Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Indigenous people of Goa By A Pereira

The indigenous people of Goa have a culture, language, and social organisational characteristics distinct from the rest of the Indian Subcontinent. The indigenous people of Goa comprises of ethnic groups who have inhabited the geographic region with which they have the earliest known historical connection. One of the most common characteristics of the indigenous peoples, is their reliance on subsistence-economy, and the same is practiced by the indigenous people of Goa. The indigenous people of Goa have settled across a large territory of Goa and are predominantly non-urbanised societies. Their collective ownership patterns and social organisational characteristics make them distinct and opposite in nature as compared to the divide and rule policies of the developed independent states.

Goa, which is currently an illegally constituted State of the Republic of India, is a territory of the Indian sub-continent located at 14°53'54" N and 15°40'00" N and longitudes 73°40'33" E and 74°20'13" E mainly comprising of the Comunidades (Gãocarias) and other indigenous communities of Goa. There are at present 223 Comunidades in Goa having absolute ownership over 80% of the land area, whereas other indigenous communities have the legal right over the remainder land. There is no exact term for 'Gãocaria' in English or Portuguese terminology, hence variety of definitions have been used, to convey to the reader, the exact meaning of Gãocaria. Comunidade is a Portuguese appellation for Gãocaria. 

The present day Goa is built on the foundation of the Comunidades which are ancient Indian socio-agro-economic institutions established by the indigenous people (native settlers) of Goa by sharing their absolute owned resources (land, etc.) for their own benefits and welfare for harmonious co-existence. They formed themselves into co-operative establishments, governed by heads of families who were known as Gãocares. These Gãocares reclaimed and brought under cultivation marshy and other waste lands with the assistance of the other tribes/inhabitants of Goa The Gãocares subsequently promoted inclusion of various clans and other skilled/semi-skilled people/persons in their Gãocaria as part of community development. Those who assisted the Gãocaria with financial assistance came to be called as accionistas (shareholders) while others were absorbed as service providers, as per the contract with Gãocares. 

Gaunkari system

Gãocarias are ancient socio-agro-economic institutions established by the indigenous people (native settlers) of Goa by sharing their absolute owned land and resources for harmonious co-existence.

Gãocarias have come into existence sui juris thousands of years prior to the Portuguese rule in India and much before the Indian Republic/Union.

Gãocarias are similar to village communes, but are unique and distinct in structure, functions, and ownership rights.

The foundation of Gãocaria is based on the collective ownership and management of property and resources. Resource management (land and water) is the main responsibility. The basic objectives of every Comunidade in every locality are those of welfare of it’s community.

Gãocarias operate on agrarian-economy wherein lands are husbanded and/or reclaimed for cultivation with large tracts of land reserved for cattle grazing, religious/festival purposes, Crematoriums, and Cemeteries, en-catchment areas built, and irrigation systems developed at the cost of Comunidades.

A Gãocaria consists of definite boundaries of land from village to village with it’s topographic detail, its management and social, religious and cultural interaction.

Gãocarias function independently as self-governing establishments [institutions/ republics]. It is an independent arrangement without any state interference. Gãocarias allowed and granted only administrative tutelage to all previous kings and rulers including the Portuguese to function as arbitrators.

Gãocarias have absolute land ownership rights. These rights are inalienable, in that it cannot be taken by any operation of law for any reason whatsoever. One cannot hold private/individual ownership title over Comunidade land. Land cannot be sold, mortgaged, or alienated in favour of any person or authority but can only be leased or granted for specific use, e.g. religious purposes, schools, crematorium, etc.

The Gãocares are co-owners of the land and of all the assets of their respective Comunidades being successors-in-interest in common, through their first ancestors. Land is owned and managed jointly but income and/or produce is shared individually. Any debts, loss or deficit is borne by all the Gãocares/Componentes of the respective Comunidade proportionately, to meet any such eventualities.

The income from the produce as well as the revenues generated are spent for the welfare of the people. Any surplus is distributed in the form of remuneration to the Gãocares, service providers, and the shareholders, for their families and dependents.

Gãocarias adequately renumerate service providers and also provide shelter, education, health, and other facilities, as long as their services are engaged as per contracts.

Gãocarias also take care of other people within their communities, i.e. single women, widows, the physically challenged, and their dependents.

Gãocarias have their own customary laws (Code of Comunidades) codified by Portuguese from age old customs and usages and is the law of Gãocares by Gãocares and for Gãocares, for self-determination and for development of common and joint social welfare interests in the respective locality.

The beauty of the Comunidades lie in its system of administration [governance]. A Gãocar is both a care-taker and a ruler of his respective Comunidade. Every Gãocar has a say in the decision making (political process) and takes active part in the day-to-day working of the system keeping vigilance at the same time. Decisions are taken through consensus.

Gãocares maintain and manage resources sustainably for their own welfare and benefits and employ workforce (service providers) as per needs. Tasks are clearly assigned to functionaries, who are reasonably remunerated.

The shareholders and the service providers cannot have land ownership rights and legislative powers in Gãocarias, Gãocarias being co-operative establishments, and individual share cannot be transferred by the shareholder as per the customary laws.

Gãocarias have their own Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, as per the provisions of the Code. The Gãocaria is vested with its own sovereign functions in their own capacity within their own jurisdiction. The Gãocarias have their own eminent domain with respect to imposition of penalties, forfeitures, fines, confiscation, raids, imprisonment, arrests, trials, taking evidence and passing of judgements and orders.

Gãocarias are sovereign independent territories.

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