Edited by Charles J. Borges

Translated by Lino Leitão

Xavier Centere of Historical Research Studies No 9,

New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, 2000


By Dr John Hobgood, Chicago

Professor John Hobgood

[Dr. John Hobgood is Professor of Anthropology, at Chicago State University. He holds an M.A. from Southern Illinois University and Ph.D. from the University of the Americas in Mexico. Dr. Hobgood has researched in Goa, exploring Indo-Portuguese culture in this part of India. Dr Hobgood has also conducted research in Mexico and among Native Americans in the United States.]

(This review appeared in Goan Overseas Digest – Issue 9.3 (July-Sept 2001)

In the context of the problems of Asia and Africa after Independence, the writings of José Inácio Francisco Candido de Loyola put forward significant practical solutions to our postcolonial world of today.

The former colony of Goa, situated 250 miles south of Mumbai (Bombay) on the West coast of India, presents a challenging lesson in human geography. How can we explain the existence of thousand of Indo Portuguese (Goans) in the Republic of India? They are also to be found throughout British and Portuguese colonies, and in the North and South America, including Canada and the United States. The writings of Loyola provide the background to this Goa’s diaspora.

José Inácio de Loyola, “Fanchu” to his friends, emerges on the political scene of the Estado da India in the 1920. Loyola was born into a feudalistic society based on caste and wealth of the landowners; and he depicts in detail the attitudes of that society. Carmo D’Souza, for example, in his article about Loyola, “The Man with a Futuristic Vision,” reports a story that Fanchu’s grandmother is said to have dedicated her three sons to the three important professions in Goa: a priest to God, a doctor to society and the lawyer to the devil. Such stories give us insight into the feudal society of that time.

Loyola was a young man, twenty-two years old, when his Jornal da India was suppressed by a patriarchal Governor, F.M.Couçeiro da Costa, in 1913. In response, Loyola dispatches a letter to the Governor – Carta Política, pledging, "I will collect enough strength to open wide all the jaws and also break all the handcuffs!" This passion against oppressive forces runs throughout his writings presented here. 

The governors often suppressed other newspapers that he edited later on, but they couldn’t muzzle his passion for democracy. When he gave a press statement, “The Coming Struggle” (Free Press Journal, 26 September 1946) during the political unrest in Goa, he touched upon the fundamental values of democracy. He stated that the freedom of thought, freedom of assembly and freedom of association are inseparable from human personality. For that statement he earned a prison term in Fort Pineche, Portugal, along with some other Goan political activists. In an earlier instance, after commenting favorably upon Afonso de Albuquerque’s conquest of Goa, he denounced in strong terms Acto Colonial, a racist legislation, which declared that Portugal’s mission was to civilize the indigenous populations. 

Loyola understood his obligation as a democrat and started making citizens aware of the widespread social injustices devastating their society. He was very effective in attacking the Indian caste system, especially as it is practiced among the Goan Catholics. He came down on the discriminatory salary practices as applied in the Estado da India; exorbitant salaries for the Portuguese officers, and a lower salary scale for the locals; and opposed the taxation system that impoverished even the large landowners. In his brilliant essay, “Emancipating Women” written under the pen name Vasco Dias (30 April 1938), he condemns the treatment meted out to women in feudal Goa. He writes, “In a country where women are treated either as passive animals and made to toil in the kitchen like slaves or like objects of decoration, hiding their obesity, dressed in silk and velvet, and are not invited to participate in the betterment of the society, such attitudes towards women are unrewarding to a nation that has dreams to fulfill.” How effective were such comments in feudal Goa?

The feudal economy of Goa boosted the ego of the feudal lords; it did nothing to the common people. The peasants and the middle class had no control over their economic destiny. Instead of revolting, the agricultural workers and the middle class started migrating to India and other parts of the world. As a result, the landlords complained of a labor shortage of agricultural workers and demanded that migration be banned.

This is a precursor of immense movements of Asians and Africans through western world today. Their remittances to Goa became vast family aid program that contributed greatly to Goa’s economy. In “The problem of emigration”, Loyola writes “And because of emigration they (Goans) were able to educate their children in the universities of Europe and America. If they had vegetated in their native villages, their children would not have fulfilled their aspirations.” It is true that the sons and daughters of Goans emigrants had indeed become assets to their countries of their adoption. But that was not the right way that he saw to usher in the economic progress in his native land.

Without an industrial base, he saw that the Goan migration would continue. Therefore he asked the feudal lords to step into cottage industries; and he took the government to task for not laying an economic foundation. He wrote, “… A country with a vision will not tarry to bring in the necessary measures to give an impetus to certain number of industries within the country because the growth of population and the growth of industries should go hand in hand, like parallel lines.” Neither the landlords nor the colonial government paid heed to his advice; and the migration continued with devastating effects.

In a public assembly in the town of Margão held on 30 July 1946, Loyola made this plea, “From today lets be brothers and forge together one fraternity, a fraternity without class distinction, without religious discrimination … Let us build a society with our spiritual efforts, let our solidarity strive with all its components for the same ideal and then, let us bequeath this land of ours to our grandchildren so that they may be proud of us! By putting the past behind us, let’s confront the future.” It was at a time when religious and ethnic strive in former British India were causing the death of millions. In contrast, the Margão meeting stressed religious and ethnic unity, and a group of Hindu, Christian and Muslim girls sang,

“Today and this very moment, 

May it remain forever in our hearts,

Hindu, Christians and Muslims all are brothers

Raise aloft our Goa”

The problem of corruption is found at all times and places. It even becomes more serious when the electorate is kept uneducated and ignorant of their basic rights, as in the Estado da India. Then democracy does not work for the electorate, it becomes a continuing tool of injustice and corruption. Loyola shows penetrating insights, as young man, 1923, when he expounded in his articles on the problems of political autonomy which foreshadows the problem of corruption in the post colonial era.

“Being constructive in the community.” is one of his superb essays. He ends by saying that, and “We direct all our energies to debating about what the State and the municipalities could have accomplished. But we never explore our own potential to accomplish our own goals. We have to free ourselves from this mentality. It retards our progress. If we want our communities to succeed, we should ask little from the State or from the municipalities, but instead ask ourselves what we can do, that we are not doing, to better our communities.” 

This Kennedyesque statement and his passion for true democracy is an example why Loyola’s writings leave much of value to the modern world.

[Fr Charles Borges S.J.: formerly the Director of  the Xavier Centre of Historical Research, is now John Early Chair in history at Loyola College, Baltimore, USA.  Fr Borges holds a Ph D in history from Bombay University and is the author and co-author of number of  books. ]

Forwarded to The Goan Forum by Lino Leitao on Thu, 19 Jul 2001 11:42:56 


click here for Fanchu Loyola  an introduction by   Lino Leitao

click here for Fanchu Loyola :  a comment by Ben Antao

click here for Fanchu Loyola : a personal note by  Yona Loyola-Nazareth 

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