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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fake Freedom Fighters Are Demanding Apology From Portugal – by Dr. Ferdinando Dos Reis Falcão

Fake Freedom Fighters Are Demanding Apology From Portugal – by Dr. Ferdinando Dos Reis Falcão
Senhor Doutor Edgar, being of Goan origin, you know very well that a majority of Goans are fully aware that Goa is distinct from the rest of India because of the Portuguese, and for that, most Goans are grateful. Those who seek apology are not Goans but right wing fanatics from India. And a few Goans who were incarcerated in prison by the Portuguese for crimes like thefts, robberies, etc. Who did not lose the opportunity to register themselves fraudulently as Freedom Fighters?
Some so called Freedom Fighters of Goa, in their old age have openly stated that they were much better off during the Portuguese times; which is on record. 'Inferno está cheio de arrependidos!'
Sr. Doutor, you will recollect what a rousing welcome GOANS gave to the ‘Sagres”! Goans by and large welcome Sehor Doutor Antonio Costa, the Prime Minister of Portugal, who is a descendant of Goa from the Hindu house of Naiks of Margão.

Monday, February 8, 2016

EXPANSIONIST INDIA BY Jonathan Chu, Singapore

I think most have a fundamental misunderstanding of India. Yes I know, India is a democracy and all that. But this is a rather superficial understanding of the country. You might not have heard of India's territorial disputes in the news, but this doesn't mean India does not have them. In fact India (with the possible exception of Bangladesh, since I read that India and Bangladesh have reached an agreement to settle their borders this January) has not settled its borders with any of its neighbors. And worst, India has the dubious distinction of annexing every single of its neighbors land since it was created by the British in 1947. I know this may come as a shock to you, but here are the links you may want to check out:
1972 Annexation of Tin Bigha, Bangladesh
1983 (Aborted) Attempted invasion of Mauritius
If you talk to India's neighbors, the words 'bullying', 'hegemonic', 'meddling', 'intrusive'...are probably some of the adjective its neighbors will use to describe India. A recent example is India rejection of Bhutan's plan to build a highway in the southern part of Bhutan. An earlier example is India's creation of the Tamil Tigers which plunged Sri Lanka into many years of civil war. You might not have aware of it, but India has a rather testy relations with almost all of its neighbors.
As to why India is such a misunderstood country, I pondered it for a long time and here are the reason I think may have something to do with it.
1) India was created under British auspices and hence British India relations have a sort of mentor protégé element to it. As such Britain is naturally protective of India and hence tacitly approved or at least tolerate India's aggression. Britain, as one the key member of the West, set the tone of how India should be treated.
2) In the early years after India's creation in 1947, Britain saw India as a kind of proxy that represents Britain's interest in South Asia. As such India's aggression was not viewed to be detrimental to the world's order. In fact not many people know, after 1947 a lot of the British Raj officials stayed and served in the new government especially in the foreign policy department. Hence the expansionary instinct (in order words land grabbing) of the British Raj continues in the new country.
3) The subcontinent was colonized for two hundred years, when it gained independence, there were a lot of goodwill towards India all over the world, not less from Britain itself. The situation is not dissimilar to South Africa. Nehru was basically the Nelson Mandela of his time. India skillfully exploits this sentiment and assume a role of moral superiority in dealing with international affairs. Nehru is famous for his self-righteousness internationally. This makes it hard to criticize India.
4) India is a democracy. The notion that democracies are intrinsically peaceful is seldom challenged. In fact the belief is so strong that whatever India says are usually accepted as fact with no question asked. Take Sikkim as an example, fifteen years before Saddam Hussein annexed Kuwait, India annexed Sikkim. But how do India explain its act? According to India's explanation, 97% of Sikkimese voted to join India, so India just spread its democracy to Sikkim by 'incorporating' Sikkim into the India. I remembered when before the first gulf war when Saddam Hussein said he conducted an election and 99% of Iraqi voted for him, it was immediately dismissed as ridiculous (which it is). But when India says the same thing, it was accepted as fact.
5) Gandhi is a well-known icon of India. And Gandhi's non-violence struggle against the British are well-known. This non-violence stereotype stick and people just assume that India is non-violence against its neighbors also. But of course nothing is further from the truth. Over seventy thousands Kashmiris disappeared without a trace in India occupied Kashmir with many show up in mass graves. A few years ago there was an uprising in Kashmir and in one demonstration Indian troops gunned down hundreds of Kashmiris. But the press seems not to be too bother about it. India gets away with murder, literally.

Choking the cultural, environmental heritage of Goa By Bosco de Sousa Eremita

Govt using former Portuguese colony as a litmus test to creating a Hindu India

Choking the cultural, environmental heritage of Goa

The mysterious death of a firebrand former Blessed Sacrament priest, Bismarque Dias, whose body in November was found floating in a river of Goa state, is still fresh in the minds of local people.
Dias had been waging a relentless battle to save the environment of this former Portuguese colony. Dias, like most other Goans, loved the palm-filled inlands, sandy beaches and struggled to preserve them. But he died in what is suspected to be a murder, and his funeral is still to take place pending a full investigation into his death, as demanded by his family.
Dias was a thorn in the side of industrialists and tycoons who see Goa’s rich natural resources as a means to augment their fortune. Three months after his death, the larger picture is becoming clearer.
On Jan. 16, the state's pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government amended a state law to remove the coconut tree from the list of protected trees, claiming that under the existing law the felling of this tree needed government permission and that the process was too tedious.
Goa's Environment Minister Rajendra Arlekar told media that classifying the coconut tree as a ‘tree’ was an error because botanically it is only a palm and not a tree.
More bizarre, anti-environment sentiments were echoed in the state legislature, where Arlekar mentioned that too much green cover is a bad thing, while Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said monkeys need to be classified as vermin because they destroy crops and fruits.
Actually, the issues are larger than coconut trees, greenery or monkeys. Coconut trees stand everywhere in Goa and the law demanding permission to cut them down has become a bottleneck for industrialists waiting to buy land, clear it and start a business.
There are several major projects proposed which face public opposition — a golf course, an airport, defense facilities, as well as bridges and road widening schemes.
The state has over 25,000 hectares of land covered by coconut plantations, yielding about 1.3 million coconuts every year, though unofficially the figure is much higher. The tree is an integral part of local people’s life and culture. Its parts are used for building traditional homes and the coconut is used for cooking oil and medicines. But the government's interests are beyond local concerns.
As people objected to some state projects, Catholic priests joined the public outcry. Following opposition from parishes and villages, the government on Feb. 3 indefinitely suspended a project that used helicopters to bring tourists to Aguada, a heritage site rich in flora and fauna.
Elsewhere, village bodies have resolved to oppose projects that are approved by the Investment Promotion Board Act without their consent. The board purportedly aims at promoting investment and some 50,000 jobs, empowers the state to acquire any type of land, even forests. Worse, acquisition of land through this act cannot be challenged in any court of law.
The government also amended the Town and Country Planning Act permitting “eco-tourism projects” within no development zones, where earlier no development, including eco-tourism projects, was permitted.
There are cases where Goans were not able to build even residential houses on plots because of regulations and restrictions on constructions on slopes and in coastal zones. Affluent businessmen from outside the state, in cahoots with politicians and bureaucrats have managed to bypass laws to build gated palatial homes and hotels that leer at local people.
Over the years, governments have had a notoriously poor record regarding the environment, where sustainability is not a vital ingredient, while approving projects.
The projects underway in the state are bound to increase further an influx of outsiders, adversely affecting local culture. Goans are already feeling the heat of a burgeoning immigrant population, which is having a negative impact on the quality of life, with many Catholics preferring to move overseas.
This suits the BJP fine. The influx helps dilute Goan (read Indo-Portuguese) culture, predominantly seen as Catholic, because the ultimate BJP objective is to obliterate all colonial vestiges, for the greater goal of moving towards a mono Hindu culture.
The BJP has rejected the demand for special status for Goa in an effort to restrict the influx of people from other parts of India.
This year being election year in the state, the BJP has bent over backwards to sanction projects at the cost of the environment and the people. In the process it chokes local interests and culture, giving freedom, power and wealth to outsiders to exploit locals, in a sure move towards its greater goal of a Hindu India.
Bosco de Sousa Eremita is a journalist who researches the issues of immigration and changing demographics in Goa, his homeland.