The Politics on the Goan and the Non-Goan Tangle

The question that asks: “who is Goan?” has gained importance in the context of the recent decision of the Government to offer mediclaim to any Indian who has a domicile of five years in Goa. Does that mean anyone who stays in Goa for a minimum period of five years becomes a Goan? Is Goan-ness transferable? Can it be passed on in such a short period of time? These and other disturbing questions arise in the context of this decision. Maybe we have to reflect on our Goannness and its transferability with profound respect to our other fellow Indians in Goa. That is why it may be important to clearly state some abiding principles here. The question of health is primary and any Indian should be able to get health security from the government anywhere in India. This also applies to our fellow Indians in Goa. But the fact that these benefits are offered on the basis of mere five year domicile in Goa in the election year smacks of vote bank politics of the ruling BJP and its allies. Hence, rather than being a humanitarian act, it appears to be a political act which is directed to get our other Indians in Goa to vote for them.

I do not question the health benefits offered to the needy. What is disturbing me is that Goan-ness has become reduced to domicile of five years in Goa. Certainly, every citizen of our country can stay with full freedom in any part of our country. Like Goans staying in other parts of our country, other Indians can come and stay in Goa. But the issue is: why they should be forced to erase their identity and mask as Goans to receive merely the health benefits. All identities are intimately linked to the person and cannot be easily dumped to acquire new ones. It may take a generation or two to evolve and metamorphize oneself into a new identity. Even then the traces of the sources of one’s earlier self-hood would still stick around. We still hold every Indian in our embrace in Goa, without demanding of them to become Goans. This indirect demand placed on the non-Goans to become Goans through the allurement of the health facilities is inline with the fascist’s ways of mono-culturing the citizens.

While expanding of the health facilities is a welcome humanitarian move, it may not be received well by all Goans. Goans feel the multiple loss of the sources of their self. Some fear the loss of their land. Others fear the death of Konkani. Still others fear a loss of their religion as somehow they undergo discrimination. This complex phenomenon of the sense of loss of the sources of our Goan-ness has produced three reactions: fight, flight and freeze among Goans. Goans in the mode of fight are on the streets fighting it out against land sharks, abrupt and unplanned development and corruption. Others who are in a flight mode are leaving Goa by taking up Portuguese citizenship. Still other Goans feel powerless and remain passive not knowing to choose the course of action. This sense of loss of the multiple sources of our Goan-ness has triggered a struggle for special status for Goa. Hence, the political decision in the garb of health facilities for the non-goans would come across as a betrayal of the Goans.

The promise of the special status at the pre-election mega rally by none other than the then P M candidate Shri Narendra Modi appears to be forgotten. That is why several among us do feel that full liberation is yet to come. Once upon a time we were a colony of Portugal and today we have been rendered to a colony of Delhi. The high command culture of the national parties re-enact the colonial power dynamics that provides space for some tall leaders to camouflage their self command as high command. Luckily the rise of Goa-centric political party has provided hope to several Goans. This does not rule out National players like AAP in Goa. In fact to rule out corruption and bestow primacy to Goa and Goans, there has been loud thinking in several circles that both AAP and Goa Forward have to come together and defeat the ruling dispensation and save Goa. The question is who will bring these two together? Maybe both have to put the good of Goa and Goans ahead of them. An integrally inclusive politics that is rooted in the ethos of Goa is the way to save Goa from destruction.

The ruling party has continued its divisive vote bank politics. The fact that Goans seem to have been disillusioned with it, may have led the ruling dispensation to cleverly cast it’s net among the non-goans who have five years of domicile. This means it appears that the Government has crafted a strategy to lure the non-goans who have a vote. This may suit their hindutva agenda and strategically bring Goan and non-goan Hindus on its side. But the politics that divides other Goans from their fellow Goans on the basis of religion is a manifestation of deprave moral condition of our society. What we need is an inclusive politics that keeps every Goan as well as non-Goan in its embrace. While the Government can give health benefits on humanitarian grounds, it cannot come across as one that is depriving the same to Goans. May be a health card to every Goan family is the way ahead. Such a health card to the Goan family would keep us Goans together and non-goans in our embrace. Hence, in response to a divisive politics of BJP what Goa needs is an inclusive politics that protects the interest of Goa. This primacy of Goa and Goans cannot be at the cost of alienation of the non-Goans but has to include the non-Goans in the forward movement of the aspirations of all Goans.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao