RECALL: Owners of Swift and Baleno vehicles manufactured between December 1, 2017 and March 16, 2018 should contact their dealer and get their brakes checked!
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Maruti Suzuki India asked over 50,000 owners of new Swift and Baleno units to opt for a service check campaign for a possible brake vacuum fault in units built from December 01, 2017 to March 16. For a Saturday following the week when the Church, far from strongly protesting against the privatization of monuments, has given in quietly, leading to suspicion of another deal with the government. For a Saturday following the week when the BJP was on the back foot, losing Ponda to the MGP and being wiped out at Sanquelim. For a Saturday following the week when Vijai Sardesai threatened to stop all development in South Goa if the agitation against the TCP continues. For a Saturday following the week when we manage to discover the mystery of schools proudly announcing 100% results.
And a few stray thoughts on a tiny announcement near the bottom of the page in the TOI that Swift and Baleno cars manufactured by Maruti may have a defect in the brake vacuum. To quote TOI, Maruti Suzuki India has asked over 50,000 owners of new Swift and Baleno cars to take their car for a service checkup as they suspect a manufacturing defect in the brake vacuum host in units built between December 1, 2017 and March 16. Since car manufacturers do not function backward, presumably it is an editorial slip and should have read March 16, 2018. But the story which was supposed to be continued and expanded on page 11 was not present on the page concerned. Not surprising since newspapers running full page and double full page ads from automobile manufacturers do not like to talk about possible manufacturing defects which may be life threatening. Incidentally, the news item is only in TOI, and does not appear in other Goan papers (also beneficiaries of Maruti ads).
The implication is that if you have bought a Swift or a Baleno manufactured between December 2017 and March 2018 your life is at risk. So take it back to the dealer and ask for a new Swift or Baleno. Defective cars cannot be patched up as issues will occur again and again. And whether you are a tourist or a local, do not hire a Baleno or Swift, incidentally very popular among taxi owners, as you might go straight up instead of to your destination!
Maruti is not the only car which has announced recalls after manufacturing defects. Many high earning car manufacturers in Japan and even the US have ordered mass recall of cars sold over the last five years due to a defect in the air bags — which should protect the driver in the case of a collision — that resulted in air bags that could explode in a collision, sending shrapnel flying through a vehicle’s cabin.
The Japanese air bag manufacturer, Takata, reportedly withheld information from its clients (virtually all of the major automakers, led by Honda, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler) as early as 2008, when repeated problems first arose in their air bags. Apparently the mega Japanese air bag manufacturing company used to supply safety equipment even to Volkswagen, which is considered among the safest cars in the world although it has had its share of problems with accidents reported due to manufacturing defects.
LOW SAFETY STANDARDS
Unfortunately the laws in India are not stringent enough to force the manufacturer to reveal manufacturing defects and to repair or replace the car. Indeed most cars made in India even by international manufacturers like Hyundai, Volkswagen and Suzuki, have failed to pass collision tests, particularly when carried out abroad. Just this week notable four-wheeler names such as Hyundai Eon, Maruti Suzuki Eeco, Maruti Celerio, Mahindra Scorpio and three models of Renault Kwid failed in crash tests carried out by UK-based Global New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP). These seven cars scored zero stars for adults on safety parameters when these were crashed at 64 kmph speed.
Earlier this year, some of the most popular small cars sold in India, including Maruti Alto 800, Maruti Swift, Nissan’s Datsun GO, Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo, also failed Global NCAP crash tests.
The most common defence given by the manufacturers is that the vehicle “meets the required local vehicle regulations in India”. Clearly Indian standards need to be raised.
This is true not only of cars but even for consumer durables like washing machines. IFB for instance continues to mislead people that it has a collaboration with Bosch of Germany, although the arrangement was terminated more than a decade ago.
Very few manufacturers in our country of cars takes servicing seriously. We know of dealers who have semi-skilled staff who are paid less than `8,000 per month. Surely if you are dealing with high value items like cars or even scooters you should employ qualified technicians and pay them well so that they take good care of the customers vehicles!
CHURCH U TURN
And a few stray thoughts on the Church changing its mind and agreeing to the suggestion by the Union Tourism Minister to lease out historical monuments to private parties. The Union Tourism Ministry along with the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has come out with a monument adoption scheme called ‘Monument Mitra’. Among the ‘friends’ who have to pay for the privilege of adopting historical monuments is Bharat Dalmia, the cement company, which has adopted the historical Red Fort. We are still waiting to here if reports that the iconic Taj Mahal has been leased out to the tobacco company ITC are true.
When it was revealed that many monuments in Goa, including living monuments like the Old Goa Church complex, were also being given up for adoption, there was a sharp protest from the Church. The Goa Minister for Archeology was reminded that the Bom Jesus Basilica and the Se Cathedral were the property of the Church and not orphans. Among other Goan monuments which were proposed to be given up for adoption is the Chapora and the Cabo de Rama fort and the Olive Ridley turtle sanctuary in Morjim. The immediate reaction of both the tourism minister and the minister for archeology was that they were not taken into confidence and were not aware of the proposal. Their lies were exposed when the GPCC president released the letters that Vijai Sardesai and Babu Asgaocar had sent to the Union Tourism Minister accepting the proposal.
Shockingly, at a meeting of stake holders on Monday held by Vijai Sardesai, which included the Bishop or his representatives, it was agreed that the scheme was in the interests of Goa. I wonder whether either the Union Tourism Minister Mr KJ Alphons, who is a Catholic himself, or the Bishop of Goa will be happy or amused if the gambling emperor Jaydev Mody decides to become the mitra or friend of our Goencho Saiba.
It is not known on what basis the State government agreed to handover even religious monuments to business houses. We do not deny that ASI has too many monuments to look after and does not have enough money or expertise. But historical monuments are not football stadiums which can be leased to anyone. They require a lot of tender loving care and expertise. When the Reis Magos Fort in Goa was sought to be restored and put to re-adaptive use, the job was entrusted to Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), financed by Lady Helen Hamlyn, widow of Lord Hamlyn, the publishing tycoon whose firm is the largest producer of art books and art material in the world, through the Helen Hamlyn Trust.
Lady Hamlyn moreover has been associated with the restoration of many forts throughout the world. In Goa the restoration was done by architect Gerard D’Cunha for the local INTACH chapter which was headed by Dipti Salgaocar. Unless clear cut guidelines are laid down and a commitment is secured that experts will be hired, no monuments should be given to commercial entities and certainly not to Hindutva companies which might misuse them.
Would the Church, for instance, like it if the Jindals — who are trying to blacken Goa — became the mitras of Goencho Saiba?
And a few stray thoughts on the BJP losing its grip on the voters much before even the parliamentary election, let alone the midterm election which is expected to be held in December.
Local body elections to municipalities and panchayats are generally an indication of how parties are performing. There is lot of anger against the BJP for hijacking the government, and now for trying to run the State by remote control from New York. In the era when there is more fake news than real news we do not know if it is true that Chief Minister Parrikar has been told not to even go near the files which are flown to New York as they may cause an infection.
Goans are also angry about the statements made by Amit Shah and Narendra Modi on forcing Goa to allow the diversion of the Mhadei river at the expense of Goa. Goans are sick of the bullying and blackmail by Nitin Gadkari, who wants to convert the MPT into a dirty port exclusively devoted to coal for the benefit of the Jindals and the Adanis in Karnataka. Most of all Goans are annoyed with the headless government, with even the tail appointed by the chief minister not allowed to wag. The cabinet advisory committee (CAC) comprising Francis D’Souza, Vijai Sardesai, and Sudin Dhavalikar can only recommend, but cannot take decisions and their term is extended one month at a time.
The MGP has already announced if Parrikar is not around it will not fight the next election as an alliance partner. Maybe the MGP was testing the waters in the Ponda municipal election where it put up candidates against the Congress and the BJP. The experiment was successful with the MGP candidate winning the majority of the seats. In Sanquelim it was even worse with the BJP being able to get only three seats despite the Assembly seat being held by Pramod Sawant, the Speaker.
What is very disturbing is that despite getting only three seats the BJP chief is claiming that they will form the ruling group in the corporation. This sounds like an action replay of the Assembly elections . It may be recalled that despite getting only 13 of the 40 seats the BJP bribed and bullied the GF and MGP to support them to secure the magical number of 21 seats. Perhaps Pramod Sawant is confidant that for the right price, all those who were elected on the Opposition ticket will switch over to his side. For the BJP it would appear that they have to win by hook or by crook — rigging EVM machines and even the Election Commission itself. It may be recalled that the handpicked Chief Election Commissioner gave two controversial judgments in favour of the BJP.
And few stray thoughts on Vijai Sardesai attempting to blackmail the people of South Goa for opposing the RP 2021 and the TCP department.
Vijai has threatened to stop all development in South Goa if the Goencho Avaz continues to oppose RP 2021. But Goans are not and have never been opposed to development. What the Goencho Avaz, the 4,000 people who were at Lohia Maidan, and the four lakh and more people across Goa are against, is destruction of the green character of Goa in the name of development. They are trying to convince the TCP minister that if he converts all the paddy fields he will not get his xit with his kodi, and that if he destroys the orchards he will be insulting his own party, whose symbol is the coconut.
The reason why so many people come to Goa as tourists and increasingly buy homes in Goa is because you can still see greenery in Goa. You can still see green paddy fields with Gaudi/Gowdi women in colorful raincoats transplanting paddy. You can still see coconut trees on the side of the roads. From the window of my office I can see banana bunches. There is no other state or city in the country which is still as green as Goa despite the efforts of Babush Monserrate and Vijai Sardesai.
More than the RP 2021 which was notified by Digambar Kamat, Goans are opposed to the Planning & Development Authorities (PDAs). Incidentally, the new GPCC president, Girish Chodankar, has disowned RP 2021 which was notified by the Congress chief minister at the end of his tenure. The RPs are supposed to decide the conversion of land from agriculture and orchards to settlement and industry in rural areas. On the other hand the PDAs were meant for urban areas where population density is high and you may need taller buildings, although the historical rule in Goa, which is the principle of the RP 2001, is that the height of a building should not be more than 9 metres, which is the height of the coconut tree.
Goans are opposed to bringing more and more rural areas into the PDAs. The anger of the Goans was visible when the MLAs of the Santa Cruz and St Andre, both supporters of Babush, were forced to agree to withdraw their villages from the Greater Panjim PDA. Even the people of Taleigao, which has a separate PDA, wanted to be a part of the regional plan instead.
In Calangute Michael Lobo is finding strong opposition to the plan to include Calangute, Candolim and Parra in the PDA. In the south there is opposition in Raia and Navelim to the PDA.
PDAs are aptly defined by the activists as ‘public destruction agencies’. Just as Babush Monserrate was thrown out of the Cabinet because of his attempt to sell Goa to the builders, Vijai Sardesai and his party may sink because of his plans to concretise Goa.
And a last stray thought on the state of education in Goa. Thanks to Gauri Malkarnekar we have the shocking news that though Goa may boast of having the largest number of government primary schools, at least half of them have just one teacher to handle all classes from 1 to 4. Only five of 781 government primary schools have full time headmasters. As many as 400 primary schools have fewer than 20 students. The situation is worse in the case of KG schools. Less than half the pre-primary schools are registered by the government. The ranking of Goa university is as low as 68.
The worst part of education in Goa is the boastful advertisements released by schools claiming 100% results. They get 100% results only because they do not promote students likely to fail from the 9th standard to the 10th standards. Apparently some even encourage students to take a school leaving certificate with the promise of passing them if they leave the school and join another, so that their 100% record is not spoiled.