To Gawda or not to Gawda

By Favita Rochelle Dias

‘Now that I have embraced my tribal identity I often wonder what would be the reaction of the other Gawda people. Will they accept me or will they feel that I am a gold digger, acquiring the tribal certificate only for its benefits. Frankly, I don’t have an answer to that. I will not lie and claim that I will not use my certificate to avail the benefits. But, more importantly, I have got the certificate as an attempt to reach some sort of conclusion about my identity. How can I write in forms, or elsewhere, that I belong to a general category when I know that I don’t? And if I write that I belong to a Gawda community then I need a proof of it. So if I don’t have a certificate my conscience doesn’t let me be at peace and if I have a certificate society doesn’t let me be at peace. In fact I fear that my own community members might say that if I haven’t suffered any discrimination and I have fears of such kind then why do I want to embrace the Gawda identity? They might feel that I am just like those who make fake certificates and take away their opportunities.’

‘I talk openly about my tribal identity only to those who I feel will understand me. When I wrote in an interview form that I belonged to the ST community, I hesitated, wondering if I should really write it down. There were people who knew me and I was a little embarrassed about my ST identity at that time. Somehow I gathered courage and wrote the fact. Sometimes I am open to talk about my tribal identity and sometimes I just want to hide it. Sometimes I feel that I am just adding to the discrimination of the ST. When I see a benefit, I put on the mask of a Gawdi and then when I go to the outer world I remove it. I support the fact that people should not be discriminated on the basis of tribe or caste or creed. But on the other hand I actually do discriminate. I remember refusing proposals just because the boys were from an upper caste. Another thing I notice is that people from my village and my house still say ‘caste certificate’ for a ‘tribe certificate.’ I assume that they are unaware of the difference between caste and tribe. They often use words like “Casta-che” (of Caste) and never “Triba-che” (of Tribe).’

It is taken from my article ‘To Gawda or not to Gawda’ here is the link