The many wars that Goa wages against illegalities and wrongdoings and the (often) tired and clueless fate that they meet could well be summed up in Canadian journalist Malcolm Campbell’s words as “Shallow communities are relatively easier to build”. Goa too has many such armies and renegades who jumped in on to the bandwagon of many popular movements to encash it well. These movements did throw up some interesting breed of leaders but these leaders ended up becoming broods of chance and greed. They came, they build movements, they won, but Goa lost.
“Political movement which gets many people´s hopes up, lets even more people down, makes almost everybody uncomfortable, and a few, extraordinarily rich. It is widely held in high regard” (Adolfo Bioy Casares). One of the most classical examples of this hijack of movement in a moment was of people’s movement against coal pollution in Vasco in the past. The champions of that movement including the then leaders of fishermen community, the future wannabe MLAs all mobilised people, created an establishment narrative and got themselves plum benefits. Years later Vasco’s coal problems have not just compounded, those leaders have gone missing and ganging up against the new leaders of the anti-coal movement. A similar phenomenon extends beyond into other movements too.
Somewhere down the line, activism is being replaced with a slicker ‘clicktivism’ which dwells and thrives in a fool’s paradise. It is not so easy to mobilise people. It takes time, efforts and consistent dialogue to make the affected, the marginalised and even the oppressed communities to believe in the leaders of a common cause. It is not so easy mobilising people if they have made routine face-to-face contact over a long period of time. No wonder then that these movements which sought to mobilise and engineer a people’s movement failed as they could not earn a sense of trust and most important, unity, thus succumbing under pressure. The people simply don’t want to own a revolution.
A youth leader copiously makes digital stickers, posters and memes and tries to market a movement to create an uprising of backward classes, another one tries to get the right logo from his digital marketing team to create a pan-Goan movement to save a river – suddenly leaders want more reach, more followers not by the depth of purpose but by the attractiveness of their message. What digitalisation of movements has done is restrict messages more to the eyes than to the brain behind it in Goan context. A purpose is no more associated with how many people can step out of the comforts of their homes to fight a battle but who gets more attracted with volumes of knowledge and pontification and attractiveness of messages that flow across Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagrams. What people like about the cause is no more what people like to do anything about it. Result, all people’s movements are turning into courtroom battles and PILs championed by a dedicated few.
It is time for Goenkars to look beyond their smartphone and computer screens and shed a sweat and a tear beyond. Those men and women at Azad Maidan or Lohia Maidan and elsewhere are fighting battles that could have been yours too. Those voters who did not take money yet went ahead to vote for the right candidate in elections despite seeing that the vote banks were paid to do so could be you too if you cared. Goa has been susegad too long. If it wants to join hands with a hunger-striking activist simply demanding replacement of a sick CM with a healthier one to keep democracy vibrant and alive, there is a stirring happening somewhere. You want to be cynical and nitpick or you want to stand next to him and demand the same is what will decide whether Democracy still exists in Goa and are the people a-live enough.