Young Siddesh Bhagat is restless. He wonders why do Goans who are regularly being let down by their leaders, have to battle everything from no deliveries on promised employment to the youth to the denial of their special status to the Goans; not coming out on the streets to protest. He wonders whatever happened to a democracy by the people. Siddesh at 25 is the young sarpanch of Aquem Baixo Village Panchayat and the brave new face of Goa who chose to step into politics despite a Masters in Computer Application because he feels that Goa needs him.
So how are you fighting your Revolution today? Did you speak your mind up about the way your village is being run in the Gram Sabha yesterday or are you filing an RTI to uncover why those potholes appeared on the roads despite a fresh coat of asphalt or are you passing on shocking expose of this Government on Facebook or WhatsApp? Siddesh has a question for each one of us Goemkars. In Delhi, at Jantar Mantar where thousands of Indians descend to find and fight for a common cause, no one cares for food or sleep. It is the raw energy of human spirit, of liberation and freedom that drives these movements. Why don’t the Goans feel the same? Why don’t the Goans come out on the streets and fight?
Were we always like this as a Land, as a Race? Detached, self-centred and laid-back? Was there nothing that we could tell our future generations about other than our monuments, our songs, our literature? Was there always this sense of helplessness that drives many like Siddesh to fight for a different Goa through time immemorial?
Not exactly. If India prides itself for being the home to many of the ancient village republics dating as early as Indus Valley Civilisation and earlier where village leader and village elders were voted in and would have village assemblies, amchem Goem was even better. Our Gaunkaris which later transformed and formalised into Comunidades were the most refined forms of grassroots governance where leadership was nurtured and borne out of common concerns. Democracy was so deep-seated that the homes had Balcaos where family elders would be joined by families and neighbours to discuss important issues ranging from religion to livelihood and from society to polity. Every Goemkar then had a stake in the affairs of her/his land. That’s why we were always special.
Somewhere from being leaders, we slipped to being led by others. The common refrain or defence for our misery is ‘our leaders cheat us’. Whatever happened to the old-fashioned democracy of the people, for the people and most importantly by the people? It isn’t naiveté. Goans with such a high degree of literacy and education definitely cannot be naïve. Rather, they may be suffering from scotomas. So what is scotomas? In psychology, it means a person cannot perceive distortions in their worldview that are obvious to others. In Goa, the electorate, despite knowing that their elected representative be it Panch, MLA or MP is corrupt, of questionable moral character, with loads of criminal charges against him and despite broken promises; vote for him. Why? Because scotomas blind their perception in the context of these leaders being wrong at all. They prefer to see their leaders only with rose tinted glasses of appeasement and pettiness. Goa suffers because its electorate refuses to look beyond the self.
Democracy ‘by’ the people isn’t the same as democracy ‘for’ the people. That is where revolution dies a sussegad death in Goa. Young guns like Siddesh and many seasoned veterans have discovered that Goans would love to benefit a better planet, a better society and even a better government. But then someone else has to fight their battles. A gap that corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen have successfully exploited to bring Goa to the brink where it stands at.