WE ARE ALL IN IT TOGETHER? Manohar Parrikar’s government has a casual and cavalier attitude towards the long-term health of Goans and Goa!
BY TARA NARAYAN
The increasing adulteration of not only fish, but fruits vegetables and even eggs, and lack of consequences even when caught, dramatizes the irresponsibility and lack of accountability of the government headed by Manohar Parrikar. It is testimony to the greed of the members of the Cabinet who extend patronage to criminal elements who profit at the cost of human health and life itself…
NOT for the first time but the umpteenth time I cut open an apple all the way from Chile in South America and lo and behold – it was rotten at the core. Much like today’s politics of greed, indifferent responsibility and accountability! It defines Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s present government perfectly. Perhaps that’s why so many from his Cabinet are laid up hospitals in and out of Goa – after having flaunted their greed and shamelessness in positions of power and pelf.
It is any surprise that few aam aadmi sympathize with the politicians of Goa? Many Goans say if politicians are on their back in hospitals it is because of divine justice in Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or paganism! Let them spend their time in hospitals thinking of their sins of omission and commission and may they wake up to the fact that they are after all in
government in the service of the people and not in the service of their own selves, families or friends.
Like me the people of Goa and this country are increasingly asking pertinent questions 24×7 or around the clock. This is manifested in the way we feel, think and act enraged every time we hear politicians of various hue talk about progress and development which is now more or less synonymous with run-away corruption, mega long-term destruction of plateau and hilly land, community fields, water bodies, beaches and their sand-dunes, coastal stretches which hitherto had not been colonized by hoteliers small-time or big-time from or out of Goa. Do we want to destroy the green lungs of Goa in exchange for another clone of sick and unhealthy urbanized Mumbai high rise?
This kind of obsolete urban, industrial development promises a nightmare of a future vis-à-vis the air we breathe, the water we drink and food we eat, the civic services we pay for and in the end the peace of mind we seek to live happily. Our wellbeing and the wellbeing of the good earth have a primary bearing on one another. The truth is when it comes to the wellbeing of the good earth and all its citizens rich and not so rich, only one single species, the human species, has become too big for its boots or chappal.
Our governments at Centre and State level think and function like the people can eat money, we, the people, think we can eat money. And so we have all these manipulated, convoluted situations and scenarios of scams and jumla (engineered fiascos) in the name of a killer political mindset called Hindutva (the larger picture).
Nothing brings all this to the fore so much as the most recent scam of formalin-preserved fish, second-hand fish, the fish not exported…being sold to Goans. Goans who like to eat fish in season and out of season have been buying and eating formalin-laced fish for the last seven years or more in ignorant bliss! Finally the truth is out and a lot of lies have hit the ceiling and citizens are no longer ignorant — they see through the merry-go-round of political highs and lows in the mode of vinaash kale vipareet buddhi (translates in Hindi more or less to “as the day of reckoning approaches, brains don’t work in the best interests of a larger good”).
Vicious circles come full circle and we see an increasing number of angry citizens’ protests, agitations, legal litigations, exchange of words of vilification and justification, counter-justification….then kaput. The damage done cannot be undone because the affected innocent folk suffer and die, gone with the wind prematurely. Yes, all this is courtesy a government which does not care enough to be in touch with ground realities! Goa has a government which does not care. Who is the enemy? Manohar Parrikar’s government is the enemy.
And we, the people too, are our own worst enemies. We forget easily, we forgive easily, we no longer want to drink and eat to live, we want to drink and eat to die! We’re all in it together in a political game which is dragging us down into anarchy, political dadagiri and tanashahi where the government of the day calls the shots. If this were not so we would have long since
learnt mastered the art of boycotting what is harming our wellbeing progressively.
Sacking a rotten government in power for the good of all (if there is something called good of all in a political system which runs on a vicious cycle of crony capitalism)…good for all doesn’t happen when a minority rich continue to get rich and richer. Now we also have the example of the rich and clever looting public banks and running away abroad like victorious criminals. Their number is increasing and it’s farcical how many of us say wah, wah, talian!
It’s not only such governments we need to boycott (that’s far more difficult to do) but it can be done in small ways which add up. At home level we need to tighten our moral values: Boycott a host of expenditure which patronizes expensive food and fruit coming from long distances, they come in vile plastics or if it is “fresh” fish and fruit, it comes indoctrinated in toxic chemicals like formalin and tucked away in rudimentary cold storage for pulling the wool over those who do not look attentively or for showcasing only…Is it okay in the eyes of the government and the law if we hide or dress up the bitter truth? As long as a few crore keep making it into this or that politician’s pockets.
The bitter truth about formalin-laced fish is also the bitter truth about much that we drink and eat today in our highly mod con urban lives, so that before long we become patients of blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis…the cancerous crab is all around us. All the industrial foods which tempt and tantalize one after another in glitzy plastic packaging, plastic bottles….all of it is turning up as microplastics in our food chain, and we don’t care?.
Mother Earth has turned infertile, contaminated, and so have our seas and oceans and the marine life which breeds in it — we as human of the species and our governments stink of vinaash kale, vipareet buddhi! And finally we come to the political jumla of the day which no longer entertains us day in and day out in newspaper headlines, television screens and smart phone videos…how the minority, celebrated rich and very rich live blindingly glorious lifestyles to blind our senses.
We no longer see or shut out how our neighbors and servicing folk live and understand what is happening to them. We do not see our farmers, our laborers, our small time citizens struggling to eke out a living, a life of dignity, battling the dilemmas of to be honest or not to be dishonest.
