Is the Honourable Speaker of the Parliament of India or the Assembly of the State authorised to interpret the words in an illogical manner? Or is he bound to follow international conventions, respect the language and the linguists, study world-class dictionaries and make a decision wisely? The question has arisen with Goa’s Honourable Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar interpreting the words: the “past history”.
When the history of the World goes back to not less than 3.3 million years and the current ongoing modern era to the minimum of 500 years, Goa Assembly has brought down merely not the ‘recent history’ but even the ‘past history’ to 5 years only!
Tawadkar has issued a bulletin No 84, dated 20 December 2022, called “Direction No 2 of 2022”:
Under Rule 307 Interpretation and Removal of difficulties – I, the Hon’ble Speaker issue the following direction of interpretation of the following clause relating to Rule 37 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Goa Legislative Assembly:-
Rule 37 (21) – It shall not ordinarily ask for information on matters of past history. “On past history,” the information sought shall be restricted to five years only.
Earlier, this rule was kept limited to the first sentence, without defining what past history is. It was understood, based on international conventions. ‘Past history’ goes back thousands of years. Now, the Speaker has defined it, saying past history means “only five years”.
The direction has been issued under Rule 307 related to Interpretations and Removal of Difficulties. It states: If any doubt arises as to the interpretation of any provisions of these rules, the decision of the Speaker shall be final.
It’s FINAL, no arguments over it.
While breaking this news last week, the ‘Times of India’ stated: “A senior Assembly official said that there were regular demands from government departments that the Assembly should not allow MLAs to ask for information for more than five years past. Accordingly, the matter was discussed with the speaker and the decision was taken, he said.”
It clearly means the pressure was mounted on the Speaker by the incompetent bureaucracy, which did not want to take the trouble of searching the past records and was also not bothered to maintain the past records in a chronological manner. Because the records are not maintained even after the computerisation era began long ago, the citizens seeking information under the Right to Information Act were already suffering with the one-line reply: Information not available. Now, even the MLAs will suffer. No information beyond five years back would be available for anybody. The privilege which they were enjoying even before the RTI Act came into force would be a ‘past history’(?).
MOCKERY OF HISTORY
Before dealing with the problems, which even MLA-turned-Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar would face due to his own ‘creation’, let’s first deal with what HISTORY means and also the PAST HISTORY.
Several eminent historians of the World have divided history into different eras, from three to nine. The three periods are Ancient, Middle Ages, and Modern. Some have extended it up to nine eras.
Stone Age: 3.3 million to 5,000 years ago.
Bronze Age: 5,000 to 1,400 years ago (1,200 BC)
Iron Age: 1,200 BCE to 500 BCE
Classical Era: 500 BCE to 500 CE
Medieval Era: 500 CE to 1500 CE
Early Modern Era: 1500 CE to 1800 CE
Modern Era: 1800 CE to present
For us Goans, the current era is from 1961, when Goa got liberated till date, History means the 451-years of Portuguese rule and the historic struggles for Independence, and the Past History is the Pre-Portuguese era, which dates back to not less than 10,000 years. The first tribe which settled in Goa was in around 3500 BCE, to which also belongs the tribe of Mundas. They are the ancestors of the tribal community of Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar. Historically, it’s called the Bronze Age, even before the Iron Age and also much before the Aryans arrived in India and also in Goa.
This ‘past history’ busts the myth of Lord Parashurama, who supposedly stood on the peak of the Sahyadri Ghat and shot an arrow towards the sea. The water receded and the land rose from the sea. Geologists have established it beyond doubt that in about 10,000 BCE, due to an earthquake, a strip of the sea bottom from the mouth of the Tapti river in the North to Kanyakumari in the South, along with the adjacent area of the Deccan trap closest to the sea, was elevated above the sea waters. This elevation resulted in the Sahyadri and Nilgiri ranges. The bottom of the sea rose near the trap border about 600 metres above the mean sea level.
There is a dispute among historians about when exactly the Aryans (mainly Brahmins) arrived in India. It’s somewhere between 1800 BCE to 1000 BCE. But certainly not before that. This means, even in Goa or all along the Konkan coast, the tribals travelled from Chota Nagpur in today’s Jharkhand like Kol, Asura and Mundaris as well as Mhar, Kharvis, Devadasis and even Sumerians (Paddhye Brahmins) from as far as today’s Iraq. The Aryans came almost 17 centuries later and created the myth of Parashurama to establish their ownership over the land, sidelining all the tribals, including the ancestors of Tawadkar.
Is the tribal leader, who has reached the highest position of the Speaker, falling prey to the shrewd bureaucratic tactics of the neo-Brahmin class once again?
NO MORE DEBATES ON CUMERI & SANCTUARY VILLAGES?
Sixty years have passed since Goa’s liberation and the cultivators are still struggling to get ownership of their ancestral cultivable land. Bhahusaheb Bandodkar’s Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party ruled the state for the first 17 years and brought various land reform legislations to give land to the tiller and house to the resident. But some of the farmers are yet to get ownership of the land, and even their ancestral houses. Strangely, the people who are cultivating are termed as ‘encroachers’ while the so-called ‘tenants’ who don’t even cultivate but own the land are ‘playing negative declarations’ to convert and sell the cultivable land to the Land Sharks. It’s a sad sad story where over 80 per cent ‘leaders’ of the people sitting in the House today are nothing but the land ‘dealers’.
And who is heading this August House? The one who represents these genuine struggling cultivators. They are denied the ownership of the land in the name of Government Land, Alvara, Afframento, Cumeri and Mokashe. This burning issue dominates every Assembly election and every Assembly session. Especially, in the hinterland talukas of Pedne, Sattari, Dharbandora, Ponda, Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona. Precisely this is the reason the whole Sattari taluka rose up against the IIT project in their so-called ‘government-owned’ cultivated land.
Cumeri cultivators are one of the most affected among these, especially the tribal community. It was shifting cultivation they have been practising for thousands of years and also living peacefully in the forests without disturbing the wildlife. The miners ruled the state and ruined the forests, but were never sued for disturbing the wildlife and the rich biodiversity of the Sahyadri range. But the tribals living in the forest belt for centuries together are neither given the ownership of their cultivated land nor the houses they live in. In Sattari, it is ‘Gavathan’ where neither they own the land nor their ancestral houses. And in Canacona, Quepem, Sanguem etc, they are threatened with displacement for supposedly violating the Wild Life Act.
By repeatedly raising these genuine burning issues in the Assembly, the process of issuing ownership sanads to these Cumeri cultivators had finally begun. But the whole insensitive bureaucratic process is moving at a snail’s pace and the authorities need to be woken up from their pretentious sleep, from time to time, to expedite the process. For that, the government needs to be made accountable by the Assembly to table progress reports in each and every session.
But with the recent diktat of Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar, who claims to be one of the leading tribal leaders of Goa, this whole process would be stalled now. Neither the legislator could ask for the progress report of more than five years nor the government would be bound to tell the ‘Live Assembly’ what it has not done and why. Similar would be the fate of the ‘real farmers’ of the hinterland who are struggling for the ownership of the land they are cultivating for their living. Because not only history, but even the ‘past history’ is now limited to the period of only five years! Why should anybody be bothered now about the history of 5000 years?
Has the Speaker Sir realised that he has dug his own electoral grave by issuing this bizarre diktat?