Kunta Kinte Syndrome

By Ramakant Khalap
22 June 2010 20:39 IST

(An affliction of Goans symptomised by a desire to oppose all development)

Hark back to December, 1961. Christmas mood was in the air. New Year was just a few days away.  Goans spread in every nook and corner of the world were heading back to their nests in Goa.  The local Goans, usually susegad, were busy making preparations for the festive season and suddenly there were fireworks of another type. The Indian army and Navy had gathered in large numbers all around Goa. On the night of 18th December the Army rushed in and liberated Goa before the Portuguese and the Goans knew what was happening.  The Portuguese, after a long sojourn of more than 4½ centuries were packed away unceremoniously.  The guests invited by Timoj, a General of Vijaynagar Yadavas, to help him oust the Adilshah of Bijapur and to free Goa from his stranglehold, had overstayed and packing them away was the only way out.

It is since 50 years and the memories of the past refuse to fade away.  What was Goa then? And what is it today?  It used to be green and sylvan, calm and cool notwithstanding the sporadic uprisings of a few nationalists. It is now teeming with people. Streets are crowded. High rise buildings pierce the skyline. The State is running away at a tearing speed towards becoming a huge shantytown, perhaps towards a cauldron of every crime and every vice.  Language, dress, habits, ethos and that spirit of susegadness all of which count for Goan identity are all in a boiling pot of a cultural hotchpotch.  That is Goa in just about half a century.

Goans still keep coming to Goa for the sake of the good old days. But fenny and beaches or sorpotel and xacuti is not their only cause célèbre for coming to Goa. In any case all these can now be had anywhere in the world. Real estate has become a real hot commodity. Buyers from all parts of India and many parts of the world wish to own a part of the Goan Realty.

Many Goans find the offers irresistible and  come to sell their lands or to convert their agricultural  lands into commercial complexes.  They come, they gossip, they enjoy, they bargain for the best price for their verdant lands. In the end they shed a few tears for the bygone past ending with the phrase "Those firangs have gone, those breads are gone (Te Pakle gele, te unde gele)." So obviously why at all keep that God forsaken ancestral piece of land which returns no revenue and which is constantly under  threat of usurpation by village thugs, musclemen and not so friendly neighborhood real estate agents.

But there are others who genuinely rue for the loss of their paradise. There are also those who are  left with little or no land to convert into a concrete jungle and have time and means to look after themselves. It is their pastime to pontificate over the loss of Goa's landscape and its skyline.  They are the ones who gather themselves in groups of every kind and oppose every activity which in their opinion is a curse on their idea of a quite beautiful sylvan Goa. They rally behind real diehard activists and at times hijack the agitation.

This dichotomy is, in my opinion, an affliction which I would call "Kunta Kinte Syndrome".  It is an attempt to cling to the old roots while allowing branches and the stem to be cut and consigned to their own avarice and the avarice of their fellowmen. After all how many of us will really shun a good lucrative offer for a non yielding property!

Alex Haley's epic "Roots" describes the yearning of black American Africans to seek their roots in far away Africa. The Goans too are passing through the same sentimental journey though there is a fundamental difference between the African Americans and the Goans. The former were subjected to migration and slavery, the latter have opted for it.

One must go back to the days immediately after the liberation of Goa. Goans then were divided into two broad camps - one propounding merger and the other fighting for a separate status. Besides linguistic and cultural reasons for their respective political platforms, the two camps had also devised their own economic theories. The mergerists were pretty confident that Goa would never be an economically viable entity. The non mergerists had great confidence in Goa's potential as a tourist destination. The annals of the Legislative Assembly of Goa, Daman and Diu as it then was, are replete with records of lengthy discussions on this issue. Dr Jack de Sequeira, a stalwart among the non mergerists would ceaselessly talk about how a Rupee earned out of tourism would multiply ten times as it circulated from  one service provider to another. He was not wrong. What he did not foresee perhaps was the mad rush of tourists that would descend upon Goa followed by all shades of service providers - realtors, pimps, whores and gamblers included. He had not imagined that the new Goan would shun all types of hard labor, ignore agriculture and the love of lucre would one day make him sell not only his land but his soul as well. Only those whose conscience is still intact are still clinging to their lands. They are however fighting a lost battle.

And suppose Goa was given a chance to choose between an independent country status and becoming a part of the Indian Union? My friend Mario Cabral e Sa, the famed columnist would have us believe that   Goans might  have opted to be an independent Country if Nehru had not changed his mind and succumbed to the pressures of Krishna Menon, his Defence Minister. Late Purushottam Kakodkar, I believe, was a votary of this concept and had almost persuaded Nehru to accept it. Apart from strong anti nationalist activities such nonsense would have spawned, it would have taken Goa on the route to becoming an international tax haven and a refuge for every scoundrel of the world. Goa's "asmita" the so called unique identity which is already sullied under the present disposition, would have permanently vanished had this obnoxious dream of a few ripened into reality.

Economic indicators of Goa from 1961 to 2011 do indeed paint a bright picture. We have achieved high per capita income status from measly Rs.3000/- per annum In 1961 to more than Rs.1,00,000/- per annum in 2009 at constant prices. Our secondary and tertiary sector growth is phenomenal. More than half of our people now live in urban areas. Healthcare is one of the best. All types of educational facilities are available. Entertainment facilities are galore. Every household boasts of one or two family members employed in Government or private sector. Almost none is below poverty line. Yet, more than a hundred thousand get a monthly pension of Rs 1000. There are umpteen numbers of schemes, which dole out cash as grant or subsidy.

Everyone is thus content and happy. Nostalgia then becomes a pastime. While enjoying his sonorous siesta, the Goenkar  becomes aware of the vanishing countryside, swaying paddy fields, lush green hillsides and meandering streams and village pathways eulogized in prose and poetry, films and dramas. The babble of myriad tongues of the immigrants irritates him. He is overtaken by a sudden complex of a strange nature. He remembers that he had fought for "Amchem Goem - our own Goa". He had never wanted the "ghantis" and the" Bhaille". Yet they seem to be crawling all over him and about him. But the Goan also knows that he cannot just wish them away. Without them he will not get his daily bread, fish, fruits and vegetables. There would be no housemaid, ayah, driver, mason, plumber, electrician, gardener, in fact nobody, because every Goan has reached the fidalgo status and would not like to soil his hands and clothes by performing such menial jobs. He is helpless. He feels frustrated because his dreamland seems to have vanished. He now wants to cling to the few remaining vestiges of his old beloved Goa. He therefore joins the charade against new projects, provided he has no land of his own available for development.

True blooded Goan however wishes the agitator all success. Goa has drifted towards an abyss of unregulated development. It is not possible to go back to the old days. However, it is possible to stem the rot.

A clear roadmap for a sustainable development can still be drawn.  A beginning has been made by constituting a Golden Jubilee Council for development under the Chairmanship of Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar. There is still hope for salvaging Goa. Till then, long live Kunta Kinte.

Blogger's Profile

Ramakant Khalap

Adv Ramakant Khalap is former Chairman of the Goa State Law Commission. Being a veteran politician of Goa, he has served the political arena as the union law minister as well as Goa’s deputy chief minister and the opposition leader in the past. He also takes keen interest in literature and cultural activities while heading several institutions, especially in the field of Marathi literature.

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Mr Kalaph

You have said:

"it would have taken Goa on the route to becoming an international tax haven and a refuge for every scoundrel of the world."

Well your legislative assembly is full of them already. There are smugllers , drug pedlars, rapists among the forty !

- aires Cabral, Melbourne | 31 st July 2010 11:52

 

Mr Khalap, you have very nice writing skills! You can put down your thoughts in a very cogent and polished language! I wish you continue doing this for many many more years to come!

