Ajeeb Goa’s Gajab Politics’ by Sandesh Prabhudesai, published by goannews.com, softcover, Rs 600

STUDENTS of politics and anyone interested in Goa must read this book on the life and times of Goan politics — as they have evolved to today’s “gajab” (strange?) life and times! We missed the release function of multifaceted Goan journalist Sandesh Prabhudesai’s book Ajeeb Goa’s Gajab Politics’ by the honourable Dr Justice Ferdino Rebelo on Monday, January 3, 2022 on the 191st Birth Anniversary of Savitribai Phule, but appreciate the comment Justice Rebelo made in his address about democracy being in danger courtesy the kind of politics practised by Goa’s politicians (or for that matter more and more Indian politicians). Much has been written about Goa’s 450 years of Portuguese colonial history, not much analysis has been done about Goa’s post-1960 Liberation politics which has a bearing on the past, present and presumably the future as it evolves. Just about everyone is in love with Goa’s cosmopolitism spirit! But few get shocked about how many Goans, non-Goans and politicians are engaged in the appalling game of acquiring real estate in Goa by fudging documents. After all this is golden Goa where one may still find clean air, clean water and clean local farm food in the backdrop of an altogether agreeable half-rural, half-urban environment. Jawarharlal Nehru’s one time comment “Goa ke log ajeeb hai!” has been quoted ad infinitum but it continues to sum up in a nutshell the mysterious ingredients which continue to make many hanker for a home in Goa. Alas, Goa’s contemporary political history leaves a lot to be desired and you cannot do better than make some time to read Sandesh Prabhudesai book backed up with exhaustive data collection. It’s a somewhat heavyweight study meticulously detailing the events which continue to shape the politics of Goa to arrive at good, bad or ugly scenarios. The state has become a desirable destination for tourists from far and near – many seeking second homes and investment flats, apartments, farm houses, old Portuguese time bungalows and villas in Goa to rent out and augment their fortunes enough to live the good life abroad. But it is no longer news that Goa’s politicians – some of the richest politicians in India -- have failed to give the state a first-rate infrastructure on which it can build sustainably and with respect for the people of Goa who want green and eco-friendly development more than the kind leading to loss of agricultural fields and the coastal beaches which were once public but increasingly becoming private property through encroachments. Prabhudesai would say we in Goa love to go on and on about politics and elections being a dirty game but are the people of Goa, clean ourselves? Goans themselves are a party to the games of acquiring riches on one hand but at the cost of the bankruptcy of the state’s coffers on the other hand?Ajeeb Goa’s Gajab Politics’ stresses on how obsession with control of land or real estate has played a major role in Goan politics and continues to do so with rapacious insensitivity to any long-term disastrous fall out.
This is a comprehensive study of Goa’s political profile but depth is lost in mere reportage, albeit for the cause of making Goans introspect – about how culpable they are in contributing to the larger tragedy of Goa as a failed state. Peter Ronald de Souza in his Foreword says the author is a chronicler and his book a chronicle, to quote, “This book is the beginning of another interesting conversation on Goa. He deserves a complementary proposition. I offer him one: The Geography of Goa undermines its history’. Saudade.” Peter Ronald deSouza is DD Kosambi visiting professor, Goa University and former director, Indian Institute of Advanced Study Shimla. Still, you want to catch up with the history of Goa in the last 60 years, this is your best buy to put by your bedside. Can’t read it at one go of course. It clues readers up about a gamut of things ranging from Maharashtrawadi Goa, minority caste chief ministers, love-hate for the Congress, the Parashuram Bhoomi myth and first settlers, real estate communidades, landless landlords, the Bahujan era, the Opinion Poll, foreigner Goenkars, migrant outgrowing Goans and much more about who is a Goan and who wants to be Goan but cannot be…finally, it is about rich politicians, poor politics. The chapter on TheState’ of Migrants makes for fascinating and proprietorial reading and here are clues to where Goa is headed in the future, all the reason why the government and its relevant departments pull up their socks to avoid compounding land use tragedies in the near future.
The book captures happy times, sad times in a much-loved state. Love it, hate it, it stands at the crossroads of a change so mind-blowing that soon Goa may well cease to be the tranquil Goa most Goans have grown up in!

Excerpted from Sandesh Prabhudesai’s `Ajeeb Goa’s Gajab Politics, Goa Elections: A Perspective”…..

Unlike the rest of India, Goa is a state formed by four kinds of major migrations. Two among them are similar to the rest of India while the other two are unique. To analyse local politics, knowing the history of migrations is of utmost importance. We have already analysed two migrations that took place in Goa. One, from the early settlers to the settlements followed by the different dynasties and the role they played in shaping up Goa’s polity. The second one is unique to Goa, caused by Portuguese colonialism and the religious conversions of Hindus and Muslims, as well as the horrific Inquisition inflicted upon the converted Goan Christians. This saga resulted in a series of migrations, first by the Hindus in the 16th and 17th centuries and then by the neo-converts, especially in the 17th century.
Then came a major spate of migration of Goans, which gained momentum form the 19th century. The decaying economic situation in Goa, in the Estado da India, and the opportunities thrown up all over the world led to the migration of many aspiring people form the Christian community of Goa. This migration still continues. In the last three decades Goa’s educated Hindu population has also been migrating in a big way, due to lack of opportunities in their home State.
On the other hand, Goa has also been witnessing inward migration from all over India after liberation in 1961. One largely by the labor class and lower middle class, to seize the employment and professional opportunities which the locals shy away form. And the second migration is by the cream’of India’s elite society, which is buying land at throwaways pries and settling down in Goa. Having a holiday home in Goa has become a big craze among the wealthy class of India and also among the foreigners. To understand Goa’s politics, it is necessary to travel down history and perceive the mind set of Goan voters, who consist of those who had migrated to Goa centuries ago, the new migrant population of this century as well as the Goans who out-migrate to work but remain strongly connected with the concerns and welfare of their motherland….. WHY do we look at the neo-migrants as a threat to Goa? Because we go out and they come in. We seize the opportunities available all around the world while they jump at the opportunities getting created in Goa. And then we fear that one day they will outgrow us. Goa’s politics has been moving around this anxiety. Is there truth in this unknown fear? The table of the people who have registered their mother tongue as Konkani or Marathi, coupled with the people who were born outside Goa; in Maharashtra. The figures of Marathi-speaking and Maharashtrians simply do not match. When the Konkani-Marathi controversy started heating up in Goa, a call was given by Marathi protagonists to the Goans to register their mother tongue as Marathi. Ina response the number of Goans calling themselvesMarathi’ went on rising till the historic official language agitation of 1986.
The issue was finally resolved in 1987, around which time the Census of 1991 was also conducted. In the heat of agitation, the number of Marathis’ rose up to 3.90 lakh, which was almost half of thekonkanis’ registered in the Census. With the language controversy cooling down in the 21st century and the new generation opting for Konkani, the number of `Marathi Goans’ has now reduced to half of the number registered in the 2001 Census. It is bound to reduce further in the 2021 Census . The graph is a clear indication of the trend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

69 − = 62