Merging with Maharashtra
Perhaps the anti-merger movement got it wrong
- By Cecil Pinto
Just last week the annual hoopla surrounding Road Safety Week ("Are our roads really safe?", "Do Goan drivers have civic sense?" blah, blah, blah...) was finally over.
Now starts the annual hoopla surrounding the Opinion Poll. Reams of newspaper space will be dedicated to that historic poll on 16th January 1967 where Goans overwhelmingly voted that we wanted a separate identity, and did not want to be merge with
Newspaper columnists will reminiscence on how all Goans united to fight off the threat of merger.
The phrase "regardless of caste or creed" will be repeated ad nauseam.
A little known historical fact is that the villages of Moira and Benaulim were offered to Maharashtra as a token gesture, but the offer was refused. Whether the refusal was because of geographical incongruity, or other factors, is a matter shrouded in history.
But that is another topic for another day.
I was discussing the issue with my friend Ganpat whose father was a keen pro-merger politician and a stalwart of the Maharashtra Gomantak Party at the time.
Ganpat too feels that we should have merged with Maharashtra. I suspect Ganpat agrees with his father more because he hopes to inherit his father's tenancy rights over some prime property in Pernem, rather than out of any genuine conviction. Ganpat is a well-to-do PWD engineer, but land is land and greed is greed.
Regardless I feel Ganpat has a few valid points and these deserve to be heard.
"And Cecil, have you ever given thought to the bar girls issue?"
"But Ganpat, What has that got to do with the merger?"
"If we were part of Maharashtra we would have had bar girls too. Now we have to go all the way to Mumbai to watch them gyrate to loud filmi music as we drink horribly overpriced liquor under dim lights."
"But I heard many of these bar girls are resettling in Goa."
"No yaaar. They are not resettling. They are reinventing themselves. They come here to work as call girls.
We Goan guys don't want to pay for sex.
Just some sexy entertainment while we drink."
"Ganpat, let's not forget the main issue. What possible advantage could we have got from merging with Maharashtra?"
"Well phone calls would have been cheaper to Mumbai. You know I'm in the printing business. I phone Mumbai about eight times a day and go to Mumbai at least five times a month and..."
"My Aunt Merzina lives in Borivali but still thinks of herself a Mumbaikar.
I keep reminding her that you, Ganpat, visit Mumbai proper more often in a month than she has in the last five years!!!"
"Anyway coming back to what I was saying. My phone calls to Mumbai are killing me.
If we were merged with Maharashtra they would be local calls!"
"Surely Ganpat, there must be some more compelling arguments for merger with Maharashtra."
"You want compelling reasons? Ok how about this. The Mopa airport would not be an issue.
They say only Maharashtra will benefit.
But if we were part of Maharashtra ..."
"Ok. You have a point there.
But what about the fact of our Goan identity being submerged?
"This Goan identity thing is a myth. The tenant farmer in Sattari has nothing in common with the bhatkar in Salcete who in turn has nothing in common with a teenage Goan girl in Canada who has never even been to Goa."
"What would be the fate of our mother tongue Konkani?
It would surely die."
"Ha! Konkani will never die as long as we speak, read and write it.
If we were merged with Maharashtra at least this script issue would not be a problem. Devnagri would be the only script.
And you think that making Konkani the medium of instruction has helped? Go and see the lines for admission into English medium primary schools and you will understand that ..."
"Ganpat, I think we're digressing. How would the Goan people gain if we had merged with Maharashtra?"
"Man-hours and statues."
"Man-hours and statues? Huh?"
"Do you know how many man-hours are spent every year discussing issues about Goan identity and non-Goan in-migration and Konkani script and such stuff?
If we were merged with Maharashtra these would not be an issue and we could use the same man-hours to do productive work."
"Hmmmm. And what's this about statues?"
"Look at it this way Cecil. They're asking for a statue of Dr. Jack Sequeira to be installed at Panjim.
A committee will be formed. The RSS will object and say that a statue of Naguesh Karmali should be installed instead. In the Committee itself there will be infighting on the pose for the statue.
Should Sequeira be shown speaking at a mike or casting his vote? The Nationalists will insist that he be shown wearing a kurta pyjama and not 'western' clothing.
The South Goans will insist that the statue be installed in Margao as Salcete was the stronghold of the anti-mergerists.
The Freedom Fighters will form a Samiti and demand that all cities should be renamed with a 'pur' suffix - Panjimpur, Margaopur, Vascopur..."
"And Ganpat, what would be different if we were part of Maharashtra?"
"Firstly there would be no statue required. Secondly if a statue was required someone just has to suggest that a statue of Shivaji Maharaj be put up instead and nobody would dare to object! So many man-hours wasted on discussion would be saved. In fact even today we celebrate Maharashtrian language and culture so much more than our own that I don't see why that Opinion Poll was held at all."
The humnour column above appeared in Gomantak Times
dated 19th January 2006
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