RELIEF: The minority Muslim and Catholic community can now eat what they want including beef, with the Supreme Court staying the order on transport and sale of cattle for slaughter
By Rajan Narayan
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when there was an epidemic of vandalism of churches in South Goa. For a Saturday following the week when to the relief of Goans of all communities, the Supreme Court struck down the ban on the transport and sale of all kinds of cattle for slaughter. For a Saturday following the week that another major scam was revealed by the foreign consultants of a water supply project in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa Medical College (GMC) was facing a very serious shortage of staff. For a Saturday following the week when the police rescued a 50-year-old lady who was kept confined to a small, dark room in her own house by her own relatives.
AND a few stray thoughts on the epidemic of attacks on churches and cemeteries in South Goa. In the latest incidents, a large number of crosses and marble slabs placed over graves in the burial ground attached to the Guardian Angel Church in Curchorem were targeted. Earlier there have been incidences of desecration in Sanvordem in the Quepem Taluka. The main target of the culprits seems to be the mining areas and the constituencies of the minority community BJP MLAs. The MLA of Curchorem where the largest number of attacks on church property have taken place is Nilesh Cabral, the chairman of the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC). This is an action-replay of a similar wave of attacks on religious places five years ago.
The police are supposed to be on the highest alert. The battalions of the armed reserve police have also been deployed. In fact police were supposed to be patrolling the area around the Guardian Angel Church when the mass desecrations took place. In an earlier incident the police even claim they saw a man climbing over the wall of the church but could not catch him as he escaped into the jungle. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is also the Home Minister and considers himself a super detective, pointed out that in one case the attack had taken place between 5 am and 5:30 am in the morning. How Parrikar got this information one does not know and we will have to wait till he comes back from the United States to find out. Incidentally Vijai Sardesai, the Goa Forward chief, who considers himself the deputy chief minister has also been on a holiday for over a month to Canada.
The tragedy is that the state was headless when the mass desecrations at the Guardian Angel Church cemetery took place. Neither the Home Minister Parrikar nor the so called Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai were in Goa. So much so, there is no one to give proper instructions to the police on how they should deal with the situation. Unfortunately the SPs of both South Goa and North Goa until recently were young, inexperienced IPS officers who did know anything about the districts they were in charge of. Fortunately an experienced Goan officer, Arvind Gawas, who was elevated to the IPS has returned to Goa, and has taken charge as SP South Goa, where all the incidents of attacks on religious places have taken place. It is crazy, but both the BJP and Congress politicians are demanding that the culprits should be shot at sight. The only problem is that the police do not know who the culprits are. Perhaps they should shoot the politicians who are making such demands.
To make matters worse, the politicians are divided on what should be done to apprehend the culprits. Michael Lobo, the deputy bahubali of the BJP and the closest confidant of Manohar Parrikar, wants the CBI to take over the case. Vijay Sardesai insists that the local police are much better qualified to crack the case. On one side there are some BJP leaders who are blaming the Congress for the attacks on the churches. On the other side there are suggestions on Facebook that the BJP is taking revenge against Catholics in South Goa because they did not vote for the Sangh Parivar.
I am inclined to agree with Francis D’Souza that it is the work of outsiders.
WHETHER it is the vandalism of churches or the spate of robberies, the strongest probability is that it is the work of outsiders. The main culprit, at least in the increase in thefts, is the Konkan railway. This is because criminals and criminal tribes from Karnataka and Maharashtra, can come to Goa on trains which arrive at night, rob houses and attack churches and temples during the night, and then go away from Goa by the morning train. This could be one reason the police are unable to catch them, as they are not locals and do not stay long enough in Goa for the police to track them. My personal theory is that it could be the work of Pramod Muthalik and his gang. The Ram Sene headed by Mutalik has carried out similar attacks on churches in Karnataka, particularly in Northern Karnataka areas like Mangalore. Mutalik may be taking revenge because he has been repeatedly externed from Goa, which means that neither Mutalik nor any member of the Ram Sene can enter Goa. The latest extension of the externment order took place only 15 days ago. Coincidentally or not-so-coincidentally most of the incidents or attacks have taken place in the last fortnight.
