Goa’s social and political disaster fifty-two years after the historic Opinion Poll is what ‘We The Goans’ have invited upon ourselves. For far too long ‘We The Goans’ have been evading political responsibility with a ‘que sera, sera; whatever will be, will be’ type of attitude. To dump the entire blame on politicians and migrants for the current state of affairs in Goa is cowardice. To play innocent and claim that Goans have been cheated by politicians is utter hypocrisy. As the Biblical texts repeatedly warn that “As you sow, so shall you reap”, so is the chaos in Goa nothing more than the sum total of what ‘We The Goans’ have contributed, directly or indirectly, since 1961.
We don’t need pundits, astrologers or fortune tellers to predict what more awaits us socially and politically in this year 2019. When Goans refuse to acknowledge failures and no lessons learnt from past blunders of falling for political myths, political decay is natural. Dysfunctional political systems can thrive only with complimenting citizen behaviour. As long as Goans keep on the political blinkers nothing can be expected to change.
Spanish-born American philosopher and author George Santanya had said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And this is what ‘We The Goans’ have done all these years, chosen to forget the bitter lessons from the Opinion Poll, the Konkani Porjecho Avaz and the Goa Bachao Movement and continued to succumb to the cunning political machinations of the failed mergerists and Hindu supremacists who hide behind a mask of liberalism and Goykarponn. Goa’s curse has been the fork-tongued Goykar who speaks both ways, condemns Hindutva in public and also contributes to Hindu majoritarianism in private. Goa’s destruction is not devoid of Goykars who hobnob with industrialists and politicians offstage and double up on stage as activists to Save Goa.
Recently while speaking at a public forum in Panjim, a popular and so-claimed liberal Goan educationist gave a pernicious twist to the ‘the anti-migrant sentiment in Goa by attributing it to ‘the Catholic community feeling threatened by the influx of Hindu migrants and Muslims, including Goan Muslims.’ What he conveniently chose to ignore is that Goa’s Catholics have never appeared to have a political mind of their own and have always fallen into political snares laid by failed mergerists and Hindu supremacists in secular clothing. This is how minority and Bahujan Samaj politicians get perceived as goons and the Hindu supremacists as clean and progressive. Hindu supremacism even manages to slip into the think-tank of the Catholic Church in Goa.
To be frank, the ‘avaaz’ of Goykars has remained nothing more than a chorus of confused and scheming minds. Social media has facilitated that ‘ease of cheap publicity’ for selfish politicians and activists to circulate videos of chauvinistic Goykarponn. Goans are made to swear against ‘the other’ while the industrialists go about their fishy business. Goans somehow forget that countries have progressed only when citizens take their civic and political duties very seriously. When ‘We The Goans’ are yet to learn to assert their basic civic rights and diligently exercise their civic duties when it comes to footpaths, pedestrian crossings, road discipline, public spaces, public transport, health, sanitation, hygiene and such other basic day to day affairs, how can they be expected to comprehend and tackle the complexities in government policies and corruption related to land, rivers and forests? When the community rights get trampled upon with such ease and justified under the guise of mining and tourism livelihoods, by none other than the greedy Goans themselves, how can Goa’s rich heritage and biodiversity survive? How can a Goan economically entangled or dependent on casinos, drugs and alcohol trade, sex tourism, mining and real estate be expected to preserve the culture of Goykarponn?
The tragedy of Goa’s socio-political debate is its narrow mindedness and failure to comprehend Goa’s problems from a wider context. The Goan discourse hardly sees any concern over the threat to the Constitution of India, the attack on citizen’s rights to speech and privacy and the farmers distress or, the attempts to destroy the autonomy of the Constitutional bodies and universities across the country. Goa, in the recent years, has failed to throw up young leaders who can raise the quality of the political debate. The possible reason behind Goa’s intellectual desertification is the politician-industrialist-activist nexus which destroys creative political thinking. Goykarponn is not necessarily about a life style for every Goan, but an emotional tool for some to grab power. Even anti-defection laws cannot restrain Goan politicians from hopping around..
‘We The Goans’ need to heed the caution sounded by historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari about the rise in a politics of populism with myths revolving around ‘a nostalgic fantasy of our past and a technological utopia of the present’ in order to excite citizens. Pope Francis says, “one of the faults which we observe in socio-political activity, is that spaces and power are preferred to time and processes.”
Gandhiji’s non-violent political weapon of non-cooperation with destructive social, political and economic forces in Goa remains a relevant option of protest that Goans need to consider. But do ‘We The Goans’ have that spiritual stamina to own up responsibility for their political failures and alter their political thinking and behaviour?
(The author is a social worker)