Goan Liberation - Were Goans Truly Liberated? from TGF Editorial brought to you By Menino Fernandes

Are Goans truly liberated?
THE BIG LET DOWN - a TGF editorial
It is very difficult to ascertain what the majority of Goans in Goa truly felt on December 19, 1961. Certainly, large crowds gathered in the major cities to welcome the victorious Indian army. In the villages, however, a mood of "wait and see" prevailed.

While there was general relief that the Salazar era had come to an end, many Goans wondered what the new regime would mean to their own livelihood.

'Would we have a job'?
'Will the new Govt. discriminate against us'?
'Will life now be more expensive'?
'Will our qualifications be recognized'?
'What will our new bosses be like'?

To complicate matters, reports began to trickle out of Looting of Goan shops and Raping of Goan women.

As expected, these criminal acts weren't as widespread as rumoured. As expected too, the new administration denied that any of this ever happened.

What was especially disappointing wasn't the fact that rape and looting occurred; they do occur after every military exercise of this nature. The fact that they were committed by a force which had ostensibly come to 'liberate' Goans, was (and remains) awful. Even worse were the DENIALS.

The next few years saw military administration headed by a fair minded Lt. Gen. Candeth ( curiously a South Indian of Portuguese descent ).

Many Goans left Goa at this time. They weren't very certain of what the future held for them in Goa . Besides, life had become 200% more expensive almost immediately (now that the Portuguese subsidies were no longer available ).

Even so, most Goans quickly accepted the new reality. Some aspects of life had become easier. It was now easier for Goans to travel to and from other Indian cities like Bombay and Poona where a number of Goans lived or worked. A few basic items like vegetables and pulses were now, more readily available. The stocks of superior quality foreign goods from the Portuguese era were dwindling . Within a few months, hundreds of Goa registered (GDA) Datsun, Mercedes Benz, Peugeot and Opel cars found themselves on the roads of Poona and Bombay - but Goans were not driving them!. Simple minded " elite" Goans were also conned into parting with valuable hand carved furniture and other collectibles - all by sweet talking, non Goan 'civil servants". Even so, most Goans took all of that in stride.

To its credit, the Candeth administration effected a smooth transition. To his discredit, he started the destruction of the Communidade System of Goa. There was a surprising absence of any serious role in this transitional administration for the any of the many Goan Freedom Fighters.

The Congress Party went on to win the 1962 elections and the election pawn i.e. Goa was now, all but forgotten by Nehru. The euphoria of 1961 & 1962 received a severe setback in 1962 when China decided to thumb Nehru and his idealistic 1955 Panchshila agreement, in the face.

Goa was designated as a Delhi controlled Union Territory. The first democratically held elections in Goa brought a Luso-Indian known supporter of the Portuguese colonial effort in Africa cum"freedom-fighter", mine owner Dayanand Bandodkar to the helm. His party, the Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party(MGP) promised to make Goa a part of Maharashtra.

Why the MGP wished to do that defies logic. Goa was never a part of the Maratha empire nor of any Maharashtra based kingdom. If anything, that claim should have been made by Karnataka or Hyderabad. Moreover, the areas of Maharashtra which bordered Goa i.e Ratnagiri & Sawantvadi were neglected backwaters.

Logic notwithstanding, the MGP continued on that platform. Voting patterns indicate that the majority of Hindu Goans voted for the MGP while the majority of Catholics and Muslims voted against the MGP. This political alignment created significant fault lines between the Hindu and Catholic communities of Goa; communities which had hitherto lived in peace and harmony.

The Opinion Poll of 1967 dealt a decisive blow to the MGP's move to integrate Goa with Maharashtra. The margin of victory for the anti mergerites could hardly have been achieved without significant Hindu vote BUT the Catholics were to face the wrath of the mergerites who were still in political control of Goa.

For a while, the red faced mergerites toyed with the idea of Vishal Gomantak (including the costal areas of Maharashtra) and the Konkan State. However, these ideas, designed to further dilute the Catholic vote in Goa, failed to take off.

In a move which can only be explained as a move to destabilize Catholic Goans, the ruling MGP set in place a policy of discrimination against Goans when it came to employment in Goa. Officers in all major fields with no particularly spectacular expertise were brought in to positions which could easily have been filled by Goans. Many Goans found themselves in the untenable position of being literally bossed around by less capable deputationists who were specifically brought in by the MG government. A good number of the deputationists were good, honest and hard working. They served Goa well. But the vast majority of them were substandard space occupiers.
These less competent "bosses" didn't have a clue of Goa, Goan culture or of the landscape. They didn't even display a scintilla of interest in improving anything in Goa. All they did was talk down to Goans, bad mouth Goans as "lazy, good for nothing, sossegado feni drinkers" and specialized in merely filling up posts with their friends and relatives.
It wasn't very uncommon for a a good number of posts in Government departments being filled up by individuals from Kerala or Andhra or Maharashtra or Delhi, if the Head was from that region. Even clerical and secretarial posts! And what happened to Goans ? Well, they were told to "apply in six months time".
A very curious method of creative advertising of posts was in situ. Advertisements for posts in Goa, appeared in Goa newspapers well over a month after they appeared in newspapers in Bombay, Delhi or Trivandrum. In fact, on most occasions, the advertisements appeared in Goa a day or two before the last date of application. Many Goans who had the qualifications and nerve, packed their bags and left Goa. Most of them, for good.
The vast majority of the 2.5 million Goans outside Goa are Catholics. Many just frustrated by the systematic "cleansing" of opposition votes.

This policy of squeezing out Goan Catholics worked for the MGP. Vast number of Goan Catholics emigrated to the UK, Australia, Brazil, Africa, Canada and even Portugal. The percentage of Catholic Goans in Goa dwindled from a near 50% to 30%.

This was politically excellent for the MGP. Their vote block was intact while the vote bank of their political rivals was effectively demolished. With a carrot here and a bus license there, the MGP managed to keep the opposition divided. Many Catholic Goans were known to be convenient supporters of the MGP. A " few pieces of silver" did the needful
This electoral Catholic vote cleansing effort was to eventually come back and hurt the MGP. Many of the nonGoan deputationists not only served Goa indifferently but also created a "third party vote bank" for non Goa based parties.

At the time of Dayanand Bandodkar's untimely death, the MGP was a powerful, corrupt, ruthless and a seemingly unstoppable outfit. However divisions within the MGP, the collapse of the opposition mainly Catholic UGP and the " third party vote bank" allowed the entry of the Congress Party into Goan politics and the ongoing saga of political coups and counter coups.
After Bandodkar's death, the MGP engineered the passage of the Mundar Act. In this socialist type of action, many Goan land owners lost their land to the labourers who wee employed to work in them.. Interesting that the MGP excluded the mines from this act. If they hadn't, a good part of the mines would now be owned by the miners who slogged in them. But then ... the mine owners were the financiers of the MGP. The mine owners also owned the local newspapers. So much for Freedom of the Press.

Today, four decades after the Portuguese were thrown out of Goa, Goa has sadly disintegrated into a place of religious divisions, unbelievable corruption, chaotic traffic, environmental degeneration, pollution and unprecedented police brutality.
It is very easy to blame the Freedom Fighters, many of who suffered enormously at the hands of the harsh Salazar regime. There are those who blame the Freedom Fighters for neglecting to prepare to take over when the Portuguese were expelled from Goa. At least then, Goa's future would have been in Goan hands. But that wasn't to be. It appears that December 19, 1961 may have come as a surprise to the Freedom Fighters themselves. It is possible that they were not consulted before the military action; afterwards neither. For all their sacrifices, they were given a tin medal ( tamra patra ), a paltry pension and sent out in the world to " don't worry be happy ". It is important to note (once again) that the brave Goan Freedom Fighters played no role of significance in the transitional government of 1961 and No Freedom Fighter was elected to any office in Goa on a Freedom Fighter's ticket. In fact, the Congress Party of Nehru and Indira Gandhi failed to win a single electoral seat in Goa until the early 1980s despite having planned and executed the December 1961 action.
The Catholic Church in Goa can only be described as spineless. During the Portuguese era it was virulently anti-Indian while now, it is " rolling over and playing dead" in the face of Rt. Wing activities. Under the present leadership of Raul Gonsalves, the Catholic Church has failed its flock on several fronts : ::: 1. Opposed Family Planning 2. Indiscriminately transferred parish priests 3. Imposed a dialect of Konkani which the vast majority of Catholics did not comprehend 4. Failed to defend Catholics from Rt. Wing abuse. These are among the factors which have led to Catholicism in Goa becoming "paper Catholicism".
It was Big Business as usual !! Giving more validity to the well known adage : The more things change, the more they remain the same.
To many a Goan who was happy that the Salazar era had finally come to an end, it has been a massive let down.

Was this worth it after all?

Many more Goans have migrated and left Goa. Huge numbers of Goans have applied to reclaim their Portuguese Nationality and moved to Portugal; among them are individuals who are known to have been blatantly antiPortuguese. Portugal has joined the European Union and continues to improve every day. Some former Portuguese colonies have seen the benefits of close cooperation with Portugal. Despite the violent wars of Independence fought against Salazar's Portugal, these African countries especially Cabo Verde have taken actions which are in the interests of their citizens.

Not so, as far as Goa is concerned. Her future can only be described as uncertain.

What is certain however is that the right wing Hindu party, the BJP will take control of Goa and rule Goa with an iron fist for many years to come. If that happens, the ghost of Salazar would have returned. For Salazar too, came to power through the Carmona coup, at a time when Portugal was in shambles. Initially, Salazar was very popular for his "clean up". And look what happened eventually.
History always repeats itself. What a tragedy if it does as far as Goa is concerned.

Returning to the primary question:
Have Goans been liberated ?. The answer is definitely NOT.

Goans will only have been liberated when:

* they are able to make their own decisions with the help of Goan political parties
* their pristine environment is no longer disturbed
* their young women are no longer enslaved by sex-traders
* their working family members no longer have to go abroad to find employment
* their senior citizens no longer have to live in fear
* their guests at their beaches are no longer harassed and molested
* their water table and atmosphere are no longer polluted by factories which spew dangerous chemicals
* their hospitals are at least as clean as they were in 1961
* their hearts and minds reconcile to the fact that religious & caste divisions are man made and are detrimental to communal harmony
* when Goans of ALL nationalities and walks of life finally accept that the events of 1961 are "fait accompli". Goa is now 100% a part of India. It is time for Goans to put their hearts and minds together and resolve to assist each other in the future development of Goa and ALL Goans. Hopefully, they will assist in the concomitant development of the various facets of Goan culture - and that includes Marathi and Portuguese
and * when the Indian civil and military authorities in Goa decide to take the Goan people into confidence when they make their decision whether it be regarding the installation of a chemical factory in in an inhabited village or using the people's civilian airport for military purposes. [ The senseless confrontation in Panjim ]

Until all of the above happens, the event of 1961 will only be seen as a step towards the success of the Nehru-Krishna Menon diversion. A diversion whose usefulness ended with the 1962 general election.
Goa and Goans would just have been used as pawns in a political process, their land for the generation of wealth for everybody but Goans.... and eventually dumped. Nil else


Post Script: Many younger Goans fail to understand why Goans in Goa did not oppose the 1961 action. One has to understand that these younger Goans are looking at India today - a nation which is blessed by the best brains in the world and yet cursed with the most corrupt politicians and henchmen. The India of 1961 may not have been as rich but it was a beautiful and peaceful place indeed.
Goa and Goans made the right decision in 1961?
India as a whole needs to make some sensible decisions now. By contrast, Portugal has accepted reality and moved on. She has afforded full status to ALL Goans who qualify along with all the privileges that go with Portuguese nationality. She has moved quickly after the end of Salazar's iron fisted dictatorship and made peace with all the erstwhile colonies who wished to make peace with her. In doing so, she has grown in prosperity and stature. Goa and Goans can do the same. (Excerpt from Internet)
NIZ GOENKAR ADDS: After invasion of Goa by the Indian forces, reports began to trickle out of Looting of Goan shops and Raping of Goan women by invading Indian army.


diogofichardo said...

My Grandmother was in Goa while we were in Africa during liberation. When we came to Goa She was one of the most unhappy women, She and many of her time would tell us stories about the so called liberators. How the Indian soldiers would come to remote parts of the villages and take whatever they desired. The Goans of her time had nothing but curse for the Indian Government. They spoke of the betrayal by our own Goans, Catholics in particular . In those days news was just a trickle, sometimes brought by bakers or peddlers. The peace and tranquillity faded away, replaced with today's destruction. We can see it for ourselves. Do the present Goan generation have the desire to mend it? Stand United We Can.

Eliseo said...

The goa church,the jesuits, the salesians, the pillar fathers, nuns,the most educated and intellectuals,stood silently and propagated their own calling since the liberation. While the flock lost its beleifs,values and morality and left to face their ignorance and poverty.The sunday collections continued,the expansion of churches continued,beautification of churches continued,building of shops in church properties continued,while the poorest of the poor faced hunger and poverty,ilnesses in their homes.Tell me where is the GOOD SHEPHERD since liberation? only in the PULPIT.I am sure there are exceptionally few good honest religious in goa,wholly catering to the needs of poor goans but those may a few numbers,may God be praised in them,but the rest....imagine what you may.In the parlance of late anthony demello s.j they may also be praised in GOD for being so ingnorant and being what they are.

Buyarantlo Monis said...

Viva Niz Goenkar - mistakes can be rectified even now. We Niz Goenkar are here to do that. ref "Goans are looking at India today - a nation which is blessed by the best brains in the world and yet cursed with the most corrupt politicians and henchmen. The India of 1961 may not have been as rich but it was a beautiful and peaceful place indeed." Very true - In fact even Dr. Ambedkar must have thought the same when he wrote the Constitution. What value India gives to Subash Chandra Bose ? India could have got freed at least 20 years Earlier.
As far as Goa is concerned, most True Goans I guess must have felt more secured with the Portuguese. We could have been an overseas province like Madeira under Portuguese. See our state now. 35% of current Goan population is non Goan. Most of the work force in major companies in Goa are non Goans. Are we giving due respect to Dr Jack Sequeira ? we had to cry to put on his statue in Goa when so many statues of Indian freedom fighters were installed in Goa when they never did any thing to Goa, even from 1947 to 1961. Goa freedom fighters were not even aware that India will attack Goa. If Nehru knew that he would die in 1963 he also would not think to attack Goa.
why lately Louis Camoes statue was removed from Old Goa ? can we put it back. the answer will be no on the other side India remove Mayawathis statues when she is out of power. Why we are restoring old Forts build by Portuguese?
I read your article of Niz Goenkar contesting the elections, Please do so before that we need to clean up Ali Baba and his forting theives from the Porvorim plateu. Lets Pray to St Francis Xavier

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