15 Jan 2024  |   05:52am IST

Asmitai & Konkani and ‘Asmitai IS Konkani’ saved Goa, but… …Asmitai is not day-long, it is meant to be life-long.

Asmitai & Konkani and ‘Asmitai IS Konkani’ saved Goa, but…  …Asmitai is not day-long,  it is meant to be life-long.

In your opinion, has Goa done itself proud as the 25th State of the Indian Union?  This is the question we must ask as we prepare to observe the 56th Opinion Poll Day. For 55 years we have looked back at this day as one of pride, success, achievement and courage. What we have failed to ask is, if we have guarded the summit we climbed and reached and planted our flag, or desecrated the very prize that so many of our forefathers and mothers, sacrificed to win it for us.

Have the fruits of the victory of asmitai been preserved or allowed to rot? Has the prize of asmitai, the recognition, and preservation upliftment of Konkani been preserved?

In the days and months leading up to January 16 1967, there was an incredible sense of mission. On that fateful day, it was South Goa and Salcete, in particular, which drowned itself in this sense of mission. So did the gatekeepers of the public sphere, O Heraldo, holding itself accountable to deliver the twin aspirations of the people after the Opinion Poll was won, -Statehood and Konkani.

Indeed identity and language were interwoven in a beautiful and unique tapestry. It was ‘asmitai and Konkani’, but also ‘asmitai is Konkani’, a language that went beyond its script, it was the song of the soil, the aroma in the kitchens, the note in the music, the power in the voice and the strength in the struggle. It was also a mark of clarity, honesty and simplicity.

When we say we have not protected the phrase as well as the idea and feeling “asmitai is Konkani” we mean that we have lost all that Konkani conveys and stands for, beyond the language and its scripts.

When Goa was retained and saved from a merger with Maharashtra, Goans taught and learnt at the same time this cardinal principle- that you can succeed without compromising and when there is a choice, choose to be better.

In your opinion, 56 years later have we lived up to the choice to be better? Because the preservation of identity and beliefs lies in the people. Ask yourself and ourselves:

In your opinion have we maintained the essence 

of Goenkarponn?

As a tribute to the late environmentalist, writer and crusader, Dr Joe D’Souza read his words in his column in O Heraldo in April 2017

“Goenkarponn truly means cherishing and living by Goan identity, culture, environment, and heritage and sustainably utilising its ecosystem, biodiversity, and natural resources for the good of the society at large. Goans are evolving as a “parasitic-dependent” society living on gambling, liquor sale, mining loot and concretization. I only can see and feel Goenkarponn is eluding, evading and being evicted from the Goan diaspora for eternity.”

In your opinion, have we managed our ecosystem and our resources? Perhaps the tears in the eyes of our fishermen and farmers have an answer

This is an intense and prolonged subject but sometimes to get answers, you need to look at truths staring at you from the simplest of spaces. When sugarcane farmers suddenly find that their sugar mills have been traded for an ethanol plant and other farmers want to leave farming because their subsidies have not been paid, you get an answer. When fishermen don’t have money to repair their boats and nets, you have an answer. When compensation hasn’t been paid to thousands of people whose lands have been acquired and highways now through their lands and fields, you have an answer.

When our salt pans and riverine ecosystems are destroyed due to marina projects, you have an answer. When community farming has been allowed to disintegrate and agricultural land allowed to be shrunk further and further, you have an answer.

The impact of all this is serious. Our food security is gone. Our fish stock has been rudely and illegally pulled out by LED light-laden monster trawlers and our hills and rivers have gone.

In your opinion has good leadership followed by good governance a consistent gift of statehood which followed the opinion poll?

The answers to the questions already asked are more than a pointer to this. However, let us look at how the common man sees governance without looking at per capita income, GDP, etc.

Are the youth of Goa wanting to stay back, work, invest and explore opportunities to create and generate wealth? Or are they all looking for a way out of here, even getting Portuguese passports to facilitate a life abroad, even if, as a former Chief Minister once said “to clean toilets”? Many of them live in one-room tenements in the UK, do small-time jobs and send money back which converts to a comfortable sum. All this is because their land does not give them opportunities. Did the selfless fighters for Goa’s identity envisage this? How would they feel today?

Finally, have we paid our debt from within? The debt that we owe to our past generations. In your opinion, have we honoured their sacrifice?

In her latest book, ‘How to Stand up to a Dictator’, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner and the hero of journalism in the world, Maria Ressa, who faces criminal charges that could make her end up in jail for standing up to dictatorial rule in the Philippines, introduced two Filipino terms, delicadeza, and utang na loob. 

Delicadeza is doing the right thing when you wield power. Utang na loob, literally means the debt within where you look at the sacrifices made for you and you in turn ensure that the system you elect doesn’t become one of patronage and corruption.

In your opinion, has the system you have elected from 1967 onwards consistently done the right thing when power is wielded, or has power been snatched from those you have elected and wielded against the people?

As for utang na loob, simply answer if the systems of governance have been of patronage and corruption. Do the police stations do justice on merit, does the genuine Goan get protection against being overrun by mega projects, massive nightclubs and sound pollution without having to fight for it, do people in the mining villages feel secure that ore-laden trucks will not speed through their narrow roads, posing a safety and health risk, will the scourge of double tracking continue to cut through homes in coastal South Goa to enable coal transportation to Karnataka?

Then, have leaders of faiths been faithful to the call of the land, or have they openly played politics for their own ends? Have they misused their standing in society to push voting in the direction of their chosen ones, for their personal interests above Goa’s interests? Have they given a clarion call to defeat defectors who have betrayed people’s faith?

Have we protected our cultural and architectural heritage and ensured that Goa’s leitmotif, its heritage and architecture, have been preserved against all costs? In countries where civilizations have risen to protect their land and country, people have turned their love for their families into their love for the land and nation.

In your opinion, have Goans done that?

On this 56th anniversary of Goa’s opinion poll, our asmitai is at seriously at stake. And it is introspection more than celebration that should be the prevailing mood.



Idhar Udhar