The 2015 to be Grateful For!

Posted on Posted in Popular Essays

By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

Gratitude is a way of affirming what we are thankful for. It can also be about putting the spotlight on what we need to take forward, about foregrounding repeat-worthy actions. Given that the end of the year is often a juncture when we take stock of the previous year, what did 2015 offer?

 

A feast for the eyes and ears through the surfeit of movies shot in Goa or partly in Goa that brought out the nuances of life in Goa and broke free of the traditional projection of Goa as a land of wine, women and song. Whether it was Nachum-ia-Kumpasar, or Enemy? or the remake of Nirmonn.

 

 

A set of strides at different paces, in the demand for dual citizenship for Goans that will unmuffle many a voice. Just now Goans migrating with Portuguese citizenship out of sheer compulsion, lose their voice back home. What failed to get addressed in 1975 can still be addressed now. History hasn’t ended, as Jason Keith Fernandes pointed out in a recent article. It can evolve and be shaped by the needs of the times.

 

A pickle of beef ban policies and new recipes on the politics of food. Nothing about our food, without our livelihoods. A politics of food where food cannot be conceived of if livelihoods are lost, where the food you eat or stock cannot be the basis for exterminating people or communities.

 

A resilience of local cultures that continue to be rooted and yet refuse to be bogged down by the dead wood of tradition or burnt out by the mass fertilisation of modernity.

 

A highlighting of the need for due process that came out of a certain realisation. If we let due process slip when it comes to appointments of friends to positions of power, the slope is steep and you slide away from the rule of law towards the dark abyss where the rule of might is right prevails.

 

A valiant struggle by the people of Goa to make sure that human rights defenders do not become an extinct species. Fr. Bismarque’s death in suspicious circumstances had various streams of people to ask: what, when, where, why, and how? Not to take anything for granted.

An affirmation that planning is not about adhocism and arbitrariness but a demand for putting in place proper frameworks within which the planning is evolved. So Government, chart the Town and Country Planning Act, on the drawing board of the Constitution of India, with due participation from all people. To borrow a phrase, nothing about us without us.

 

A call from the people of Tiracol blazing the quarta corrente (the fourth stream) of thought with their land struggles and working at teeing away the proposed golf courses into the history hole.

 

A conscious peoples’ effort to switch from Swachh Bharat to Sustainable India, where cleanliness is not measured by the spectacle of a Prime Minister and government functionaries sweeping, but by possibilities of land adjoining the houses for the construction of toilets and maintenance of hygiene. Also grateful for a naming of issues so people’s concerns are not swept under the carpet.

 

To people of the fourth estate who did not stop at exposing the acts of sexual harassment by people in public office, but turned inwards to interrogate the acts of their colleagues. It prompted the Collector to query the media establishments on their compliance of setting up Internal Complaints Committees under the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2005.

 

To colleagues who did not simply lap up what seemed like a shifting of the trial courts at Panjim, to swank and comfortable premises at the Complex ‘Spaces” at Patto Plaza, but sought to put the lid on the stinking transaction.

 

To the National Green Tribunal for halting the progress of destruction of Goa’s environment.

 

To the Supreme Court of India for standing out as an arbiter in dark times. Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was being used to silence free speech even as hate speech was being wantonly encouraged. The Supreme Court declared section 66A unconstitutional. Further, a Constitutional Amendment had proposed the appointment of a National Judicial Appointments Commission for selection of Supreme Court Judges. This would have dissipated the doctrine of separation of powers. The Supreme Court declared this Amendment unconstitutional.

 

To all who stood up to the challenge posed by the State to the freedom of speech and expression in no uncertain and wishy-washy terms, and interrogated the imposition of Section 144 Cr.P.C. in the name of curbing national embarrassment.

 

For the range of sincere, untiring and maligned activists who dot the villages and cities of Goa, and hopefully on connecting the dots, new worlds will birth and berth.

 

(First published in O Heraldo, dt: 31 December, 2015)

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