Dayanand Bandodkar, Ambedkar and Nehru

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By KAUSTUBH NAIK

In his essay titled ‘A Warning to Untouchables’, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar appeals to the depressed classes to strive for two goals. The first one being the pursuit of education and spread of knowledge, for he believed that the power of the dominant castes rested upon the lies consistently propagated among the uneducated masses. Challenging the dominance of the privileged classes requires countering these lies which could only happen with education. Secondly, he asserts that the depressed classes must strive for power. Ambedkar says that “[w]hat makes one interest dominant over another is power [and] that being so, power is needed to destroy power”.

The rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party under the leadership of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh from the mid 1990s is considered a success story of Ambedkar’s aforementioned appeals. But Parag Parobo’s recently published book, India’s First Democratic Revolution (2015), could help us imagine Goa’s first Chief Minister, Dayanand Bandodkar, as a bahujan leader whose politics resonated with Ambedkar’s political scheme mentioned above, much before Kanshi Ram and Mayawati.

In the first three state elections (1963, 1967, and 1972), the Indian National Congress (INC) suffered most humiliating defeats in Goa while Bandodkar and his Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party single-handedly emerged as the most powerful political force. The reason for this, as cited by Parobo, was the INC’s dependence on reproducing feudal and caste hierarchies within the INC’s organizational structure. During the first Goa assembly elections in 1963, the INC gave candidature mostly to upper caste landlords and “freedom fighters”, leaving no space for the representation of subordinated castes. Bandodkar, on the other hand, placed an emphasis on giving tickets to the individuals belonging to the bahujan samaj, two significant examples being Kashinath Shetgaonkar, a loin-cloth-wearing farmer and Vijay Kamulkar, a tea-stall-owner, both from Pernem. Shetgaonkar and Kamulkar won their respective seats while defeating feudal doyens Raghunathrao Deshprabhu and Vaikunthrao Dempo. Deshprabhu and Dempo’s loss reflects the grit of the masses to reject the INC’s attempt to reproduce upper caste dominance within electoral democracy.

Bandodkar’s caste background not only informed his political strategy but also his vision. Parobo astutely elaborates on this aspect by analyzing Bandodkar’s educational policies for Goa vis-à-vis Jawaharlal Nehru’s educational policies for India. Nehru is uncritically considered as the architect of Modern India by a large majority of the Indian population. Nehru’s narrative of development was launched through investments in heavy industries and mega-projects and dams, which Nehru referred to as the ‘temples of Modern India’. However, as Parobo points out, Nehru’s development rhetoric emphasized higher education by downplaying the value of basic education in the country. At a time when a vast portion of the country’s population did not have access to basic education, Nehru made precious resources available to higher education in the process  starving primary and secondary schools of funds.

High resolution Image of bookParobo articulates it precisely when he writes that “at a time when investments in higher education were a priority being driven by [the] Nehruvian vision of India, Goa’s story was being scripted very differently”. Within one month of taking charge of the government, Bandodkar announced the setting up of 200 primary schools for the academic year 1964-65. The major thrust of his educational policy was to eradicate inequality by universalizing primary education and to make education accessible to everyone in Goan society by setting up educational institutions in villages, especially for those who belonged to lower ranks in the caste hierarchy. Under Bandodkar’s tenure, the number of primary schools increased from 274 to 492 in 1964-65 and further increased to 900 in 1967. According to Parobo, Bandodkar did not merely limit himself to opening up schools but also created conditions that would make Bahujan access to education possible. For example, Bandodkar’s land reforms liberated the low caste mundkars from feudal compulsions and responsibilities, thus easing their way towards acquiring education. The results of these concentrated efforts were seen in the census of 1971, wherein in the New Conquests, a region which had received relatively less attention in terms of education before 1961, the literacy rate increased from 18 to 51 percent.

Bandodkar seized political power which, according to Ambedkar, was the master key for the lower caste emancipation. Through his political strategies and reforms, Bandodkar was able to achieve two things. Firstly, Bandodkar disrupted the elite Goan establishment, both Hindu and Catholic, which was reaping benefits available to them through their support of the Portuguese colonial state. Secondly, he strategically rejected the INC’s hierarchical politics as well as the Nehruvian vision of development that catered to safeguarding the interests of the elites. Instead, he scripted a development narrative that prioritized the liberation of the lower caste communities. Thus, even though Bandodkar may not have engaged directly with Ambedkar’s political thought, he was able to demonstrate the potential of Ambedkar’s vision of subaltern emancipation. He did this by seizing political power and exposing the limits of the Nehruvian model of governance. This goes to show that a critical questioning of Nehruvian idea of ‘modern’ nation and coupling an inclusive version of Bandodkar’s strategy with Ambedkar’s political thoughts could help us to imagine possibilities of emancipating the subaltern in contemporary times.

(First published in The Goan Everyday, dt: 27 October, 2015)

The Hypocrisy of Goa’s Protesting Awardees

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By JASON KEITH FERNANDES, DALE LUIS MENEZES, AMITA KANEKAR, VISHVESH KANDOLKAR, and KAUSTUBH NAIK

In the context of a number of Sahitya Akademi awardees across India returning their respective awards in protest against the growing intolerance in India, in Goa around fourteen Sahitya Akademi awardees together with Padmashri awardees Maria Aurora Couto and Amitav Ghosh came together and issued a joint statement on 15 October, 2015. One would be struck by the hypocrisy contained in their press note released were it not for the fact that their politics of intolerance is so blatantly displayed all over the same note.

In their statement these local notables condemn “the rising trend of intolerance in the country which threatens freedom of expression…[and] the age-old liberal and all-encompassing philosophical traditions of this country.” One would take this concern seriously were it not for the fact many of these notables have been complicit not only in acts of intolerance themselves, but also physical violence.

For some years now there have been demands from many quarters that Konkani literature written in the Roman script also be given governmental recognition. But Sahitya Akademi awardees like Pundalik Naik and N. Shivdas, who have presided over the Goa Konkani Academy, have not felt it necessary to take up this cause and ensure that a Konkani tradition with a longer history than that in the Nagari script one is recognised. On the contrary, all of these protesting SahityaAkademi awardees and Padmashri Couto have watched silently while Roman-scriptKonkani has been officially ignored and excluded from all kind of state recognition, including awards and grants.

In addition, these persons have maintained a studious silence while their associates, such as Uday Bhembre and Nagesh Karmali, have engaged in the most vicious hate speech against the Catholic community in the course of the Medium of Instruction controversy (that has raged from 2011), when Goan parents demanded the right to determine the manner in which their children are educated. Where was their concern for the alleged liberal traditions, and traditional bonhomie, of Goa then?

To make matters worse, these same notables watched silently when in 2005 Naguesh Karmali, a member of this verygroup of protestors, led a violent mob in destroying public and private property on the grounds that such property was encouraging Portuguese (read as Catholic) culture in Goa.Given that Goa has had a long and historical relationship with Portugal, doesn’t the violent smashing of manifestations of this relationship amount to an act of the very same rabid communalism that these worthies profess to protest against?

In light of these inconsistencies, and the equally amusing announcement that they will hold on to their awards until the meeting of the executive committee of the Sahitya Akademi, it appears that these awardees seem more interested on jumping onto the bandwagon of political trendiness, than for any desire to stand against the growing intolerance in the country, and indeed, Goa itself.

We would like to stress that while it is true that the government of Mr. Modi has definitely presided over a rise in intolerance in the country, the roots of this intolerance lie deeper in the country’s history. As we have already pointed out, a number, if not all, of these Goan awardees are complicit in this intolerance. Their complicity is further evident in the manner in which they phrase their protest within the language of Hindutva. Why, for example, are the recent acts compared to ‘talibanism’, instead of calling them Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism? Talibanism is a phenomenon situated outside the country, when Hindutva is the problem actually at hand, given that Kalbargi, Pansare and Dabholkar lost their lives as a result of their opposition to this ideology. Indeed, Hindu nationalism has been a problem since before Indian independence. In referencing the Taliban, these awardees continue the refusal to recognize Hindu nationalism as the single greatest cause of concern in this country since 1947.

(First published in DNAIndia (Web) on 23 October, 2015)

In conclusion, we would be more convinced of the genuine concerns of these state awardees from Goa if we heard them also protest the exclusion of Konkani in the Roman script from legislative recognition, also the violent condemnation of the Goans who are simply asking for English as a state-supported medium of instruction for their children, and also the lack of implementation of constitutional guarantees for education and jobs to historically discriminated-against Goan communities. Such protests would go further in establishing norms for the respect of fundamental rights, and the establishment of law and order in our state and country.

The Remarkable Syncretism in Goa’s Early Modern Architecture

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By AMITA KANEKAR

There is a tendency in South Asia to privilege the early in architecture, as George Michell mentions in his recent book, Late Temple Architecture of India (2015), as if beginnings are more important than later developments. And even when later works are examined it is usually in comparison with the earlier, as a linear progression, or – more often than not – a regression. This attitude of course fits in very well with the nationalist approach to Goa’s history, i.e. with the concerted effort to show that Goa has always been a part of India despite 450 years of Portuguese rule, and despite the non-existence of, both, Goa and today’s India before the Portuguese arrived. Thanks to this tendency, and the concurrent emphasis on the ‘Indian’ in Goa’s ‘ancient’ heritage, many people might be unaware that Goa is the home of a unique tradition of architecture of the early modern period. Old Goa is well known, of course, as a UNESCO world heritage site, but Goa’s remarkable heritage goes beyond Old Goa, to its own unique church tradition, its own mosque tradition, and its own temple tradition, all of which developed in connection to one another.

This latter point, i.e. the influence of different building types on one another, counters the neat compartmentalisation that even architects tend to do, seeing temples as related to only temples, mosques to mosques, and so on. And here we come to another shibboleth of architectural history in South Asia – the religious style. Designating of style, in which aesthetic or formal elements are grouped together as a tradition, is a long-popular way of evaluating buildings. But while European stylistic identification is roughly based on era and elements, in India it is common to connect style with religion – thus ‘Hindu architecture’ and ‘Muslim architecture’ are terms heard not just among laypeople but even among teachers of architecture. This of course ignores the fact that there are multiple traditions of both mosque- and temple-building, also that the latter was fundamentally influenced by Buddhist monuments. And it also ignores the still-vibrant heritage of the early modern period, not just in Goa but all over South Asia, which directly challenges such narrow-mindedness.

Even before the sixteenth century, Vijayanagara, true to its Islamicate culture, was adopting Deccan Sultanate forms and systems in secular building, while the Sulltanates themselves looked towards Persia and China for inspiration. Things became more heterogenous later, with the Ikkeri Nayakas probably the first to use Sultanate forms in temples. By this point, European influences had also arrived in South Asia, as can be seen in the later works of the Mughals, which included Persian, Central Asian, Gujarati, Bangla, Deccani, and also European elements of design. This became the norm, with even socially conservative and casteist regimes, like the Peshvas of Pune and the Jaipur rajas, founding temples that closely resemble Sultanate mosques and Mughal baradaris.

For, syncretic architecture does not imply a liberal society, just a connected one. Architecture has always been about power; architectural syncretism was usually about connecting elites to other elites. But it does negate the huge importance that we ascribe today to religious difference.

An even more intense syncretism can be seen in Goa, perhaps because of its history as a centre of global trade. This begins with the Goan mosque, also called the Adilshahi mosque. As Mehrdad Shokoohy points out in his study of the Safa Masjid of Ponda (1997), the architecture here blends Malabar Islamicate traditions of intricate timberwork (and details influenced by South-East Asia), with Bijapuri arches and tank. Bijapur is in fact the common element that links Goan mosques, churches and temples, with the tiered corner towers of the Gol Gumbaz reflected in the tiered forms of church facades as well as the lamp-towers of the big temples. The latter, being the latest of the trio, were strongly influenced by the churches as well, displaying their classical orders and nave-and-aisle layouts alongside Bijapuri domes, arches, tanks and lamp-towers, even as they roughly follow spatial arrangements for brahmanical shrines in the larger region.

Given such a rich heritage, it would be good to see a concerted effort for its protection. The churches and mosques do appear somewhat protected, though one might cavil at the errors in reconstruction efforts, as at the Safa Masjid. The temples however are another story, with many temple trusts as well as architects trying to replace them with grander structures that emulate the temple forms of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and elsewhere, or even replicas of old local ones like the Tambdi Surla temple. As Leanne Alcasoas points out in her study of contemporary Goan temples (Goa College of Architecture, unpublished B. Arch. dissertation (2013)), the current boom of renovation includes expansion as well as complete rebuilding, in order to produce showy spectacles that can be seen anywhere in India.

But why? One reason might be the money in renovation, or the hope that jazzier architecture will attract bigger crowds. But along with this is the complaint that Goan temples are not ‘authentic’ or ‘Hindu’ enough.

Such are our times. The Vijayanagara kings who identified themselves as Hindu, or Aurangzeb who similarly identified with Islam, did not see their architecture as belonging to a religion. This bigoted and ahistorical outlook belongs to today; and it is likely to cost us more than just some architectural heritage.

(First published in O Heraldo, dt: 22 October, 2015)

When the Bahujans Speak

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By KAUSTUBH NAIK

The discourse on Goa’s history oscillates between two dominant narratives, one is that of Goa Dourada –a reminiscence about a Goa that is European; and the second —Goa Indica– which is a nationalist reversal of Goa Dourada, at times propagated by oriental scholars. Both are often pitted against each other, ultimately trying to erase the existence of the other narrative. However, both these narratives emerge from elite rungs of Goan society and hence fail to represent the complex nature of Goa’s diverse social ethos. The inadequacy of these narratives lies in the very nature of their historiography which tends to ignore or silence the marginalized communities of the land. Till recently, no scholarly attempts of writing ‘history from below’ were made in the context of Goa and the recently published book India’s First Democratic Revolution – Dayanand Bandodkar and the rise of the Bahujan in Goa (2015) by Parag Parobo is a step towards bringing marginalized  narratives of history to the fore. Parag Parobo is a professor of History at the Goa University.

The book chronicles the rise of Hindu Bahujan samaj in post-colonial Goa under the leadership of Dayanand Bandodkar. Moving away from the trend of solely attributing the Portuguese colonial state for the ‘making and unmaking’ of Goa, Parobo argues that Goa was a product of Portuguese as well British colonialism. Similarly, post-colonial Goa isn’t a self-standing entity but, he says, one needs to place Goa in wider context of the subcontinent while assessing its regional complexities. Adopting a non-conformist approach to the Portuguese colonialism, the book also debunks the trend to attribute Goa’s post-colonial advancements to the Portuguese colonialism, which fell considerably short to revive a stagnating economy in Goa since the nineteenth century.

High resolution Image of bookThe book begins by giving a detailed accounts of formation and consolidation of caste identities in Goa. The case of Gaud Saraswat Brahmins (GSBs) is of particular importance here to understand their dominance in contemporary civic sphere. The book argues that the Brahmin status of Saraswats is actually a seventeenth century construct, following the intervention of the Benares based Vedic scholar Gaga Bhatta. Porobo also critically analyses the myth of Parashuram as narrated in the Sahayadrikhand from the nineteenth-century, rebutting the antiquity of the claims therein. Thus, Porobo challenges a dominant view that asserts the GSBs as the original settlers of Goa, based on a nineteenth-century rendition of the Sahayadrikhand.

Simultaneously, Parobo also offers insight into the reorganisation of lower caste communities around the Maratha identity as a path to seek upward mobility. Further, the book analyses the colonial state in its local and micro contexts, unearthing the elitist nature of Portuguese colonialism. Parobo argues that the colonial state, and its collaboration with Saraswat Brahmins, actually accelerated the Brahminisation of Goa in terms of establishing control on land, temple, administration, and history.

In post-colonial Goa, Parobo provides a detailed account of Bandodkar’s politics and how his lower caste affiliation complimented with his capitalist background marked a possibility of emancipation for the Bahujan samaj in Goa. Parobo provides insightful analysis of the merger issue for which Bandodkar has been criticised by a certain fraction of Goan society even today. Parobo argues that, though the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s (MGP) chief agenda was to merge Goa with Maharashtra, Bandodkar wasn’t keen on the merger. He says Bandodkar’s personal political interest may have taken precedence over the party ideology. Even though the rest of the MGP wasn’t satisfied with the opinion poll verdict, Bandodkar was first to accept it. The opinion poll did not dent Bandodkar’s image but on the contrary, strengthened it. MGP’s vote base and seats increased in the elections that followed the merger. Parobo further analyses Bandodkar’s regime through his far reaching land reforms, educational policies and healthcare initiatives that proved to be emancipatory to the Bahujan samaj.

The book seeks to project Goa onto India to demonstrate how the marginalized, equipped with political power, can change the course of their progress and create newer possibilities for themselves. Nehru’s vision for India was a result of his upper caste elite background which worked only to the benefits of Indian elites while the marginalized struggled to find a place for themselves within that vision. Bandodkar, with his lower caste capitalist background, set a model of governance that prioritized liberating the Bahujans from bonds of feudal and social oppression. The limit of Nehruvian idea of development and liberating nature of Bandodkar’s governance is evident from Parabo’s astute analysis of their respective education policies.

