While John Eric Gomes has triggered my venting at Indian Bureaucracy, let me 
dwell a little on record-keeping in India.

Indians are singularly lacking in any sense of history or personal records. 
They see no need for it, they find no value in maintaining it.

The Portuguese and British on the other hand, kept excellent records and 
maintained them well, in the format of the time. They even kept copies of 
essential items in their archives at Lisbon and London. Towards the end of 
their governance in Goa, they were unable to send to Lisbon some records due to 
the abrupt occupation by Indian troops and the change of rule.

The Indians never had the will or common sense to preserve what the Portuguese 
had left behind except for some token efforts lately when their sorry neglect 
faced the harsh glare of public gaze.

A Portuguese hand-written (before typing became common) birth certificate of 
Goa, specially one recorded by the church rather than the municipality, was a 
pleasure to behold.

There were the names given to the child.  The time of birth and the date and if 
the child was in good health. The parents names and where they were born, when 
married and where they were employed. Who their parents (child’s grandparents) 
were, where they originated from and where they settled if they had relocated. 
The godparents details and the relationship to the parents. The officiating 
priest and the parish in which baptized.

Before this, the birth certificates were even more interesting - as a narrative 
by the recording priest without missing or confusing any of the essential 
details mentioned in the previous paragraph.

My own parents were married in Bombay so their marriage record was in the crisp 
and factual British form-style of the day, but I have seen a marriage 
certificate of a wedding in Goa recorded in Portuguese as follows:

On the cool but bright morning of the 17th of October in 1934, there came to 
the altar of the Church of The Saviour of The World at Loutulim Village, 
Exaltacao Menezes and Presentacao Noronha, dressed in all their wedding finery, 
with the intent of marriage .....

Perhaps not all of these events were officially recorded in such prose. These 
may have written by a few priests who wished to pass on the legacy of that 
happy event to the couple’s future generations and had the leeway to do so. 
Perhaps most were recorded in the usual dour official form and content. But 
whether narrative or form, they were kept in clean, dusted places, carefully 
placed against the possible damage of moisture, rain water, insects or mice. 

Compare that to the ledgers passed on to the Indian Goa Govt authorities who 
left the ledgers in the hands of marauding, record-searching louts intending to 
apply for Portuguese passports who tore away whole ledger pages, each page 
containing more than one record of an event or person.

Louts beget louts and more louts and they get the Governments they deserve.

Roland Francis

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