Being a Goan at a Time of Hindutva

It is heartening to see that most socio-political and economic issues in Goa have become Goa-centric. This welcome change is a Goa-centric modus vivendi on the horizon. A vigorous Goa-centrism that we can notice around is indeed a fresh breath of life in our society. Several Goans have recognized the wounds inflicted on Goa by our own politicians, industrialists, builders, tourism lobby, religious fundamentalists and their ilk. This has angered Goans and brought them on the streets. The antagonism against the establishment is rising by the day. Every right thinking Goan is worried about the loss of something precious and beautiful. We are painfully aware that we are already living on borrowed time and it is next to impossible if not difficult to put the clock back. Without falling into cynicism, Goans have shown that they have chosen modus vivendi to bring life to the dying Goa, Goan-ness and Goans.

The loss that we intensely feel is about the loss of form. It is a sense that seems to say to Goa: ‘thou are not that’. With this denial of the upanishadic ‘tat tvam asi’, thou are that, we seem to have intuitively raised the Kantian question about the condition of possibility of a loss that informs Goa, Goans and Goan-ness. The loss that informs Goans is a loss of the constitutive form that makes Goa, Goans and Goan-ness what it is. Hence, it becomes a loss of ‘Goa, Goan-ness and Goans’ in a radical way. Goa, Goan-ness and Goans have gradually become commodities for exchange, shattering the dreams of all Goans. Goa is a commodity that is being traded by the tourism industry, political establishment and parties as well as the right wing fundamentalist forces. The politics of Hindutva promotes socio-economics. It sides the commoditization of Goa. It too seems to aim to grab power and hand over the natural and cultural resources to its cronies.

A surplus value (Marx) is sought in a surplus enjoyment (Lacan) and is thought to add surplus meaning (Ricouer) to our life by letting Goa happen to the tourists on the prowl. This is why we have to understand the socio-political and economic conditions that made Goa’s decline actual. The surplus value of land resulted in a sale of Goan land to the highest bidder (non-Goan). Surplus enjoyment led to the forgetting of intergenerational justice as several Gowns sold their land without thinking of the generations to come. All this was thought to add a surplus meaning of life pushing several Goans out of Goa on the wings of Portuguese passports.

Adding to these socio-economic losses, we have the politics of hindutva that has injected suspicion, hate, division and anger among people of Goa. We have landed into a complex condition of isolation. An intersubjective dialogue/ communication (Habermas’s Formula) might not always help. But dialogue we must with all stakeholders to save Goa, Goans and Goan-ness. Here we are challenged to be ethical rather than aesthetical and discern critically the real interest for Goa and Goans rather than one that pretends and masks as working in the interest of Goa and Goans. This is why we have to opt for Goa-centric modus vivendi. Besides, we have to do a self examination. Often the quest for surplus value, surplus enjoyment and surplus meaning of life has led us to put Goa on sale.

We have to understand how we fetishize life in Goa and address it. Being a king is an effect of the social network of relations between the king and his subjects. Here fethistic misrecognition leads to the perception that being king is a natural property of their ruler and they are subjects because he is king. Likewise, we Goans sometimes fetishize our life by opting for surplus value, surplus enjoyment and surplus meaning of life. Some do it by selling land, others by abandoning Goan culture and even by falling prey to seductions of hindutva. We have unfortunately de-goanized Goa in several ways in search of surplus life. Hence, we need to resist the temptation and the seduction of the tourism industry, political establishment and the right wing agenda. Somewhere all these intersect and synergize the de-goanization of Goa. This means, we have to imagine new possibilities of being Goans at a time of hindutva married to the reigning socio-economic and political order.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao