Can anyone imagine an India where Goa didn’t exist? Where we didn’t have all that is near and dear to us that gave us a strong identity of being Goan? It’s scary as heck to think that Goa almost didn’t come into being. In fact, the efforts of one man alone were what helped shape us into the state we are and love today. That man was Dr Jack de Sequeira, also known as the Father of the Opinion Poll.
The story of Dr Jack de Sequeira
Joao Hugo Eduardo de Sequeira was born on the 20th of April, 1915 to Mr Erasmo de Sequeira and Mrs Ana Julia de Sa e Sequeira in Burma (now Myanmar). He went to school in Goa at Lyceum and later went on to do Médico Cirurgião (he became a surgeon) at the Escola Médico de Goa (in English, the Goa Medical College).
Jack de Sequeira was a brilliant student and would have possibly excelled in his chosen field of medicine, blood research had his father not passed away. At the age of 21, he gave up a career in medicine to take over the family business at ‘Agencia Sequeira’. The business was a leading one in Goa during those days.
When he was 23, he married a young lady named Lilia Margarida de Gouveia Pinto and they had 9 children: 3 boys and 6 girls.
Dr Jack de Sequeira had quite an illustrious stint as a politician. He was well educated and well spoken even though he wasn’t one for the limelight. He probably never even realized the role he would play Goan politics.
Even though Goa was liberated from the clutches of the Portuguese, it wasn’t quite out of the woods. The Indian government took over and absorbed it as a Union Territory. Not having any existing political parties meant that no state government could be set up. After all, any government formation in a democracy has to be preceded by the formation of political parties, coalitions or mergers and free and fair elections. All this discussion led to the formation of two such parties, fighting over Goa’s identity as a whole. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) – which clamoured for Goa to be a part of Maharashtra and the United Goans Party (UGP) – which countered the MGP’s demands.
The Father of the Opinion Poll speaks
Dr Jack de Sequeira was the president of the UGP. Through this party, he ensured that Goa and the Goan people had a voice that could be heard. Arguments were made across the board for and against merging Goa with Maharastra. Dr Jack de Sequeira still managed to get people on his side with his excellent skills as an orator as well as making sure he was well informed about his topic of choice.
The first assembly election results came as a surprise. More people had voted for the MGP. However, the general consensus after some in-depth checking was that no one wanted to see Goa lose her identity to Maharashtra. Dr Jack de Sequeira left no stone unturned in his quest. He went on to meet the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru to convince him that Goa had her own identity and should not be merged with Maharashtra.
However, convincing the powers that were, proved to be harder than he thought. Finally, the decision landed in the hands of Indira Gandhi who supported the cause to not merge Goa with Maharashtra. It was then decided that an opinion poll would be taken to decide Goa’s future, one which independent India had never seen before.
However, convincing the powers that were, proved to be harder than he thought. Finally, the decision landed in the hands of Indira Gandhi who supported the cause to not merge Goa with Maharashtra. It was then decided that an opinion poll would be taken to decide Goa’s future, one which independent India had never seen before. The opinion poll laid the foundation for Goa’s statehood which came 2 decades later.
Dr, Jack de Sequeira left behind a legacy
While it was not just Dr Jack de Sequeira’s contribution that led to Goa getting statehood and a separate identity, he still believed and fought tooth and nail to get this state the recognition it deserved. He made sure Goa was hailed as unique and that no one would take that away. For that and so much more, he will forever be hailed as the Father of the Opinion Poll and we must never forget him.
In fact, there are statues of him in Candolim and Dona Paula in honour of him and the junction on the highway leading to Merces is also named after him.
Information credit – Wikipedia, In Memory of Jack de Sequeira on his 100th Birthday