Facing our Political Present – I

Present is not politically neutral but is certainly politically pregnant.  Our time is intense and we have to face its political challenge. We Goans have to face an inevitable politics of the moment.   The very idea of Goa brings forth politics into our living present. Goa becomes several things to several peoples. This becoming of Goa is the main stay of our tourism industry, upper caste sense of privilege, sense of loss and victimhood of people.  Goa in several ways operates as a substitute or the missing one that is sought to be recovered through several indulgences that are opened to those that living in as well as visiting Goa. People enjoy several resonances with Goa.  For the tourists, Goa is a space to transgress and become dissidents while for us it a space in danger and requires our protection. These and in several ways Goa engages us all. These engagements are deeply political. The sense of loss that we Goans feel for the moment is very acute. It almost brings what Freud calls a castration phobia. Here we may also trace the discourse of the master in the form of recent lament of the upper caste (the ruling class) about being minoritised by the latest upheaval in Goan Politics.  The sense of this loss that is articulated by most Goans can be traced in the manner they have rejected the coastal zone regulation management plan as well as a recent flood of migrants into Goa. This acute sense of loss has brought about strong suspicion of Government.  To most of us, Goa thus has become a place of absence. It multiplies several absences all at once. The calculus of these absences shapes our sense of loss and afflicts us as a hauntology.   

The tourists that visit Goa have their own share of hauntologies. They too have their calculus of absences.  Goa is imagined as space of transgression by them. As such, it signifies an absence that haunts their everyday life.  Goa becomes an escape from everyday boredom.  It’s a way of coping with what may be viewed as sense of being out of place.   Paradoxically, by travelling out of one’s place one can overcome the haunting affliction of being out of place.  Thus, coming to Goa is actually for the sake of being at home in one’s place. This means Goa does not actually functions as a place of pure enjoyment.  Thus, to a large extend Goa remains in a suspended condition or a condition of being in-between. Goa becomes another place that enables them be at home. It is space that enables them to appropriate their own home.  This is particularly true to tens and thousands of domestic tourists that are pouring into Goa these days. But Goa being viewed as a place of transgression often leaves a disturbing residue of tourism that afflicts Goans.  Tourism has also become a burden with issues like drugs, waste and casino menace. Besides the tourists, Goans are also displaced by those who use Goa and Goan-ness as raw material to amass wealth. Thus, Goans have several anxieties haunting their living present. 

The political imperative of the present shapes the experience of present as disruptive. It challenges us to develop an emancipative response to our hauntologies ( anxieties).  The pain of sense of loss that is felt by Goans cannot be dismissed.  The degoanization of Goa and Goan-ness has to be brought to a halt. Unfortunately, we are already late. The time lag is compounding our hauntologies. Awareness of our haunted condition of the present is the first step toward an emancipative therapy.  Next, we need to embrace a new humanistic paradigm. Humanism is very central to Goan-ness.   This humanistic paradigm has to be certainly humanitarian.  But its humanitarianism cannot be of a dis-interested universalism. It has to be a humanitarianism that embraces the truly crippled one and the one who is genuinely in need.  Among the crippled, we can turn to the Goans first without excluding others.  We Goans do exhibit self-transcendence and reach out to the needy other without discrimination but often forget the needy Goan among us.  Humanism with universals is inadequate, although it is necessary as a horizon.  We have to continuously concretize its universal ideals to local Goan contexts without becoming communal. The next important step is to devise therapeutic ways of resistance to the marginalisation of Goa and Goan-ness.  In this context, we do not have to seek to shape the world unto the image of Goan-ness but have to take care that Goan-ness does not get diluted or even evaporated into the world. Lets us remember that not just the heart of us Goans is large but our chest is also large.   In this project to stand up for Goa, we need Goans of all walks of life. Goa cannot be saved without Goans. This is the plain truth that we have to continuously remind ourselves. 


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao