MAKESHIFT: Many shack owners use coconut fronds or leaves to enclose a small section of the beach for people to use as ‘toilets’!
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when a section of the minority Catholic community objected to the Pandava Chapel being named after Chandrakant Keni. For a Saturday following the week when Churchill Alemao and Michael Lobo demanded that a statue of Jack Sequeira should be erected in the Legislative Assembly complex. For a Saturday following the week when Manohar Parrikar got a shock on discovering that neither the North District nor the South Goa district is totally defecation free. For a Saturday preceeding the week when Goa was getting ready for the Carnival and the festival of love — Valentine’s Day.
PANDAVA OR KENI
AND a few stray thoughts on the section of the Christian community of South Goa who are pretesting against the proposal to rename the Pandava Chapel Chowk to the Chandrakant Keni Chowk. The proposal came from the Vijai Sardesai-controlled Margao Municipal Council (MMC) headed by Dr Babita Angle. The purpose was to acknowledge the contribution of Chandrankant Keni to the victory of the anti-merger forces in the Opinion Poll.
Chandrakant Keni was the editor of the Rashramat, a Marathi paper which was initially funded by a group of industrialists led by VM Salgaocar. It was the only Marathi paper whether in Goa or Maharashtra which opposed the merger of Goa with Maharashtra. The reason why it was proposed that the Pandava Chapel Chowk should be renamed after Keni was because he lived close to the Chapel. I do not understand the why the Chapel came to be known as the Pandava Chapel as historically and in mythology the Pandavas has nothing to do with the Church. The Pandavas are the heroes of the Mahabharata war who defeated the Kauravas.
A section of the Catholic community of Aquem and the rest of South Goa headed by my good friend advocate Rajeev Gomes seem to have strongly objected to the renaming of the Pandava Chapel. I am inclined to suspect that the Church is in some way behind the opposition to the renaming of the chowk. If the Church is willing to accept the Chapel being called the Pandava Chapel after the five Pandava brothers I don’t see why they object to its being named after Chandrakant Keni.
The most unfortunate aspect of the objection to renaming the Pandava chapel is that it has taken not only a communal but a casteist dimension. The decision has polarised Hindus and Catholic or at least a section of the Hindus and Catholics. And at least on Facebook there are objections to renaming the chowk because Chandrakant Keni was a Saraswat Brahmin. But so was Jack Sequeira, the so called father of the Opinion Poll, who despite being a Christian was very proud of being a Saraswat. In any case, both Chandrakant Keni and Jack Sequeira opposed the merger of Goa with Maharashtra not because they were Saraswats or Bhandaris or Gaudis or Kunbis or Hindus or Christians but because they were opposed to the merger of Goa with Maharashtra.
Chandrakant Keni, if he had been alive, would have been the first to protest against the Pandava chapel being renamed after him. Keni’s commitment was to Goa and he would not have tolerated anything which divided Hindus and Catholics in Goa. He would have been horrified over Raju Nayak, the editor of Lokmat, calling the opposition to the renaming of the chowk Christian jihad.
If it is any kind of jihad it is political jihad by Vijai Sardesai, acting on behalf of his master Manohar Parrikar. Who in turn is a caged parrot of Amit Shah and the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat. I urge the family of Chandrakant Keni to reject the MMC offer to rename the Pandava Chapel to restore communal harmony and prevent the BJP from polarising Goa on communal lines.
AND a few stray thoughts on the demand by Churchill Alemao and Michael Lobo to install the statue of Jack Sequeira in the Assembly complex along-side that of the first chief minister of Goa, Dayanand Bandodkar. Churchill’s objection is that if the statue of the man who wanted to merge Goa with Maharashtra can be put up in the Assembly complex why should not the statue of the “Father of the Opinion Poll also be installed”. I don’t think Michael Lobo cares one way or the other whether Jack Sequeira’s statue is put up in the Assembly complex. But he had no choice but to demand that Jack Sequeira should be given a place of honour in the assembly complex because he is in competition with his bitter rival Joseph Sequeira. The former sarpanch of Candolim who had contested the election against Michael Lobo has already put up the statue of Jack Sequeira at Candolim. So Michael Lobo has to go one step further and show his influence by getting the statue of Jack Sequeira installed in the Assembly complex.
Interestingly it was neither Joseph Sequeira nor Michael Lobo who first thought about putting up a statue of Jack Sequeira. The credit, for whatever it is worth, goes ironically to the Indian Navy. It happens that the daughter of the late Jack Sequeira is married to a senior Naval officer who became the Chief of the Naval staff, namely Suresh Mehta. This Naval chief was the one who put up the statue of Jack Sequeira at the Doan Paula circle, although it is doubtful that it mattered to him whether a statue of Jack Sequeira was put up in Dona Paula or anywhere else. As the Naval chief he had no business to put up statue of Jack Sequeira who had nothing to do with Navy. But even the senior most naval officer in the country cannot disobey the orders of his wife or displease her. It was probably to make his wife happy that the then Naval chief, Suresh Mehta, put up the statue of Jack Sequeira at the Dona Paula circle before any Goan could act on it.
I can personally vouch to the fact that the Navy put up the statue because 20 years ago when the statue was put up I used to stay next to the Dona Paula circle.
It was only later that Joseph Sequeira, the sarpanch of Candolim, who started life as a waiter in the Taj hotel, decided to put up a statue of Jack Sequeira in Candolim. Again, not I suspect out of any love for Jack Sequeira but because he thought minority voters would support him in the Assembly election if he put up a statue of Jack Sequeira.
UDAY CHIMES IN
ON Monday, February 5, 2018, the Asmitai Parishtan, an organisation headed by Arvind Bhatekar, organised a talk by Uday Bhembre who played a significant role in the Opinion Poll. Uday bab, who was a great help to me in writing my book on the history of the Opinion Poll along with the late Sharon Cruz, used to write a powerful column for Rashtramat, the same paper Marathi paper edited by Chandrakant Keni.
Uday was also the master strategist who convinced a large section of the Hindu Bahujan Samaj who were fiercely loyal to Bandodkar that they should oppose merger. The loyalty of the Bahujan Samaj which included all the non-Brahmin caste groups in the states, was to Dayanand Bandodkar, the first chief minister, because he liberated them from the tyranny of the upper castes. He did so by empowering them with education.
Under the Portuguese, education was denied to all castes except for the Brahmins. During the first year after becoming the chief minister in the first elections Bandodkar set up Marathi medium schools in every village in Goa. Bandodkar also won the support of the Bahujan Samaj by proposing the Land to the Tiller Act and the Mundkar Act.
Although the land was owned by the upper castes it was actually cultivated by the lower castes in most cases. Similarly, the bhatkars or the high castes had permitted servants working for them to build small houses within their property which were called mundkarial houses.
Bandodkar moved legislation which would make the actual tiller of the land the owner of the land. Similarly Bandodkar moved laws to provide that the mundkars could not be evicted by the bhatkars. On the contrary the bhatkar had to sell upto 300 meters in rural areas and 150 meters in urban areas to the mundkars at prices prevailing in 1962.
Hence the Bhaujan Samaj, who formed the majority of both the Christian and Hindu population of Goa, supported merger because of their love for Bandodkar. Uday pointed out to them that if Goa was merged with Maharashtra Bandodkar would no longer be the chief minister of Goa since after merger Goa would be a very tiny part of Maharashtra. The only position that Bandodkar might enjoy would be that of Zila Parishad chief if not sarpanch. This is because there are villages in Maharashtra which have population of lakhs compared to Goa where most villages had a population of less than 1,000. So much so that a lot of Bahujans who otherwise would have voted for merger, voted against it because they were horrified that Bandodkar would no longer be the chief minister of Goa.
At the meeting on Monday addressed by Uday bab the focus was not the Opinion Poll. The focus was on why the statue of Jack Sequeira should not be put upon assembly and why Jack Sequeira did not deserve the title of ‘Father of the Opinion Poll’. Uday bab did not deny the role played by United Goans Party leader Dr Jack Sequeira during the Opinion Poll, but explained how it was a collective victory of several groups. The talk ridiculed Vijai Sardesai and Michael Lobo for demanding that a statue of Jack Sequeira be put up in the Legislative assembly complex.