AND a few stray thoughts on the major setback to the cow rakshaks following the Supreme Court staying the Central order on the transport and sale of all kinds of cattle for slaughter. Interestingly the order was not issued by the animal husbandry department, as this is a state subject over which the Centre has no authority. The order was issued by the Environmental Ministry under the excuse of prevention of cruelty to animals. Under the controversial order, cattle, could not be transported or sold at animal markets for slaughter. The markets where farmers used to sell cattle which had become old and stopped giving milk, or bullocks which could not be used for ploughing, were choked by the order. People could only buy cattle for agricultural or dairy farming reasons, and even then they could not purchase or transport them easily and safely due to the rigorous paperwork and undertakings required, and also the need to prove to vigilantes on the street that the animals they are transporting are not for slaughter. Unlike earlier restrictions in laws passed by various BJP states, the definition of cattle was not limited to the ‘holy’ cow but expanded to include bullocks, bulls and buffaloes.
Taking advantage of the order the gau Rakshashas went on a rampage targeting mainly the Muslim community. Even Hindus who had bought cows and bullocks for their farms were attacked by the gau Rakshashas. Among the victims were some officials of the Tamil Nadu animal husbandry department who were transporting high breed bulls for improving the stocks of the cattle in UP. Overnight every goon became a protector of the holy cow. What is worse is that the leather industry which not only supplies us with footwear, but is also the largest exporter and employer was paralysed. The worst hit were the poorer section, the Dalits, who normally do the work of skinning the dead cattle. It may be recalled that a group of Dalit youth were brutally attacked and killed in Gujarat.
Goa has been among the worst affected states. Although from the fact that the main roads are full of cattle you may get the impression that Goa has lot of cattle for slaughter, this is not true. The cattle which are let loose by the stingy owners to graze, only function as speed breakers at GMC and other places in the city, and even the national highway. The truth is that Goa depends on Belgaum for all its supplies of beef which is the staple food of the Catholic and Muslim minority who account for 50 per cent of Goa’s population. The strange thing about Goa is that Hindus will eat pork but not beef, and Muslims will eat beef but not pork. All the slaughter of animals takes place at the Goa Meat Complex. Ever since the central government passed the order there is shortage beef in Goa. This is because trucks carrying cattle from Belgaum to Goa have been stopped on the Belgaum-Goa highway. Ironically the best beef in Karnataka is available in a village called Ramnagar, close to Belgaum. Both the traders in beef, and those who consider beef their main food in Goa, will be relieved by the order of the Supreme Court.
JICA PART 2: CDM SMITH
AND a few stray thoughts on yet another Luis Berger-type scam being exposed in Goa. It seems to be an American Consultancy firm CDM Smith Inc in the news this time. They paid bribes and benefited by way of major highway construction supervision and design contracts, and a water project contract in Goa.
It may be recalled that Churchill Alemao and Digambar were accused of taking huge kickbacks for water supply projects financed by the Japanese India Co-operation Association (JICA). While Churchill Alemao was arrested for allegedly taking a bribe of `40 lakhs Digambar Kamat has managed to stay out of jail. He is alleged to have received `90 lakhs.
The acts of criminal misappropriation of public funds were discovered not by the Goa police or the CIA or any Indian police organisation. In the case of JICA it was a European consultant who spilt the beans. In the latest case employees of a US company CDM Smith have admitted that the division responsible for Indian operations (CDM India) paid $1.18 million which is about `6 crore to officials of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) between 2011 and 2015 for highway construction, supervision and design contracts. The managing director of CDM India admitted to the Justice Department of the United States that the company had also paid US $25,000 to local officials in Goa for a water project contract in 2015 when the Congress was in charge. The bribes were 2 to 4 per cent of the contract price and were paid through fraudulent sub-contractors.
