I am not normally one to fall prey or encourage the use of nationalistic slogans such as ‘Save Goa’. Which
What is so wonderful about
One of the major threats that the frogs face is the destruction of their habitat, the fields, and hills of
The immediate action that we are encouraged toward this monsoon however is, to not eat frog legs (or jumping chicken) this season, and not hunt them. And yet when eating frog legs (like wild mushrooms) is part of the monsoon culture of Goa; how can this abstention from frog legs still be argued as an action in support of ‘saving’ Goan culture? The Save the Frog campaign offers us a peculiar option; by putting us in apparent, and possibly temporary conflict with a manifestation of Goan culture, it could actually allow us to save it in the long run.
To begin with, Goan ‘culture’ itself seems to have morphed. Whereas in earlier times bands of young men would head out in the dead of night to hunt bull-frogs (they wouldn’t touch a female of the species), this is not the case anymore. Frogs are being hunted indiscriminately. Secondly, while the hunting in former times met a domestic consumption, hunting these days, caters to a few restaurants that serve ‘jumping chicken’ despite a legal ban on its consumption. A commercialization of frog hunting has set in, that leaves frog populations doubly vulnerable. It would be logically and ethically incorrect therefore, to argue that consumption of frog legs alone is Goan culture. An integral part of that culture is the process and the ethics of that hunting. Disassociate the ethics and process of the hunt from the consumption, and we will only compromise the ability of future generations to engage in this very Goan monsoon event. A case of
Recognizing the connection between the hunt and the consumption, would allow us to also recognize the connection between the material base and culture of Goans and the disappearance of Goan culture. While there is no doubt that there are more ‘non-Goans’ in the territory today, we will realize that the change in the material life of the Goan is itself leading to the disappearance and destruction of Goan culture. The authentic Goan is disappearing like
The Bebo (frog) is a symbol of the average Goan. An earthy Goan, who goes on nocturnal frog hunts, swigging feni to warm himself from the cold of the rain. This is the Goan who also slogs in the fields to cultivate them, the Goan who slogs on board ships and in kitchens across the world. The Goan, who sweats and is connected in a very material way to the soil. It is not a symbol of those who merely eat the meat that others have hunted for them. These are merely consumers of a product, they could be Goan, Punjabi or British, and they could be anywhere, consuming any kind of exotic meat.
Our country’s ‘Project Tiger’ project tried to present the Tiger as the pinnacle of a natural pyramid. Conserve the Tiger and we would conserve the entire eco-system it argued. Unfortunately however, the Project pitted man against the Tiger. The ‘Save the Frog’ campaign however incorporates the Goan in every sense into its campaign. Saving the frog involves saving the lifestyles and landscapes that we recognize as an integral part of our being Goan. Lifestyle and landscape has been the core component of the Goan fitna that we have in the past months been both witness to and participant in. In addition, our abstention from frog meat today, would also allow the opportunity of frog meat for future generations of Goans.
Adopting the frog as our mascot opens up for us a world of pro-life politics and therefore the slogan; Save the Frog, Save Goa!
Abstain from frog meat this monsoon.
(First published in the Gomantak Times 27 May 2009)
(Carried in The Goan Review Vol. 20, No.4, July-August 2009, p. 49)