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A hope for Goa - JP Singh 

FOR THE PRESENT ... ...

What does one say to the beloved land that is grappling with the issues of identity?

CENSUS AND SOCIAL TENSION

It is not the first time in the history of Independent India that a pulsating Social Tension has coincided with the decennial Census. The issues have always remained the same: Language, Religion Caste, the three factors of divisive politics on which electoral victories are built in this country. Has an individual, a party or the nation won anything out of this? Doubtful, I think.

PUNJAB DA PUTTAR

In Punjab, for example, the State boundaries might have been re-drawn and a government of the newly carved out state might have preferred to introduce Tamil as the additional language in schools rather than Punjabi,   Haryana still refuses to become an exclusive bastion of any one   party. The regional pride is as strong as when it was part of Punjab. More significantly, the Haryana Hurricane still prides himself as 'Punjab da Puttar'.   Just proves, it is the walls in mind that is more limiting than the boundaries on a map.

THE CLEVER, WISE AND INTELLIGENT

While both clever and wise are intelligent, there is a difference in their perspective of what is important. That is why when clever looks for ways and means to advance personal objectives, wise contemplates long term impact and is willing to make compromises that keep the principle. So the Chief Minister, his associates need to introspect and ask as to how they want the history to judge them. I hope prudence prevails.

THE POWERFUL

The powerful often think that the quickest way to augment influence is by arm-twisting. Thus some parties, regional and national, encourage their members to give jabs and pokes, if for nothing else than to reassure themselves that they are in power. The price of these jabs is always paid over a long period of time. Chickens, they say, always come home to roost.  

CHOICES BEFORE THE CITIZENS

If all the current players and their political parties have forfeited trust, what are the choices before an electorate? While 'No Vote' may seem an attractive option, one must not forget Assam, where a Chief Minister was 'elected' with the stupendous support of Total votes cast: 13, valid votes: 9, In favour: 6. Generating alternatives is the issue before one makes a choice and building from a scratch is also a choice.

THE REGIONAL IDENTITY

It may seem ironic, but as the world moves towards globalization, a simultaneous assertion of regional identity through symbols of group identity and pride of belonging are bound to become increasingly evident. Today, Kutch in Gujarat is seeking a separate identity. Next door, the Maharaja of Marwar still commands unparalleled loyalty among his people. A look at the Four Corners of the country and one encounters an undisputed regional sentiment around. I hope the country no more finds solutions in the progressive use of Police, Para-Military and Army in its quest for   'integrity'.

THE BELL THAT TOLLS

The merchants of power tend to forget that there is a world beyond their writ. If sounds from within, mid-seas and across seas are not heard, I am afraid more innocents will be laying their lives for causes undefined. If not adequately responded to, one can safely predict that the voices for strengthening regional identities will become only stronger.

TIME TO THINK ALTERNATIVES

It can be stated with certitude that India can not hope for a compact coalition, let alone a single party central government for the next 2-3 decades.   Not as long as 50% of the vote share is in the hands of regional sentiment. This is an inference based on the voting pattern over 13 Lok Sabha elections since formation of the Republic (Agenda for Change before the Republic of India. Liberal Times. June 1999). The Constitutional Review, one hopes is also the opportunity to address issues that have dogged the nation since its inception.

THE LESSONS OF HISTORY

Historically, India has never been a unitary state. It has always been a central orb ringed around by several small planets. The UK model of a unitary mode of government to cover the entire sub-continent might have seemed attractive immediately after independence. But it needs to be evaluated in light of political stability, economic progress and equitable justice. Perhaps the time to undertake that evaluation has come.

THE DESIRED OUTCOME

Whatever may be the outcome of the present tension, I hope Goa never loses its small world charm. That it still retains its bicycle paths connecting villages. While it integrates itself with the modern world through linking nodes and a dynamic artery, I hope they branch off in to by-lanes beyond a point. That while it has its powerboats off some coast, it earmarks waters that can be accessed only with a small rowboat. That while it competes with International Tourism, it develops nature trails and tags areas where one must trudge on foot. That behind the multi-star beach hotels, it retains its culture where one still returns home to a well-knit village. Not all may agree, but heritage preservation is still possible.

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