Sunday 21 July 2024

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Thinking Freely

Maria Pitache and our Freedom Fighters


I frankly fail to fathom how such a beautiful depiction of stark reality of today’s society of ours – our tendency to prefer that women remain prisoners of patriarchy – be antinational.

The song “Maria Pitache” won first prize at the Goa Government’s Republic Day Celebrations at Mathany Saldanha Complex – the South Goa Collectorate. Immediately a group headed by a freedom fighter and a Margao Councillor lodged a strong objection to this song as well as the prize it received calling the song a representation of Portuguese culture or colonial rule.

To the best of my knowledge, Maria Pitache is a folk song of Daman. It is a beautiful depiction of patriarchy in India and indeed in Goa too – its meaning being Maria’s father is a cheater; he promised to get Maria married to a boy of her choice but changed his mind when he got a wealthier boy! And yet the song avoids disrespect to the man by replacing the word cheater with “che”!!

I frankly fail to fathom how such a beautiful depiction of stark reality of today’s society of ours – our tendency to prefer that women remain prisoners of patriarchy – be antinational. Patriarchs are what our conditioning has produced for centuries now, to such extent that women themselves have, in many cases, accepted patriarchy as their inevitable fate. This is somewhat scientific in that it is in accordance with Antonio Gramisci’s Theory of Hegemony wherein he states that “political society is the realm of force, while civil society is the realm of consent”. In other words, women – being civil – consent to being ruled by men although men rule, often, through use of force.

Recently, when I ran the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2020 – a 42 km run – I realized that 91 per cent of those who ran this distance were men. Only 9 per cent were women. If 48.2 per cent of our population is women why should only 9 per cent run 42 km? The answer to this is women do not feel secure in the streets of India (or Goa) for longer runs that are needed during the training for the full marathon. Many times they do not have permission of their husbands or elders in the house. Main hurdle to empowerment of women, thus, is patriarchy on the streets as well as patriarchy at home.

Isn’t it the duty of our remaining freedom fighters to address this social evil called patriarchy and set women – half the population of India – free to make their own choices in life and in love?

Moreover, while the entire nation is trying to resist the anticonstitutional introduction of religion into matters of the State -- like citizenship -- overtly and in many other matters like selection for government jobs and incentives covertly, isn’t it the duty of the freedom fighters to voice their objection to this anticostitutionalism ?

If we begin objecting to anything and everything that gives the slightest whiff of Portugal, then what do we do about Cashews, Pineapple, Chillies and Potatoes – not to mention all the Churches and the Chapels of Goa? They too have a whiff of Portugal!

Why are the freedom fighters so insecure in the New Year 2020? Or do they merely reflect the insecurities of the ruling dispensation?

In any case, such publicity stunts or unstudied behavior on the part of Goa’s Freedom Fighters - to whom our people look up to – for guidance – is totally uncalled for. Unless of course the freedom fighters are thinking of entering the electoral frey or are supporting those who are already in election mode.

I am sure my dad, who was a freedom fighter, would have disapproved of such action of the freedom fighters.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar

Dr Mukul R Pai Raiturkar is a consultant pediatrician & neonatologist practicing in Margao. He is the co-convener of Ami Goenkar, an organisation of secular young Goans working towards a novel approach to religious-political issues of Goa. Son of veteran Goan freedom fighter Mr Ravindranath Pai Raiturkar, he exudes unshakable faith in a liberal, secular and free spirited democracy of India.


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