Goa and Human Development

Image Source: Goa Herald

Most humans are narcissistic and easily fall prey to identity politics. Narcissism becomes visible particularly in the face of the other and his/ her otherness. The self and its other relationship is very central to any politics of identity. We often see the other from the lens of the sameness of self. This reduction of the otherness to sameness results in the othering of the Other. Self being the master signifier that opens the meaning of the other renders the other as not different and as such is different from the self. This marking of the boundaries of the self and its other results into what I have called geographies of closures. Geographies of closures arise as we attempt to cope with otherness that often triggers the trauma of the past as well as an aesthetic feeling of nausea or repulsion. Because of this discomfort we withdraw into the shells of our comfort zone.

This withdrawal into geographies of closure is a sign of under human development in any society. But this discomfort and inability to deal with otherness that may trigger a pain of the past or aesthetic nausea can be traced in our society in Goa. The colonial rupture and divide of conversion which resulted in a loss of brethren with whom several Goans of the majority community may share kinship haunts us in several ways today. It sets in a loss recovery dynamism which has marked geographies of closures and communion among the Christians and Hindus in particular in Goa has several walls with few openings. Thus, our dehumanized past continues to dehumanize us even today. We can also see that we may have inherited the colonial bias that the Portuguese had against our Muslim brothers and sisters. Thus our past continues to haunt our present and continues to cripple our society.

For a long time, we have exhibited an ability to dialogue with each other. This inability to dialogue and understand each other can be seen how we responded to crucial issues that challenged our society in the post colonial times. We can see how we stood divided on basic issues like the opinion poll, Konkani agitation, Konkan railway, medium of primary education. Our standard is largely divided by caste, religion and region. This means we do seem to have reached high on the indices of human development and are vulnerable to communal as well as regional politics that seem to make hay. As we stand divided we become blind to the transfer of our wealth to the elites, depletion of our Goan culture as well as diminishing of our gene pool. Although we respond in different degrees to our issues , we need to find a response to our fragilities . Otherwise both Goa and Goans may soon be in danger of extinction.

Besides facing our own inner contradictions, we as Goans also exhibit under development when it comes to non-Goans. Here like most others, we seem to follow an aesthetic sensibility that manifest a lack of ethics. The non-Goan stands in conflict with Goans in several ways. But this conflict also exhibits layers and degrees is not a monolith. This means there are different geographies of closure. Some of us might find some sameness in the otherness of the other based on religion while religion itself might become the spoke in the wheel of communion. Thus, several among us might be sympathetic to Hindus and intolerant to Muslims. These geographies of closure operate also harshly to other non-goans who are set apart as tribals or ghantis. This aesthetic sensibility indicates that we need to rise on the wings of ethics and expand our embrace and accept the basic human dignity of all.

Human development that we all seek needs to deal with our geographies of closure. The way we deal with the otherness of the other doesn not just dehumanise the other , it dehumanises us. This is why we need to accept that there is a dehumanising dimension to our goanising. We have the noble task of redeeming it. scholars show that cultural wars rise in societies subjected to neo-liberal policies. With neo-liberal economic policies having a gala time in our country , the politics of identity will also have a long life span in our society. This is why an awareness of our vulnerabilities to geographies of closures can be therapeutic.

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