The Case of the Missing Temple

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Popular Essays

By AMITA KANEKAR

 

This article is about the temple of one of the most widespread and important deities of Goan village society, which is also however almost invisible as well as unknown to many Goans. The deity is Maharingan, and the reason for the invisibilation is because Maharingan is a Mahar deity, and Mahars are a community that would be openly called ‘untouchable’ in the past. Today, although such terminology and behaviour are banned by law, they are still treated as outsiders in not just many Goan villages but also in urban Goa. And their temple is a witness of this unspoken but persisting discrimination.

 

(more…)

Faith, Nation, Empire

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Scholarly Articles

By JASON KEITH FERNANDES

 

Text of lecture at Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre.

5 November 2018

[Download PDF here.]

It would appear that the title for my presentation today is in sync with a time when there are at least two heads of state in America (and goodness knows where else) whose supporters believe them to be leaders or messiahs sent by God. I have to confess that while I phrased the title provocatively I was also aware that the intellectual position I occupy, one which is critical of liberalism and the operation of liberal democracy and seeks to look for alternatives to it, shares a common origin with the global processes that have led to the emergence of the kind of religiously tinged populism that we are witness to today. I would, of course, like to distinguish myself from these larger movements, while maintaining that what we are witness to is a breakdown of the certainties of liberalism, and with it liberal democracy, and that this breakdown is the result of the queries that were being leveled against liberalism for a long time now.

(more…)

When Will #MeToo Challenge Hindu ‘Sanskaar’?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Popular Essays

By AMITA KANEKAR

 

In one of the #MeToo cases which received widespread publicity, media reports of the allegations against the actor Alok Nath were accompanied by the information, in either shocked or ironic tones, that the man had always been seen as the most ‘sanskaari’ of actors. What the tones implied was that all the ‘sanskaar’ seems to have been just a hoax, with the real Mr Hyde now finally exposed. Implicit in this was the message that those who are really sanskaari, i.e. full of Indian, or rather Hindu, culture, will never behave like this. In other words, this behaviour is foreign to Hindu culture.

 

(more…)

Menstruating without Oppressing Humans or Nature

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Popular Essays

By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Goa has become a garbage dump. Old-timers find this more appalling than others, for they remember a pre-1961 Goa which frowned upon public littering, spitting, urinating, and defecation. But changing attitudes is just one part of the problem. The other is today’s culture of disposables, especially single-use plastic. And the fact that, although more than 98% of Goa’s garbage is compostable or recyclable – according to vRecycle, the Salcete-based waste management company – this doesn’t get done, for which the blame lies both with the public and the government. As for the remaining 2%, a big part of which is gel-based personal hygiene products like sanitary napkins and diapers, which cannot be disposed of safely, the only way out is stop usage.

 

(more…)

The Janave Across Goan History

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Popular Essays

By DALE LUIS MENEZES

 

In the popular imagination, Goan history generally begins with the arrival of the Portuguese, followed by conquest and religious conversions. This four-and-a-half-century long period contains periods of oppression and cultural efflorescence, but mostly unbridled oppression. However, this changes once the Indian army marches into Goa in December 1961, leading Goa and its people, from the centuries-long darkness that they suffered, into the light of unfettered freedom. What the average Goan knows about this narrative is filtered through the lenses of a good amount of political machinations, besides family lore and myth. These unreliable and fragmented memories lead to a skewed understanding of Goan history and identity. The hold of this narrative is so complete that one finds it pervading in all walks of Goan life. Using Kalidas Mhamal’s installation “Caste Thread”, this essay will talk about the popular narrative of Goan history and its tenacious hold on the people of Goa.

 

(more…)

The Untouchable Citizen

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Scholarly Articles

By JASON KEITH FERNANDES

 

On 6 June 2017 Jason Keith Fernandes spoke at St. Anthony’s College, Uni. of Oxford on “The Untouchable Citizen”. Exploring the emotional terrain of the citizenship experiences of groups in Goa in this presentation he argued that the linguistic choices made by the government of Goa ensured that it is not merely caste that is at the centre of citizenship experiences but in fact untouchability itself. Building on evidence from Goa he suggests that what obtains in Goa is not different from many other parts in India, allowing the suggestion that India is marked not as an egalitarian polity, but a casteist one.

Public Access in the Smart City

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Popular Essays

By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The Goa government will surely wish us a Happy Women’s Day today. There will be celebrations of womanhood to mark the day, mostly superficial. There will be women’s discounts at malls, and women’s specials at restaurants, for the moneyed. There will lists of women achievers, largely elite. Most women however—the ordinary ones—won’t figure in this hoopla at all. In fact, the government seems to be working overtime to make their lives worse. Goans are surrounded by big disasters—of land lost (to resorts, airports, mining, widened roads, you name it), of alienated rivers, unaffordable housing, morbid tourism, deadly pollution, scam infrastructure, and, not least, the complete lack of decent and paying jobs. But along with these are also many small, hardly-noticeable, daily disasters. One of them is how public access to space is shrinking.

 

(more…)

Caste wins the Gold Medal

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Popular Essays

By AMITA KANEKAR

 

What is Indian culture? In a Marathi television soap-opera that I happened to be watching the other day, one Brahmin character talks to another about the importance of sanskaar (culture, or values); one of the examples offered of this sanskaar is having a bai (domestic worker) to wash your clothes, instead of a washing machine. It was a surprisingly accurate presentation of the Brahmanical understanding of culture—everybody in their traditional (i.e. caste-decided) and lowly-paid place.

 

(more…)

Of Social Smugglers, Spiritual Fascists, and Intellectual Goondas

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Popular Essays

By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd can teach us a thing or two about Goa. The passionate Ambedkarite, social scientist, civil liberties activist, and retired professor of political science at Osmania University, Hyderabad, has been in the news for receiving death threats, and then for being physically attacked, because of his description of the baniya/vaishya community as ‘social smugglers’. The professor complained to the police, but it appears that their only action has been to file a case against him for ‘hurting religious sentiments’ with his writing. The only bit of good news is that the Supreme Court has ruled against a petition demanding a ban on the writing in question. The danger has however not stopped Prof Ilaiah Shepherd from speaking out and explaining his ideas in detail.

 

(more…)

Freedom of Speech and Expression: Caste, Creed, Cringe!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Popular Essays

By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

Recently, with the killing of Gauri Lankesh, the controversy over Sudirsukt and the death threats to writers such as Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, certain facets of freedom of speech have come under sharp scrutiny, making one question  who cringes about what speech and expression, what is the ambit of freedom of speech that we value, and who does so at what times.

 

(more…)