‘Republic of Portugal helped Goan Hindus’

Historian, Percival Noronha is among the few who has thoroughly studied Goa’s history. He relates how Portugal’s move from being a monarchy to a republic impacted Goa’s social structure, especially the Goan Hindu community
Portugal became a republic on October 5, 1910 and within four days the news had reached Goa.

One must remember that in those times communication was not so fast. However, for a few years Goa did not witness any major development. The real development took place before the republic.
The development work carried out by the last monarchical Governor of Goa, Jose Maria De Sousa Horta E Costa (1907-1910) in the four years of his rule was not done in hundreds of years. He was the one who regularised water supply in the Panaji city by building a special reservoir at Bainguinim and importing special material from France for this. He also increased the capacity of the Mormugao port and most importantly he was responsible for the Campal Avenue of his time. The fact that he was an engineer by profession made the difference. At Campal, he constructed roads by keeping a distance of 3 meters for footpath, set up for trees, and making way-in and way-out roads.
He also had other plans but it could not be fulfilled during his regime. In 1910, when Portugal became a republic, the new governor, Francisco Manuel Couceiro da Costa (1910-1917) took charge. There was no development during this time as the administration was more focused on the change in rules and regulations as the system had turned from monarchy to republic. Also it was the time when Rane’s invaded Panaji and so he was more attention was on the invasion. Then in 1914 World War I started which also affected the development process. That and the fact that the First World War finished all monarchies in Europe and it even shattered Portugal.
Some work was done in the year 1919 when the governor, Jame Alberto De Castro Morais (1919-1925) took charge. He actually carried forward the work of the then governor, Jose Maria.
However, the major work happened during António de Oliveira Salazar’s rule after he took over as prime minister of Portugal in 1932. He brought out a balanced budget for Goa. He was the prime minister for almost 40 years. He was the one who forwarded the water supply to other parts of Goa like Margao, Mormugao, Ponda, etc, and constructed one of the best roads in Goa right from Pernem-Canacona, Mormugao-Collem, Panaji-Margao.
The good thing that happened after Portugal became a republic was that Goans were now considered citizens and also the Hindu community came forward. The chief justice of 1929, Dr Antonio de Noronha praised Hindus. He also brought forward the atrocities like the forceful conversion, taking away their lands etc. He even wrote a book titled, ‘Hindus of Goa and Portuguese Republic.’ Prior to this Christianity was a state religion but it all changed after 1910. Now Hindus were also considered as citizens.
During monarchy it was also seen that Hindus were not very upfront, but all this with the end of monarchy. The three Hindus of Goa – doctor, Dada Vaidya, poet, Sitaram Kerkar from Ponda who had excellent command over the Portuguese language and one Mr Bandodkar came together to form societies in remote places like Ponda and Canacona. They belonged to different castes but they wanted to bring Goans together and worked towards uplifting the Hindu society. They also made a league and started canvassing among Hindus to learn Portuguese.
This helped Goan Hindus to get jobs of teachers, government servants and also some high posts. The main achievement of republic was that it helped the Goan Hindus to realise their growth and to go forward in life.