Being a Goan at a Time of Hindutva – II

There is something unique about Goa and Goan-ness. Maybe Pandit Nehru saw a bit of it when he said ‘Ajeeb hai Goa ke log’ . ‘Abjeeb’ meant strange. Hence, his view can be interpreted pejoratively. But it can also be viewed positively meaning differently. Therefore, without taking offence to this remark, we can also look at it as our strength. Long years of socio-political isolation from the mainland might have contributed to the generation of a unique culture that we all proudly know makes our Goan-ness. There is also the denationalization rhetoric of Dr. Tristao Braganza. This charge is based on the notion of nationalism that itself developed in the West after the treaty of Westphalia when Nations were born in the West. Though the notion of nationalism is borrowed for the West, it is paradoxically used to condemn everything western even in our days and celebrate everything that is deemed as indigenous. We know that nothing grows and evolves in isolation. There is nothing that we can find in our society that is purely indigenous. Even our ecology is colonial. Cashew for instance, came from Brazil. Some chillies are also called travoti even nowadays. This means, everything is in the process of becoming. This becoming is a co-becoming. This is why we become Goans along with Goa, India and the World. It is through the dynamic process of becoming that we become Goans and goanize ourselves and Goa.

Goanizing is a transformative way of being in the world. It brings about the joy of being Goans. It gives us a sense of fulfilment and contentment to belong to Goa and Goans. Our dynamic goanizing is co-goanizing. As co-goanizing, it has a ‘sharing of Goan-ness and Goa’ as its major constituent. We can trace this sense of shared space in the sense of belonging that Goans exhibit in Goa and everywhere else in the world. The regime of sharing can be noticed in the manner in which we configure space and distribute vital spheres of experience. Unfortunately, communalism and fundamentalism backed by politics of vote banks often reconfigure our common space and build walls of division that redistributes the vital spheres of our experience. This redistribution often minimalizes inter-communion among Goans across religious boundaries. Thus, we can find different degrees of shareable spaces among Goans. Goan-ness by itself is open and all embracive. This enabled Goans to open their space for tourists without much difficulty. Goa steadily evolved as a shareable space for the tourists who are both Indian and foreign. This is why Goa rapidly developed as a tourist destination with great ease. Hence, it’s important to understand the regime of distribution / sharing at work in Goa.

The socio-political archive of Goan culture is the reservoir of Goan-ness that is distributed by the regimes of sharing / distribution across time in different degrees. At a time of Hindutva, we might see a constriction of the scale of distribution and a new regime of redistribution is being forced upon Goans that is basically aimed at dividing Goans for notes and votes. The shareable space is reconfigured and new walls of division are to be built. Even the past is raked up to disrupt the present. While we might trace these seeds of our own downfall and destruction in Marxist terms as lying within the Goan history and culture that is marked by the trauma and pain of Portuguese colonialism, we can also find means of recovery within the same Goan-ness. The trauma and pain of colonization is being milked by hindutva forces to redistribute the shareable space among Goans. It blurs the boundary between Hinduism and hindutva. It militarises and injects hate into Hinduism. Hinduism cannot be allowed to dissolve into hindutva . By identifying itself with Hinduism, hindutva attacks the shareable space of Goan-ness. This redistribution insulates communities on the basis of religion. Without commoditizing as well as politicizing Goa, Goans and Goan-ness as tourism industry and some political regimes do, we have to allow Goan-ness to assists us move into a process of recovery and restoration that will enable us to widen our embrace that is sought to be constricted by the Hindutva forces.

The challenge is to embrace the ethical rather than the representative regime of redistribution. Representative regimes are largely identity based. They divide rather than unite all Goans. Hence , the ethical regime that promises justice for all is the way ahead. It is not enough to keenly watch or police the distribution of Goan culture. We do need to police the mechanism of distribution because often the national and the global high cultures can suffocate and kill the local or Goan culture. This is exactly what Hindutva is doing to Goan-ness. The right wing all over the world is mainly concerned with cultural redistribution. Thus, the hindutva champions fight to restore the lost golden past. They deem it as a project of recovering a glorious national culture of the past. We cannot simply follow them blindly and think about restoring the lost Goan-ness as akin to their project. Goaness is not just a matter of the lost past, it is very central to the present and the coming future. Besides, goa-ness cannot be delinked from the Goan. Hence, it is not simply cultural or religious as the right wing might deem it to be. We have to carefully view the anthropological, the sociological, the historic, the linguistic, the political and the economic etc., along with the religious and the cultural. The left wing all over the world is mainly concerned with the redistribution of socio-political and economic resources. We need to learn from it and find ways of addressing the monocultural and reductive hindutva that tames our Goan Spirit and hands over our economic and cultural resources to elites to generate capital and monopoly and de-territorialite Goans from Goa and Goan-ness. It is time to stand up for Goa and the Goan.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao