Who are our enemies; at 50?

By Sandesh Prabhudesai
22 December 2011 00:32 IST

Last week, for Gomant Vibhushan Award ceremony, I was interviewing the recipient – Charles Correa, an internationally renowned architect. During the conversation, he made a startling statement, which made me think.

“Within every fat man, it is said, there is a thin man struggling to come out. In a similar manner, I feel, within Goa, there is ‘another Goa’ struggling to come out.”

Is it yet another Goa? The suffocating Goa? Or the original Goa? Or the Goa unknown?

50 years of Goa’s liberation. A milestone to retrospect. Have we progressed? Or regressed? Is it both? Or none?

I don’t look at material development as development, may it be construction of houses  or infrastructural development like roads, bridges, water supply, electricity, communication tools like telephone, mobile, computers etc. Because these are tools of development.

Development is directly related to mankind. Humanity is the core of it. These tools help to enhance the standard of human values and establish an exploitation-free society. Free society. Happy society.

At the historic juncture of 50, I wish to analyse my beautiful humane society of Goa from this angle.

Unfortunately, we have inherited boundaries of Goa from the Portuguese, who ruled us for 450 years. The three old conquests – Bardez, Tiswadi and Salcete (Mormugao split later) from 1510 and seven more talukas of New Conquests two centuries later. While classifying the stages of development of human society of Goa, we come across interesting facets if each stage is divided into two decades each; since 1946.

18 June 1946 was a turning point for Goa’s awakening. Ram Manohar Lohia lit the half-quenched torch of liberation struggle. It cooled down only after Portuguese left Goa. But the spirit of nationalism and patriotism continued to build New Goa, especially in the educational field. This environment obviously created dedicated teachers, decent politicians, non-corrupt government servants and responsible citizens.

Through this emerged another era – 1966 to 86 – of struggles for identity. It began with working class struggles soon after liberation. This was followed by a historical struggle for identity – India’s sole Opinion Poll on 16 January 1967. The majority-Hindu state always voted Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party to power, but defeated their basic ideology of merging Goa into Maharashtra. Goans proved that they think rationally.

The struggles continued with anti-pollution agitation against Zuari Agro Chemicals, struggles of traditional workers like toddy tappers (render) and traditional fisherfolk (ramponkar) and the students’ movement that haunted the state for two decades. It began as an intellectual exercise, waged violent agitations, even gave slogans of Naxalbari but created intelligentsia of the future. It was an era of selfless struggles and churning of ideas.

Two decades from 1986 onwards was the most shameful era of politics, exhibiting political scandals as well degradation of electoral psyche. In spite of series of defections leading to toppling of governments, the self-centered voter continued electing the same politicians to power. The selfless was defeated in each sphere and the corrupt was hailed. Governments of defectors were cheered up; whether it was the PDF helped by the then MGP leader Ramakant Khalap (Dy CM) in 1990 or BJP leader Manohar Parrikar (CM) in 2000. Parties did not matter to the politicians and politicians’ chameleon attitudes did not bother the ‘loyal’ voters. Selfish politicians of almost all the parties (maximum Congress) amassed huge amount of wealth while people still worship them.

Two major events during this era however indicated that everything was not over. A month-long struggle in 1989 that culminated into three activists resorting to fast-unto-death against molestation of a lady employee by then speaker Dayanand Narvekar. Everyone - students, women, workers, political workers, social activists and even the whole media - gathered to pull Narvekar down from the speaker’s post and then in the election. Yet another massive struggle was against the conspiracy to sell Goa’s greenery to the land sharks in the name of Regional Plan 2011. People rose spontaneously to the call given by Goa Bachao Abhiyan in 2006 to get the plan scrapped and form a task force to draft alternate Regional Plan that would save Goa’s natural beauty and equally natural Goan identity.

But the era that has begun after this historical victory, since 2007, is stunning. Positivism has simply disappeared. Negativism rules the social sphere everywhere. People are opposing anything and everything. In the name of mega projects, each and every construction in the coastal belt was opposed through Church-sponsored struggles, probably fearing demographic changes. Garbage is everywhere, but nobody wants a garbage treatment plant. People support Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption crusade and then quietly accept grocery packets distributed by the wealthy and corrupt politicians. Hundreds of people go to Shah Commission and demand that illegal mining be made legal. Part of media publishes ‘paid news’ to misguide the committed readers and then give sermons to the public on ethics and morality. Goan society is today vertically divided on communal lines due to either a script issue or medium of instruction. A new breed is organizing rallies of thousands, demanding scrapping of the Goa-friendly Regional Plan 2021, when experts are open to rectifications. Thousands of crusaders among them want their land to be converted into settlement, obviously to benefit the land sharks. People are now even opposing educational projects like National Institute of Technology!

I recently had a TV debate on how Goa should be in the next 50 years. Datta Damodar Naik, a thinker businessman and a writer, said: we are today facing lots of deficits. Deficit of trust, deficit of imagination, deficit of values and ethics as well as deficit of governance and execution. That is the reason people suspect everything and oppose everything.

I wish to go little further. If we call it a deficit, then it has been artificially created. In reality, it’s hypocrisy. There are two sets of rules people have created. One for the others and one for myself. We blame politicians for being corrupt while we continue with our corrupt practices. We want Goa’s land to be converted, except mine which I want to sell to the builder for a price. We don’t want the same politician to get elected repeatedly, but my MLA is an exception to the rule – he does ‘all’ my work, and so on...

In short, we have been taking undue advantage of the freedom we enjoy in our democracy and misuse our democratic rights to kill our own democratic system. The real corrupt and anti-people enemy is tickled with the double-standard voter. His one-time enemy is his friend today, not in need but in greed. The so called ‘development’ has become a tool of the enemy to lure his ‘friend’. The enemy within us has become the biggest challenge to the human values and the humane society.

I hope this is not ‘another Goa’ Charles Correa is referring to….  

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

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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 Prudent & Goa365, 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. After retirement from day-to-day journalism in 2020, he is into Re-Search Journalism (पुनर्सोद पत्रकारिता), focusing on analytical articles, Video programs & Books.

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You have pin-pointed by using the term hypocrisy. We really have two measures one for me, one for you. And yes, I agree my MLA is corrupt, matso halta kenna, kenna, punun mhojem kaam jaata nhay??? I have heard this personally during the 2007 elctions!

- Kalidas Sawkar, Panjim Goa | 22 nd December 2011 10:55


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