Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Plotting for a Catholic Politics in Goa

Some months ago, I became aware of a curious trend on local social media. It appeared that there was a systematic pattern where local news agencies would release little phrases, or headlines, often quoting the chief minister of the state. Take, for example, the references to the dubious policy of the present government to reconstruct temples allegedly demolished by the Portuguese. Interestingly, none of these phrases could be used as the basis to prosecute the speakers. They could very easily be explained away, as indeed this temple policy has been cleverly explained away in the face of public outrage.

In fact, it appears that these phrases were cleverly designed to vitiate the public discourse in the state, one small, innocuous, drop at a time, till we wake up one fine morning to realise that the entire well has been poisoned. Impossible to address them individually, it will be even more difficult if not impossible, to address the damage once these little provocations have done their work, which is to provoke the communal passions of those in the state, and principally the passions of those groups who have been constructed as the “majority community”. We know, of course, that there is no such thing as a majority or minority community. Rather some communities are, often consciously and deliberately, designed as majority, while others are pushed into minority positions. These news bytes I refer to seemed similarly designed to not just further deepen the minoritisation that has been systematically taking place of the Catholics in the state, but also to create an emotionally volatile situation in the state, such that violence seems to be the only possible response.

Marveling at the wickedness of this stratagem, I realised that it was only a matter of time before we started behaving as Catholics, Muslims, and Hindus, rather than as members of a common political community. Indeed, this time is already here, and to some extent has been here since the integration of Goa into the Indian Union in 1961. It is just that things are going to soon reach a whole new level of crazy in the coming years.

If it is to be the case that we are going to have to start operating as Catholics first, what is to be the nature of this Catholic politics in Goa? I am personally convinced that these politics should most certainly not be identitarian in nature. Rather they should be ethical. To an extent we do not really have a choice, since even the Catholics in the state have taken up ethical positions, the opposition to the routing of the Konkan railway, for example, or tourism in the state, it has often been represented as communal in nature.

The Latin inscription reads:

 "We shall attain the excellence of virtue with the grace of God and the effort of our will."


Nevertheless, there is something we can do, which to my mind has not yet been attempted in the state. It is my proposal that we shift to cultivating among Goans a politics of the classical and Christian virtues, and thus have a long-term project in mind, rather than focus solely on short-term issues, where the agenda is set not by us, but by others. Sun Tzu, the Taoist author of the treatise The Art of War would no doubt agree with me that one should always choose the terrain of battle, rather than fight on a terrain chosen by the opponent.

The appeal of cultivating the virtues among Catholics is immediately obvious. In an age where cynicism and the naked pursuit of either power or pleasure, or worse, both, is the norm in Goan politics, whether social or electoral, speaking of the virtues will offer an ethical framework where we can pause and evaluate our actions and those of others. Additionally, given its classical origins, these virtues are in fact shared across religious groups. Thus, while our effort will be directed primarily to Catholics, this discourse can just as easily be shared across religious boundaries.

Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude; these are the cardinal, or moral, virtues, handed down to us via the Hellenistic (the Graeco-Roman) world and further elaborated on within the Catholic intellectual tradition. To these four cardinal virtues, these Christian intellectuals, added the theological virtues, of hope, faith, and charity. In a time when social politics seems to have largely forgotten that this world is not restricted to the material, but has a spiritual or transcendental element, these latter virtues would offer us a way to move beyond the superficiality of the cynical politics of our age.

Another reason why I believe that the cultivation of the virtues is a good idea is because it also involves an intellectual element. One has to grow in the three intellectual virtues: knowledge, understanding and eventually wisdom. The reduction of our horizon to just the material world, and our activities essentially to (frenzied) consumption, has resulted in a situation where all we are interested in is accumulation of knowledge, or information. There is largely no movement toward relating that information to obtain understanding, and then moving on to the contemplation of these understandings that leads to wisdom.

There is no development of the virtuous life if it is not accompanied by a life of the mind. Classically there was an understanding of the crucial role that the intellect played in strengthening the will and tempering our desires. It must be acknowledged that despite our best efforts we in Goa have been lacking on this front. The reason for this lack is not, as I have suggested above, for lack of trying, but because our intellectual efforts have been largely restricted to the secular frame of liberal modernity. Left almost entirely untouched is the deep river of the Catholic intellectual tradition, which boasts persons like St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, and by adoption the classical philosophers like Aristotle. How many Catholics in Goa are aware, in any depth, of this intellectual tradition?

An engagement with this tradition will allow us to move beyond the rousing of the faithful for short-term political movements. Rather it will develop within them the ability to think deeply, and independently, and more importantly act instinctively to prefer virtuous living. All too often, despite our protestations, too many of us are invested in the deeply unvirtuous public life that marks contemporary Goa. If you can’t beat them, join them, seems to be our attitude.

A politics that rests on the practice of the virtues seems to me the best way forward into the mess that will mark twenty-first century Goa. It is a politics that is categorically not identitarian, and that with time will offer a solid mass of virtuous actors who will block the further descent of Goa into the darkness that threatens. 

 (A version of this post was first published in the O Heraldo dated 14 Dec 2022).

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

In Hoc Signo...

image via https://planetgoaonline.com/the-cross-the-tulsi/

Late last month the leader of the RSS Mohan Bhagwat affirmed that all persons living in India are Hindus. Given that this assertion is a core part of the RSS imagination, he has not been the only person to say so, with one of our former Chief Ministers having also stated that Catholics in Goa are culturally Hindu. At the time a number of Goan scholars jointly offered a nuanced response to this latter assertion, indicating that, in fact, Goans were culturally Catholic. It would be fair to say, however, that while many Goans were culturally Catholic, nowadays, with the rise of Hindu nationalism, this cultural constitution is changing, and with scary consequences.

We need to take a rather large detour to appreciate this suggestion.

It is commonplace, both popularly and in scholarly discourse, to declare that the crosses that one finds by the wayside, and other locations, especially in the Velhas Conquistas, were placed there by European missionaries to displace the deities and spirits that the local population, now converted to Catholicism, used to worship earlier. This assertion always carries with it the suggestion that this missionary act was one of violence, or an attempt to trick people, over generations, to worship a foreign God.

What no one seems to consider, however, is that the locals who had converted to Christianity may have been the ones to erect the cross or request the erection of a cross in those locations. The ignoring of this possibility is not surprising, since as Aditi Shirodkar, scholar from Chicago University, demonstrates in her doctoral thesis, there is never any attribution of agency, or self-determination, to the locals. There is just an assumption that the locals followed the missionaries as if they were Mary’s little lambs.

But the fact that the erection of crosses was not a single act, but a continuous one, carried on over time, and following an ancient logic, but within a Christian meaning system, or world view, became obvious to me a few weeks ago. Travelling from Britona to Salvador do Mundo I came across a cross on the khazans that I have seen multiple times, but this time something clicked. The cross was erected to the memory of a young man who reportedly met with an accident and died there, at what was once a very lonely spot. The logic for erecting this cross can possibly be traced to an ancient pre-Christian logic, which says that persons who die violent deaths become restless bloodthirsty spirits. As I have discussed elsewhere, this belief is also the origin of the Zambaulim Damodar temple, which was originally built to satiate the spirit of a brahmin groom Damodar, killed on the edge of the village as his wedding party returned to his home. According to this belief, the restless spirit could be appeased by a blood sacrifice – whether animal or human – once a year.

It is at this point that Christianity offers what was possibly a welcome relief to those who had earlier followed these pre-Christian beliefs. For the logic of the cross is that Christ has offered the one and single sacrifice through his death on the cross. There is no more need for any bloody sacrifices. I have no doubt that this was a welcome news to the neo-Christian communities in Goa, especially those from the working castes who were the ones most in contact with the spirits that ruled pre-Christian Goa, and from whom sacrificial victims would most likely be chosen. These blood-thirsty and violent spirits lived on the borders of, and outside, the safe environs of the village and were known to cause harm to innocents straying into their territory. For these working persons, it made sense to erect a cross, sign of the great sacrifice that abolished all others. All one now needed to do was pray to Christ, vanquisher of the greatest of evil spirits and death itself. For those who died violent deaths, bloody sacrifice could now be replaced by prayers for the soul of these persons. The Roman Emperor Constantine reportedly saw a vision of a cross surrounded by the words “In Hoc Signo Vinces” (Under this sign you will conquer) prior to the battle which won him the title of Caesar. Our convert ancestors too would have realised that they would conquer a malign spiritual world under the sign of the cross. As is repeated so often in Konkani before every rosary, “Povitr Khursache  kurven Amcheam dusmanantlim Nivaramkam, amchea Deva”. If, therefore, we today encounter crosses at various places, like at the sluice gates of the various manos, or in fields, or hillsides, it is because the cross was possibly erected there by the native peoples who embraced Catholicism, since it liberated them from the blood thirstiness of the ancien regime.

The capriciousness of this ancient regime was substantially visible more recently when the switch from one party to another was justified by reference to the time-honoured practice of kaul prasad – divination by consulting a deity. The MLA who so justified his switching of electoral parties has been mocked substantially, but it is important to believe him, and take his action at face value, in the process respecting not just him but also the divination practice that he used to arrive at a decision. Indeed, if one looks at the way in which his actions were received in the media, one can discern that he was being judged – both by Christians and Hindus – according to Christian standards, suggesting he had spoken to the one God, rather than any one of the multiple deities that are peculiar to the non-Christian world the MLA belongs to.

If we mock his decision it is because, contrary to the assertions of a number of contemporary ideologues, we have all – regardless of the religions we profess – internalised Christian values which demand a certain ethical rigour. To such a mind, the fickleness of a yes today, and a no tomorrow, even from a deity is not well regarded. But this erratic behaviour was the nature of the pre-Christian ethical world, which was marked by a range of belief systems, many of them being substantially capricious and beholden to unpredictable deities.

The flip in the decision of this elected representative was not the last example of the dark possibilities contained within a non-Christian worldview. Some days after the departure to the ruling party, two individuals visited the temple of Bogdeshwar in Mapuça and offered the deity nine bananas,  betel leaves and areca nuts with a prayer that the deity teach the eight defecting MLAs ‘a lesson’. This request for ‘a lesson’ sounds suspiciously like a curse, and is unknown to the Christian ethic – which commands that we love and pray for those who do us evil and persecute us.

With the rise of Hindu nationalism, ably assisted by the scholarly project of postcolonialism and all manner of woke politics, the Christian worldview that was dominant not just in Goa, but to some extent in (British)India as well, has gradually started being eclipsed, such that we are able to see pre-Christian worldviews re-emerge. These worldviews are not necessarily benign, which, interestingly, shows us why our first-Catholic ancestors would have gladly taken to Catholicism, and actively embraced the worldview taught to them by the European missionaries.

(A version of this post was first published in the O Heraldo on 12 Oct 2022).

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

On the death of a Queen

Queen Elizabeth II (ERII) is dead, and it appears as if the entire world – or at least that portion on social media – has something to say about her, the Crown, and the British monarchy. My own relationship with ERII is, I would like to think, cool and distanced. When I started thinking seriously about my own social location as a Goan in India I realised that the history of British India, and consequently the Indian attachments to Britain, weren’t really as close to me as I had been taught. My history was more properly that of Portuguese India, and my relationship with the British, and British Indians, could also be routed through a Portuguese lens. I have found this way of looking at Britain, and all things British (including British India) hugely useful since it provided an alternate grounding, and a more dispassionate way of relating to the British, British-Indian, and Anglophone world around me. None of this is to contradict the fact that as a privileged Goan growing up in the Indian nation-state, and a British-Indian mother, I was raised up as an Anglophone, and consequently Anglophile. But in this, I realised after living in Portugal for more than a decade, I was not dissimilar to the privileged segments of Portuguese society, many of whom are substantially Anglophile.

It is this curious relationship that all of us, across the world, have with Britain, and British institutions, that has occasioned this outpouring of response to the death of ERII. One aspect of this relationship was very succinctly captured by Frank Cottrell-Boyce when writing for The Guardian:

“One of the reasons the Queen’s death feels so huge is that she was a living connection with that postwar consensus, that attempt to build a better nation and a rules-based world. A vision that is being demolished even as we plan her funeral. Ten years ago, we lived in a world of divided opinion. Now, we live in a world of divided reality.”

Consensus was the word that jumped out at me when I read this passage. ERII was in fact the epitome of a world that revolved around a consensus, at the heart of which, was a socio-cultural one, and perhaps this is what ERII, with her all-important dress-sense and etiquette, represented best – a way of being, and doing things that everyone agreed with.

This is not to say that the consensus was democratically reached, or that everyone who was a part of the consensus agreed with it wholeheartedly. But thanks to Britain’s couple of centuries in the sun – to put it politely – it was central to determining the way in which we all behaved, from the British-Indians who were a subject population of the British Crown, to the Portuguese, who, though not a subject population, nevertheless had a less than equal relationship with the Crown.

The consensus worked because there was something in it for all of us. Above all there was a discourse of fairness that one could appeal to. Even if this fairness was not necessarily realised in the operation of the British Empire, the discourse ensured that one could hold Britain accountable, then, and in the future. There was also, as I suggested earlier, a socio-cultural consensus eventually rooted in western European Christianity, that made us better people. Women were treated as social superiors, there was a way one behaved at the dining table, there was a way one dressed. All these were important, because it enabled us to create a uniformity, a level playing field, that allowed us to understand one another. After post-modernism and post-colonialism, as Cotterll-Boyce rightly points out, that world has disappeared. We don’t live in a world of divided opinion any more; we live in a world of divided reality. As contemporary Indian politics itself demonstrates, we can’t even agree on the reality of the world we live in since our points of departure are so radically different.

ERII’s death represents the disappearance of that world that we were all used to, and we must all be sorry for her death, because the fading away of the world she embodied makes our lives that much poorer and unstable.

As should be obvious from the tangential references above, I am well aware of the critique of the continuing violence of the British Empire. However, I would like to once again stress that the Empire also built into its operation a discourse that has allowed for it to be taken to task. One can think of the way in which this was ensured in the case of the Mau Mau rebellion, or the case of the Gurkhas. I fear the same cannot be said for the dissensus that represents the alternative to ERII’s world.

Take, for example, the horrific responses to ERII’s death. I offer only one, particularly troubling response, that of Uju Anya, a professor at the Carnegie-Mellon University, who reportedly tweeted: “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating”. Just so that we don’t forget the context, this vitriol was directed at a ninety-four-year-old woman, who has been a figure-head at best, and for all we know done her best to moderate things she was capable of moderating.

Sadly, Anya’s response is not an aberration, but true of a good number of persons who identify as “woke”. This kind of self-righteous indignation, and the willingness to inflict harm on a representative of an order one is opposed to, is becoming increasingly common, whether by persons on the right, or on the left, or centre. If this horrific incapacity to distinguish between a person and an institution, and to wish ill to a person, particularly one who is not directly responsible for the actions attributed to her, is the world that woke activists wish, then this is not a world, or better still a consensus, I would like to be a part of.

The Catholic Church teaches in its Catechism that one may not engage in armed resistance to oppression by political authority, if one cannot ensure that the resistance will not provoke worse disorders. This teaching offers us a definite lesson in the current and similar cases: if your resistance to colonial, or other, oppression is to justify unequal violence against often-innocent actors, and inaugurate a worse system than that which preceded it, then you are a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. There is no doubt that ERII was a figurehead not only for the genteel consensus I speak about but an Empire that has unleashed much violence that continues to wreak havoc. However, our response to this violence cannot, and must not, be to unleash more violence.  Our response must be to unleash, what the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the [Catholic] Church, calls “a civilisation of love”.

It bears reminding that none of us is innocent of violence, and that we are all figures trapped within our own contradictions. I believe that ERII attempted to do her best despite the contradictions she was born into. In many ways, her heir, King Charles III represents continued attempts to do good despite the contradictions he has been born into. Let us wish him well.

The Queen is dead. Long live the King.

(A version of this post was first published in the O Heraldo on 14 Sept 2022).

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Catholic Politics and a Goan Romance: Thoughts on the release of Radharao Gracias' A Shortcut to Tipperary

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure for me to release A Shortcut to Tipperary this evening.

There is an interesting set of dynamics between the person who releases a book and the event of a book release. In some cases, it is the person who brings honour to the event, and in others it is the event that brings honour to the person invited to release the book. This afternoon is an example of the latter case and I thank Doutor Radharao for the opportunity. I could think of many others, some present in this gathering, who are more worthy of this task, but I am nevertheless delighted to be able to release the book and share with you my thoughts on the novel.

I have to confess that I agreed to release the book without having read it. But then, how could I refuse Dr. Radharao? And having been witness to his provocations in social media over the years, and thanks to our conversations I knew that subsequent to accepting I would not be placed in an awkward position. And to be honest, the author exceeded all expectations. For this, my congratulations Doutor.

When he invited me, Doutor Radharao had indicated that his intention had been to preserve a record of the Goa of his youth, a Goa that is fast disappearing, or indeed has already disappeared. This is not an uncommon desire among Goans of a certain age, and yet, oftentimes the result is disastrous. The narrative labours under the weight of an activist’s frenzied desire and one must deal with tedious explanations of the minutiae of the local life that the activist author wishes to capture, down to the most boring detail. And then there is the question of the language placed in the mouths of the characters – either it seeks to mimic the native tongue of these characters and is often a hideous pidgin, or it is a form of English that is so removed as to be unrealistic. I am happy to report that A Shortcut to Tipperary suffers from neither of these shortcomings. Doutor Radharao says all that he has to say, and he has much to say, but with a hand that is as light as a merengue! I wish I had such skill. Indeed, as a friend and I were discussing the other day, at times teaching is best done indirectly, through parables. On this score the Doutor has done very well indeed!

But what exactly is our Doutor preaching? In a nutshell I believe he is, like many of us, concerned with the question of Goan difference. In his telling, and I am in agreement with him, the difference is Catholicism. What makes Goa Goan to Advocate Radharao Gracias is the Goan Catholic. “Without us,” he argues through the figure of Alberto, “Goa will never be Goa.” Catholicism, and to some extent language – and on this latter point I disagree with him partially, but I will return to this point later – are what make Goa. What makes, or to be honest, what made, the Goan different, honest, hospitable, is Catholicism. This is the  ingredient of an earthly paradise. Our author recognises that not all Goans fulfil this norm, indeed A Shortcut contains a wonderful example of a dastardly Goan Catholic, but as the narrator points out there are always a few bad apples. Nevertheless, bad apples notwithstanding, the norm still holds, or held, and these general features of the Goan resulted from Catholicism.

Underlying the entire narrative, is the suggestion that the anti-thesis of this Goan-ness, is Indian-ness. At one point there is the query whether this morphing of the Goan spirit is a result of being incorporated into the Indian mainstream. There is one particular point in the narrative when our attention is drawn to the fact that the Indian courts are not courts of justice, but courts of law. Justice is not a virtue that the Indian state, through its courts, is able to deliver. Indeed, there are other points in the narrative when the reader is cautioned against litigation. Instead, the reader is offered that biblical counsel which helps in building community – make peace with your brother, your neighbour, resolve your differences among yourselves. What Gracias is offering for Goa is a vision of an organic polity, and I will return to the question of the future in a while.

Resolving some of the crises in A Shortcut to Tipperaray is the figure of the bhatcar. The bhatcar is a contested figure in Goan literature. Whereas some present the bhatcar as the figure of oppression, and I have no doubt that there were many who were, Gracias while not denying that there were some – perhaps many – evil bhatcar, proffers an example of the benevolent, wise and kind bhatcar. Is he being reactionary in this option? I think not, for a couple of reasons. To begin with, I suspect that the bhatcar in A Shortcut is the way Doutor Gracias would like to think of himself.  The second reason, however, I think is more important; Gracias is offering us a model of the ideal leader for this organic polity that will stand up to the rot represented by Indian influence. In this position his project is similar to that of the late Maria Aurora Couto, who wrote histories of the landed aristocracy of Goa, not to blindly glorify them, but to offer us, who are their political and cultural heirs, models of emulation, and ways forward. Most of us may have been mundcars or members of other service groups, but today many of us have the fiscal capacities formerly available to the bhatcars. How do we wield these capacities? The noble bhatcar is the model that Gracias, rightly in my opinion, offers to us.

The appropriateness of this model is one that derives from a certain kind of Catholic politics; one that is not tied to conflict between economic classes, the famous class war, but directed by a notion of justice. It is my belief that so much of so-called “progressive politics” ever since the French revolution is inspired not by an indignation over the unjust exercise of privilege, but by envy – why do they; i.e. the elite, have what we don’t, if we don’t have it, neither must they. As Doutor Gracias points out to us, once again through the voice of the bhatcar, “The poor take vicarious pleasure in the ruins of the richman’s house” (p. 195).

This model of Catholic politics is not simply directed by a notion of justice, it is further animated by the individual’s pursuit of the virtues. Each of the protagonists of the narrative is a virtuous figure, and urges others to be virtuous. Let us return once again to the scenario I just referred to from the narrative. After suggesting that the poor not take vicarious pleasure in the ruins of the homes of the rich, the bhatcar points out to how the very persons who claim that their tenants are not vacating the property, are themselves refusing to vacate properties in Bombay where they are tenants of another landlord. Forgive me for what I am about to say, but I have often had reason to be scandalised when I see Goans who have accumulated substantial property, refuse to abandon properties where they are tenants, and insist on paying miniscule rents that do neither correspond to the market value, nor are they sufficient to support the landlord. And then we wonder why Goan properties are falling to pieces.

Unlike these contemporary Goans, when, as in the case of the narrator, he fails to do justice, or do the virtuous act, his conscience – guided conveniently enough by the Sunday sermon – is sufficiently pricked so that he returns to doing the right thing. There is place also, in this model of Catholic politics for suffering. More than once in this novel we read that “through suffering comes salvation”. I think that this would be a good mantra to hold on to as we suffer through the trials and travails that is our lot in contemporary Goa. So long as we suffer in the course of our pursuit of justice, there is salvation at the end. Not just for us individually, but for all Goans.

And this is where I would like to return to the future that Dr. Radharao offers us in his novel. He has made his peace with the generations of Goans who have emigrated, and continue to emigrate. But, as he suggests via the words of Alberto, “You have a duty to your mother land to come back” (p. 228). This is all very well, but I am also concerned with the question of what do we do while we are away? I would argue that we do exactly what we have been doing earlier, and has been portrayed in the book. The late nineteenth century and the early to mid-twentieth century were marked by the institution of the kudd. The kudd embodied the networks of family, caste, and village that supported Goans in the city of Bombay. The kudd stood at the centre of Goan success in the metropole. I propose that we return to this principle of associationism, with one difference; every Goan is a brother who is in need of our support; not simply those from our family, caste or village network. We should learn to see the outmigration of this century not as a burden, to be lamented, but as an option to create a new Goan century. A century when Goans across the world join hands to reject the mediocrity of middle-class values and aim for the excellence that was a hallmark of the Goan not a couple of generations ago. I have to point out that this is already happening in some places. Speaking recently with Dr. Stella Mascarenhas-Keyes I realised that she is engaged with the issue of the impoverishment of Goans in the UK both in her current role as Patron of the Goan Welfare Association, and her earlier presence on the the Goan Association committee for welfare and immigration. We have here a wonderful example of individual and association engaged in community focussed philanthropy. The new Goan century will be built on the back of this sort of fraternal camaraderie, and not merely on the repetition of old songs, dances.

If we are to attain this vision, we have to necessarily embrace and love our past, as Dr. Radharao has done and transmitted to us. There are a couple of points, however, with which I disagree with him. First, at some points in the narrative, the author seems to display a utilitarian understanding of Christianity – our Lord Jesus Christ did not found a religion, he was a teacher. If Christ were not the Son of God, then to paraphrase the apostle Paul all of our Christianity is pointless. What makes Catholicism tick is not a set of mundane virtues, but the fact that it is animated by the transcendent. This fact is important to acknowledge because too often we Catholics assume that simply having the cultural markers of Catholicism is enough – both for us, and for our Goan difference. I beg to differ. Catholicism is so, only if linked with a recognition of, and love for, Jesus Christ, recognised as the Son of God. Doutor, I will have to turn you over to the Inquisition for this!

The second point on which I disagree, was the egregious lack of accents in words that have come to us via Portuguese. This is a common practice, and one, which I believe, compromises our cultural health. We need to embrace the discipline of the accents, because it is through this discipline that we are able to remain a viable, healthy cultural entity. As the Goan mango breeds will demonstrate, and indeed as the Catholic faith asserts, by ourselves we are nothing, it is when we draw from the traditions of others, that we grow sweeter, and better. On this note, and to return to a point I promised I would, Goa is not only the home of Konkani, it is also the home of Portuguese. A Konkani that is impoverished by cutting its links with Portuguese, is no Konkani at all. It is as the history of the Konkani language shows, some variant of proto-Marathi. It is through Portuguese that our Konkani was born, and became a universal tongue. Were it not for this, there would be no Konkani but a variety of dialects of different castes and sects.

I conclude on this point, thanking you Doutor for this opportunity, not only to present your book to the Goan audience, but for the opportunity to read this book. Thank you and God bless you.

(Radharao Gracias' debut novel  A Shortcut to Tipperary was released on Saturday 27 Aug 2022 at Ravindra Kala Bhavan, Margão. I was invited to release the book)