Sunday, April 14, 2013

GOA LIBERATED (Debate) - response to Harbans by Gabriel Figueiredo

Debate with Harbans Singh and Gabriel Figueiredo
(Excerpt from the Internet)
Hi Harbans,
Thank you for your comments. As I was born in Panjim in 1955, I have precious little practical experience of the Portuguese era. Therefore, allow me to put forth my views, which have been a little late in coming.

Harbans Singh: an entirely different kind of situation was faced by the Indian Army during the Chinese Aggression of 1962.
Gabriel Figueiredo
Quite true, I expect, when one suddenly finds that equipment, however sophisticated, does not function too well at altitudes and the soldiers, who have been hurriedly dispatched to the frontier are not sufficiently equipped to deal with the cold and altitude. This is precisely the type of situation the Portuguese found themselves in, when the Indian Army suddenly made its appearance on the borders of Goa, ill equipped and overwhelmed.
According to "India’s China War by Neville Maxwell", "The Goa incident reflected the amorphous and subjective processes within which the Indian Government operated. Neither the seizure of Goa nor the forward policy was decided upon in Cabinet. Itshowed the dualities of India’s attitude toward the use of force: reprehensible in the abstract and in the service of others, but justifiable both politically and morally when employed by India in disputes.
Some politicians were intoxicated by the Goa victory as talks began of driving Pakistan out of Kashmir and forcing China out of Aksai Chin. The Home Minister, Shastri, paralleled the Goa incident with China: 'If the Chinese will not vacate the areas … India will have to repeat what she did in Goa.' … However, the military operation in Goa did not test the capabilities of the troops or their commanders, as the Portuguese put up no organized resistance against the overwhelmingly superior Indian forces. The Army had been experiencing chronic shortage of boots, and half of one battalion went through the operation in canvas gym shoes. Although this was discussed widely in the Army, little came out in India, which called the operation 'our finest hour'. "
"The easy victory over the Portuguese encouraged the hope of similar success against the Chinese. … Although India now had rejected the Chinese proposal for a joint twenty-kilometer withdrawal, China had unilaterally stopped patrolling within twenty kilometers of the bounder. India refused to open negotiations, and steadily pushed forward, first in the middle and eastern sectors and now in the west. ".
For more on this, please visit
Incidentally, this shows that just as Portugal refused open negotiations regarding Goa, India refused to negotiate with China.
Harbans Singh: the balance would have soon tilted in favour of the of the Portuguese had they succeeded in stationing the NATO forces in Goa.
I understand that there were rumours about setting up NATO forces in Goa. So also there were rumours (in India, that is) about supersonic fighters being based at Dabolim. When the Indian air-force bombarded the airport, all that there were on the tarmac were a few transporters and aircraft belonging to TAIP, the one and only Goan civilian airline. So much for rumours.
Anyway, an invasive military action into Goa was not the proper way to have prevented the setting up of a NATO base in Goa. The UN was there to which India could have protested and thus prevent such a thing from happening, and as transpired later on (on 18 Dec1961), India had a very good totalitarian ally in the USSR which could have very well assisted India in keeping the NATO forces away from India -- please remember that a totalitarian country like USSR (which itself had openly practiced neo-colonialism in Poland, Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European countries) had the audacity to hypocritically state on 18 Dec1961, that the "end of colonialism has to come" when it vetoed the draft resolution (S/5033) at the 988th meeting of the UN Security Council, which required the Indian Forces to retreat from Goa, Damão and Diu to their pre-17 Dec1961 positions.
Harbans Singh: Internal political pressures within both India and Goa towards freedom movement could also be contributory factoid perhaps?
"In mid-December 1961, acute tension developed between India and Portugal on the subject of Goa and other Portuguese enclaves in India. It looked as if an invasion of Goa by the Indian military forces was imminent. U Thant sent identically-worded messages to the Foreign Ministers of Portugal and India requesting them to settle the dispute through peaceful means.
This appeal fell on deaf ears and on December 18, Indian troops marched into Goa and completed the takeover of the territory in short order. This left a bad feeling amongst several delegates, who felt that India, a founding-member of the United Nations, had blatantly violated the U.N. Charter." .
This is a chapter in the Frontline article (published by THE HINDU), "In the cause of peace" ( ). Please note well that the author (C.V. NARASIMHAN) mentions "an invasion of Goa", which is what it was. Not "liberation".
It appears to be documented that "Nehru never forgave himself for yielding to the importunity of Krishna Menon who thought he would not be able to defeat Acharya Kripalani if he fought the Parliamentary elections before integrating Goa into the Indian Union. He even countermanded his orders at the last moment and bade Menon stop taking the field, an order which Menon says in his memoirs he refused to carry out".
Both the above indicate that the internal political pressures were within India, not Goa, and that too the hurry for this naked aggression was due to "electioneering" rather than to any problems in Goa that needed a "liberation".
Harbans Singh: Similar elements in Goa under Portuguese rule must have treated the Goan freedom fighters to the same or even worse atrocities. Any denials?
Please correct me if I am wrong. There were no incidents in Goa of the type practiced by Britain on India, like the massacres, crawl orders and the like. You may cite the Inquisition, as do most RSS-types, but remember that the Inquisition took place at a time when the inquisition was taking place all over the Latinised world, not only in Goa, and that too against the Jews, Christians who openly flouted the teachings (e.g. the nobility) and those who introduced ideas that went "against the grain" of the Church thinking, like Galileo and Nostradamus -- unfortunately, most of the "trials" were conducted by hypocrites. I am not making apologies here, merely stating the context under which one must view those horrible years.
True, there were shootings of the so-called 'satyagrahis' who dared cross the border from Maharashtra into Goa and seize the Tiracol fort. The Portuguese naturally opened fire on them and recovered the fort. Wouldn't you defend your territory?
True again that soldiers based on Anjediva islands opened fire on the Sabarmati which was sailing close. If it came within shooting range, perhaps it came too close? Who knows who might have been on board? So also the Chinese shot down a civilian airliner not so long ago when it transgressed Chinese airspace.
Salazar's answers to anti-government thinkers both in Goa and in Portugal was to get them certified as lunatics and lock them up in prisons or lunatic asylums. True, there were a few people locked up for standing up for Goa and Goans, but no massacres.
Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia was even allowed to make his famous speech in Margão on 18th June 1946, and though it is said a policeman put a pistol to Lohia's head, he returned back to where he came from unharmed. And according to Ravindra Kelecar, a freedom-fighter, "Some six or seven hundred people gathered to listen to him. One could never imagine that it would be possible to gather so many people. The police ended up obstructing the session, but the message (of struggle) got through" (translation from a paragraph in "Passagem para a Índia" published on the magazine
section of O Expresso of 8th Dec 2001).
Again, I am not making up for the Portuguese presence in Goa, merely trying to correct the distortions that have come to be bandied about regarding the Portuguese. As we'll see later, the Portuguese, in the last decade of their presence in Goa, did take reasonably good care of Goa, Damão and Diu and their people 'till the very end.
Harbans Singh: You refuse to recognize them as Goans and dub them as "People with Goan parentage and not Goans themselves.
OK. I agree I made a hash of that statement. Allow me to rephrase that. If one has joined a country's armed forces, one's loyalties would definitely lie with that country's interests. Therefore, if a man of Goan parentage joined the Indian armed forces either for economic or vocational reasons, his loyalties would lie with India or else he would be charged with treason. I doubt if that person joined the armed forces with the express intention that one day he would be one of the "liberators" of Goa. His loyalty to the Indian armed forces naturally imply his interests lay with India, not Goa. Besides, "theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die" runs a famous poem.
Harbans Singh: Come on mate! Where do your sympathies lie?