The book departs from the traditional narratives of Goa Dourada and Goa Indica and reterritorializes Goan history from the perspective of the lower castes. However, its scope is limited to the Hindu Bahujans and the narrative of the subaltern Catholic is largely absent in this work. Also, the book does not provide an analysis of the progress of Bahujans post the Bandodkar regime, which was systematically hurdled by the resurgence of brahminical dominance in Goan civic sphere. The denial of official language status to Marathi or the recent amendments to the tenancy act are telling examples. Nevertheless, the book offers some great insights into Goa’s history and is a must read for individuals interested in understanding Goa as well for those engaged in articulating newer possibilities of subaltern politics in contemporary Indian context.

(The book is published by Orient BlackSwan under their “New Perspectives in South Asian History” series. The book is available for online purchase on Amazon)

(First published in The Goan Everyday, dt: 13 October, 2015)

‘CASI-NO’: Graffiti as Public Art

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By VISHVESH KANDOLKAR

The word “CASI-NO” is painted on a wall next to the Panjim-Betim ferry bus-stop in the capital. This is not the only location where the graffiti exists. The choice of the ferry wall in the city seems to be an excellent location for the purpose of any protest art. But considering the context, it is surprising that this stenciled piece of art continues to sit right under the nose of the giant casinos which it is opposing. This piece of graffiti is an example of public art and more such works are needed to reclaim the public space from the unabashed domination and bombardment of consumerist commercial hoardings and signage.

casi_No

Graffiti is usually words and/or drawings, painted on the walls of public spaces. In his informative master’s thesis on communication and design, Advertising, Propaganda and Graffiti Art (2006), Alex Kataras argues that contemporary graffiti art is the by-product of a society inundated with commercial advertisements. He explains that this art often borrows from the aesthetics of signage and the jargon of advertising campaigns. After all, he claims, just as in current advertising, contemporary graffiti art also relies on its ability to awaken the viewer’s curiosity. Kataras rightly argues that the current advertisements have moved on to the aesthetisation of commodities and consequently a world in which the promise made by the seller ­ of love, eternal youth, or fairer skin – turns people into neurotic obsessive-compulsive consumers, with a penchant for instant gratification and a five-second attention span.

We in Goa have largely been resigned to blindly swallowing the propaganda of such commercial and political advertising, which include countless large, gaudy, repetitive, attention-seeking hoardings and signage. However, in similar contexts in Brazil and Argentina, graffiti artists have been able to reclaim some of the city space through captivating public art. According to graphic designer Tristan Manco, one of the main missions of the graffiti artists is to reclaim the city space, either as a reaction to the consumerist advertising, or to make a personal mark on the environment. After all, graffiti art has always been the voice of the underdog, as stencils, tags or simple slogans.

The CASI-NO graffiti, although a relatively small work of art, is very intelligent in its design. It mimics traffic signage, and is especially similar to ‘No Parking’ emblems. By this reference it echoes a larger public sentiment that casino ships are not to be ‘parked’ (docked) in the river, while simultaneously opposing casino culture itself. Graffiti like CASI-NO are based on guerrilla-style action; done quickly and anomalously. This very anonymity is indicative of the surreptitiousness needed in a repressive political economy.

Although there are artists in Goa who express their social concerns through their art work, these mainly remain restricted to the art-galleries with their negligible footfall. Some artists have, however, made their art public in such virtual fora as Facebook. One such artist whose work I enjoy is Angela Ferrao. Her art communicates social and political concerns which, at times, words fail to express. She has worked on many issues concerning contemporary Goa, such as citizenship, mining, casinos, caste, and language, to name a few. But she is one of a kind. While city walls and hoarding spaces are sold to the corporate world of advertisement, the Goan audiences, especially those who do not have access to the internet, remain deprived of witty social art available on virtual fora. It is sad that Goa finds more expressive space for protest art on the net rather than on the ground. One wonders whether this is because art culture is generally restricted in Goa.

Not that graffiti is always used as a mark of protest. Recently, one Mexican town, Palmitas, was in the news because the government sponsored young local graffiti artists to paint the entire town, without interfering into the theme of their work. With the help of local participants, the artist group named Germen Crew changed the face of the town creating for it a unique global identity.

Some would argue that Mario Miranda’s work as promoted in public places, such as in Panjim market, could pass as public art. As much as I enjoy Mario’s work, I think the popularity of his work has reduced perceptions in Goa of what art is supposed to look like and do. Because Mario’s work is so ubiquitous, it has taken the place of what we think of as public art, especially because it is so commercial. Also, public art does not emerge from official endorsement of it, especially when it is used for touristic consumption as emblematic to a particular saleable idea of Goa. Moreover any promotion of the dominant ideology, be it political or commercial, also cannot be held as public art. We therefore remain in the debt of the artist/s who painted the CASI-NO graffiti I’ve been discussing, because it claims the public space with boldness and imagination.

