Goa & Goans: No integration deficit

By Prabhakar Timble
20 August 2011 18:27 IST

Goans are not fully integrated into national mainstream. Some Goans are not emotionally and culturally integrated with India-----

I have been listening to such statements mainly from those who take pride in calling themselves as rashtriya swayam sevaks and those swatantra sainiks whose minds are always in bondage. But of late, such views are being also expressed consistently by others plunging me into a national mainstream integration fatigue.

Why are Goans labelled as less integrated with the nation? Why at every given opportunity, we are told that some Goans still look at the erstwhile rulers? Will those some Goans be always branded as less Indian because of imbibed traits of Portuguese lifestyle, food style and dress style? What exactly is Indian culture and national mainstream?  Is Goan culture not a part of Indian culture like that of Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab or Gujarat? Is it not because of the culture and lifestyle of Goans that Goa is a jewel of India? Has not Goa given the opportunity to the nation to internationally boast of a space cosmopolitan in outlook and yet providing the purity and tranquillity of the village?

It is time to put a full stop to this dirty game of questioning the national integrity of Goans, though referred to as “those few or those some” at regular intervals. Nobody is naïve not to understand the community singled out for reference. Is a Goan Christian in any way less Indian?

I have heard many saying that Christians prefer to migrate overseas. But, what has this to do with assimilation into the national mainstream? Community wise statistics of migration of Goans would not show much difference in recent years. We will also find same results if we document migration from Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat, South Karnataka and Delhi.

It is very easy to use the cultural baton to project cultural alienation of specific groups or communities. But, we are neither a mono-cultural society nor our culture is static and rigid. Culture cannot be reckoned on basis of isolated bits of behaviour. Last week, I read the news that a Christian was cremated as per Hindu customs as per the wish of the individual. The pracharaks who equate and bind Indian culture to only Hindu traditions, customs, and rituals immediately equated this to patriotism and nationalism. A few weeks back, the dead body of a freedom fighter was donated to the medical college. This behaviour has still not come in the statute books of bharatiya culture! The fanatics may even consider this as an affront on culture!

People who talk about Goans or any communities as having not totally mingled into Indian culture or mainstream should first learn to understand culture. Jawaharlal Nehru in his Glimpses of World History says “Culture and civilisation are difficult to define, and I shall not try to define them. But among the many things that culture includes are, certainly restraint over oneself and consideration of others. If a person has not got this self-restraint and has no consideration for others, one can certainly say that he is uncultured.”

Look at the conflicting and multiple stands on the film ‘Arakshan’ by Prakash Jha who is known for a socialist tilt. Some States have chosen to ban the film. Some groups of the Scheduled Castes feel that the contents are harsh on them. There are groups of the forward castes also demanding a ban on the film since the contents are unfair to them. Look at how a painting of M. F. Husain created a controversy and look at how he was hunted, that he had to quit the nation and die in a foreign territory. Examine for yourself small outfits like the Shiv Sena, who do not have power beyond some municipal limits of Maharashtra, parade themselves as repositories of national mainstream and culture. Go back to the days of the infamous riots in Gujarat and Mumbai and draw your own lessons on what is our mainstream and our culture. I remember the Vishwa Hindu Parishad making it loud and clear that they will not listen to the Supreme Court but to the scriptures! It is not that such things are not said by religious fanatics in other communities. Goans have witnessed the explosions and turmoil created by the ‘sadaks’ of Sanathan Saunstha, which professes to be the outfit of nationalism and culture. All this is a mirror of what the nation is. All this reflects on what we are. It is the cultural growth of the future that will teach us to make cultured choices.

I have to put on record a note of caution to all Goans mainly due to the use and abuse of the internet communication by overseas Goans with foreign citizenship. Their best recreation is talking about Goa and how it should be kept pure and pristine. I read a tweet from such a foreigner who prefers to show off as Goan------‘Goa is a place where Goans are just 29% of the total population’. This is indirectly suggesting that only Christians are pure Goans. The word of caution here is to avoid blaming the Christian community in Goa for such outbursts by foreigners. These outbursts are because of the guilt feeling of losing the roots. I also find outbursts from Hindus who have accepted foreign citizenship. In fact, due to the suffering of guilt, this is the community which provides liberal funding and donations to militant religious outfits in India to preserve what they perceive as culture.

When we ourselves cannot define the mainstream culture, we should not single out the Goan community all the time. If culture means our behaviour with others, if culture means rejecting discriminatory practices and adopting progressive values, if culture also includes universal values, then Goa and Goans is a storehouse for the national mainstream to draw to its kitty.

Nobody can deny these two unique natural traits in a Goan’s lifestyle. To share, care and love others without expectation. In other parts of India, you may find this only in remote villages and hilly regions. The next is a non-bothering attitude. That’s why you will not find Goans creating any ruckus over a visit of a film star or politician. Each one can get his private space. As I conclude, let me also say that these identity traits are not free from attack.



Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Great article, Sir; truly we Goans need to show our state in mainstream with the country. Many do feel Goans are of other origin, just because we had been ruled by those Portuguese ..., who are facing a tough time with they economy. even these days while at work, I encounter people (include foreigners) who discriminate us. This article, sir, of yours needs to be put into everyones mind.

- Anthony Crasto, Chennai | 23 rd August 2011 04:21


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