Belonging to Goa and Goans

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Being a Goan is being in-between. This is a given-ness of a Goan. Although there are plural ways of being Goan, something that runs through all of them is being in-between. It is this in-between space where Goans belong together. This being in-between cannot be reductively captured. Maybe we find it illustrated in the view that sometimes portrays Goans as not fully Indians and neither entirely Western. Being in-between offers several possibilities of being a Goan, Indian and Human. The space that is in-between opens us to the unquestioned past self-understandings and the future possibilities of understandings and being. Within this in-between space, we have the room for otherness. The other becomes a mirror to look at oneself and remain open to the future possible ways of being that are not immediately our own. Goa is looked upon as other India. Hence, Goa itself is an in-between space for several Indians who travel as tourists in search of our sand, sea and sunshine. As other India, Goa offers other ways of being Indians which is not immediately available in other parts of the country. This is what brings several Indians as tourists to Goa. Indeed, Goa offers possibilities to enlarge the experience of life.

Living in a never ending stream of life process, Goans are challenged to leave the shore of being in-between. The politics that is dipped into a thick Hindutva ideology is trying to mono-culture Goans. Besides, it is riding on an equally homogenous cultural Hindu nationalism. Unfortunately, this narrow sectarian nationalism with its exclusionary Hindutva ideology is steadily shrinking the in-between space of feeling and being a Goan. Such an ideology is corrosive and has begun to erode the belonging together of Goan-ness. The vision of being with each other in Goa is narrowing the future possibilities of being Goans. We are in a very real way compelled to live visibly, publicly and even aggressively our religious Identities. Our being in-between is steadily becoming vulnerable and questionable. Our society is slowly dissolving into black and white stereotypical identities and is largely erasing the mode of being Goans. Our living and being side by side is slowly being caged into islands that exist in isolation and in conflict. The loss of our being in-between is yet to arrive but signs are already present pointing towards the coming disaster. We can still reverse the impending danger to our belonging together to Goa and Goans.

Our belonging together to both Goa and the diverse Goan community is in danger. The dangers largely come from narrow exclusionary political and cultural ideologies and the kind of development that is pursued in Goa. Hindutva and Goan-ness cannot mix. Hindutva affects the way we belong to Goa, India and every other Goan. It divides Goans and hands over Goa as raw material to unscrupulous capitalists to create wealth for them. There is an anti-Goa and anti-Goan link to both politics and development that is being played out in Goa today. The Nationalisation of rivers, coal handling, Mopa airport, casino menace has very little or nothing for Goans. These projects seem to have become means to elite and ultra capitalists to prey on Goan resources. Besides, the political settlement of the Mhadie water dispute seems to be against Goan interest and is more directed to benefit the BJP during the Karnataka election. Hence, we may say that the economics and the politics of Hindutva is de-goanizing us. Everything sacred to Goa is in some kind of danger of extinction. The in-between space that is central to life in Goa is steadily getting closed. We seem to have begun to belong to Goa and Goans differently. We Goans are almost getting alienated in Goa and we seem to exile each other in Goa. It is imperative that we rediscover our belonging to Goa and Goans in all its depths and heights.

This rediscovery is important. It was how our ancestors shared their belonging together to Goa and Goans much before our land became a commodity. The changing economics of land continuously changes our belonging to Goa and Goans. Maybe we have to study this change in our belonging to Goa and Goans profoundly with critical attention. The entry of religion into politics also changed it and brought rifts into the way we belong to Goa and each other. The rediscovery that I strive to describe is not a return to some ancient Goa. It is not a re-enactment of the once glorious past. Any past has its own fault lines. Goan past is tainted by caste, religious politics too. It would be wrong to idealize it. What we Goans can do is to draw inspiration from the liveable possibilities in our past and re-energize and revitalize our Goan-ness and direct our goanizing to enrich our belonging together to Goa and Goans. This would require us to change the way we participate in the reigning economics and politics in Goa and our country.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao