Speaking about Goan identity he brings out the dichotomy.
"Christians clung to their Indo-Portuguese identity. Hindus
talked of pan-Indian identity. There was no group or
organisation championing the native ethnic Goan identity,"
he points out. If the Portuguese Inquisition targeted the Hindus
in no uncertain and near-inhuman terms, the Bandodkar Government’s
backlash in land reforms demolishing the existing feudal
structure was understandable but not the utter neglect of
Communidade lands which adversely affected agriculture.
"Bandodkar ought to have brought in his government to fill
the institutional vacuum caused by the removal of Communidades
and landowners for the responsibility of maintaining irrigation
works. Or provided them with sufficient finance to carry out the
traditional responsibility," says Sinha and quite rightly
He also traces the
events that took place between the two communities, Hindu and
Christian, be it the opinion poll, the Konkani language stir or
the Konkan railway route realignment agitation and he doesn’t
mince words in hitting out at the Church which has invariably
politicised issues. He also brings out the irony of the Konkani
agitation which had to eventually surrender to the practicality
of English. Or was their bluff called? Then there was the Church’s
role in the Carnival floats. But what Sinha could have done was
update the role of religion and balance it with Hindutva and the
BJP agenda of setting up little temples everywhere like the
Portuguese set up crosses. After all, aren’t all religions the
same — possessive and even expansionist?
Sinha goes in
detail into the common Civil Code and highlights its uniqueness
and also compares it with the Hindu and Muslim codes but it
doesn’t provide very readable material though one must admit
it is academically sound. The ethnic fencing is candidly brought
out, as is the Goan hostility to the outsider or baile.
It is like the Germans not wanting to do menial work in Germany
and still objecting to increasing Turkish presence. He has a
hilarious anecdote to relate about this attitude to the
outsider: How at a BJP meeting, at which Manohar Parrikar, now
the chief minister, was present, and UP businessman D. P. Tiwari
was snubbed by a BJP man saying: "You came here to do
business, now you want to rule us?"
The decline in
agriculture coincided with the advent of world tourism (thanks
to the hippies), which completely transformed the face of Goa.
But it also had its negative aspects. The dropout rate in
schools was as high as 70 per cent. This is a factor that must
be immediately addressed. The Goans are very choosy about
accepting jobs. Corruption also figures in his book.
All this is
candidly tackled as are a plethora of issues that graphically
bring out the plight of Goans and also provoke thought. Why has
Goa not really progressed after its liberation? Is the Goan
psyche to blame? Why is there rampant corruption or unscrupulous
politicians? How do we overcome these handicaps?
One thing is
inevitable: The Goan must accept the outsider because he needs
him. So he must learn to live with him, or else do the work that
he does. Second, his work ethic has to change, he must compete
with the outsider. Thirdly, he must learn to live in harmony
with the other communities. It is high time he tried to bury his
age-old differences with members of other communities. The Goans’
strength lies in unity that will thwart the vote-bank-conscious
politicians. There must be no differences between Hindus and
Christians. It may sound too ideological but in this respect
grey areas are better than black and white. May be Sinha should
have mooted some such formula in his summing up. Otherwise, all
said and done, it’s a good eye-opener.