On December 19, we celebrate the Liberation of Goa from colonial rule. With the Liberation of Goa, independent India became complete. Last year the Golden Jubilee of Goa Liberation was celebrated in both Houses of Parliament and a portrait of Dr. Tristao Braganza da Cunha, the Father of Goan Nationalism, was unveiled in the Central Hall. It will now be on permanent display at Parliament House along with those of other stalwarts of the national Freedom Movement such as Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Maulana Azad and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia.
Dr. T.B. da Cunha realized that Goa could have freedom only in unity with India. He was truly a great Indian, a patriot, a writer and a thinker of great moral integrity whose sacrifices for Goa’s freedom can never be forgotten. When he passed away in 1958, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru remarked “ what is worth remembering is that a small territory has produced a relatively large number of men and women who have sacrificed much for the struggle. Among them the name that stands out is of Dr. T. B. da Cunha”.
The Goan freedom struggle was a secular movement just as the national freedom struggle and indeed all the anti-colonial movements for independence across the world in the twentieth century. Selected writings of Dr. T. B. da Cunha were published in 1961 under the caption “Goa’s Freedom Struggle”. The book is presently out of print. It should be reprinted and it should be in the curriculum of schools and colleges so that it provides a much needed sense of direction to our society.
Significant headway has been made since Liberation particularly in the fields of education, healthcare and development of infrastructure such as electricity, water supply, roads and other forms of communication. There are obvious deficiencies in all these sectors but the progress is unmistakable. The greatest gain of Liberation has been the democratisation of Goan society, the opening of the portals of opportunity to the vast mass of people denied upward mobility over the centuries and perhaps the milennia.
Patriotic fervour has been the means to foster economic growth earlier in the countries of the West, then in Japan and now in China, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and some other countries. Until fifty years ago, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. It had been destroyed by the Korean war and had no natural resources. Koreans were considered lazy and many died of famine. Today, South Korea is a nation with the seventh highest per capita income in the world. From a recipient of foreign aid Korea has now turned into a major donor country. “I am very proud as a Korean that Korea has now become a donor country from poverty stricken and devastated country” affirmed UN Secretary General Ban Kin Moon recently. Academic literature in South Korea projects the concept of a “Korean work ethic” and asserts that “Work is not a hardship. It is a heaven sent opportunity to help family and the nation”. The Constitution of the Republic of Korea prescribes that “education shall aim towards development of a patriotic spirit”. In Goa, the challenge before our educational institutions is to develop human resources so that Goa becomes competitive nationally and globally.
We, the people of India, must rise above our religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity and together deal with the multifarious tasks that confront us. The framework for responsible citizenship and national regeneration has been laid down in the Indian Constitution in three parts. Part III of the Constitution deals with the Fundamental Rights, Part IV with the Directive Principles of State Policy and part IVA with the Fundamental Duties. Fundamental Rights are basic human rights which the State recognizes and it provides for their enforcement. We are all equally human, the world is one family and all human rights are for all. The nature and extent of State responsibility for the protection of human rights in India was indicated by the National Human Rights Commission in the case of the Gujarat riots of 2002. It said “It is the primary and inescapable responsibility of the State to protect the right to life, liberty, equality and dignity of all those who constitute it. It is also the responsibility of the State to ensure that such rights are not violated either through overt acts or through abetment or negligence”.
The Directives Principles of State Policy are guidelines to be kept in mind by Government whilst framing laws and policies. These guidelines include free and compulsory education to all children below the age of 14 years and provision of adequate means of livelihood to all.
The Fundamental Duties are moral obligations of all citizens. We often harp on our rights but neglect and may even be unaware of our duties. Mahatma Gandhi remarked “I learnt from my illiterate but wise mother that all rights to be deserved and preserved come from duty well done.”
The Constitution lists ten Fundamental Duties. Each has a distinct role and importance in our polity. One of the fundamental duties is “to provide harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities”.
The University Grants Commission has, at my instance, instituted a Memorial Lecture in honour of late Shri Purshottam Kakodkar to be held at the Goa University every year. Shri Purshottam Kakodkar fought and suffered immensely for the cause of freedom of Goa. This Memorial Lecture should create awareness of our constitutional rights as well as of our responsibility as citizens to promote national unity and solidarity.
(The writer is a former Union Minister).