Monday, February 29, 2016

The Road To El Dorado – by Jason Keith Fernandes

Growing up in the 1980s in Goa, from time to time I would hear the more vociferous men in my family swear: “These bloody Indians!” Attending school where a steady diet of Indian nationalism was a part of the curriculum, we would be horrified. Surely, these figures of parental authority couldn’t speak like they did? Weren’t we Indian? It was at this early age that I realised that to be Goan is not the same as being Indian. And it was possible for Goan history to read Indian nationalism differently. I have spent the rest of my life trying to figure the differences out.

A politicised Goan, such as myself, looks on this season, where allegations of being anti-national are being flung like confetti, with some cynicism. Goans are used to being seen as de-nationalised, if not anti-national, for a while now. This critical evaluation has only heightened when it came to be understood that many Goans have been “giving up” Indian nationality for Portuguese citizenship
A common misunderstanding of the situation in Goa is that this devolution of the Indian passport has to do with pride in their Portuguese connection, and an application for citizenship. Appreciating the nuances of the situation requires disabusing oneself of a number of misunderstandings.
To begin with, it is not merely Goans who are giving up their Indian citizenship, but persons from the larger Portuguese state of India or Estado da Índia (EI), which in 1961 included the territories of Goa, Daman, Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. These persons are able to acquire Portuguese citizenship not because of any continental ancestry, but because of a legal history that differs significantly from that of British India. While residents of British India were merely subjects of the British Crown and never citizens, native Christian residents of Portuguese India were almost from the very beginning of the presence of the EI in the early 1500s seen as equal subjects of the crown.
With the inauguration of the Portuguese constitutional monarchy in the mid-1800s, citizenship of all subjects was formally recognised, and subsequently deepened when the Portuguese Republic was declared in 1910. As citizens of Portugal a restricted electorate of persons from Goa were able to elect persons to represent their interest in the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon. The situation where former citizens of the EI can continue to claim Portuguese citizenship is the result of the unorthodox manner in which Goa was integrated into India. Portugal was governed by an authoritarian regime from the mid-1930s until 1975 that refused to countenance the idea of Goa’s independence or integration into India, until India did so by force in 1961.
When India annexed these territories in 1961, it failed to recognise that the residents were in fact Portuguese citizens and unilaterally extended Indian citizenship to them. Indian control over the territories that constituted the EI was not recognised by Portugal until the regime fell in 1975. At this point, Portugal recognised the ancient constitutional rights of the residents of the now lost territories. Thus, when residents of the former EI renounce their Indian passport, they are not applying for Portuguese citizenship; merely asserting their pre-existing right to Portuguese citizenship.
The recovery of this right lay somewhat dormant from 1975 until recently. It was with Portugal joining the European Union that a Portuguese passport gained a completely new significance. If there are so many persons queuing up to assert their right to a Portuguese passport, it thus has less to do with Portuguese nationalism, though this cannot be discounted in some cases, and more to do with making an economic choice. The assertion of this right by citizens of the former EI has upset nationalists both in Portugal and in India. Some Portuguese nationalists desire that this right be curtailed or withdrawn entirely. Portuguese citizenship, they argue, should be given only to those who speak the Portuguese language, know something of Portuguese history, and have a love for Portugal. Like most nationalistic assertions often tend to be, these too are offensive.
Citizenship is not a gift given for good behaviour, it is a fundamental right, and such rights are sacrosanct. They cannot be withdrawn on the basis of some petty excuse. Further, one could argue that the retention of the right to Portuguese citizenship is a part of post-colonial justice. Most Indian nationalists are similarly unable to recognise the fact that the actions under discussion are the result of a law and a right. Indian nationalism crafts the recovery of this right as a treacherous betrayal of the motherland, refusing to recognise that given the lack of a legally existing state of India before 1947, for residents of Portuguese India, in fact, Portugal, was the legal motherland.
As is often the case, Indian nationalism also comes with its communal twist. Even though the persons renouncing Indian citizenship belong to the various faiths that constituted the Portuguese empire, it is largely Catholics who are charged as anti-national for giving up Indian citizenship. To the question what do citizens of the former EI think of nationalism, the response would be why should they think of nationalism? They are thinking of their economic futures, and asserting their rights, and this is far more important than any nationalism

1 comment:

  1. respond to Criminals are preparing for yet another assembly election under the modern-day Republic of India. Goa is ripped off in all different ways by criminals who get protected through democracy under the Indian constitution. The extention of Indian type democracy brought into Goa by your father, most respected patriot Late Shri.Roque Santan by holding 3 day Satyagraha is not working as he intended.

    All every election just transfers corruption in different hands. Goa core cause ‘Special Status’ which was the only way we could save whatever was left of Goa under present circumstances the only way out of this vicious circle is time for Goans to think a course of action and explore them.

    India does not hold mandate to rule Goa, having been denied then the timely plebiscite, nor through any authoritative world international order body like United Nations. India continues to illegally occupy Goa. It is time for Goans to take Goa out of India. This is the easiest and simplest thing that can be done to benefits our Goan population and leave us at peace. The mere intention to grant every Goans born before 1961 Portuguese passports the International Law endorses the Goans as bona fide legal claimants of their territory of Goa. The Chavan/Soares treaty which is just a bilateral treaty and has not come in the way of this intention and in any way stopped it. Under the International Law this intention to grant every Goan Portuguese (Citizenship) passport makes Goans rightful owners of Goa. At the time of negotiating of officially transferring of power of Goa to India in New York in 1974, only the two persons – foreign ministers of India and Portugal – decided what is good and what is bad for Goans without even consulting Goans. Nor all that was done in Indian Parliament can take the Goan right should be challenged in the United Nations.
    We have to approach within the current generation and see if we can get a new leadership from them to fight peacefully for our rights, by approaching UN, and Challenge and undo all this for our land.

    UN Charter gives certain facilities to the indigenous people who are facing a disguised genocide in Goa. Global Goans can think over this issue because they are in better position to make their voice more audible.

    Deforestation in the Goan mining belt, corruption in the implementation of Medicine to Goans, sale of Goan lands. The Christian community and their festivities. Not allow people on Anjediva Island for the feasts, as the Indian navy has been building luxury resort for their families there and fooling Goans by making up fake terrorist threats. The Navy out of Dabolim for its illegal occupation. All this is proof that Goans cannot trust the democratically elected Government under the Indian constitution.

    In 1961, the Indian Union invaded and annexed Goa to them without any plebiscite, merely a result of a conquest by force of arms! This was hypocrisy and this is the root cause of all this corruption.

    Realising that injustice was done to Goans Jawaharlal Nehru said in reverse psychology - “It is not true that we covet Goa. That small bit of territory does not make any difference to this great country India. We do not desire to impose ourselves on the people of Goa against their wishes. It is definitely their responsibility to choose for themselves. We have assured Goans. That it is for them to establish their own future and I further assure them on matters such as Religion, Languages and Customs”. - 21st August 1955.