A Bahujan Challenge to the Mining Mafia

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The ironies of the so-called development of Goa are indeed unlimited. On the one hand, the government and elites of this state hard-sell it to India as a place of unlimited ‘good times’, to be used for holidaying, partying, drinking, gambling, and other increasingly unpleasant pleasures, the price of which is paid in many ways by common Goans. On the other, the Bahujan communities, esp. Bahujan Christians whose culture is sold as Goa’s tourism USP, are painted as anti-nationals by the Goan elites when they ask for their Konkani – i.e. Roman script Konkani – to be recognised as one of Goa’s languages, or even for English-medium education for their children. As for the physical landscape of Goa, hyped as paradisiacal again for consumption by largely Indian tourists, it is disappearing before our very eyes. Whether it is destructive tourism of the casino and golf course variety, ‘development’ projects like DefExpo, the cancerous growth of second-homes and holiday-homes eating up the hills, or a refusal to mine Goa’s mineral wealth in a transparent, sustainable and community-conscious way, Goa’s ruling elites, in close collaboration with those of India, seem determined to squeeze out the maximum profit in the shortest possible time, leaving a desert behind.

 

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The Bahujan Challenge to Goa’s Brahmanical Shrines

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Goa’s old temples need change, but they also need to be protected from change. There is no contradiction here: the change – or even revolution – they urgently need is in the realm of the social, political and economic; but connected to this is the issue of their unique Portuguese-era art and architecture, which needs protection. And the solution to both problems might be the same: the bahujan take-over of these currently savarna establishments, as is being attempted with the Navdurga temple at Marcaim.

 

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Universities or Agraharams?

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

In the wake of the widespread anger over the death of the Dalit PhD scholar Rohit Vemula at the University of Hyderabad, many excuses have been proffered to divert attention away from caste. One of these is about the so-called ‘Decline of the University’. But were Indian universities really ever, as we are told, liberal institutions concerned with excellence, bursting with secular ideals, and open to, if not welcoming of, dissent?

 

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Whose Culture, Whose Ethos?

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

There are times when one wishes Mr. Naguesh Karmali was right. A member of the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM), Karmali was recently reported to have accused the Catholic Church of being out to suppress Indian culture and ethos, with this suppression being “much larger than the way Portuguese suppressed it in the 16th and 17th century”. This was naturally seen by many as reflective of the increasing anti-minority vituperation being spewed by members of the BBSM, and also as completely bizarre.

 

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Bread and Circuses

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

902 buses were reportedly organised by the BJP to ferry people from distant villages to Panjim for Manohar Parrikar’s birthday party, resulting in a city that was completely choked with traffic, amidst BJP cheers about the popularity of their leader. Behind the cheers though, what was obvious and heartening was that the arrangements of free transport, snacks, and other goodies were motivated by the obvious fear that nobody would turn up for the spectacle otherwise; this fear is a compliment to Goans’ good sense, even if this good sense did not extend to refusing the all-paid-for circus.

 

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When the Lion has its Say: A Review of Parag Parobo’s New Book on Bandodkar and the Goan Bahujan

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Parag Parobo, the author of India’s first Democratic Revolution: Dayanand Bandodkar and the Rise of the Bahujan in Goa, says that although the two scholarly narratives about Goa—Goa Dourada (the idea of a happy, or golden, empire) and Goa Indica (the nationalist idea which sees Goa as intrinsically Indian)—are commonly understood as conflicting, they actually have one fundamental thing in common: they both are the views of the Goan elite. Parobo’s own book, formally launched on Sunday 15 November in Panjim, breaks with the past for this very reason, that it looks at Goa from the point of view of the Bahujans, the many communities that make up the region’s so-called lower castes.

 

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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.

 

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Good Muslim, Bad Muslim

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

In the furor that followed the renaming of New Delhi’s Aurangzeb Road, the long dead emperor has been enjoying some of the best press he has had for the past 100 years. While there were some critics who still clung to his standard demonical image, saying that the renaming has just given an evil man unnecessary publicity, or that there are even worse characters gracing Delhi roads, quite a few appear to have realised that he was not as bad as all that.

 

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A Re-Look at the Deccan of the 16th Century

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The 16th century, so important in the history of Goa, was a complex and turbulent time for the whole of the Deccan. Its history, including architectural history, is however often looked at only through the prism of religious relations and divides; ‘Hindu architecture’ and ‘Muslim architecture’ are terms still in use in popular writing and college courses. Richard M. Eaton and Phillip B. Wagoner have made a valiant attempt to get beyond these simplistic divisions with their new book, ‘Power, Memory and Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600’ (OUP, 2014), which is a study of the syncretic and historicist approach to architecture in sixteenth-century Deccan.

 

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