Saturday, December 28, 2013

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10

Let’s Reclaim Goa

Let’s Talk

Goa has proved itself politically mature to �nd its place in the Indian federalism, but it is necessarily an un�nished business

Conversations of and for a Goa for our ch ildre n

The idea of Goa - more India, more world and more Goa
PICS: GAJENDRA KALASKAR

He is arguably Goa’s most complete academic, who reoriented his life from founding and running the Xavier Centre of Historical Research to living in Portugal in the embrace of academics, research and history. In a riveting conversation with Deputy Editor Ajay Thakur, Professor Teotonio de Souza, touches upon very sensitive issues the ‘unIndianess of Goa, liberation and conquest, a divide between those who are covert Portuguese nationals and those not, with accuracy and deep insight. But above all, he elaborates on what the idea of today’s Goa is and should be

PHD IN GOENKARPON: Professor Teotonio in Pune on the sidelines of a lecture
The Goan: What (according to you) is the idea called Goa? Prof. Teotonio de Souza:  I even exchange it at times  with God.  Slip of the mind?  Freud might say more. TG:  You have now le� Goa for almost two decades. How does one view Goa (a) when s/ he is a local resident and sees and feels it day in and day out as well as (b) when s/he has migrated out or le� for better prospects and then looks back at Goa? Prof. Teotonio: This answer must vary depending upon why someone moved out. I did not move out for better material prospects, and certainly not because I was not doing well professionally. I was almost at the peak of my achievement, if one ever reaches the peak. I wished to let the institution I had helped to found grow in autonomy. It is said that nothing grows beneath the banyan tree. My colleagues and collaborators needed to have freedom to take their own decisions and give new orientations to the Xavier Centre of Historical Research. I had guided its destiny during the �rst two decades. Any institution needs changes of direction to grow. Also at personal level, I had completed 25 years as Jesuit, and as Professed of that Order. I had seen the best and not so best implications of that life. I thought I was still in time to re-orient my life. I moved out of the country to be able to concentrate in this new life project, without wasting energies to go about giving explanations to the curious and inquisitive busy bodies. about models of development. These challenges are heightened by the threats of international terrorism. Goa has proved itself politically mature to �nd its place in the Indian federalism, but it is necessarily an un�nished business. TG: Does that make Goa different? Is Goa then un-Indian? Prof. Teotonio: Goa is not an exception. Every State has its speci�cities, and that is why India needs a more functional federalism as it grows. EU could learn much from India, if the West knows to learn anything from others. What may appear as ‘un-Indianness’ of any State should be viewed as an opportunity to learn new lessons in federalism that could further strengthen India as a nation. TG: The recent debate on Portuguese Nationality privileges for Goans brings to the fore that we are di�erent from the rest of India. Do you think this repeated unease with Goans unique privilege by the rest of India is a case of pure envy or is it rest of the nation still at ease with the fact that Goa did not become independent. Was Goa occupied or was it liberated? Prof. Teotonio: It would be foolish if Indians from other States ignore that Goa had a di�erent colonial past. It was a colonial past that in some sense has impacted India beyond Goa over the past �ve centuries. Even Jawaharlal Nehru has positive comments about this in his Glimpses of World History. He advised us to see in external interventions, however cruel, to stop blaming others and to seek to understand the causes of poverty and exploitation, and work towards removing them. As regards the ongoing wrangles about Goa’s liberation, invasion or occupation, it is a normal response, depending upon who expresses the opinions. It will never be a fully informed debate on the past of all interested parties. The options were also not entirely dependent upon India. The former colonial power also bears responsibility in the outcome that was forced. It is also responsible for keeping the issue alive through its nationality law and its options, even though it also opted to normalize its relations with India and o�cially recognized its integration of Goa and Goans as Indian citizens following 19 December 1961. Also the changing international relations and interests play their part and signi�cantly in churning the international

TG:There is a gradual change in language, in culture across India from one state to another. Do you feel Goa de�es that trend and has it within itself to hold on its own?
Prof. Teotonio: It is a healthy sign that India is growing, and that is possible only by its ability to respond to ongoing challenges. I was asked earlier this year to write to the  prestigious French magazine DIPLOMATIE, which dedicated its issue 14 (April-May 2013)   to India. It may be read at http://www. academia.edu/3459830/La_ gouvernance_point_noir_de_ lemergence_indienne Its title points to the challenges India is facing as an emerging world power, such as  corruption, political fragmentation, inter-State disputes, divergence

It would be foolish if Indians from other States ignore that Goa had a di�erent colonial past. It was a colonial past that in some sense has impacted India beyond Goa over the past �ve centuries. Even Jawaharlal Nehru has positive comments about this in his Glimpses of World History

Saturday, December 28, 2013

log on to thegoan.net

11

Let’s Reclaim Goa

Let’s Talk
Prof. Teotonio: That is certainly an important explanation for the Portuguese nationality controversy. It is the Indian authority that has to punish  the covert behaviour of its illegal residents. Goans who willingly opt for the Portuguese nationality should know the legal implications of their decision according to the Indian law. They cannot wish to play the win-win game. TG: Why do Goans go silent when it comes to asserting that they are bene�ciaries of such privilege which has always been overlooked by law enforcers? Prof. Teotonio: The covert operations of nationality are not di�erent from any other covert operations. It is an attempt to gain from either side, knowing fully well the risks of being punished. It is somewhat naive, but the chickens always come home to roost. TG: Within Goa too we see di�erent Goas. The Catholic South versus Hindu North, the resident versus migrant, the Konkani versus Marathi versus English, the secular versus the fanatic, the BJP versus the Congress, the church versus the temples / the mutt. Are we a multi-fragmented community su�ering from bipolar disorder or none? Prof. Teotonio: I would see it as  a rich diversity, rather than multi-fragmented.   What is missing is a leadership with healthy political vision to bind the diversity into a creatively assertive community, and reduce the �ssiparous tendencies. TG: You must be a witness to so many online groups on social networks and other places that constantly engage in debates that speak of underlying anger at every issue. What is your surmise of the reason thereof? Is the susegad Goan angry and has reached a breakpoint or is this just another phase of a gradu-

Conversations of and for a Goa for our ch ildre n

Goans who willingly opt for the Portuguese nationality should know the legal implications of their decision according to the Indian law. They cannot wish to play the win-win game

scenario. The Timor case, which is o�en cited as a parallel to Goan case, is one clear instance of intervention by western powers soon a�er the fall of USSR and exploitation of �nancial distress of Indonesia in early 90s. It was never explained what gave East Timor right for self-determination when West Timor was denied the same. There was also no provision of an alternative to 22% of East Timorese who voted in the referêndum against Independence and to stay within Indonesia. Such an Independence may be guaranteed by the international interests as long as it suits them, but without internal consensus, it will remain fragile. The failure of the truth and reconciliation process is an indicator. The imposition of Portuguese as an o�cial language, barely spoken by 3% of the population, but only because it helped  the guerilla leaders during their freedomstrugle, without popular consultation is another expression of a democratic farce. In Goan case there could also be a similar percentage or less for Independence, and would be ignored anyway as it has happened in the case of Timor. The geostrategic position of Goa on India’s western seaboard would make it hardly possible for it to prosper without heavy dependence upon India’s subcontinental infrastructure. It is doubtful if the internal resources would take care of development and the defence needs. Besides, unlike the case of Timor, the Goan population was vitally dependent on neighbouring India for its survival during long colonial times, and continues to be dependent even now. This dependence was and is sustained by deep cultural links, which played their role in Goa’s freedom struggle.

TG:   Every Goan who works overseas or has migrated talks about good ole days and how Goa has changed. Do you as an academic prescribe to this argument? Is the change bad as most would say or is it what we need to evolve? Prof. Teotonio:  Great changes are always a threat to the security of what is known. But what seems to bother most people about the ongoing changes is the corruption and forces behind it, that do not convince of their democratic credentials. India (including Goa) should reach beyond the mere noises about NRI Indians or other Indians in diaspora, and seek ways of greater collaboration to project a more positive image of India and its achievements. In this age of globalization, any failure to tap this force in its favour can have de-stabilizing implications.

ally maturing society? Prof. Teotonio: I have been responsible for maintaining one of these groups -- Goa Research Net --   since 1996, and it has served well the serious-minded Goans and academicians worldwide to �nd responses to their queries and assistance in their research. With the exception of some quali�ed Goans participating in this fórum, and others that I belong to, most show no mental training and discipline to discuss any issue in depth. They easily move into cheap provocations and into postprandial a�er-kop type of Goan conversations.

TG:  Does that also create within Goa, two blocs? One, those who have covertly or overtly availed of the Portuguese citizenship bene�ts and have �ourished on it economically; and the other who have not availed of it by choice or by failing to make the necessary grade. Is it this con�ict that makes the Portuguese citizenship debate come alive everytime?

TG:  You are a professor of history and have studied Goa’s past. Why doesn’t Goa’s past not count in history textbooks across India at least prior to Liberation? Is that part of history trivialized by Indian historians vis-à-vis the rest of India?
Prof. Teotonio: There is much more knowledge today about our colonial past, including Goa’s history, at the research and university level in India. At the school level and textbooks, the States and Government of India should evolve an educational policy that could help

promoting Indian multiculturalism, and consequently its federalism. If students at all-India level know little about Goa, the same is also true about what students in Goan schools know about many regional histories of India. The Goa Government could also have its own projects to publicise better its history. I believe that many  private organizations are already doing their part very well. TG: If you were asked to change Goa in the present times, what �ve things would you do and why? Why should Goa’s government, Goans in Goa, in India and abroad make note of those changes? Prof. Teotonio: I believe that Goa University needs being more present and play a pivotal role as a guiding light. It needs to re-structure itself and develop projects that take it to the people and help �nding solutions to many of the social, economic and political con�icts  that have been referred in this interview. The University should cease to be an ivory tower and learn to seek collaboration from the general public. It should also reach beyond the Goa State and beyond India. It is strange that Goa University excludes well know scholars of Goan origin, and those who even associated with it in the past, from its normal functioning, only because they are no longer Indian citizens or do not  reside in India. It is losing a great fund of good will and collaboration.

The Goan population was vitally dependent on neighbouring India for its survival during long colonial times, and continues to be dependent even now. This dependence was and is sustained by deep cultural links, which played their role in Goa’s freedom struggle. It is doubtful if the internal resources would take care of development and the defence needs

At the school level and textbooks, the States and Government of India should evolve an educational policy that could help promoting Indian multiculturalism, and consequently its federalism. If students at all-India level know little about Goa, the same is also true about what students in Goan schools know about many regional histories of India. The Goa Government could also have its own projects to publicize better its history

My colleagues and collaborators needed to have freedom to take their own decisions and give new orientations to the Xavier Centre of Historical Research. I had guided its destiny during the �rst two decades. Any institution needs changes of direction to grow

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