A year before his death, Jawaharlal Nehru had on May 22, 1963 said in a massive public rally in Goa that "Goa has a certain distinctive personality" and “No doubt, gradually it will be changed by the passage of time and other factors. But we have no intention to make any such change. Therefore we have decided, and we hold to that decision, that Goa should remain a separate entity in the Union of India.” Whether Nehru called Goans ajeeb (Hindi for strange) may be disputed but the fact remains that Goa Govt has been behaving vichitr (Konkani for strange) since 2014. The History Book that is used by students of Class X to prepare for their board examinations does not have a picture of India’s first Prime Minister in it. So much for the Man who is credited to have liberated Goa, integrated it into rest of India and let Goa be, special.
Little known to most of us, our children passing their first important certification examination in their academic life may not have not just seen the first PM but also not known that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a religious bigot Godse. But then, for a history book where Goans have been reduced to the role of advisors, advocators and correctors why and how will our children learn about Goem, Goenkar and Goenkarponn? Check this. The fact that the Cuncolim Chieftain’s Revolt of 1583, the Pinto Revolt of 1757 and even Rane’s Revolt of 1852 preceded 1857’s First War of Indian Independence, yet the History book fails to instil that pride in an average school going, student.
Sample this. Goa’s SSC History book wastes 21 pages on Revolution and Independence Movements in America, France, Germany and Italy but gives a meagre 6 pages to Goa’s fight for Independence? No wonder then our teenagers are indoctrinated at such an early age to admire and aspire for El Dorado’s overseas and migrate overseas searching for jobs and comfortable lives. Why don’t our youth come to know of the sacrifice of the Cuncolim Chieftains who stood up much before a Gandhi? Why can’t our youth pride in the fact that despite being under Portuguese Rule for over 450 years all the modern amenities that we now relish including railways, shipping, modern medical education and even mining came to Goa much earlier than the rest of India?
There is a dumbing down that Goa is witnessing in its respect for history. If the youth are not being given its’ history through the prescribed textbooks, Goa’s successive Governments care none the less. More money is pumped into immortalising the local MLAs and Ministers on our mass media than remembering our heroes and milestones in history as a Special Land. There is no incentive to read about Goa’s and Goan’s history. It may not need to be there in our SSC syllabus can’t there just be a comprehensive history book only for reading and weekly discussions in school? Let the prescribed textbook remain reduced to a piece of cow fodder be referred to for exams but even that can have more weight on fair bit of Indian history (minus the RSS airbrush) and more Goan history than the history of the world. As a standalone book, Goa Board’s SSC textbook not only dilutes and disrespects the sacrifice of our native heroes but denies the youth a more Goem flame of inspiration which would make them love and understand Goans better. Clearly, respect for Goa does not exist from the topmost educationists in the state.
Revisiting George Santayana’s immortal words, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"; our Ministers and MLAs espousing the cause of special status, Goenkarponn, etc should first celebrate Goa’s own history in its’ basic textbooks. Modern contemporary history of free India’s first referendum the Opinion Poll or the Konkani Movement which were unprecedented in history is not known to most of our children. And the rate at which the sinister hand of the current Government has been quietly colouring our history, Goa’s future generation will know little of India and even lesser of Goa.