Factoid in US-India History

Factoid in US-India History
by Deepak Kotwal
Five hundred years ago, in 1510 CE, Afonso de Albuquerque defeated the Bijapur sultan to capture Goa and turned it into a fortified Portuguese colony in India. The Portuguese occupied Goa for the next 451 years till their expulsion by the Indian Armed Forces in 1961. In addition to the economic exploitation from colonization, the Portuguese brought forced conversions of Hindus to Catholicism, and 252 years (1560-1812 CE) of Portuguese Inquisition in India in which not only Hindus and Jews were persecuted for practicing their religion, but also anti-Hindu laws were enforced. This included death sentences. The inquisition in Goa was initiated by the Catholic missionary Francis Xavier (1506 – 1552, and made a saint in 1622), whose name adorns a well-known college in Mumbai.

As an aside, this Church-initiated inquisition was the only religious persecution experienced by Jews within India, who migrated there after the destruction of their temple in the Siege of Jerusalem in the First Jewish-Roman War (70 CE).

After achieving independence in 1947, the Indian government started negotiations to take Goa back. The negotiations failed, which led to India’s successful armed action in 1961. The US reaction is worth noting: Adlai Stevenson, the US Ambassador to the UN at that time, condemned the Indian government action, and demanded that all Indian forces be unconditionally withdrawn from Goa!

Remember this the next time you hear the lyrics of the US national anthem, which, in the American context, rightly glorify the US defense of Fort McHenry against the British Royal Navy in the Chesapeake Bay.

For more reading, read: “Into the Mainstream,” by R. N. Saksena, Abhinav Publications (2003) ISBN: 81-7017-005-2

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