Let’s stop playing ‘statue’!

Dr. Jack de Sequeira Image Source: ItsGoa

In recent days we have in several ways heard the cry to return to Goa and  Goan-ness.  There has been a forgetting of Goa and Goan-ness that is rightly sought to overcome by these cries.  This re-articulation of the primacy of Goa and Goan-ness seems to take place within the question of Justice. Maybe we are challenged to ask how justice is possible in a Goa where a different and even incompatible notion of good often reigns. This conflict on the notion of good is best exemplified in the different responses that we have seen on the issue of the statue of Dr. Jack Sequira.  Perhaps, to raise this question of justice, we may have to follow John Rawls, Theory of Justice. Rawls proposes a hypothetical condition that will enable us to derive fundamental principles of justice.  The essential feature of this hypothetical condition is a suspension of our knowledge of the notion of good,  our religious, political, ideological and psychological inclinations and enter into what he calls the veil of ignorance and deliberate on the issue concerned. This according to Rawls will enable rational beings to agree on the fundamental principle of justice.  What would be that hypothetical condition that we need to enter in Goa to generate a just response to the question of the Statue of Dr. Jack Sequira? What is it that we will have to suspend and enter the veil of ignorance? 

Perhaps, we may have to suspend our religious as well as caste identities, political ideologies and enter the veil of ignorance. The veil of ignorance that we may have to enter in this context is a condition that sees the issue based on the primacy of Goan-ness, Goa and Goans. When we look at the issue plainly from the Goa-centric position maybe the question of the statue will see a just solution. Hence, the issue is, given our present political, casteist, religious locations, do we really have the capacity to see the issue from a Goa-centric location alone? Maybe our Goan-ness is intertwined with our politics, religion, caste etc. One cannot find fault with this inter-mingling of Goan-ness with caste, religion, ideologies and politics. What Rawls theory of Justice requires us is a capacity to distance ourselves and look at the issue dispassionately basing entirely on our reason to enable us to look at it from a Goa-centric position. Our capacity or incapacity to find a destination  which is inclusively Goan position to view the issue will indicate whether we are a just society or not.  Maybe we cannot find an agreeable level Goan ground to see the question of the statue. We might be still seeing it as Catholics, Hindus, Brahmins, Bahujans etc. Perhaps, we have to rise above all divisive identities and ideologies and look at the question of the statue from an inclusive location of Goan-ness.  

All-inclusive Goan-ness can be a neutral point to understand and respond to the issue under question. This neutral space is a minimal ground where all Goans can belong.  We seem to forget Goan-ness when we try to solve the issue of the statue of Dr Jack Sequira from a political, religious caste and ideological leanings. Using Lockean or Hobbesian language one may say that in the state of nature, we seem to be first Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Bahujans etc., and then Goans or Indians. Maybe we have to allow inclusiveness of Goan-ness to generate our response to the issue at hand. Goan-ness has resources and Goans have the capacity to resolve it. Amartya Sen teaches that we may not have justice even when we have both the resources and capacity. He invites us to consider the two words Niti and Nyaya from ancient Indian jurisprudence. The former relates to the organizational propriety and behavioural correctness while the latter is concerned with what emerges and how it is concerned with the life of the people. It simply means we have legal resources like Laws, Court, Lawyers and juridical procedures in place (we have Niti) but will it give us just outcomes (Nyaya )?  The fact that Goan-ness and Goans have resources and capacities (Niti) to respond from a Goa-centric view to the issue at hand does not guarantee that we Goans will generate a just response (Nyaya). What we need is an enabling leap of consciousness. This enabling leap of consciousness might open our embrace to the primacy of Goan-ness. We all need a healing touch. We seem to have been playing ‘the children game of statue’ that rendered us frozen with the touch of our opponents. Our fixated views based on our religion, caste, ideology(that guide our response to the issue at hand) is an instance of being frozen by consideration of what it does to our opponents. We need a healing touch to set us free.  Maybe we need the touch of Goan-ness to set us free from this frozen condition.   May the issue of the statue of Dr Jack Sequira assist us to free ourselves from  ‘the game of statues’ that seem to be afflicting us in post-colonial Goa.    Let’s stop playing statue! This will enable us to give a monument for the monumental contribution of Dr. Jack Sequira. It will bring healing to our wounded society. 

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao