Water Water Everywhere, But…

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

There is one central lesson that can be gauged from the National Waterways Act 2016. It is that the people who have been traditionally using and sustaining the river waters and especially for their livelihoods, will have limited or no access to the rivers and maybe even the river banks.   The National Waterways Act, 2016, became law on 25th March, 2016, and came into force from 11th April, 2016. The inclusion of six riverine stretches of Goa in the Schedule to the National Waterways Act, 2016, is threatening the very existence of Goa, where livelihoods have revolved around the rivers and the coasts, even when population groups do not live in the immediate vicinity of these water bodies.

 

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Shaiva versus Vaishnava in Portuguese Goa

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Among the many myths that pass for history in Goa, a popular one is about how Hindus were relentlessly oppressed under Portuguese colonial rule. Not only were temples broken, rituals banned, and conversion enforced, we are told, but Hindus were also humiliated and tortured (via the Inquisition), so much so that everyone had to either convert or flee the Old Conquests. Most Goan Hindus are brought up on stories of religious oppression, along with religious heroism, i.e. of Hindus who had to fight valiantly for their religion and their idols.

 

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Of Catholics in Goa, Germany, and Fascisms

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By JASON KEITH FERNANDES

 

Two recent statements, one by BJP’s Goa spokesperson Nilesh Cabral, and the other by the IT Minister Rohan Khaunte, should chill Goans concerned about the health of the Goan polity. This is because it signals that critique of the government will not be tolerated by the present establishment, neither by the ruling party, nor by those supporting it.

 

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“Public Purpose” and Aggressive Land Acquisition Laws

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By DALE LUIS MENEZES

 

The 2017 Monsoon session of the Goa Legislative Assembly ended about a month ago. In what could be construed as a remarkable show of governmental efficiency, six bills were passed and one referred back to the select committee for further deliberations and clarifications. Of these bills, The Goa Compensation to the Project Affected Persons and Vesting of Land in the Government Bill, 2017 and The Goa Requisition and Acquisition of Property Bill, 2017 have come under the scanner of activists due to the consequences such laws might have on the ownership of property, and especially of  marginalized communities. It is believed that a combination of these two laws would allow the government unfettered power in acquiring land from the people of Goa, to be disposed of as the government deems fit. In many ways, activists argue, such laws would secure the rights of investors over and above those of the common people of Goa. Goa is no stranger to such laws with the Investment Promotion Act, 2014 being at the centre of the Tiracol controversy.

 

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Merit

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

(With apologies to whoever it was that first coined the phrase “lies, damned lies, and statistics”- there seems to be a lie there itself)

 

Lies masquerade as merit in these post-truth times. As a matter of fact, lies have been morphed into stereotypes and stereotypes morphed into merit long before terms like ‘post-truth’ or ‘alternate facts’ became popular.

 

What better way to begin to see how lies are masqueraded as merit or high standards than through taking a look at the controversy surrounding Vishnu Surya Wagh’s ‘Sudirsukt’? Wagh’s 2013 book of Konkani poems, some members of the dominant Gaud Saraswat community in Goa contend, lacks any kind of literary merit necessary to receive an award. These same people have taken offence to his poems saying they are stirring passions against a certain community.

 

There is one poem titled “Mhaji Bhasha” (My Language) that is raw with the feelings of hurt caused by casteist oppression. It actually addresses the lie that the ancestors of the depressed castes were forced to pass off as truth – that their language was ‘lost in a forest’, when in fact ‘those who came along with Parashuram/From Kashmir or Bengal/While chopping off forest cleanings/Chopped off our language as well’, because ‘our ancestors …/Would speak to their face/Seeing this they began to fear…/And they connived to make our ancestors dumb’. The Brahminical elite have in fact manipulated the debate on official language to selectively get their language, which they call ‘Konkani in Devanagiri script’, to be the only one meritorious enough to be declared the official language of Goa, despite the truth of the limited access and usage of this Brahminical language.

 

The legislature and the literary world are not the only areas where lies are masqueraded as merit. This also happens in the world of the judiciary. As recently as May 2017, the Madras High Court had to, in so many ways, chastise a particular Trial Court judge, with a warning, “Let this be the last judgment ever written on communal consideration”. The Madras High Court was hearing a case, where, in the Trial Court, the judge had arrived at the conclusion that the particular accused had committed a murder solely because they belonged to a particular community and with a perception that the traditional occupation of the community was theft. There was no evidence otherwise linking the accused to the crime. What the judge had done in this case, was to perpetrate a racist lie, by giving merit to the values of the dominant sections of society earlier, that the particular tribe has criminality in their genes.

 

The Madras Court pointed out that the “Judiciary cannot afford to decide the cases by tracing the criminal activities of the forefathers of the accused. No Court of Law can stigmatize a community as a whole. Proof beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of an accused should be reached on the basis of the evidence on record. Any finding of guilt based on no evidence but on communal considerations is unconstitutional”.

 

An attribution of merit to arguments by certain dominant circles, could well mean, for instance, that, if a Goan were accused of drunken driving in some part of India, then, with the Bollywood imagery about Goan men being drunkards, the judge would presume that since he is a Goan, he must have committed the offence of drunken driving, without appropriately appreciating evidence led through due process.

 

Giving merit through the law or otherwise to dominant arguments (buttressed by casteist sexist corporate centric sections of society) can actually challenge the very existence of people, as is happening, for example, with Aadhaar. If you don’t have an Aadhaar card, you don’t exist. Your existence itself is a lie. You can’t file your tax returns, you can’t have a telephone connection or a mobile number, you can’t get any subsidies, your relatives won’t be able to get your death certificate. There is no merit in your existence.

 

There has also been some hype created about how the standards of teaching are declining at Goa University because of reservations. If anything, this hype is a stark example of the nexus between lies and merit. Despite the reservations, there are exactly four reserved posts when the constitutionally-mandated seats should have been around 66 in a teacher strength of 163. Clearly it is not those who are occupying reserved posts who are really responsible for the declining teaching standards? If anything, this indicates that it does not mean that if there are 159 teachers holding positions by what is called ‘merit’, it is not a passport to high standards in education.

 

In the financial sphere also, lies have masqueraded as truth courtesy those at the helm of affairs, who claimed that demonetization would stymie the black economy. But as a recently-released Reserve Bank of India Annual Report itself points out,  99% of the demonetised currency notes of Rs. 1000/- and Rs. 500/- have come back into the system, that is, 99% of the notes have been exchanged in banks. This has been at a cost of Rs. 21000 crores plus to the Reserve Bank of India. The people with black money have not been stuck with those notes as was statedly anticipated. If black money was indeed operating through stashing of currency notes which are undeclared income, this gives a clear signal at the very least, that it is not primarily so. An indictment of the merit of the ruling dispensation, and their ability to rev up the economy and cripple black money!

 

Indeed, one can see that lies, damned lies, are sanctified with the aura of merit.

 

(First published in O Heraldo, dt: 7 September, 2017)

The Household-Office and the Approachable Politician

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By DALE LUIS MENEZES

 

If Goemkarponn unites all Goans one would wonder why a Goan is an outsider in a village/town other than his own. Perhaps, Goemkarponn and other Goan identities contain mild xenophobia towards those it calls its own. Girish Chodankar, the Congress candidate in the just concluded Panjim by-elections, was termed an “outsider” by his opposition. One would be forgiven for assuming that Chodankar hailed from a place beyond the borders of Goa; it turns out that he is a bhailo in Panjim only – he resides in Margao!

 

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The Continuing Saga of Goa’s Reservations Scam

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Since 2014, when a reservation scam at Goa University hit the headlines, there has been some effort on the part of citizens to get the reservations policy, as mandated by the Constitution, implemented in Goa. But 3 years down the line, as a recent petition to the University from the Social Justice Action Committee (SJAC) shows, things haven’t changed. The problem is that, behind Goa’s liberal and cosmopolitan bonhomie, is a brahmanical society, alive and kicking. Caste-based reservations are supposed to ensure representation of all communities, and especially traditionally discriminated-against ones, in government and educational institutions. But not only does the establishment, dominated as it is by upper castes, refuse to implement the law, it tries to brainwash us with a lot of propaganda about how reservations run counter to merit.

 

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Why don’t you see Fascism?

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By  JASON KEITH FERNANDES

 

The bye-elections to select the representative for the city of Panjim are being seen as critical given that it will determine if the BJP-led coalition will continue to govern Goa, and will also determine the career of the BJP candidate Manohar Parrikar. It is for this reason, therefore, that most people are on edge and apprehensive about the outcome. Some of the tensions involved in this election were made evident in the article written by advocate F. E. Noronha and published in Renovação, the newsletter and magazine of the Archdiocese of Goa. In this article, Noronha all but urged the electorate to reject Parrikar at the polls, arguing that a Nazi-like atmosphere had arisen in Goa.

 

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The Goan Temple: A Unique Architecture on Its Way Out

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The architecture of Goa is a heterogeneous one, the result of its long and cosmopolitan history as an Indian Ocean port, a part of the Islamicate Deccan, and then of the Portuguese empire. And one of its most distinctive and heterogeneous developments is in the realm of temple architecture. The Brahmanical temples that were built in Goa from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries were creatively inspired by Renaissance Europe (via the churches of Goa), the Bijapur Sultanate, the Mughals (via the Marathas), and the Ikkeri Nayakas, along with the local architecture. These varied vocabularies came together to produce a recognisable architectural ensemble by the end of the 19th century which spread across the region of Goa and beyond.  This is why the Goan temple should be seen as an architectural type in its own right.

 

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