AVOID: Any TPA like Medi Assist which blindly assumes that all Goans are bevdas, and even refuses to accept a doctor’s letter to the contrary, should be boycotted


And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when it looks like Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar escaped the anger of the people only because of his stroke. For a Saturday following the week when Manohar Parrikar has started using social networks to assert his control over the state of Goa. For a Saturday following the week when there was a sense of panic in South Goa following the gang rape of a Goan young lady in the presence of her boyfriend by criminal elements from MP. For a Saturday following the week when I was refused cashless mediclaim at the Aster CMI corporate hospital in Bangalore because it was presumed that I must be a bevda because I came from Goa.


And a few stray thoughts on Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar reportedly getting a stroke and having to be operated in the Kokilaben Dhirubhai  Ambani Hospital in Mumbai. Madkaikar, who plunged Tiswadi into darkness on Sunday, rushed to Mumbai on Monday.
We do not know whether he ran away to Mumbai out of fear that people would attack him, or to get a reward for shifting the 112 kw transmission tower to oblige the Mangalum Group builder who has bought over 20 lakhs sq mtr of land to build Casa Amora on Kadamba Plateau.
Apparently the builder could not go ahead with his premium project because of the transmission power and the high tension lines. For those who are not very familiar with electricity power is supplied to the main transmission towers at 220 which is then stepped down to 120 watts at the transformer. It is like receiving power in wholesale and distributing it in retail. If the high tension lines and power had not been removed from the site to be developed, both the workers and the residents might have literally died of shock.
Significantly, most of our daily newspapers did not mention the name of the builder, who has been giving full page ads on the front page promoting Casa Amora.
Initially the reports were that Madkaikar had suffered a heart attack. Subsequently it was claimed that he had suffered a major stroke and had been taken to the operation theater. The hospital itself in its official statement gave the game away when it said that he had a minor operation.
The general feeling is that Madkaikar is under observation not by doctors but super doctor Manohar Parrikar who will decide whether he should be dropped from the Cabinet.


Madkaikar is supposed to be kept under observation for 72 hours according to the Health Minister Vishwajit Rane who seems to have taken over the chief minister’s post. Somebody had to fill the vacuum created by the senior-most member of the cabinet advisory committee (CAC) Francis D’souza going off on a 45-day holiday handing over charge to Parrikar. The remaining two, Vijai Sardesai and Sudin Dhavalikar, both sworn enemies, are anxious to replace Manohar Parrikar, and Vishwajit seems to have stepped forward. He even apologized to the people of Goa on behalf of the government on black Sunday.
Giving himself a pat on his back, Vishwajit also claimed that when his father had developed pain in the chest he had taken him to the Cardiac Department of the GMC and not to hospitals in Mumbai or New York, a not-so-subtle dig at the recent trend of politicians travelling out of Goa for medical treatment.


AND a few stray thoughts on Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar working overtime to convince Goans that though he may be in New York he was very much in control of Goa, although there is no evidence that anything is working in Goa. Parrikar even sent a Youtube message on statehood day, May 30th, to the people of Goa wishing them prosperity and development. He also talked about the progress achieved by the Narendra Modi government for the last four years, though there are no signs of acche din and in fact bure din have replaced acche din in the area of petrol and diesel prices.
When Manohar Parrikar became the chief minister in 2012 the first step he took in the first budget was to scrap the Value Added Tax on petrol, which was more than 20%. This meant that the price of petrol in Goa became the cheapest in the country. Unfortunately when Parrikar went away to Delhi as defence minister after the 2012 election, and Parsekar took over, he brought back the VAT on petrol. Petrol and diesel are not covered by GST. Of the price of petrol, almost 50% is made up of State and Central taxes. This is particularly relevant now when the price of petrol has crossed the `70 mark in Goa and `80 in some parts of the country due to the galloping prices of crude oil in international markets. This in turn has been caused by a decision of the largest producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia, to limit output to get higher prices.
Ironically, while petrol prices have hit the roof and people are wondering whether it will be petrol prices or the rupee which will score a century first, farmers are suffering. At the time of writing, farmers all over the country, including dairy farmers, are observing a ten-day strike, during which they refused to supply vegetables and even milk to urban areas. Farmers are throwing away tomatoes and pouring milk on the roads in protest.
But coming back to Manohar Parrikar it is claimed that he spoke to Madkaikar and fired him for causing so much trouble for people of his constituency. It is claimed that Parrikar has asked Madkaikar to keep a watch on poor engineers who have no choice but to follow orders of the greedy, corrupt minister.
Parrikar has recently been promising to come back before end-June, but he has been saying this so often that people have lost faith. Parrikar’s assurance that he is getting better and better and will be back soon reminds me of the story of the boy who shouted wolf. The mischievous boy who kept shouting wolf to frighten his friends, was not believed when the wolf actually came one day, even though he screamed that he was telling the truth.
The BJP high command should step in and force Parrikar to appoint an acting chief minister as the CAC has collapsed and you cannot run a state from a hospital bed in New York.


And a few stray thoughts on the panic in South Goa following the rape of a Goan lass in front of her boyfriend by criminal elements from Madhya Pradesh at Betalbatim beach.
Although not as commercial as the Calangute-Baga belt, this is a popular beach. There is also a shack by the sunset point at Betalbatim which used to be a favourite of Mickky Pacheco and his confidant Calvert. I myself have visited the shack at Betalbatim several time. The beach which is called a sunset point has always been a popular rendezvous for Laila Majnus, some of whom are even minors. For the young couple, who were adults, the romantic evening turned terrible when they were confronted by a group of three men who raped the girl in the presence of the boy. They even videoed the ghastly attack and threatened them with blackmail.
As the police have pointed out though there have been several cases of rape in Goa, most of these have been of people who knew each other. The Goa police have very cleverly kept silent on whether the victims of rape and the culprits were Goans or outsiders. But we do know that several foreign tourists have been victims of rape.
Many of these rapists, including those accused in the latest incident, come from BJP-ruled states where ministers themselves have been accused of rape.


In UP, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has previously accused women of provoking rape because of the clothes they wear. If dress or lack of it was the issue there would have been hundreds of rapes per day. Miramar beach sees bus loads of domestic tourists arrive with young women in denim hot pants. The ground reality is that compared to other states in the country, Goans do not consider a girl displaying her legs or cleavage as an invitation to rape. Goan villagers in the coastal areas have long since accepted even total nudity in the case of foreign tourists desperate for a tan.
It is ironic that foreigners who are white want to become brown, whereas parents of all Indian girls want them to become fair and lovely. Even the men are not spared because there is a fairness cream for them called fair and handsome.


There is talk of blocking access to the Betalbatim beach to domestic tourists, but it is not the fault of the tourists but the way Goa is projected.
If you admit to be a Goan outside Goa, they will all look at you as a drunkard. Some domestic tourists pester foreign tourists in bikinis to take selfies with them so they can go back and boast that they slept with dozens of foreigners. This may be only in their imagination, but it fuels the myth that women in Goa are as cheap as Goan daru.
To add to the terrible reputation projected by the tourism department, now Goa is also seen as a gambling adda. You cannot get rooms in any hotel over the weekend because they are already taken by gamblers from Mumbai and Delhi.
Unfortunately for Goans outside Goa, because of the huge demand of tickets on Friday to Goa and on Sunday night out of Goa, the price of air tickets also shoots up. Goans living in other states must do their best to educate locals that Goans are as moral and conservative as their own mothers and sisters.


AND a few stray thoughts on my claim for cashless medical treatment against my Oriental Insurance Policy being rejected.
I had gone to Bengaluru for a holiday to catch up with old friends since I’d studied and stayed in Bangalore in the ‘50s and ‘60s. In fact, Prof Lankesh, Gauri Lankesh’s father, used to teach me English at Central College where I was in the first batch of the BA economic course.
For quite some time now I have been having serious health problems of acid reflux. Which means in simple language that the very powerful acid generated by the pancreas, which reduces all the mutton and the fish into tiny proteins and vitamins the body needs, defies gravity and travels up instead of down. There is a wall at the end of the digestive system which closes after your food is digested so that the acid cannot defy gravity and flow upwards.
In my case my acid reflux, which in medical terms is called GERD, is so bad because the acid which is much more powerful than hydrochloric acid which can disfigure faces of women rejected by lovers, repeatedly assaults my throat.
Since, even after 50 years of journalism, I do not type — only dictate — I cannot risk my throat, and particularly my voice box, being compromised. I had tested myself in Bombay and was even warned that if the reversal of acid continued, I could develop cancer — if I have already not developed it.
In Bangalore I was told that there was internationally reputed gastroenterologist, Dr Naresh Bhatt, who has a team of five gastro specialists along with the best equipment in the world. Since I was in Bangalore I decided to get myself admitted as I felt a choking sensation.
The doctors at Aster CMI did all sorts of tests and came to the conclusion that I have some kind of growth which pushes the acid up and blocks it from getting out of my body. When I got myself admitted I was assured that this treatment and test were covered by my Oriental Insurance Policy.
I was assured that I did not have to pay a paisa, although they took a deposit of `5,000. When time came for paying the final bill which exceeded `30,000 they refused to approve my claim. Not the hospital but a third party agency — ‘Medi Assist India Pvt Ltd’ — which is hired by insurance companies to do the paper work.


The reason for turning down my claim was even more absurd. Since I came from Goa it was assumed that I was a bevda. Medi Assist even insisted on getting a letter from doctor that I had no history of being a bevda. Even though the doctor very sportingly gave a letter, though I was not been treated for daru-related condition, my cashless claim was refused.
With the banks on strike, my friends had to help me to pay the bills.
In the past I have never had problems with my medical insurance policy with Oriental Insurance which I have renewed for ten years.
Indeed for my wife’s open heart surgery they even reimbursed me `4.80 lakhs, just `20,000 short of my insurance cover of `5 lakhs. My insurance policy is my life line. As a semi-retired senior citizen I cannot afford to pay huge bills.
Do not take policies of companies which hire TPAs — particularly Medi Assist. I hope Oriental Insurance whom I have always promoted and supported is listening and will reimburse the amount I spend.
No, I will not hammer the local regional manager like Dr Venkatesh is alleged to have done, but I may have no choice but to commit suicide if my medical insurance claims are rejected by the TPAs and my insurance company does not stand by me.
On my part I have never made a false claim as the top managers at Oriental Insurance know, which is why the Medi Assist harassment is more offensive.

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