Politics of Recognition and Politics of Redistribution

The people of Goa are on the streets resisting authoritarian development forced on them. In a democracy development has to be pursued by consent but what we see in Goa is a forced development that is being pushed against the will of the people. Often what is projected as development is framed into a discourse of nationalism and resistance to the same is rendered difficult as it can be easily positioned as anti-national. But a development that leaves the people behind as well as the one that destroys our national ecology cannot be in our national interest. Often what is masquerading as development is promoting corporate interest and nationalism unfortunately becomes the hiding place for such crony capitalists. The agitated people are interrogating and rejecting the development forced on them by the Government. There is emancipatory promise in these struggles. The people are actively moving from identity politics to one that addresses distributive justice. Identity politics rises out of a justice claim that cries for recognition. Therefore, politics of identity becomes a politics of recognition that fails to recognize difference/otherness as well as is blind to distributive justice as democracy becomes the maid servant of the economy serving crony capitalism. This is the time to rethink the politics of recognition afflicting our country as it takes away the autonomy and democracy of the people and forces what is called ‘development’ without their consent.

We can notice the shift from politics of recognition to politics of redistribution in the Melalui agitation against IIT Campus. There is also another significant element in the Melalui struggle that challenges a capitalist stereotype uncritically assimilated by us. Our society values productive work while reproductive work of women remains less valued. The fact that a police assault on women agitators triggered mass outrage and condemnation in Goa led to a rethinking by the government; we are challenged to understand productive labour inclusively and value the contribution of women through raising of families and home making etc. This means the grammar of political claims is steadily changing. This does not mean politics of recognition that address anxieties of displacement and demographic tangles has become irrelevant. What has happened is that we have come to see how politics of recognition has been instrumentalized to serve the corporate interest of the likes of Adani and Ambani. This is why nationalism that has become a cover for these forces to pursue their vested interest has also begun to look hollow. We have enough chauvinism and intolerance in its name while the crony capitalist made/ made hay while we are intoxicated on the opium of nationalism. This is why the primacy of politics of redistribution becomes a central concern as we resist private interest that hides as national interest in Goa. The people of Goa have come to see ‘the dakovpache dant and khavpache dant’ of the politics of identity played by the BJP and will not deter away from their resolve even if the Government tries to displace their politics of redistribution by its familiar politics of recognition soaked into Hindutva.

Hindutva politics has largely been silent on economic inequality while has been vocal on what may be at best viewed as cultural harm of disrupted past whether perceived or real. Unfortunately, the politics of recognition championed by Hindutva becomes a cover for an economy that bends to support corporates and often displaces struggles for economic justice as anti-national. They say iron cuts iron. People’s protests in Goa are not completely removed from politics of recognition rooted into the identity of Goa, Goan-ness and Goans. The fact that people struggle to save Goa through the rejections of coal, double tracking and saving of Mollem, our ecology and our precious health, we can find a creative combination of the politics of recognition and redistribution. This response of the people of Goa is exposing the politics of recognition played fully under the guidance and power of instrumental reason in our country. Instrumental reason is only bothered about means and not ends. It instrumentalized reason to seek the best means to serve their selfish ends. This means Goa and its resources are being instrumentalized to serve the ends of the corporates who are only focussed on their vested interest of profiteering and do not scrutinize the means that they employ. This is why they do not care for Goa, Goan-ness and Goans as long as they achieve their goals. It is also to serve this goal that nationalism is also used to give them legitimacy. Unfortunately, nationalism thus has become instrumentalized to serve crony capitalists. This means along with the instrumental reason, we are facing an instrumentalized nationalism that we have the challenge to unmask.

The people’s agitations in Goa are actively unmasking the instrumentalization of nationalism through its own form of politics of recognition that is seeking justice of redistribution. This politics of recognition is not blind to difference and otherness and there is no desire to reduce the otherness into sameness. This is why a true Goan interest becomes simultaneously a national interest. When Goa develops India also develops. Goa cannot be left behind by any development that claims to be promoting national interest. Such development intrumentalizes Goa and Goans and uses our resources to fill the pockets of a few crony capitalists. This is why we have to give more power to the resistance of the people of Goa against the development that is forced on us without our consent. The cry of people that is rejecting these undemocratic authoritarian modes of development is not rejection of all development. It is a cry that is seeking for true and authentic development. This is why all Goans feel the call to join the people who are actively fighting to save Goa. It is a challenge to let the co mingling of the politics of recognition and the politics of redistribution bloom and flower. It has seeds of our emancipation from fascist and authoritarian development and instrumental nationalism that is serving elite minorities who have lobbying power with the powers that be in Delhi. This is why we may say that the celebration of the opinion poll day on 16th Jan 2021 has become a step in the right direction. The real need of the hour is to stand united to resist the second colonization of Goa through its colonization. It’s time to liberate Goa once more.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao