Tourism’s Unsustainable Consumption of Goa

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By VISHVESH KANDOLKAR

2016. “Tourism’s Unsustainable Consumption of Goa.” In Sustainable Energy for All by Design: Proceeding of the LeNSes Conference, Cape Town, South Africa 28-30 September 2016, edited by Emanuela Delfino and Carlo Vezzoli, 365–72. Cape Town: Edizioni POLI.design. Download PDF here. To view the original see here.

ABSTRACT

At once uniquely regional, yet possessing international cache, it is Goa’s Portuguese past that makes this now-Indian territory a site of consumption. Located along the western coast of the Indian subcontinent, it is not only the ‘sights’ of Goa that have been commercialized, but the very ‘site’ that has been occupied as elite India’s playground. Goa is overburdened with tourism-based real-estate development, and, the latest trend is to own a second home, catering to the needs of the elites from the urban metropoli like Bombay and Delhi. Such second homes add to the environmental concerns of the place, especially when the basic needs of housing for the locals are ignored. This paper argues that luxury second homes, even if they are certified as ‘green’, are in fact environmentally as well as socially unsustainable for a given place.

Keywords: Goa, Sustainability, Second homes, Tourism

 

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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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Vishvesh Kandolkar and Pithamber Polsani to present a paper entitled ‘The Ruination of the Inconvenient: Eroding Goa’s Intangible Heritage’

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Vishvesh Kandolkar and Pithamber Polsani will present a paper titled ‘The Ruination of the Inconvenient: Eroding Goa’s Intangible Heritage’ at the conference on Preserving Transcultural Heritage: Your Way or My Way, to be held at the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, from 5-8 July, 2017.

 

In this paper, the authors argue that the architecture of monuments is not only emblematic of the history of a place, but also the lived experience of its people. Subsequent to Goa’s annexation by India, the State’s political dispensation has continued to obscure the history of the Portuguese empire in Goa while conveniently using the heritage of the Estado period in promotion of its tourism industry. The State’s attitude to heritage conservation has been biased towards addressing only the tangible components of heritage, such as architecture, while sidelining such intangible heritage as minoritised people who also require protection.

 

Amita Kanekar to present a paper entitled ‘The Politics of Renovation: The Disappearing Architecture of Goa’s Old Brahmanical Temples’

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Amita Kanekar will present a paper titled ‘The Politics of Renovation: The Disappearing Architecture of Goa’s Old Brahmanical Temples’ at the conference on Preserving Transcultural Heritage: Your Way or My Way, to be held at the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, from 5-8 July, 2017.

 

Kanekar’s paper will look at the unique architecture of Goa’s old Brahmanical shrines that is under threat today, and one of the reasons seems to be a perception that it is not Hindu enough. Goa’s centuries-long Islamicate and Iberian connections have left behind a heterogeneous culture in many aspects, including architecture. The many Brahmanical temples built from the seventeenth century onwards are examples of this, their hybrid forms belonging as much to the Islamicate world and the European Renaissance as to local building traditions. But, while these temples still stand today and attract increasing numbers of worshippers, their original architecture is disappearing, to be replaced by forms and elements from outside Goa. This paper examines the attempts to erase these unique forms, and the relation of this to the social, political, and legal context.

R. Benedito Ferrão to present a paper entitled ‘A Garden Overgrown: Panjim’s Garcia da Orta Park and the Remaking of Eco-Cultural Legacies’

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R. Benedito Ferrão will present a paper titled ‘A Garden Overgrown: Panjim’s Garcia da Orta Park and the Remaking of Eco-Cultural Legacies’ at the conference on Preserving Transcultural Heritage: Your Way or My Way, to be held at the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, from 5-8 July, 2017.

 

Ferrão’s paper will dwell on Garcia da Orta’s text Colóquios dos Simples e Drogas e Cousas Medicinias da Índia (1563) which catalogues regional plant-life and da Orta’s legacy in contemporary Goa. Despite da Orta’s life’s work, his Catholicism appears to be an issue for the State. In seeking to orchestrate other legacies for Goa, local governmental machinations have been imbued with India’s right-wing politics in the quest for a Hindu historical consciousness for the once Portuguese region. For example, in 2012 the State sought to situate an architectural monument at this park to commemorate the service of seventeenth century Saraswat Brahmin physicians who had been involved in compiling another botanical text – the Hortus Malabaricus (1678-1693). Whether these botanists may have actually been Goan seems irrelevant, for their caste lineages evoke those of Goa’s contemporary political elite, signaling the Brahmanical Hindu hegemony of the Indian nation-state.

