Politics and the Sources of our Goan Selfhood

The sources of our self are being used and abused by political parties to milk votes and come to power. To understand our plight it might be important that we understand the sources of our selves. Indeed, we have an inner core self but it draws a sense of itself from our culture, religion, land , caste, family, peers,  education and several  intense events  of one’s life . It is these sources of self that provide a sense of wholeness and unity.  It is around these sources of self that every individual gravitates and makes meaning of one’s life.  Besides, one continuously migrates to different sources of one’s self to respond to different exigencies of life.  We do have an inner core self but it negotiates with various conditions and responds to the challenges that are posed by the evolving context in which it finds itself.  It is not that we split our personality and mask different selves and hide our authentic selves.  We do not have chameleonic personality that masquerades shifting roles without reflexive consciousness. Though we are shaped by our socio-political and religious contexts, we are capable of shaping our selves as well as dynamic contexts.    

The refection on the self of Goans is very important in the context of the rising tide of the kind of politics that is at play in our society. Certainly, there are plural sources of  Goan selfhood and there is a considerable complexity about it. They have cultural, religious, territorial, colonial, historical, economic, educational, moral, linguistic, caste as well as aspirational coordinates. These coordinates define our Goan-ness.  They along with  other coordinates, that I have not named here , together or as a collection of a few,   constitute the individual, as well as collective self narratives of Goans.  Hence, there is a given content of a Goan self which in a dynamic dialogue with its living context goanizes itself.  Our Goan Self is constituted by the above factors that uniquely determine our Goan-ness  and is challenged to produce ourselves in constructive dialogue with the changing context of Goa and beyond. The notions of the individual self as well as the collective self is weaved on a narrative thread. It is on this narrative thread that life begins to have meaning, and a horizon of destiny. The horizon of destiny becomes an already-not-yet dimension which produces an ethical imperative that pushes Goans to goanize and become fully Goan. 

The self is dynamically moving towards what may be called the horizon of destiny. The horizon of density is the store house of all that we consider as precious and valuable. It belongs to the social archive of Goa. Any insult to the values enshrined in the social archive of Goa can bring pain, anger and revolt as we saw in the case of the de-notification of the coconut tree.  The value-laden social archive determines the  sense of self among Goans. In recent days due to an erosion of values embedded in our social archive, Goans legitimately feel a sense of loss and are on a path of recovery  it in different ways.  The kind of development that is being forced down the throats of Goans dislocates us from our value-laden social archive and we can see how Goans everywhere are rebelling against the authoritarian form of development. This has changed the narratives of both BJP and Congress parties and both are perceived as anti-Goa and anti-Goans. This has opened the space for AAP and the local outfit Goa Forward to place a counter-narrative before Goans. While the AAP may resonate with the Goans as it promises to save Goa through its corruption-free Government, the local political outfit cannot be dismissed because it is standing directly within the value-laden social archive of Goa. 

 What it means to be a Goan is steadily becoming the central focus  of politics in Goa. Almost every political Party is evoking the sources of Goan self and attempts to garner support. Thus, for a long time the BJP as well as the Congress party has tried to politicize the religious dimension of the Goan selfhood. The BJP attempts to harvest votes by appealing to the Hindu self of the Goans while the Congress tried to move to all but with a special leaning to the minorities like the Catholics and the Muslims. Goans seem to have understood the cunning mechanism of the national parties which craft their political capital by engaging the religious dimension of their selfhood. The religious constituent of the selfhood of us Goans is  often abused to mask the corrupt interests of both the national parties.  Hence, the politics that is at play in our society has always preyed upon how we endorse or oppose the religious sources of our selfhood. With new political players in the fray, both national parties have already begun to feel the heat of alternative options that we Goans are beginning to have.   

The MGP had always struck a chord with the Bhaujan-self  among the Hindu brethren.  The same may be said of the AAP which has begun to resonate with the aam aadmi-ness in each one of us. One might also see the ‘Goykar’ in us moving towards Goa Forward. All politics in Goa is somehow linked to the sources of our Goan self. The sense of betrayal along with a sense of loss of Goan-ness has led several Goans to gravitate towards AAP and Goa Forward. Some people have already begun to suggest that AAP and Goa Forward should consider an alliance to defeat BJP as well as Congress. They express fears that BJP may return to power benefiting from the split of votes brought about by these new comers  in Goan politics. Hence, in the present scenario, it is not enough that we critically understand what are the sources of our Goan  self  but have to reach a profound insight that will  open us  to the politics that splits the sources of our self to  carve its vote banks. Hence, a politics that stands for our  integral Goan-ness along with non-corrupt governance  may be the way ahead for Goa.  

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao