Exactly 500 years back Alfonso De Albuquerque attacked Goa in November. Goa was under the muslim rule of Adil Shah. Adil Shah had good support from his ottoman allies and he successfully defended Goa. However, within a month Afonso hit back with a greater might and within 1 day they defeated Adil Shah to acquire a large part of Goa (mostly Salcette).
Afonso was in-charge of Goa for next 15 years till December 1515 when he died. Till then Afonso had done everything to ensure that Portuguese rule in Goa was strengthened. Portuguese had identified Goa’s importance in sea trade a potential which they could never exploit in the next 500 years of their rule.(Portuguese made more loss out of Goa than profit).
Portugal till the beginning of 20th century was a state mostly under the influence of church. Spreading the Catholic religion was the primary duty of the King. Hence building churches, forcible conversions etc. was done as a part of this duty. Also they believed that this will help in strengthening their hold of Goa. Afonso encouraged his soldiers to marry local girls through which he believed he will be able to dilute the local culture and build a society more loyal to Portuguese.
Whatever happened after that in Goa is shameful not just for Portuguese but also for humanity. I don’t think today’s Portugal identifies itself with the values their king lived by.
What Portugal did to Goa in 1510, was repeated by Spain with the Portugal being their target. Spain won Portugal in 1580 and the Portugal was under Spanish rule till 1640.
Given historical background I don’t see any reason why any Goan must have any emotional attachment to the historical event in 1510. Afonso did not “arrive” in go but he forcibly established Portuguese rule in Goa in 1510. Something against which our forefather fought continuously.
History is history someone would say. Why dig the grave one would say. But then the same rule must apply to Portugal as well. Why on earth are they interested in celebrating this day in Goa? On top they expect the Goan government to participate in the celebration is utterly stupid.
If Goan’s should celebrate Afonso’s conquest day because history is irrelevant, we all should celebrate the day when Athens parliament ordered death penalty to Socrates, we should also celebrate the day when British government castrated Alan Turing and so on.
But having said that we must also note that India and Portugal are two separate country not in any conflict in the modern world. Both countries can have good relationship with each other and get benefited. The old ties too can be used to build good relationship.
It will be unwise to hold today’s Portugal responsible for their ancestor’s deeds.
These celebrations are ridiculous on the face of it. But we should remember that Portugal wouldn’t do it for no reason. They probably want to build some groups in Goa who are sympathetic towards Portugal, have some kind of loyalty to Portugal. They probably think that they can gain economically and diplomatically by building such groups.
I will not be surprised if the Congress party supports the celebrations. Devoid of any ideological stand congress party always takes the path of least resistance or anything that floats their boat (government). History etc. doesn’t matter to them at all. Expecting them to make wise decisions like giving monkey a typewriter and expecting it to type out Othello.
BJP and RSS on other hand have done the right thing by opposing the celebrations. But then this seems to be more of an emotional outrage aimed at publicity rather than some kind of concrete ideological stand. They have hardly done anything to spread history of Goa among Goans and rest of the Indians. The most authoritative and truthful historical data comes not from some Sangh ideologue but from the Portuguese themselves.
I noted on RSS swaynsevak noting on Facebook that the ship is coming to Goa to celebrate inquisition. Before this also I have found innumerable instances where RSS people have amused me by relating anything Portuguese with “inquisition”.
Inquisition happened in 1542 that is 27 years after Afonso died. Portuguese King like most of the Europe was strongly under the influence of Church and their deeds in Goa make a shameful chapter in the history of Christianity in India. But at the same time section of Portuguese society were smart to understand that the state must be freed from religions and it took 4 centuries to finally free the state from Church. Portugal was “liberalized” in 1910. What was it like to be liberalized ? Read the Wikipedia entry
churches were plundered, convents were attacked and religious (priests and nuns) were harassed. Scarcely had the provisional government been installed when it began devoting its entire attention to an anti-religious policy, in spite of a disastrous economic situation. On 10 October – five days after the inauguration of the Republic – the new government decreed that all convents, monasteries and all religious orders were to be suppressed. All religious were expelled and their goods confiscated. The Jesuits were forced to forfeit their Portuguese citizenship.
One can understand the Portuguese society itself was a victim of Church just like Goan Hindus. Today’s Portugal is not very likely to find any glory in the “inquisition” and it is not likely to celebrate it in Goa either.
What the Portugal might be interested in is to build a section of society and mostly intellectuals who will strongly support Portugal on various issues.Celebrations means sponsorships, lavish dinners, parties, contracts and financial interests. And money knows no religion.
My advice to RSS and BJP is that its not enough to hold agitations in front of the Captain of Ports. You must support the scholars and organizations related to historical research in Goa. Provide them helping hand protect them from those who have been prostitutionalizing our educational institutions. Do this pragmatically and there will not be any need to hold “morcha” and “dharana” anywhere in Goa.