Nandkumar M Kamat
In international politics Goa is creating waves through some feeble and forgotten connections. However feeble, smart politicians know how to exploit these connections intelligently and we hope that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval takes a note. After the election of António Luís Santos da Costa with roots in Margao as Prime Minister of Portugal, on January 1, António Guterres the former Portuguese PM would take charge as new Secretary General of UN. His first wife Catarina Marques de Almeida Vaz e Pinto was born and baptised in Goa in 1960. That brought the new UNSG designate many times to India. This is tenth and last article in this series which began on July 11.
Except ex state minister for External Affairs Eduardo Faleiro and OSD to Chief Minister Amey Abhyankar nobody showed interest in showcasing Goa during BRICS. Despite his ill health, Faleiro worked hard to organise a brilliant lecture ‘BRICS yesterday’s story or a sign of coming times’ ( view it here https://goo.gl/906dRb or here https://goo.gl/MyzTUL) by only expert at present in Goa on BRICS, Professor Varun Sahni , Vice Chancellor of Goa University at International Centre (http://www.internationalcentregoa.com/ ) last month which was well attended. We are sure that experts like Professor Sahni are consulted and have been kept in the loop by our foreign policy makers to ensure the success of Eighth Summit in Goa. Goa’s politicians, with few exceptions do not read anything on international politics and their interest in BRICS would be limited to football matches and the lavish, expensive, gala dinner which state government would host. For the media more than profiling the personalities of BRICS leaders and substantive foreign policy issues to be discussed during summit, the developmental works in Marmagoa and Salcete have taken top priority.
Better job had been done by the press during 1983 when 39 leaders had attended CHOGM chaired by Indira Gandhi. It is doubtful whether the local press would bring out special features or supplements on BRICS member countries on October 15 or 16, but if they do, it would impress the international media in full attendance this week.
For every visiting VVIP and their spouses or companions, there is a historic, cultural and economic link in Goa. President Putin needs to be felicitated by the freedom fighters of Goa because without former Soviet Union support ‘Operation Vijay” would have fizzled out. Goa is now a tropical backyard for Russian tourists. So President Vladimir Putin should pay a little more attention to further promote Goa-Russia cultural exchanges and may be Goa can reciprocate by leasing out land to build a modest Church for Russian orthodox masses for the Russian tourists. Recently when European Languages Day was organised jointly by French and Portuguese departments, Vice Chancellor Sahni who gave a speech in fluent Spanish felt that Spanish, Russian and Chinese languages also need to be introduced. The original objective of Goa University act, 1984 was to promote “Latin Studies” but somehow it was misinterpreted as “Latin American Studies” although except Brazil, historically in post Columbian era Goa had not much interest in any of the country in Latin America.
As a positive spinoff from eighth summit of BRICS if Goa University gets support from Government of India for establishing a ‘Centre for BRICS Studies (CEFBRICSS)’ then it would be a big achievement. CEFBRICSS would be able to do perfect justice to three countries -Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China and Republic of South Africa. The existing Centre For Latin American Studies (CLAS) is already focused on Brazil and other Latin American countries and can supplement and complement CEFBRICSS.
Goa University would not be able to ignore world’s largest nation by area -Russia and second largest China. Goa government also needs to show statesmanship in understanding how it stands to benefit from collaborations with Russia, China and South Africa. If central government is merely using Goa as one of the scenic locations in the country to host Eighth summit of BRICS then once the event gets over it would be promptly forgotten. It is a fallacy to believe that Goa needs BRICS to promote tourism. Much more than that Goa needs BRICS to tell rest of India and the international media converging here that it was already part of a trans-pacific and trans-Atlantic BRICS before liberation through well established maritime trade and commercial contacts.
The Chinese delegation can see pottery of Song dynasty in Pilar museum and the Ming dynasty porcelain in almost every big house in Bardez and Salcete. They can open their eyes to plunder caused by unsustainable Iron ore mining. Goan Iron ore imports have made China prosperous in past 15 years. They may thank Goa government for creating a ‘Mini Macao’ in Panaji’s Mandovi estuary. The Brazilian delegation can see documents on Brazilian trade in Goa archives and Xavier Centre for Historical Research besides enjoying Goa’s food, dance and music which would remind them of lost relationship. Goa government should arrange meeting of the family of late Indian diplomat Vasant Nevrekar with President Zuma of South Africa or at least invite them for state dinner. Government of India has completely forgotten his close links with African freedom fighters and contributions to end apartheid in South Africa. On June 29, 1994, the speaker of South African Parliament Frene Ginwala had invited him to visit her apartheid free country- “It is particularly gratifying to hear from colleagues such as yourself who have been associated with the struggle against apartheid. I hope that you will find time to visit our democratic South Africa in near future”.
President Zuma must have surely heard of Aquino de Braganza (Mozambique) who made legendary contributions in African freedom struggle, Joseph Murumbi Zuzarte (Kenya) a Goan-Kenyan, who became vice president of Kenya, journalist politician Pio Gama Pinto (Kenya) who was brutally killed when he was just 38 but left behind a glorious name. It is high time that the Indian state doesn’t treat Goa as just an attractive tourist destination to bring and parade the international VVIPs under a highly sanitized environment. It is duty of MEA to adopt a knowledge based informed approach, respect and internalize international stature of Goa and the Goan diaspora. Otherwise the eighth BRICS summit means virtually nothing for Goa. (Concluded).