 

“What is the City but the People?”

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By VISHVESH KANDOLKAR

 

The quote above from the Shakespearean tragedy Coriolanus aptly sums the problem in envisioning the future of Panjim today. While hectic activity is afloat to garner ‘opinions’ of what needs to be done to make the capital a Smart City, one wonders if we have forgotten the meaning of ‘smart’ today, or for that matter what is meant by a ‘city’ itself.

 

The biggest problem of the ‘smart city movement,’ is that the promoters of such an approach tend to repackage the city in a generic global form without understanding the historical significance of the existing city (both the form and the people). The Smart City concept largely harps on using digital technologies to supposedly improve the quality and the performance of urban services. The issue is really which services? They normally mean roads, flyovers, parking, digital communication, etc, while what we in Panjim actually need are services like mass housing, wider pavements, barrier-free designs, shaded pedestrian pathways, reliable public transportation, and so forth.

 

Speaking at the event of a high level meeting on smart cities, organized by the European Union in Brussels in September 2014, architect and professor Rem Koolhas pointed that in the projection of the smart city concept, values of liberty, equality, and fraternity have been replaced by comfort, security, and sustainability. These values that the Smart City movement promotes are clearly of contemporary upwardly mobile and elite groups today. Reinforcing these values will have serious consequences for the poor who do not have access to ‘smart’ resources. As I have reflected in earlier columns, Goa is already facing the onslaught of the demands of elite groups that use Goa as a pleasure periphery and a getaway from the problems of India. It should not be that rather than addressing the livelihood issues of locals, the Smart City concept with its pro-elite values becomes just one more vehicle for appropriation of the city from the locals. In her article Is India’s 100 smart cities project a recipe for social apartheid? (The Guardian, 7 May 2015), Shruti Ravindran highlighted similar concerns. Ravindran questions whether the emergence of hi-tech prototype cities in India will override local laws and use surveillance to “keep out” the poor. One of the first designated smart cities in India is the Gujarat International Financial Tec-city (GIFT), in Gandhinagar. Ravindran notes that the beating heart of GIFT is its “command and control centre”, which keeps traffic moving smoothly and monitors every building through a network of CCTVs. She observes that in the country where more than 300 million people live without electricity, and twice as many don’t have access to toilets, GIFT city’s towers are like hyperthrophic castles in the sky.

 

The entrepreneurs of digital technologies have made the city their domain especially by referring these designated cities as ‘smart.’Often unnoticed is the fact that the metaphor of ‘smart’ in the concept of the smart city evokes the smart phone as a comparison for the development of the city. Such an approach is problematic, for it renders the city as a commodity, and a ‘generational’ one at that. This is how one thinks of technological developments, where preference is given to new generations of phones and computers, and the trashing of older generations.Rather than working with something, the existing object is rendered obsolete even before its time in favour of something shinier and newer.Following this logic, just because Panjim is designated as ‘smart’, are the rest of the cities in Goa condemned to being stupid?!

 

What is the need of the hour is the concept of ‘good city’. The good city is the ultimate memorial of our struggles and glories: where the pride of the past is set on display (Kostof:1991, p.16). The pride of Panjim as in other cities of Goa lies in the architecture of the city: in terms of the scale, the extrovert forms of the buildings, their unique architectural styles, and the sheltered spaces for pedestrians. We therefore must show extreme sensitivity in managing these assets and initiating pro-public and egalitarian infrastructural development. The city of cannot be designated as smart global city merely to push newer developments that do not pay respect to the historical context. Instead what we need is to build on Panjim’s past to make it even more open, accessible and friendly to its people.

 

(First published in The Goan Everyday, dt: 8 November, 2015)

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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Local Identity, Global Architecture

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By VISHVESH KANDOLKAR

 

A thorny question faces a number of parishes in Goa where the congregation has outgrown the existing churches. Some are more than willing to tear down, or drastically modify, their old churches to build bigger ones. Others are horrified at such proposals and argue that these churches, like the one in Nuvem, are part of the unique architectural heritage of Goa.

 

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