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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Ironies of history: October 14 and the Jains of Palitana

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

October 14 was the anniversary of the conversion of Dr Ambedkar and 5 million others, mainly Dalits, to Buddhism in 1956. And not the Buddhism of monastery-based ritualism, nor the self-focussed meditation so fashionable nowadays, but a socially revolutionary ideology committed to the struggle against caste. A Buddhism that is much closer to the original, if one goes by the works of scholars like the Kosambis, Kancha Ilaiah, Romila Thapar, and Ambedkar himself.

 

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The Name of Sant Sohirobanath

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The recent renaming of the Government College of Pernem, as the Sant Sohirobanath Ambiye College of Art and Commerce, throws up several issues. Jason Keith Fernandes discussed some a few days ago (‘Sant Sohirobanath and the Secular Death’), including how this use of the name of a Hindu and Saraswat religious figure for a government institution is both an attack on secularism and a continuing of the hegemony of the Saraswat caste in public spaces in Goa, thereby identifying the ‘true’ Goan as a Saraswat.

 

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What Government Demolishes Homes in the Pouring Rain?

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

What kind of government demolishes homes in the pouring rain? A government that is confident that the chattering classes will not be bothered. It is not only the Parrikar government that is to be condemned for an attack on the very lives of people, especially the aged, ill, and children among them, whose houses were recently bulldozed in Baina, Vasco, during the downpours of July. One child in Baina was 6 days old, according to a newspaper report, just home for the first time from the Chicalim nursing home, when his house was demolished. Now his mother, weak after a tough delivery, is ill and cannot care for the baby who huddles in his grandmother’s arms under a tarpaulin sheet.

 

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