Sunday, 17 June 2012

‘ENFANT TERRIBLE’ OR GOA’S FOREMOST NATIONALIST


If there is one Goan, writing in Portuguese, who has enjoyed a decent literary corpus of translation into English and a steady stream of media and academic attention, it has to be José Inácio Candido de Loyola, more popularly known as Fanchu Loyola. In 2007, the journalist Alexandre Moniz Barbosa had translated and compiled a series of Fanchu Loyola’s essays titled Passionate and Unrestrained (See my review on GT: 21 July, 2010 ). Earlier, in 2000, another collection of his essays was also published. This collection, which is presently under review, is edited by the Jesuit Charles J. Borges and translated by Lino Leitão. This review will try to focus on the many introductory essays at the beginning of the book and also try to pose a few new questions vis-à-vis the writings of Fanchu Loyola.
          Besides the editor and the translator of the book, essays of Carmo D’Souza, Yona Loyola-Nazareth, Fanchu Loyola’s octogenarian daughter now based in Canada and Joseph Barros are also included. They familiarize us with the book as well as try to give an insight into the life and times of Fanchu Loyola. These introductory essays or notes are not critical of Loyola’s writings and his political ideologies; they do not go any deeper than providing a brief biographic sketch, thereby giving the impression that they are more like secular hagiographies. However, the short essay that the daughter of Fanchu Loyola wrote is remarkable.
Returning after an unsuccessful meeting with Nehru where Loyola tried to convince the Prime Minister to have a plebiscite in Goa, Yona Loyola-Nazareth recalls, “I never comprehended the depth of his love for Goa till he returned to Bombay in 1958. He returned from a visit to Jawaharlal Nehru in Delhi quite defeated and disconsolate. I could not fathom his distress. He paced restlessly up and down the hallway, sighing until I could not bear it any longer. I questioned him. His answer puzzled me at that time, ‘My child, we have lost Goa. You and I have lost Goa.’ Lost Goa? In 1958? He then proceeded to tell me that although he had done his utmost to persuade Nehru to conduct a plebiscite in Goa, he was convinced that with Krishna Menon at the helm, a ‘military take-over’ of Goa was imminent.”
Fanchu Loyola was a nationalist, but not like the ones who were fighting for the inclusion of Goa into the Indian Union. He was opposed more to the dictatorial reign of Salazar and, as this book makes it amply clear; he never challenged the sovereignty of the Portuguese over its colonies in India.
Krishna Menon
The idea of Fanchu Loyola – the man – that this collection of writings provides is markedly different from the ones that the newer collection Passionate and Unrestrained provides. In the latter Loyola appears to be cautious and civil, though a fiercely outspoken man but in this collection under review, Loyola comes off as an enfant terrible (to borrow the words of Joseph Barros). He spoke critically and directly of the policies of the government and could be very caustic towards his intellectual rivals. Fanchu Loyola replying to one Pereira Batalha concluded his letter thus, “…I view my enemies as tiny frogs and you, Sir, among them is the tinniest, a very tiny ant and despicable. Giants like me crush them under their feet.”
Loyola constantly uses terms like “public” or “people” in this collection to indicate popular support to his views and policies and that his views and policies are in conjunction with the larger public. At this point we cannot forget that most of Loyola’s writings were published in the journal of his own party (India Portuguesa) as well as other journals he established and edited. As of now all we can say is that Loyola’s views were at best claims that need to be rigorously interrogated or tested. The question as to which class of people Fanchu Loyola and his party men were trying to woo, can shed new light on the dynamics of politics of those times.
Though a lawyer himself, it is interesting to note that Loyola never used the law or his legal acumen to discuss remedial measures for the social problems he was discussing. He would stress that the people had degraded morally and had become cowards and it stopped at that. Rather he waxed eloquent on the economic questions and ills of the state, like an economist using tabular data and statistics to argue his case. However, it must be said that he was an avid supporter of enacting and amending legislation to increase the economic productivity of the land. A case in point can be his advocacy of legislative measures to increase agricultural productivity rather than fertilizers and improved irrigation!
Charles Borges
Loyola was a believer in agriculture bringing economic prosperity to the land, with small-scale and cottage industries supplementing agriculture. This is one area where his idea of modernity is of much interest. Fanchu Loyola’s idea of modernity was, in a way, like that of Gandhi, which centered on the village as well as agriculture. Fanchu Loyola was no fan of industrialization and factories, like Nehru was and whose vision of modernity contrasted with that of Gandhi.
In a telling quote, Fanchu Loyola expounds why he did not believe in big factories and industrialization, “I want to propose a question. Why do we not process our coconuts, and start an industry of that nature? Let us not dream big dreams. Big dreams mean big factories, large capital, high technology, expert directors and a skilled working force. Given our modest means, my dear Luis Maria, we cannot afford to lay the foundation of big undertakings. But we can establish small-scale industries, and set them up in our villages. They do not require machinery, nor graduate technicians, nor capital that runs into five figures.”
There is no point in commenting on whether Fanchu Loyola could have written his essays in a better way or could have produced better nuanced arguments. The fact is that his writings can only be put to greater and deeper scrutiny. Excluding the essay that Yona Loyola-Nazareth wrote, the editor, translator and other contributors could have done a much more researched and informed job in evaluating the life and writings of Fanchu Loyola.

Goa’s Foremost Nationalist José Inácio Candido de Loyola: The Man and his Writings edited by Charles Borges, Trans. By Lino Leitão (New Delhi: Concept Publishing), 2000; pp. xlv+218, Rs. 400/- [ISBN: 81-7022-868-9]

(A version of this article appeared on Gomantak Times (Weekender), dt: June 17, 2012)

3 comments:

  1. A good review. Fully in agreement with poor editorial job. Fanchu fits in well with the nationalism of Luis de Menezes Bragança, or earlier that of Francisco Luis Gomes. I wonder though how civil liberties and colonial policies could be harmonized.

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    1. That is an interesting thought Dr. Teotonio.

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    2. The great Man should have approached the UNO to hold Plebiscite not Nehru who coveted Goa. In 1960 the UNO already had adopted the resolution "Indigenous Peoples Right to self determination" meant to decide decolonised Territories. It is ironical that recently another Plenary session was held on this subject on 19 December 2011, the golden Jubilee of the so called liberation, but somehow Goans will not benefit as we are sleeping.

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