My sympathies lie with Goa and Goans. Goans have been short-changed by Nehru's India. I won't go too much into details of UN Resolution 1541(XV) of the 15th December 1960 as it is beyond my scope to explain it, but I understand that this resolution says: “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”.  The very next UN Resolution 1542 (XV) 
passed on the same date, includes the territories to which this resolution 1541 ought to apply, and that one includes the territories that came under "Estado da India Portuguesa". India was a signatory to these very same resolutions. Therefore, there ought to have been a plebiscite under the aegis of the UN, to determine:
a) whether Goans wanted to remain with Portugal,
b) whether the Goans wanted to be an independent state
c) whether the Goans wanted to join with India.
Were Goans given a choice in the matter? No, Nehru and Krishna Menon decided for themselves what was good for the Goans. Now wasn't that a despotic and autocratic decision on India's part? It is a bit late in the day to redress the situation even if was possible to do so, but at least people must know and realize what happened. No point, as they say, "to cry over spilt milk".
Harbans Singh:Did you or didn't you desire to be free?
Freedom is a relative concept. Am I free to drive as I please? No, I am constrained by laws and regulations. Am I free to talk as I please? No, again there are rules and constraints regulating what I can say and what I cannot say in public.
Was I free pre 1961? To a certain extent, yes. I was. The only thing I wasn't allowed to talk about was to talk against the Salazarist Govt. As for the rest, yes I was allowed to go to school, my parents were allowed to work, have a house, nobody bothered one, and you could even sleep at nights peacefully in relative safety with the windows open. There was no need for bars on windows as you'd see in the same period in Bombay. The Hindus had their festivals like Ganesh and Diwali, the Muslims had their festivals, and needless to state, the Catholics celebrated theirs with equal aplomb.
A Portuguese engineer, Hernani Mourão, who had been posted to Goa in early 1961, writes on the supergoa forum (roughly translated here from Portuguese) "I 'lived' the festival of Divali on the streets, all through the night; there was this gigantic thing mounted on a vehicle and together with drums and noise-makers making a deafening noise… small lamps every where… This night, well past midnight, I woke up, got dressed and went on the street. I was staying at Caranzalem and walked, accompanying that magnificent expression of folklore, until Pangim where, at day-break, when light triumphed over darkness, the demons exploded in such a display of fireworks followed by drum-beats in a dialogue so intense and profound that I still hear today, so well it has been ingrained in my mind!" Now, wasn't that freedom?
Goa was one of the few "colonies" that had representation in the "mother" country. According to Froilano de Melo  "In 1945 Froilano (de Melo) was elected once again as a Member of Parliament to represent Goa in Lisbon. Using his superb oratoric skills he worked assiduously to eliminate the discriminatory Acto Colonial of 1930, which made Goans, second class citizens in Goa. In 1950, after a sustained struggle and against many odds and doubters and opposition, even in Goa, he succeeded in obtaining a new Political Statute for Goa. He was the only independent M.P. for the period 1945-49; all the others being members of Salazar's UNIÃO NACIONAL party.".
The above implies that since 1950, Goans were on par with the Portuguese of the "metropole", something that Indians never enjoyed with the British. Even today, if a Goan, Damanense or Diuense born before 19Dec1961 were to apply for Portuguese citizenship, he would get it. (It is a matter of shame that many Indians have obtained Portuguese citizenship by illegally claiming to have been born in one of these territories before 19Dec1961.)
Harbans Singh: I must ask you to define a Goan! Is he or she an Indian or not?
OK. Let's first define who is an Indian. If you consider a person originating from the Indian subcontinent as an Indian, then all the peoples of Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are Indians. However, if you consider those people in a country called India as Indians, then only those who occupy the territories created by the British as India at the time of partition, are Indians.
India, as you very well know (and I mention it for the sake of continuity), was created by the British (along with Pakistan) in 1947, and officially became a republic (with the demolition of the princely states) in 1950. (Kashmir was "neither here nor there". A plebiscite had been promised by Nehru for years, and it hasn't come to fruition as yet.)
Goa, Damão, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli existed as "Estado da India Portuguesa", a semi-autonomous state of Portugal well before 1947. Therefore, Goa and Goans along with the Damaneses and Diuenses had an identity different from British India.
In addition, Goa, Damão and Diu had been under Portuguese influence for over 450 years compared to British India which felt the British influence for only some 200 years. The languages spoken, the laws, and the social environment was totally different in the Estado da India Portuguesa from that of British India. This further adds more distinctiveness to my conclusions that Goans, like the Sri Lankans or the Nepalese, are not Indian.
Harbans Singh: According to the whole world they (Goans) are absolutely Indians! I am sure that this will be the answer from the Goans and even majority of the Portuguese!
Maybe, according to you, but not the whole world. A number of Goans consider themselves as Goans, not Indians.
For further notes on this topic (not by my hand), please see an article "Does Goa belong to India?" at 
Harbans Singh: I wonder if you ever raised such a demand to free it (Dabolim) of the Portuguese?
I don't know exactly what you mean here. Dabolim was a civilian airport ever since its inception, upto 19 Dec1961. It, along with the airport in Diu, were built by the Portuguese as a means to break the economic blockade imposed on Goa by India, in the early '50s.
This economic blockade, followed by infiltration at the borders by armed people dressed as as Portuguese police (who unfortunately gave the game away as they didn't speak Portuguese or Konkani) who attacked unarmed farmers and mining employees, and others who entered Goa in the guise of "satyagrahis" but intent on sabotaging Goan economy, was an effort to get Goans to revolt against the Portuguese. Sad to say, these plans didn't work too well as the Goans did not revolt.
As you can seen, by preventing foodstuff and other goods from entering Goa, India wanted Goans to starve. The Portuguese "came to the rescue" by importing food and goods and started efforts at making Goa self-sufficient, by importing milch cows from Pakistan, improving agricultural methods, etc. You'd be surprised that Goans did not feel the pinch at all, as all foodstuff was heavily subsidized by the Portuguese so that every poor man could afford to buy food. On the contrary, a few years after "liberation", foodstuff disappeared from the markets, and Goans had to rely on rationing to survive. What an anticlimax!  Please note India is using the same tactics with Nepal today, as it used with Goa in the '50s. If you have the time and patience, please read "Nepal India Relations - A Brief Review" at I may be wrong in comparing Goa to Nepal, but to me the similarities are glaring.
Harbans Singh: Brilliant Idea this! The only flaw in this scheme is that "YOU" may not be the one doing that "commercial" activity. Who might it be this time on? The Portuguese again? How boring!
Looks like you've run out ideas and are resorting to sarcasm. I am not, repeat not interested in business of the type you're thinking of. I am fortunate enough in having a steady job and not in the least interested in making a "quick buck" and getting rich. Neither do I need "properties" and "large houses" to proclaim "how great I am".  I know my worth, and try to stay within the limits of my abilities. Neither am I pro-Portuguese in that I want the Portuguese to come back to Goa, even though I think a closer relationship with Portugal will be beneficial to Goa and would be happy to hear Portuguese spoken in Goa (after all English is also another colonial language). I'd just like the record to be set right from the distortions being the result of "to the victorious the history".
Harbans Singh:We all know that the armed forces are a necessary adjunct to the very existence of a nation
Yes, that's true, and spoken like a true military man. I worked for twelve years as a civilian in the Brazilian Navy, and I know how much contempt a military man holds for the civilian.
Harbans Singh:"Dual Citizenship"
I don't get it. What has dual (or triple for that matter) citizenship got to do with my comments? After all I can stay in one country at a time! And this bothers me in the least. For your information, an Indian citizen is not overly admired or looked upon favourably at most foreign embassies for reasons best known to India and those countries. Telephone calls to India from any other part of the world to India are the most expensive too (e.g. a call from Australia to the UK or US costs $0.15 per min, to India it is $0.95 per min not taking seasonal "specials" into consideration), and I understand it is to do with India's refusal to bilateral telecom agreements.

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