Goa Special Status

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Small Goa became a part of India from the Portuguese in 1961

Special Status for Goa is a concept promoted by a small fraction of Goa who view Goa as a separate entity from India. It demands that the Government of Goa be given certain powers by the Indian Government by amending article 371(1) of the Constitution of India. These powers would allow the Government of Goa to enact special legislation to control the private property rights of the Goans and put restrictions on the sale of land by Goans.

While this remains politically important issue for certain sections of society, there is also a counter argument provided by some Goan people that the special status would be a gross violation of their private property rights and will limit their economic development in coming times. It is also suspected that this political issue is promoted by Church to stop inward migration of Hindu population from the rest of the India making Christian votebank of limited influence.

Unique Culture Protection[edit]

Proponents of special status demands have been using "Culture" as a main theme without outlining what that culture is. Also, random claims about environment etc. have been made without providing any hard evidence to such claims.

The demand for Special Status has its origin in the loss of identity of the Goan People as claimed by certain people. Claims have been made that the inward migration is affecting Goa's culture and natural resources even though no study has been conducted to establish facts.

There are actions initiated both by the Goa Government and some Citizen Groups to further the demand for grant of Special Status Powers. A delegation of the MSSG led By Adv. Antonio Lobo handed over a memorandum to the Chief Minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar. A discussion over the amendment to Article 371 (i) of the Indian Constitution was deliberated upon. The Goa Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a resolution for Grant of Special Status and a delegation led by the Chief Minister of Goa met the Prime Minister to apprise him of the need for Special Status. Among the Citizen Groups, there was Goa Movement for Special Status led by late Mathany Saldanha and Movement for special status for Goa (MSSG). Adv. Antonio Lobo is the Convenor, Prof. Prajal Sakhardande, the Secretary and Mr. Antonio Alvares is the Joint Secretary.

Origins of the Special Status Movement[edit]

Goa was a Portuguese colony and Indian government annexed Goa on 19 December 1961. After the invasion, steps were taken by the Indian government to integrate Goans into the Indian Union[citation needed]. Prime Minister Jawarlal Nehru had in 1954 promised to Goans that it is in the interest of the Indian Nation that Portuguese must go and that Goans will not be brought into the Indian Union through Coercion[citation needed]. At an emergency UNSC meet on 18 December 1961, to discus the Goan crises, a resolution seeking the withdrawal of the Indian forces out of Goa, was vetoed by the USSR, despite getting majority votes. That night, Mr. C. S. Jha, the Indian Ambassador to the United Nations conceded that it is now the time for all the UN resolutions pertaining to de-colonized territories to come into play[citation needed]. The UNO General Assembly had already adopted a resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 on the granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. But instead holding an exercise of self-determination monitored under the UN, the Indian Election Commission and the Military government in control over Goa held the first, Legislative Assembly elections in 1963. Goa is probably the only decolonized territory which was deprived of having a plebiscite. Goan's always wanted a unique identity from India. They uniquely participated in the decolonization from Portugal, following decolonization did not want the merger of then union territory of Goa with Maharashtra through opinion poll subsequently asked for statehood of Goa, and continue to work towards the recognition of Roman script for Konkani.

Early 20th century[edit]

The abolition of the Portuguese monarchy in 1910 raised hopes that the colonies would be granted self-determination; however, when Portuguese colonial policies remained unchanged, an organised and dedicated freedom movement emerged.[1] Luís de Menezes Bragança founded O Heraldo, the first Portuguese language newspaper in Goa, which was critical of Portuguese colonial rule.[citation needed] In 1917, the "Carta Organica" law was passed, overseeing all civil liberties in Goa.

In reaction to growing dissent, the Portuguese government in Goa implemented polices which curtailed civil liberties, including censorship of the press. Strict censorship policies required any material containing printed words, including invitation cards, to be submitted to a censorship committee for screening. The Portuguese governor of Goa was empowered to suspend publication, close down printing presses and impose heavy fines on newspapers which refused to comply with these policies. Many Goans criticised the curtailing of press freedoms, stating that the only newspapers and periodicals the Portuguese permitted them to publish were pro-colonialist propaganda materials.[2]

Goa's Opinion Poll[edit]

The Goa Opinion Poll was a referendum held in the state of Goa, India, on 16 January 1967, to decide the future of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu within the Indian Union. Although popularly called an opinion poll, it was in fact, a referendum, as the results of the poll were binding on the government of India. The referendum offered the people of Goa a choice between continuing as a union territory or merging with the state of Maharashtra. It is the only referendum to have been held in independent India.[3][4] The people of Goa voted against the merger and Goa continued to be a union territory. Subsequently, in 1987, Goa became a full-fledged state within the Indian Union.

These policies which were practiced over 50 years have slowly resulted in the destruction of Goa's unique culture and identity[citation needed]. Owing to large scale in migration, the native Goans will soon be outnumbered by non Goans[citation needed]. By some estimates, over 40% of Goa's population is not of Goan origin[citation needed].

