks of guys who sell their votes ( but then, so do Niz Goenkars ) hundreds of illegal squatters but crack down on them as per provisions of the law.  Don’t stuff us all in the same basket for God’s sake.

Having probed the deep, intelligent recesses of the mind of my friend, I was stupefied by his lucid   and  simple  analysis of Goa’s socio- political scenario.

I asked him “ So, do you think there’s a just and hopeful future for us in Goa?

With a large smile on his face as he downed his last drop of feni, he winked at me “yes “ he said “but only if you let go of the ghosts of the past  that are constantly shackling you”.

“ And if you realize that in this battle of yours, you must necessarily take everyone along on the ride – Hindu, Christian,  Muslims and the Bhailo. Democracy my friend gives  you  no other choice  after all !!!

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Dr Oscar Rebello

Dr Oscar Rebello is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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