The Margao-Salcete disconnect

By Sandesh Prabhudesai
14 July 2010 23:20 IST

My last blog "Independent members of Congress family" recieved diverse reactions from various corners. One was from our own fraternity, from a senior retired journalist from South Goa. He said: The reason for degeneration of political scene was the GOA-N mentality. Being ‘small' is the root cause of it.

Obviously, he was hinting at Goa's merger with Maharashtra, which did not happen. Naturally, I countered it. "Sir, more degenerated are biggest states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Why is it so?"

He had his own justifications for the bigger states. But, in a way, he was right when he said there is explosion of power centres in Goa. 40 MLAs, 13 ministers, 40 Zilla Panchayat members, 186 panchayats for a STATE, which is smaller than Maharashtra's smallest district - Sindhudurg.

He was also right when he said the whole society has become corrupt, but we only blame the rulers for it. Corruption is not the issue any more in Goa. Degeneration is the issue. It could be arrested to certain extent, if Goa was ‘big'.

I differed with him. Even if Benaulim, Navelim and Velim are combined as one constituency, Alemaos or Pachecos would get elected. And even the whole Sattari and Bicholim taluka with five constituencies is converted into one or the whole Tiswadi is made into one, very difficult to defeat Vishwajeets and Mosnerattes. Why?

I went on quizzing...

And, during this period, one tiatrist politician from Salcete came to our Prudent office. I was discussing with him the possibilities in Benaulim. Mickky, Valanka or Dr Hubert?

"Dr Hubert cooks on a gas burner, not our traditional ‘randon," he said sarcastically, pointing out at his elite status.

But why not Valanka? She is intelligent, I argued.

"That's the main problem", he quipped, "our people don't like intelligent people."

We laughed. But it also made me think. What kind of political leaders Saxttikar like the most? Corrupt? Scammers? Smugglers? Goondas? Criminals? For that matter, this is common throughout Goa today. Money speaks; the character simply does not matter. From where the money comes also does not matter.

But Salcete matters  the most. Because this one taluka elects eight MLAs. One fifth of the strength of the state Assembly. And the rest four fifth is divided into 10 talukas. Secondly, almost half of our cabinet with six ministers (one just resigned) comes from this one taluka. They decide how Goa should and would run. Thirdly, Salcete is a step ahead of all other talukas, when it comes to throwing ethics and morality in politics to winds.

Do ethics and morality simply not matter to the Saxttikar voters?

I simply cannot understand the psyche of Saxttikar. The more I think, more and more questions chew my mind, with hardly any convincing answer to it. I also cannot understand why this psyche is exactly opposite to the psyche of Margao, the cultural capital of Goa and the taluka town of Salcete.

Margao, historically, is just not a cultural town. It's a cultured town. It has a great ideological history and tradition. This town has created many cultured legends for Goa, and even for India. It is this town that ignited Goa's liberation movement with Ram Manohar Lohia's civil disobedience protest in 1946. It is this town that laid down the roots of Opinion Poll in 1966, to retain Goa's own identity. It is this town that started a historical students' movement of Goa in 1976, which became a militant and vibrant student movement in ‘80s. It is this town that mobilised ‘real force' to make Konkani our official language and Goa a State.

It all happened in Margao. But its ideological ripples were felt down South, till Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona.  They got inspired, they got organised and they even got themselves streamlined to build a cultured Goa, on a strong ideological footing.

Many social activists, writers, artists, intellectuals and even politicians sprung up through these ripples. They are seen today in various fields, may it be education, law, health, literature, culture, journalism etc etc. Some are visible while many more are working silently, but sincerely and dedicatedly.

But why these strong ideological movements did not stir up the whole Salcete? Why wasn't there an ideological explosion of intellect, ethics, morality and sincerity at mass level in Salcete?

It does not mean that the villages of Salcete did not create legends at all. In fact, they did, than any other taluka.

The Salcete created a Parliamentarian and ideologue like Dr Francisco Luis Gomes in the 19th century. The Salcete created political ideologue of international repute like Dr Tristao Braganza Cunha, a vibrant journalist like Luis de Menezes Braganza, the founder of O Heraldo in 1900, great Buddhist and scholar of Sanskrit and Pali languages Dharmanand Kosambi and his equally great historian and scientist son Dr D D Kosambi, a dedicated priest  like Fr Antonio Pereira and many more. Even today, many living legends represent several villages of Salcete.

In spite of this, why the villages in Salcete could not pick up these cords? Why the alienation between the legends and the masses is so visible in Salcete?

I was born and brought up in Canacona. Me, and thousands like me, are products of the freedom movement of our border taluka, the committed educational movement of our villages, the divine environment of moralistic values, with living examples, that we experienced in the society around us and equally a great impact of the ideological base created for us by one town - Margao.

In our villages, a school is just not a place of education. It's an institution in itself. A literary forum, a cultural platform, a sports stadium, a reading library, a debating hangout... an exposure to everything that a human beings needs for his or her ideological upbringing and cultural shape-up.

And, mind you, the religion did not matter here. It was a case with Hindus and even the Christians. Even in Margao, we were inspired by ideologues and intellectuals belonging to all the religions. And even when I speak of Salcete, I am definitely not speaking of Christian Salcete alone. The Saxttikar belonging to all the religions. So, if somebody argues that it is a Hindu-Christian divide, they are WRONG.

But still Margao is different. It has many reputed schools. It has reputed institutions. It is a centre for literary activities and even big conferences. It has many libraries and book shops. Lectures of national and international personalities are organised in this town, in all the languages. It has many theatre halls to present tiatr, drama and musical concerts. It has movie halls and even film societies. It has biggest sports stadiums of the state. It has several institutions teaching music and dance.

It has practically everything to make a human being a cultured person. In fact, due to this, many families from neighbouring talukas of Ponda, Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona are shifting to Margao in a big way. The housing problem in Salcete has exploded also due to this inner migration.

Traditionally, Margao has always been a multipurpose centre for all the Saxttikar, just not a commercial city for marketing. It's a first choice for schooling for each and every Saxttikar. The higher education, obviously, has always been in Margao. In fact, they are the privileged ones who could enjoy the cultured tradition of Margao and go back to eat and sleep at home. We had to come and settle down in Margao to enjoy these privileges.

In spite of this, why did Margao culture not percolate down to the villages of Salcete in a visible manner? Why majority of Saxttikar cannot elect their political leaders, based on ideological and ethical footing? Is the perspective missing; or the ethical values?

I have been to all parts of Goa and lived in many villages, during my days of student movement. Among all, I simply LOVE Saxttikar. They are sensitive, frank and open-minded. They are equally emotional. Is it because of this simplicity that they are taken for a ride so easily? Does emotion and sensitivity override their logic and ideological culture? Or is the selfish attitude of all Goans exposed more prominently in Salcete? Is it simply the issue of selfishness or a cultural issue?

And on the other hand, has Margao remained so divine or is it a history? Because, today, one Margao has three Margao(s) in it. The Margao of original Madgaonkar. The Margao of migrated Goans. And the Margao of migrated non-Goans. Integration between these ‘three' has still not taken place. In fact, the one-time cultured city is quietly sitting on a time bomb that could explode any moment, a la communal riots! Murder of Goa's rich communal harmony in its own cultural capital!!

In such a situation, there is certainly a disconnect between Margao and Salcete that is hampering the political scenario of the state. Looks like Margao somehow could not influence Salcete. Contrary to this, a new question has arisen. Has Salcete started influencing Margao? Is immorality taking over morals and ethics? Is de-culturisation reigning over culturisation?

I may be right, may be wrong; but questions are many. Equally genuine. However, there is hardly any convincing answer to this disconnect...

Blogger's Profile

Sandesh Prabhudesai

Sandesh Prabhudesai is a journalist, presently the Editor of goanews.com, Goa's oldest exclusive news website since 1996. He has earlier worked as the Editor-in-Chief of HCN and Prudent, Goa's TV channels and Editor of Sunaparant, besides working as a reporter for Goan and national dailies & weeklies in English and Marathi since 1987. He also reports for the BBC. He is also actively involved in literary and cultural activities.

Drop a comment

Enter The Code Displayed hereRefresh Image


Previous Comments

Dear Sandeshji,

It is nice to read blogs on goa news and better to know that someone cares and more than that dares to raise a voice on all that is wrong in goa. Till i started readings the blogs by you and others i had lost all hope for goa. now i know that still there are some who dare to care!

In 1994 assembly election for the 1st time i noticed voters demanding money. you may not be aware of this and indeed many will be surprised but this this vote purchase was started by BJP with its Bekari Bhatta Scheme. Election after election it grew and now it is sickning.

However i still remember why it started. before 1994 people had trust in their political leaders. the PDF Govt. mess and lack of antidefection law made people loose faith in politicians.

Now we are in 2010 and goa has reached depth. IT cant grow any worse.

So why not all you likeminded people come together to improve things.

1st thing to do is to reach a common minimum agreement between all goa lovers. as there are all goa lovers but then ther are Baman Goa lovers and non baman Goa lovers, hindu goa lovers and catholic goa lovers, OBC SC ST goa lovers and General category goa lovers, and so on.

If the forces of evil are winning at present it is because the forces of good have differences on various issues. And we instead of finding common meeting grounds stick to the differences.

Take for instead your language issue. it is actually religious and cultural issue. A large section of hindus ask for marathi because it is language of their religion in which gyaneshwari, bible for almost all western india hindus is written. for us Pandharpur is our rome and mecca. even simple Ganesh Chaturthi is not possible without marathi.

Same with Roman Konkani. a common catholic needs it. not only as language of goan church but also for cultural activities.

But also Davenagari Konkani is truth for a large section.

But then what you guys do is you have 3 camps and other camp is enemy worse then pakistan. Though all are indians and all are goa lovers.

The simple solution is to make all three official languages but no one will agree.

and for such reasons forces of evil have gained stength in goa.

Sandeshji i congratulate you for your work. Its historic if you have realised or not yourself. for the first time there is a forum for all goa lovers of all camps to express their love for goa, to worry for goa, to criticise without fear what is wrong. This can be a great begining. you must turn this into a cultural movement with a commom minimum agreement. We all are Indians and we all love Goa. Let us all unite against all the forces of evil in all forms.

Happy independence Day :)

- Shriniwas R. Khalap, New Delhi | 12 th August 2010 20:41

 

Hi Sandesh,

Margao-Salcete-Disconnect article. It remind

me to put some light on Goa Panchayat role and its function.We have Panchayat minister

sarpanch,Talathi,Secretary and so on.Having such body to look after village affairs what effort are made to development and hardship

of the people only corruption. Obviously sometimes feel non of them know their portfolio. Minister of Panchayat must learn and study prior to take up portfolio, occupying the post for nothing.Goa paychayats must scrap and the power have to transfer

mamlatdar or collector. The panchayat utilized their power illegal and more and more corruption people have to suffer.Better to move panchayat power and shift to better position..Moreover. nothing new to Goa in panchayat,electricity,town,.corruption. Panchayat duties to collect only revenue.We have so many problems such as mosquitoes, water drain etc who is responsible for these task:?

- Domnick Rodrigues, Goa | 02 nd August 2010 17:24

 

Dear Sandesh

Though you have taken great pains to analyse the Margao-Salcete psyche, it is discouraging to see you pick on one taluka and its city. The malaise, as you will agree, has spread all over Goa. I often hear North Goans speak of South Goans disparagingly and vice versa. As long as it is in good humour, it is good for a laugh, but we must look towards addressing our problems as a collective Goan people.

Keep up the good work on the site. This is one of the best Goan websites today.

- Jose Lourenco, Margao | 21 st July 2010 20:28

 

I read with great interest the article “The Margao-Salcete disconnect” by Sandesh Prabhudesai and admire the fluency, ease and originality of the writer. But I fail to understand what he really means by the so-called Margao-Salcete disconnect. Isn’t Margao an integral part of Salcete? If so, how can the two be looked upon as separate entities?

Since long Margao’s greatest feats and victories were achieved in togetherness with stalwarts from its surrounding villages. It is simply that battles were fought in Margao because this was the political hub of Salcete. Margao never played big brother’s role. Whether during the Portuguese monarchic regime or Salazar’s dictatorship and, even after liberation, all the courageous upheavals against misgovernance were the result of pooled efforts of brave men/women from Margao as well as from its villages. But then Margao was different, and the human component in Saxti villages was pristine, undefiled.