Goa Statehood[edit]

Dr. Jack de Sequeira was the founder president of the United Goans Party.[5] He played a pivotal role in convincing the government of India to hold an opinion poll to decide the issue of the merger of Goa into the state of Maharashtra

Movement for official recognition of Romi Konkani[edit]

Recently, there has been a renewed surge in the support for Romi Konkani and in the demand for official recognition for the Roman script alongside the Devanagari script. Some examples of this are the growing online readership for Vauraddeancho Ixtt[6] and several groups and pages on social networking website Facebook,[7][8] in support of Romi Konkani. The critics of sole recognition of Devanagri script contend that Antruz dialect is unintelligible to most Goans, let alone other Konkanis, and that Devanagari is used very little as compared to Roman script in Goa or Kannada script in coastal Karnataka[9] Prominent among the critics are Konkani Catholics in Goa, who have been at the forefront of the Konkani agitation in 1986–87 and have for long used the Roman script including producing literature in Roman script. They are demanding that Roman script be given equal status to Devanagari.[10] Tiatr artists and tiatr aficionados are another group which supports Romi konkani. It is argued that giving official recognition to Romi Konkani will help strengthen the language by creating an inclusive environment for users of the Roman script and also to the Christian community of Goa. It will avoid people who have difficulty in using the Devanagari script or don't know the Devanagari script from feeling alienated and giving up on the language. Romi konkani is almost the only flavour of the Konkani language present on the internet. It is also the most convenient script for use with computers.

There have been three state-level Literary and Cultural conventions of Konkani in the Roman Script (Romi Lipi Konkani Sahitya ani Sonvskrutik Sommelan) held in 2008, February 2010 and February 2011 in Goa.

However, the criticism against official recognition of Konkani in the Roman Script is that having more than one official script for Konkani will lead to fragmentation of Konkani.

Historical Facts Related to demands[edit]

  • Despite Portuguese occupation and forced conversions Goa was a majority Hindu region just like rest of India
  • Goan people used Indian languages like Sanskrit, Marathi and Konkani throughout known history just like rest of India.
  • Goan people always looked Portuguese as colonial oppressors and from time to time demanded freedom from the colonial rule with an explicit demand to join Indian Union as documented in Goa liberation movement.
  • Goan people have been very enthusiastic in selling their property to those who are from outside Goa. [2]

Benefits of Special Status[edit]

  • It is claimed that by outlawing land sale to non-Goans, the inward migration will reduce.
  • Create conditions where Goa's unique culture and identity will thrive and grow.
  • Lower prices and better quality of life for Goans as the demand for homes, schools, roads, hospitals from Non Goans will be less.
  • Reduction in cross border Crime and Lawlessness.
  • Romi Konkani will thrive.
  • Goa and Goan can live together without outside interference

Progress of the Special Status demand[edit]

  • The Goa Legislative Assembly passed a resolution requesting the Government of India to accede to Goa's request for Special Status.
  • The Chief Minister of Goa apprised the Prime Minister of India of the growing demand among Goans that Goa be granted Special Status under the Constitution of India.
  • There have been various organization fighting for the Special Status of Goa.
  1. The Late Mathany Saldanha started the Goa Movement for Special Status as a citizens movement to further the demand for Special Status.
  2. The Movement for special status for Goa, is another organization fighting for the Special Status.

Hindrances of the Special Status demand[edit]

  • Lack of Political will from the Government of India due to small representation of Goa in the Indian Parliament(2 Members of Parliament)
  • Large scale business interests for the exploitation of Goa's land resources.
  • General disarray of People Movements.
  • Strong opposition from Native Goan land owners who oppose the restriction on their private property rights.

Arguments against Special Status[edit]

  • Indian Government found the special status demand unjustifiable.[3]
  • Majority Hindu population of Goa views Special Status is a Christian demand to isolate Goa from India.
  • Economists argue that this is create a disaster for Goa as it has been for Kashmeer.
  • Some people suspect this is a conspiracy of left leaning intellectuals to limit private property rights of native Goans.
  • The belief that demand for Goan land will reduce and lower prices could be fallacious. Special status will also significantly reduce the private investment in Goa, private enterprise and hence supply of most common products and services people generally take for Granted.
  • Special status will result in disproportionate advantage to religion based vote banks and their handlers as it happened in Kashmeer.[4]


  1. ^ Harding, Paul (2003). Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet. p. 224. ISBN 1-74059-139-9. ISBN 9781740591393. 
  2. ^ Janaka Perera, Goa's Liberation and Sri Lanka's Crisis, Asian Tribune, 18 December 2006 [1]
  3. ^ Faleiro, Valmiki. "What a Monumental Shame !". The Goan Forum. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  4. ^ Prabhudesai, Sandesh. "THE HISTORIC OPINION POLL". p. 1. Archived from the original on July 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  5. ^ The emergence of UGP and MGP
  6. ^ "'Ixtt' with a new vigour". Goa News. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  7. ^ "Konkani in the Roman script / Romi Konknni". Facebook. 2010-12-25. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  8. ^ https://www.facebook.com/groups/171680336294399/
  9. ^ Goanet Reader: Puzzle wrapped in an enigma, understanding Konkani in Goa
  10. ^ Goa group wants Konkani in Roman script

External links[edit]