The strange part ofcourse is that whenever any major scams is exposed in India and in Goa, it is not by local investigative agencies but due to foreign governments or foreign investigative agencies. Even in the case of Bofors, in which Sonia Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were implicated, the fraud was discovered due to the Swedish government. It was a journalist of the Hindu based in Sweden who exposed the link between the Sonia-Nehru families. The reason why major cases of corruption in India are exposed by foreign countries is because of the very strict rules on the operation of companies in the US for instance. According to US Government rules, no bribes can be paid to politicians or government officials for obtaining or retaining any foreign business. Companies which are caught paying bribes face huge penalties which included not only a fine but imprisonment for upto five years.
Nobody in India is worried about taking bribes because they do it with the full knowledge and on behalf of their bosses the politician. If the king himself is corrupt how can you expect the praja to be honest.
AND a few stray thoughts on the severe shortage of doctors in the GMC. It comes as a shock to learn that 30 per cent of the teaching posts at GMC are still lying vacant for the past five years. The most important departments in any hospitals are the medicine department, which treats a range of cases from diabetes to dengue, and the surgery department. Without surgeons, if you have an accident because you were not wearing a helmet, there will be nobody to attend to you head injury or your broken hands and feet. Similarly there will be nobody to take out growths and tumours from your body or replace your kidney if your original kidney has failed.
According to the information made available in response to a question under the Right to Information Act, eight positions are vacant in the surgery department. There are as many as six posts waiting for doctors in the medicine department.
There are hardly any super specialities in Goa, except for Neurology and Orthopaedics. There was a Nephrology department which has closed down as the excellent doctor in charge, Dr Tiwari, quit because he did not get any support for the 20 years he was working in GMC. There is a diabetes specialist, trained in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), in Delhi — the best hospital in the country. Though both Chief Minister Parrikar and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane are patients of Endocrinologist Dr Ankush Desai, he functions alone without any help in the form of junior and senior residents. The much appreciated cardiac team consists of half a dozen doctors who have carried out more than 50,000 angioplasties and over 10,000 open heart surgeries.
The problem is that all the 150 doctors who pass out the GMC want to specialise and do their MD. The MBBS degree has no value unless you are running your own clinic. But the number of post graduate seats in Goa is less than 50. This means the majority of Goan medical graduates have to go out of Goa for specialisation. The salaries offered by GMC and the health service are not equivalent to the expenditure incurred by doctors to specialised. To get a MBBS degree the students has to spend at least 10 lakh in a government college or maybe even a crore in a private college. The MBBS course takes five years including the compulsory internship. If the students wants a post graduate degree it takes another three years as the MBBS graduate has to work as a resident for at least three years before getting an MD. If a doctor wants to become a specialist after getting an MD he has to study further and get an additional post-graduate degree in cardiology or radiology, or whatever is his area of specialisation. So much so, it takes almost 10 years and several lakhs if not crores of rupees to become a specialist. The starting salary of `50,000 – `70,000 and the maximum salary of `1 lakh – `1.5 lakhs is not sufficient, as the private sector offers much more. The only difference is that in the private sector every specialist has a target of bakras and unless he meets the target he does not get his bonus. This leads to unnecessary operations and prolonging the stay of the patient in the hospital long after his cure.
The only solution to the shortage of doctors in the GMC is to adopt the honorary system followed in Mumbai. A major complaint of doctors in the GMC is they cannot do private practice even after office hours, even to get additional income. Under the system of honoraries, the best doctors in the private sector are invited to be a part of government colleges as both teachers and as surgeons and practising medical professionals. Senior consultants in the private sector are happy because they get to see a much wider variety of patients, and public hospitals are much better equipped than private hospitals. Moreover unlike the private hospitals in Goa where both the residents doctors and the nurses have no training, the private consultant in a government hospital is assured that qualified staff are helping him. This is win-win situation both for the consultant and the hospital.
AND a last stray thought on the tragic story of a 50-year-old woman being locked up and confined to a small dark room for 15 years by her own brothers. The excuse was that she was mad, in which case she should have been admitted to institute of Psychiatry.
This is not an isolated case and many Goans who have settled abroad have left their aged parents in the GMC or in the ancestral house, where they live alone. We know of a case of the owner of a star hotel in Goa who abandoned his mother in the GMC for five years!