On Thinking Goa for Goans

Thinking Goa does not occur in abstraction. It is already interest laden. There are economic, political, religious, caste, and cultural lines that intertwine and intersect while we think of Goa. It may be important for the sake of Goa and Goans, that we reflect and scrutinize the Goa thinking that is manifesting today in our society. The polyphonic voices that claim to represent Goa are often partial and conflictual. That is why a common space that purports to listen to the cries, aspirations and well as the forced silences requires to be created with great urgency in Goa. In this effort, it might be just that we are guided by the question: who represents Goa and with what consequence? The examination of socio-economic, religious and political consequences of these claims is paramount. This means no claim about Goa and Goans is neutral and innocent. We do not have the luxury of original innocence when it comes to thinking Goa. It is already polluted by casteist, religious, political and economic interest and trauma of colonization, conversion and separation. But we have the responsibility to rise to a second innocence that understands that the crisis that we wish to address and solutions that we seek to propose are not free from the interest of our caste, religion, history, politics and economics. Often driven by economic, political, casteism and religious interest and trauma of the past, we seem to perceive and respond to all our issues in Goa. In recent times more than ever before, we seem to craftily hide and mask our interests and pain of the past in a kind of cultural nationalism.

The MOI issue appears to be a classical case where economic, political, and religious interests and trauma of the past seem to be hiding under the cover of cultural nationalism. The nationalist mask produces a hierarchic relation that appears to deem the parents who seek self determination as anti-national while their opponent can claim to appear to be patriotic. But this artificial construction of the Parents as anti-nationals hides the fact that such an open denial of self-determination for the Parents amounts to denial of democracy and by that token is unconstitutional. Unfortunately, this crass denial of democracy has put on the mask of nationalism in a democratic India. What nationalism worth its salt can deny democracy and claim to be still national? Hence, the issue at hand is complex and the cultural nationalism that is being stirred in Goa is not national enough. That is why thinking Goa has to rise to a new leap of consciousness that will enable us to understand how a politics of culture promoted by some self appointed cultural police is disabling our critical thinking and leads us to reduce complex issues of life to mere cultural issues. Cultural issues are important but cultural reduction that is being imposed in the name of (partial)nationalism that these forces promote is indeed detrimental to our democracy and the very idea of India.

Thinking Goa for Goans is an imperative that is based on the primacy of common good of every Goan. It has to transcend narrow religious, casteist, political and economic interest and boundaries and promote the true Good of Goans and Goa. The Politics of culture with its primacy of culture over people is always partial and divisive in all contexts. The cultural essence that such a politics encompasses is always exclusionary and is not representative of all. Often politics of culture hides and masks its poisonous politico-economic fangs that are anti-poor and threaten the communal harmony in our society. Hence, thinking Goa for Goans has to rise above the narrow parochial claims of some of the cultural police who simplify complex emotive issues as mere issues of culture and stir and nourish emotions of hate and intolerance. We cannot simply get sucked into an unwarranted fear of the death of Konkani, our mother tongue. Konkani is plural and resilient. It did not die under four fifty years of colonial rule when it had no primary school to promote it. What is certain to die is the nagrization of all forms of Konkanis. We have refused to learn our lessons. The caste identification of the Konkani movement seems to have taken our brethren from the bahujan samaj to Marathi. The death of sunaparant, a nagri Konkani daily, is already somehow manifesting to us that this singular nagrization of Konkani cannot succeed. History seems to repeat again. With embracing of the English the global language of human aspiration, the Catholics in Goa are going away from nagrization of Konkani. This rejection of nagrized Konkani cannot be simply construed as rejection of Konkani in Toto. It is a clear rejection of nargrized Konkani that was used as a political weapon by the upper castes in Goa. Hence, Thinking Goa cannot be oversimplified around linguistic and cultural coordinates alone. It has to be expansive, open and one that keeps the view of the opponent in its dialogical embrace.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao