Being a Goan at a Time of Hindutva – II

If we are to use a loose allegory of Salman Rushdie, we can boldly say: ‘Goan’s are not midnight’s children!’ A lot of India was still sleeping when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave the famous speech at the stroke of midnight. Goans were certainly sleeping at that auspicious hour. Because we were not awake at the time of India’s tryst with destiny, we are not adopted children of mother India. But Culture and religion being thicker than blood in our country, several among us tried to become more Indian than Indian themselves and the race is still on. This has often resulted in the loss of the otherness of Goan-ness into a deemed sameness of India. Such dissolution of the otherness of Goan-ness into a sameness shares common rhythm with hindutva ideology and limits the possibilities of being Goan. It also limits possibilities of being Indian and is profoundly impoverishing and disfigures India badly. Goa is not a wound on the face of India but a pearl in the necklace of our mother India. This is why we do not have to be ashamed of the otherness of Goa and Goaness. Our otherness enriches our country. We do not need the ointment of hindutva to heal the wounds of our past. It does not heal us but inflicts more wounds on us. All that we need is to allow our natural otherness to shine and dazzle our country.

This does not mean that Goans can stay frozen the way they are. Nothing really stays static. Everything remains in a dynamic flow of becoming. We have to stay awake, take sides and stop Goan-ness from going into deep slumber. Shame of not being midnight children cannot be allowed to rule us. Unfortunately, hindutva in Goa is all about such shame. Its adherents are ashamed of the past colonial existence and project their shame on innocent others for not drowning into a constructed sameness of homogenised cultural nationalism that threatens the plural fabric of our country. Goans and Goa cannot contribute to this homogenising and totalising of India into a singularity that threatens to become the tyranny of the majority. At a time of homogenizing hindutva, we have the challenge to be other and resist our otherness from dissolving into a sameness of homogenised India of Hindutva. What we do with our Goan-ness today will not only decide our fate but also contribute into the making of India of tomorrow. Other Indians too imagine Goa as another India . Their interest to visit Goa is fired by this imagination.

Even if we forget, other Indians will not forget the otherness of Goa. They know that we are not midnight’s children and there is no demand on us to pretend to be so. Unfortunately, hindutva politics invites us to put on the mask of midnight’s children. At the most we are midnight’s grandchildren. We were born as Indians post midnight of Independence. We Goans are Indians yes but are different Indians like every other Indian. It is a maya to think that India can be singularised and monoculture. Our otherness is thicker than our sameness. We are different yet interrelated. To be Indian means to be plural and inter-webbed. Being Goan means being Indian in this sense. Our existence as grandchildren of midnight adds to the vibrant otherness of our country that the global community admires. We can contribute significantly to the midnight children who are reeling under the sway of hindutva. By being other Indians, we affirm the real India and become an antidote to mono-culturing hindutva.

While we resist hindutva politics and its agenda, we as Goans cannot mirror their politics of hate and intolerance. We have the challenge to be the other of such politics of hate, otherwise we run the risk of being the other pole of their politics of polarity. Our challenge is double. We have to resist the politics of hindutva as well as resist becoming the mirror image of hindutva. This means we cannot disengage hindutva and its adherents. We have to stay in dialogue. If we disengage hindutva, we run the risk of mirroring their politics of hate and intolerance. This is why while we mark our distance from the ideas, agenda and politics, we cannot cut our relations from its adherents. We have to be another hindutva not trapped in a binary framework that will only reproduce and offer a new lease of life to its pugnacious politics. We have to be the other that rises above this politics and provides alternate politics that becomes a true anti-dote to its politics of hate. We do need to resist the construction of us as the other of hindutva in the image and likeness of the right wing. The right wing loves to do it and is busy imaging us all the time as its fractal image. It is important to become radically other that leaps out of the binary logic that treats to reduce us as the other of the same. We are not others of the same but are challenged to become truly and radically different to the politics of hindutva.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao