Kaustubh Naik will make a presentation on “‘To Merge Or Not To Merge’ – that and other questions”

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Kaustubh Naik will make a short presentation titled ‘‘To merge or not to merge’ – that and other questions’ at the weekly Research Scholars colloquium at the Delhi School of Economics.

Time: Friday 22nd Sept 2017 at 11 am

Venue: Ground Floor Classroom, Dept of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics.

 

Abstract

Regions can be understood not merely as geographical terrains contained in arbitrary boundaries but also as modern imagined communities. In a multitude of such imaginations, it is rather imperative that one underscores the locus of these imaginations, especially to assess which imaginations get consolidated and sustained and which imaginations are written off in the due course of history. The discursive production of post-colonial Indian national identity has often written off the many attachments to culture, history, ethnicity and sovereignty that did not materialize in its current federal arrangement. In this presentation, Kaustubh will share some of his early reflections on the study of the political movement that aimed to territorially merge the former Portuguese territory of Goa with the newly formed Indian state of Maharashtra and invite us to think about the conditions influencing the regional political imaginations in the post-colonial Indian nation state, as well as the centrality of caste to these imaginations.

 

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 Invisible, Unimportant, Expendable Pedestrian

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

While walking home in Panjim on the riverfront road from Campal to Miramar recently, I found I could not walk on the pavement. Now this road, originally the Rua de Boa Vista, renamed the Avenida de Republica, and re-renamed the Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, is perhaps the nicest road in Goa, perhaps even in all South Asia, thanks to its broad and accessible pavements, canopy of shady rain trees, road dividers, and service roads. But the pavements were completely occupied that night by parked cars. Pedestrians were forced to walk on the road, squashed between the parked and the speeding cars.

 

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What made ‘Goemkarponn’ so Manoeuvrable?

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

From the get go, there was no sign of Goem, Goemkar, Goemkarponn at all. Not even when the 2017 Goa Legislative Assembly election results were beginning to trickle in. One would have thought that small is beautiful and manageable and that the smallness of Goem affords a unique opportunity to better and more expeditiously manage.  But despite EVM machines as in other states, which should have seen the results pouring in rather than trickling in, Goa’s results took a longer time than those of UP with ten times the number of seats.  Indeed Goa’s counting in relation to that of the rest of India’s states that went to the polls was ajeeb (strange).

 

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Caste Atrocities in Goa: A Fight against Invisibilisation

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Goa has been making headlines of late for violent crime. But while there has been criticism of the over-the-top way in which many of these crimes are reported and discussed, it is much worse when the violence is not reported at all, when it is in fact ‘invisibilised’ and thus normalised. Many Goans might not even know that a community called the Wanarmari existed before the recent newspaper reports of an attack on their settlement in Nirakal-Bethoda, Ponda. But this incident was only the latest and most overt form of violence faced by this community, one of the most marginalised in Goa. As the Goa govt danced attendance on BRICS, where Modi swanned around as the leader of the ‘largest democracy in the world’, not half an hour away is a community of Goans who have never voted, besides being denied basic education, healthcare, jobs and housing.

 

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Z Axis 2016: Of Architectural Heritage and Contexts

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

‘Everything is our heritage’, was one of the memorable statements made at Z Axis 2016, the second conference on architecture organised last month by the Charles Correa Foundation (CCF) in Goa. It was said by Chinese architect Yung Ho Chang, while speaking about how he looked for inspiration to ancient China, Soviet-era China, Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh, Modernist Germany, and all buildings anywhere. At a time when attempts are on to force people in Goa and India into nationalist straitjackets of what is ‘our’ culture, diet, language, history, etc, it was refreshing to hear an argument for global heritage, even if only from the limited realm of architectural practice.

 

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Caste Atrocities in Goa: Give Us this Day… Our Land!

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Gayechi shepdi tumi doura,amkaam amchi zamin diya – such is the slogan (translated into Concani) of the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladayi Samiti, formed in Gujarat after the recent atrocity where 4 Dalit men were tortured by Gau Rakshaks, for disposing of dead cattle. Atrocities on Dalits are of course not new for South Asia; indeed they are the way of life for the brahmanical societies here. But, even as India rang to this new slogan, and other inspiring news from Gujarat where a vow has been taken by Dalit communities to forswear this occupation that they have traditionally been forced to do, leading to the dumping of cattle carcasses in front of government offices, Goa has been mostly silent. There was a small protest on 15 August in support of the Gujarat struggle, but, apart from this, one would imagine that Goa has nothing to do with such atrocities.

 

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Goa’s Reservation Scam, Part 2

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

My last column was on how the system of caste-based reservations, which is supposed to ensure representation of all communities in government and education, is consistently subverted in Goa. This is commonly done by fudging the reservation rosters (which contain each department’s record of implementation, on a post by post basis), or by not following the proper procedures in recruitment, admissions, advertisement, etc, or by simply acting as if reservations don’t apply.

 

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Sairat and the Banality of Violence

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By KAUSTUBH NAIK

 

Have we ever bothered to think why the tragedies of Delta Meghwals and Rohith Vemulas fail to enter the mainstream public imagination? What discourse constructs our world of realities where the inhuman tragedies that continue to perpetrate the horrors of caste and gender violence fail to even attract sympathy, let alone bringing those involved in committing these heinous crimes to punishment? Rather, the mainstream public sphere is characterized by a perpetual invisibilizing and negation of the violence that emanates from caste and patriarchal structures. Sairat, a film by Nagraj Manjule, is a cinematic intervention against such constructions of reality and compels us to look beyond what meets the eye.

 

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