A song I often heard sung in my childhood days was “Where have all the flowers gone?” In today’s Amchem Goem we would have to rephrase it as “Where have all the Goans gone?” And the resounding answer, of course, would be “Long time coming.”
A generation ago, Goa belonged to the Goans, who with concerted effort, had yanked it out of the hands of its Portuguese rulers. A generation later, these very Goans, or rather their descendents, have abandoned the land of their loins for greener pastures - the Middle East, Canada, Australia, USA. The land that grew lush paddy lies fallow as NRI ‘sons of the soil’ make hay while the sun shines in Dubai, Toronto, Sydney, Miami, and what-have-you. They make their guest appearances once in a while only to swank around in posh cars, build spacious bungalows and hike up the cost of living by superfluous buying sprees, while their poor parents slum it out in old-age homes. Then off they fly back with some curios and ‘chourisaos’ to please foreign friends in the Land of Plenty.
Little wonder then, that with this Babu mentality, our beloved Goa is being ravaged by forces from within and without. Land sharks in cahoots with politicians make brisk business with concrete, steel and iron ore while migrants rule the roost as their agents call the shots at marketplaces, construction sites and fishing docks.
A farmer feels no pride in his work and so sends his sons to prestigious public schools to be educated so he can make a ‘better’ future for himself. So does the fisherman and the baker. And in the generations to come, when their prodigies become doctors, engineers and migrate abroad, who will rule these businesses? The Bhailos, of course. One does not need a pavement ‘popat’ to predict that eventuality. Have we stopped to wonder what ransom we will have to pay once these people take over our land? Food and shelter will be supplied to Goans at a premium. One transport strike stopped Goa in its tracks when the Belgaum badmaashes decided to protest last year.
Sending our children to school when they cannot use it to improve the lot of their own Mai is a futile exercise in education, according to me. Especially when they turn up their noses at the very mother who has breastfed and brought them up and instead run into the arms of an alluring mistress who has no need of them except to use, abuse and eventually evict them. I recall a Hindi movie ‘Swades’ where the protagonist played by Sharukh Khan, returns to India solely to take his maid back to America as he wants to pamper her in the lap of luxury to pay back for her devoted service to him when he was little. His distaste for all things Indian takes a dramatic 180-degree turn as he stays on to improve the lot of the villagers and finds true bliss is here for the asking. People like Anna Hazare, Medha Patkar, and our great Mahatma Gandhi among others are classic examples of educated elite who care about building up a nation they have been breastfed on instead of joining the Babu Brigade and enslaving themselves to the great Mammon.
Educate your children in such a way that they will stay on in beautiful Goa and make it Paradise once again. Develop in them a love for their country and state. There is so much they can do to improve the professions their ancestors have been making a living on for generations. There is no shame in being a tinker, tailor, baker or candlestick-maker. And with greater knowledge, they can innovate and improve the present systems to a phenomenal extent.
As Christina Viegas has enumerated so aptly in her article “Saluting our True Heroes” on May Day, the poder, nustekar, render, and shetkars are our lifelines, not the bankers and industrialists. So let us not allow outsiders to take away our ‘bun-maska’, but instead, with pride, continue to promote these trades in our families and restore to Goa its true-blood Goan people.
( This is the unedited version of the middle that was published in Herald today)