There are many reasons for the present situation in which we find ourselves today!

The per capita income of Goans has gone up many folds due to many factors. Some of which are, the abnormally high number of Govt. servants for such a small area, thousands of crores of foreign exchange regularly repatriated by the Goans who are working in foreign countries, thousands of foreign tourists who visit this place regularly and spend their dollars, the mining menace which on one side is destroying Goa but at the same time bringing in lot of money in the small State, the booming real estate and building industry which brings in thousands of crores , etc, etc etc. !

When the local people prefer going out of the country and working for higher rewards, it is obvious that the void so created would attract labour from other States and the crimes associated with it.

The spending of the Govt has also increased multifold. Some of it is through the revenue earned but other is by borrowing loans and if I am not wrong the per capita debt burden on every Goan is around 50 thousand rupees, which is quite heavy by any standards. We should not forget that this is the liability on the future generation created by us!

It is unfortunate that Goa is being marketed all over the Globe with the people connected with real estate and building industry reaping the fruits! It is unfortunate that the prices of a flat here are more than that in a developed city like Poona, resulting in a situation where owning one's own small dwelling has gone out of the reach of a local person!

Any new project is welcome when it generates employment to the local unemployed and doesnot create environmental hazards! But the sorry state of affairs is that in most of the projects coming up, the local unemployed youth never joins at the salaries offered and the vacancies get filled up by the cheap labour from the other parts of the country! Even in m ining industry, one can find that most of the drivers and earth moving machinery operators are from outside as they are willing to work on low wages and the local youth prefer to go out of the country in quest for greener pastures!

It is surprising reality that even in Hotel industry many of the room boys, cooks, attendants etc. are all from outside the State!

Under this condition how wise is it for going on for big projects attracting skilled and unskilled labour from outside? Will it not create many other complex problems and demographical imbalances where one day the locals will feel aliens? Will all this heavy influx not increase the crime rates, murders, rapes,drug trade, gambling, liquor dens, etc in this peace loving State?

The dream of every Goan is to see his Goa where there is peace and tranquility, where there is communal harmony, where there is natural beauty and there is no environmental degradation due to activities like mining, where the drug peddling and drug trade has not spoiled their younger generation, where the temples and the churches both enjoy a peaceful co-existence- as was during the last few hundred years-, where the younger generation has not fallen prey to vices like casinos, liquor, prostitution, where the roads are good, where the beaches are clean, where there is no litter and heaps of garbage everywhere, where there is communal harmony and no fights with swords, where there is no debt burden on the future generations, where there is clean water to drink and clean air to breathe!

Mr. Khalap, and at last where the justice is quick and it does not take decades to get the judgement with crores of cases already pending all over the Courts for years!

- Vishwas Prabhudesai, Loliem | 23 rd June 2010 17:31

 

Mr Khalap, Let us be more respectful while writing about others especially about those who live no more to defend themselves.

Mr Kakodkar was a well known freedom fighter of the soil having served his motherland even going to prison for a long time. Stating a sentence with "I belive" instead of citing a reference is cowardly. Does not go well with your image.

- Anand Pandit, Pednem | 23 rd June 2010 16:15

 

An eye opener for Goans but might be its too late ...non goans now are the cluster of Goans without which we cannot put a step frward and thats the reality...by the way what is International tax heaven?

- Nilesh Shetgaonkar, Morjim | 23 rd June 2010 14:04

 

Adv. Khalap you are right and the truth is all those green fields, the flora and fauna is now covered up by concrete structures and tar roads. There is no way for the soil to digest the rain water but all is carried away to the sewages or gutters to the seas. There is no hope to salvage Goa when the Goan savages itself destroy their own motherland for the morsel of greed and selfishness. The Advocates and lawyers who should be at the altar of the judicial pontificate to take care of their motherland from destruction are the first to fight cases to destroy the wealth of Goa.

- Emediavoices, Goa | 23 rd June 2010 09:51

 

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