Sunday, August 16, 2015
‘Special Status’ Is Not So Special by Peter Fernandes
For reasons known and unknown, the term “special status” has become a bad one in the socio-political arena, which is why, special status no longer is so special. It is a total betrayal of the trust and aspiration of the people of Goa. However, it is important to understand the nature of the demand for “Special Status”. Why Goans were demanding special status in the first place? Is their demand legitimate? Does Goa deserve special status? Until its independence in 1947, India was a part of the British Empire.
Goa was not part of the British Empire, but a province of Portugal. British occupied India as a colony, but Goa was not a colony of Portugal, but an extended province. History tells us, when the English left India in 1947, those parts which were under British rule formed into two nations, namely, India and Pakistan (west and east). Where does Goa fit into this equation?
In the sixth century BC, north and south of this great land were under two different civilizations, Aryan and Dravidian. The two were not consolidated confederations. In fact, within these civilizations smaller kingdoms were constantly at war. In the fourth century BC Alexander the Great captured most of north, exposing the weakness of a country divided into petty states. The Mauryan Empire managed to consolidate major part of land, King Ashoka is a good example, but could not hold on for too long.
From middle of the third century BC, the Gupta Empire managed to rule for a considerable period of time, but only in the north. After the seventh century AD, Muslim invades came to launch a holy war, and managed to convert many Hindus and Buddhists to Islam. The Taj Mahal is one of the iconic symbols of Mogul empire, which predominated for nearly all of the 16th and 17th century, until the coming of British Empire.
The early history of Goa tells us that is was a self-ruled by Gaonkaris, who are associated with development of khazan lands, which are communidades. Until now, no government has had jurisdiction over communidade land, a hallmark of our history in which every Gaon can take pride. Indeed, Goa had its share of influence from different empires, namely Mauryan, Arabian, Konkan Mauryas, Kadambas, Bahamani and Vijayanagara rule -- as well as Adlishahi rule. But none succeeded in destroying Goa’s identity. Although the word Communidade was coined by the Portuguese, they also gave codified the system in law. Only after Portuguese rule ended did the uncouth governments try to destroy this age-old system. The Portuguese had the greatest influence on Goa, and for the most part, they tried to protect and enhance its nature and beauty.
During Portuguese rule, Goa acquired a unique identity as a “Marriage of East and West.” For the first time in history, west and east met with perfect harmony. “Goaness” is neither eastern nor western culture, which makes it very special. In fact, the uniqueness of Goa was associated with the mythological lore of the Hindus. It is said that Parashurama, the sixth avatar of Lord Vishu, settled in this land. In the Suta Samhita, Govapuri is associated with a spiritually cleansing touch: “The very sight of Govapuri destroys any sin committed in a former existence, just as sunrise dispels the darkness. One, even by making up his mind to bathe once in Govapuri attains a high place in the next world. Certainly there is no other kshetra equal to Govapuri …” The exceptionalism of Goa was not lost on the Portuguese. In fact, they embraced it. Why we are even debating about Goa’s specialness, when the case is clear?
The case for “Special Status” is wriggled now with religious-political vendetta promulgated by the hardliners who, with their false sense of history, are trying to make India a Hindu nation. Driven by Brahamic feudality, the BJP and RSS are trying to impose their hegemony on the nation; any deviation from their agenda is frowned upon. In such a scenario, the demand for “Special Status” for Goa is not special, but a thorn in the flesh.
The hypocrisy of BJP is glaring on every front, but shame on those who continue to believe and support the party. Under BJP rule, special status for Goa is ruled out, and the same goes to congress. Nehru annexed Goa under false pretense, with false promise, and both national parties continue to fool the people of Goa. Will Goa remain special for the coming generations or will it lose its uniqueness to uncouth religious-political vendettas?