It is my feeling that Sandesh is unnecessarily compartmentalizing what is a global phenomenon today. What we are confronting is the alienation between time-honoured legends/role models and the masses. Obviously, ethics and morals matter no more. Before talking about a Margao-Salcete disconnect, we have to take note of the Margao-Margao disconnect in the first place.

Indeed there are three Margaos today, as Sandesh rightly points out. Worse, thinking citizens of Margao, who can sway the vote in the right direction are reduced to a minority alienated because of captive political vote banks.

Journalists/activists like Sandesh must share the blame for us having failed to translate thoughts and worries into concrete action.Collectively, let's admit, because of our own petty differences we failed to nip in the bud the morass that has set in, here and there, all over once-beautiful Goa.

- Dr. Francisco Colaço, Margao | 20 th July 2010 17:33

 

.....and despite all the many honeymoons with Monserrate and the crew ...the Parrikars of this world too would still get elected !.

I wonder why. Don't you sometimes?

Pontificate away!

- Rico, Margao | 19 th July 2010 08:32

 

Nice article, which brings out many questions which dont have easy answers! Gone are the days when the voters used to vote based on ideology, background, upbringing, family history of the candidates! They used to cast their votes in favour of those who they thought could work selflessly for the betterment of the masses- betterment of the society!

Now most of the elections are won because of the votes purchased --and the sad part is, those voters are least bothered as to how this money is collected by the candidate! Many of them are openly seen commenting "what is wrong in accepting money for votes? Once he is elected, he will make many times more! "

This is the sad part of the whole degeneration!

The constituencies in Goa being small makes it very easy for the candidates to judge as to whose votes can be easily purchased by giving what!

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 17 th July 2010 18:19

 

What Jagan says is true! Irrespective of whether a candidate is corrupt, criminal, drug peddler, rapist,or a robber, the votes are cast by accepting money. Also some people are advised to vote for particular candidates in the religious institutions during discourses as the candidate belongs to their religion may be even when he is corrupt and totally unfit to occupy the Chair!

- james silva, margao | 17 th July 2010 17:54

 

In Ponda, they even have a college named after RAvi Naik, the maha fating, drug mafia and thug of Goan politics.

- ZILA, Goa | 16 th July 2010 22:54

 

The problem is the blind following of the political leaders based on their caste and religion certificates alone. Look at Ravi Naik and his son, both are involved in drugs-- a well-known fact. And someone just dares to arrest both and all hell breaks loose for the Bhadari Samaj. For them even a criminal is OK as long as he is belonging to their cast. I wonder where is Vishnu Wagh to brainwash his samaj bandhavs. Same is the case with bamons, amgelo ani tumgelo, UBO kai ADVO; same is also true for Kiristavs and other Hindu casts. Look at Micky mouse, Babush and the Chruchuills. Morality and stead-forwardness has no place in Goan politics. As long he is Amgelo it is fine, he may be a corrupt, mafia, goon, doesn't matter...

- Jagan, USA | 16 th July 2010 07:02

 

Dear Sandesh, i think you might find an answer in Partha Chatterjee's The Politics of the Governed.

- Biem, Goa | 16 th July 2010 03:40

 

Bravo Sandesh, excellent article. The Margao of today is not the same Saxtti Margao or Saxttikaranchem Margao. It ha s really turned out to be a MAD-gaon. Gone are the days when one would have a nice cup of tea at Marliz, it too dissapeared along with the newly founded culture. The place is busy, hawkers, traffic congestion, etc. I used to sip a cup of tea at Marliz after my college break and sit a while opposite on the Municipal garden Sopo with my friends, that was our meeting point. Chit-chat of the day, no mobiles in hand.And it was a compulsion to catch the pre-sunset bus back to the village. Now the MMC garden is a sleeping or resting place for the migrants or eve teasers. Gone are the days that Margao was Margao, it is really a Mad-gaon now.

- Robert, Goa | 15 th July 2010 16:44

 

Related Blogs