The whole talk seem to be a khoon ke badle khoon talk — a reaction to the opposition by the Catholics to renaming the Pandava chapel at the Chandrakant Keni Chowk.
I AM in full agreement with Udhay Bhembre that Jack Sequeira was not the only father of the Opinion Poll. Like the Liberation struggle and the battle for Statehood and making Konkani the official language of the state of Goa, the victory in the Opinion Poll was because of the joint effort of the minority and majority community leaders toegther.
As I have pointed out earlier, even if every Catholic had voted against merger they could not have prevented it because of that time the Catholics voters were only 30% of the population. Since the Opinion Poll was won by 54% it meant that at least 24% of the Hindus voted against merger. Since Saraswats account for only 3% of the population, 21% must have been from the Bhaujan Samaj.
I used to live in Dona Paula for over 20 years, very close to the Dona Paula circle where the statue of Jack Sequeira is coming up. For the last two years I have been living in Dempo Bhat in Tonca Caranzalem. Very often I wonder whether I am living in Nepal, because a large part of the population of Dempo Bhat consists of migrants of Nepal. Or I think I am living in Karnataka or Orissa or every other part of the country except Goa. I don’t think more than 10% of the population of Dempo Bhat are Goans. Which is true not only of Dempo Bhat but the whole of Goa.
The migrant population of Goa is higher now than the ethnic population of the state. In the next five years the migrants will be in a majority. An Yeddyurappa or a Lalu Prasad Yadav may become the chief minister of Goa. And all the members of the Legislative Assembly may also be from outside the state.
Then both the Hindu community and Catholic community in Goa can see the statues put up of Nepalis and Biharis and UP bhaiyas in the Legislative Assembly complex. When the cats fight, the monkeys run away with the cake. Similarly when Goan Catholics and Hindus fight it is the Sangh Parivar which benefits.
AND a few stray thoughts on the shock of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar when he learnt that neither district in Goa was defecation free. In simple words it means that even in the tourist paradise Goa, which has the highest per capita income in the country, there are not enough toilets and people are forced to shit in the open. It happens not only in the backward villages of talukas like Pernem but even in the capital city, where migrants use the Miramar beach for performing their morning rituals.
In the villages this is happening because the old pig type toilets have been abandoned and have not been replaced with fresh toilets connected to septic tanks. Historically, the practise in Goan villages even in the house of the big bhatkars, was to have a pig type toilet which ensured complete disposal of the toilet waste at least. Next to the toilet which was outside the house there was an enclosure for pigs which used to eat up the shit. The residents in turn would eat the pig. An odd circle of life that has fallen into disuse and has not yet been replaced with reliable means of sewage disposal.
But even if we ignore villages, the bitter truth is that there is no underground sewage network even in major urban areas, let alone the coastal belt which attracts tourists. With the huge influx of no-budget tourists and migrants, outdoor shitting has become worse. The horrified Parrikar is committed to building 70,000 toilets in next seven months so that Goa can be declared defecation free and completely swacch.
AND a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. This year again Valentine’s Day follows carnival, which starts on February 10, clashing with Ash Wednesday. Both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday on February 14. Ash Wednesday is a day of mourning for the Christian community when any kind of celebration is discouraged by the Church. Which is perhaps why the Church itself has suggested that those who want to make a display of their mog for the significant other should celebrate Valentine’s Day a day earlier on February 13, the last day of the carnival.
This time around king Momo is from South Goa. Perhaps under pressure from Vijai Sardesai. Parrikar has probably decided that if Vijai Sardesai cannot have a statue of Jack Sequeira in the Legislative Assembly complex he should at least get the consolation price of having King Momo from South Goa.
While there have been fresh demands for installing statues of Shivaji and Ram Manohar Lohiya and even TB Cunha in place of Jack Sequeira in the Assembly complex there is luckily no suggestion for a statue of King Momo or Saint Valentine who started the tradition of Valentine’s Day.