(First published in The Goan Everyday, dt: 11 October, 2015)

Fight the Lie to the Bull in the Name of Cultural Heritage!

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

The Chief Minister’s announced plan to restore bull fights in the Goan arena again, is mired in strategic fascist politics, given that restored is spoken of in the name of cultural heritage. Is this talk of restoration of bullfights going to be the proverbial foot through a door that will finally open up to sanction for all kinds of practices in the name of cultural heritage?

What constitutes cultural heritage? Must everything that constitutes cultural heritage be retained or restored? Sati was supposedly a cultural heritage, and when it was banned many caste-hindus protested about the colonial insensitivity. How would restoration of bullfights as a cultural heritage be different from the restoration of sati? According to some, the latter is also part of our culture, as a stone in the Goa Government museum bears testimony.

There is a polarisation of people on the issue of bullfights between the defenders of human rights and the defenders of animal rights, which seems to provide an opportunity for undemocratic totalitarian politics to hold the day. There is a “we-say-it-is-cultural-heritage- therefore-it must-be-retained-no matter-what-be-the-consequences” tone.

While there is a certain power in organising the bull-fights, there also emerged another kind of powerlessness because the bullfights could no longer be organised and subaltern sections that were involved in the bullfight related activities were being targetted. The power comes from a certain macho ability to organise the bullfights by raising the bulls and preparing and provoking them into a fight. And the powerlessness as in operation today comes from the selective criminalisation of practices of certain sections, of certain communities.

Let me relate my own experience of witnessing bull-fights. They were organised right in front of my ancestral house at Taleigao, on Harvest feast day in August each year at the Church Square. As a child, I was a regular attendee. There were crowds of people from all over Goa, to witness the spectacle. Often the bulls would lock themselves into a fight but there were also occasions when the bulls refused to lock themselves into the fight and simply ran away from the arena. This would cause a near stampede, because everyone was afraid, and naturally so, of being gored by the horns of the bull. There were also those occasions when, while the bulls were locking horns, some men in the crowd would take advantage of the situation and sexually harass women attendees, which I have also also been a victim of. Although this experience kept me from going for bull-fights again, I cannot forget how I enjoyed the spectacle of bull-fights along with relatives and Taleigao friends from the neighbourhood.

This naïve indulgence in adrenaline thrills of childhood is today a subject of a deeper anguish and guilt. I am re-questioning it because the whole idea of entertainment at bull-fights was built around bulls locking horns thereby putting a premium to fights, completely ignoring the cruelty to the bulls.

But then, when the bullfights were banned, the Government did nothing to rehabilitate the people from subaltern sections of society who were dependent on it. Even if a ban were to be inevitable, the Government had to demonstrate its humanitarian responsibilities to rehabilitate affected small entrepreneurs. Human rights invariably are made to take a back seat in the wake of bans.

Also, is restoration of bullfights a seeming way of addressing or pretending to address deep-seated prejudices that are increasingly surfacing ? We have a multifaceted and diverse cultural heritage. We continue to be robbed of much of its positive character, now in the name of Hindu Rashtra politics. So, can such isolated governance acts which polarise on human rights v animal rights lines, really bring back our cultural heritage? Can it at all restore our faith, when we see day in and day out the fascist tendencies running rampage to give a certain finality to dominant society practices as superior cultural heritage? How else does one explain the utter callousness following the killing of a Muslim on the ground that he ate beef? Or wringing out the survival of Catholics and Muslims in the business of beef?
Besides, the contextually located open spaces where bull-fights used to be held are vanishing. So, is this announcement about bullfights a red herring about choices that cannot be really exercised anymore? Surely they will not change the increasing encroachment, if we may call it that, on our spaces, on our positive cultural heritage, by rightwing Hindutva fundamentalist organisations?
Another lurking question is: why have only certain practices such as bull-fights been selectively criminalised? Is it about criminalising selective masculinities? While ignoring State masculinities such as those of banning cultural expressions in the name of not “hurting people’s sentiments”, or those that impose a culture of what to eat and not to eat at the cost of death? Or those that subtly impose a culture of what to eat with massive advertisements thereby pushing local products and the survival of people on those products out of the market?
Don’t make me choose between preserving heritage and hurting animals. We need a governance that privileges survival of ALL without discrimination.

(First published in O Heraldo, dt: 8 September, 2015)