We think a piece of paper testifies to education but then again what really defines education is how we think and not how much we have. For a 70-years-old India or Bharatdesh is it too late, or do we still have time to take a few steps back and think about a Mahatma Gandhi, a Babasaheb Ambedkar, an Abraham Lincoln, a Martin Luther King…our parents who slaved and sacrificed so that we may live more comfortable if not more honest lifestyles?
Do we become more and more selfish, self-centered, greedy and evil as we become more and more comfortable? Do our politicians think they can live their VIP and VVIP lifestyles with smart blinkers on indefinitely? Or is it we the people who like to live with fearful blinkers on indefinitely? It is about the fish we love, it is not about the fish we love. It is about the apples we love to eat, it is not about the apples we love to eat. It is about how much we are going to compromise with the economics and politics of want and greed at the expense of the needs of the many?
Ultimately it has to boil down to the water we drink and the food we eat, when it is no longer water worth drinking or food worth eating. It is high time Goa re-invented itself to show the way! Goa is educated enough in the hard school of knocks and given its colonial history…it is time to do away with governments packed with politicians who cannot see beyond their own good, the good of their families…wives, sons, daughters, daughters-in-law and the rest of their extended family.
If it’s not the season to eat fish, do not eat fish. If it’s not the season to eat apples, do not eat apples. No matter how hard and how much we try to re-mold the good earth to our whims and fancies, we cannot and we must not succeed. That is if we want to be defined by how happy we are and not how unhappy we are! I’m sure you have heard of happiness quotient. It is the happiness quotient of a country which defines it as a first world country and not a third rate country (no matter how great it was once upon a time).
Nutritionists say there are three white poisons – salt, refined sugar and maida. One wonders now if there is a fourth one on the horizon – milk. It is not the milk per se, but what is added into it that is dangerous.
Adulteration or adding unwanted ingredients to food may be intentional or unintentional. The first is done deliberately to increase profits. Adulteration may also be incidental due to lack of knowledge and lack of hygiene. Adulteration is defined as “the process by which the quality or the nature of a given substance is reduced. Water is a common adulterant to milk, to increase volume and profits, but the problem is that the consumers immediately notice the presence of water — The taste of the milk changes, it does not boil over while heating but keeps boiling inside the vessel, the tea is insipid, and formation of cream is reduced.
To avoid getting caught, the adulterator adds certain substances to the ‘watered’ milk to improve its thickness, taste, density and viscosity. The common adulterants are formalin, urea, starch, neutralizers (NaHCO3, Na2 CO3, NaOH, Ca(OH)2 etc.), detergents, sodium chloride, skim milk powder, sucrose, glucose/dextrose, and hydrogen peroxide. Some of these are referred to solid-non-fats (SNF) and are used to cover the quantity of natural fats missing in the ‘watered’ milk.
EXTENT OF ADULTERATION
In a Hyderabad Clinical Study it was found that milk adulteration is rampant. The study concludes that a large number of samples procured did not conform to the legal standards prescribed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). These results clearly suggest that most of the milk samples were adulterated.
The extent of adulteration varied significantly with least percentage for sucrose (22%) and highest for skim milk powder (80%). This means that most of the milk samples were prepared with added adulterants during their production and processing or added intentionally. In a country such as India where milk and milk products play an important role, this analysis should bring more awareness to the general public about the malpractices or negligence in milk production.
The National Survey on Milk Adulteration 2011 was conducted to check adulterants in fresh milk in India. The study found that detergents that are deliberately added as well as from the transport containers not properly cleaned, find their way into the milk. The survey report notes that the consumption of milk with detergents is hazardous to health. About 8% samples were found to have detergents. Other contaminants like urea, starch, glucose and formalin, too, were found in the milk. FSSAI (Food Safety and Standard Authority of India) had tested a total of 1,791 samples throughout the country.
Just after the scare of instant noodle Food safety and drug administration (FSDA) in Agra has found presence of detergent in milk samples of a known milk brand. It has become vital to know what we drink in our milk that we consider a complete food, and give to our children in hope of keeping them healthy and growing.
The Indian Council of Medical Research, in one of its reports states, detergents (including caustic soda) cause food poisoning and gastro-intestinal complications. The other synthetic compounds impair the functioning of various organs of the body, cause heart problems, cancer, and sometimes death. The immediate effect of drinking adulterated milk containing urea, caustic soda and formalin is ‘gastroenteritis’, but the long term effects are known to be far more serious.
Milk adulteration is a very serious issue – where the entire new generation of India (children) is in danger. Adulterants used are toxic and can cause serious health issues. Taking a strong stand against milk adulteration, the Supreme Court of India, in July this year, urged that anyone found involved in the illicit activity should be dealt with a firm hand. As a countermeasure, the Supreme Court stated that milk adulteration should amount to life imprisonment and asked the government to take all possible measures to prevent it. The Supreme Court asked the states affected by this problem to make stronger laws capable of dealing with production and sale of milk that is harmful for human beings. The Bench also slammed the current maximum punishment of six months, calling it grossly inadequate.
And what about milk products made out of such adulterated milk. They are even more dangerous!
Courtesy: Indian Express
Apples, apples, apples…not a one from India!
WHAT is the nexus between imported fruit and the country’s very own fruit? Plums and peaches from Kashmir can be seen in the Panaji market mid-monsoon but apples? With four Indian mountain states with apple production one may not find a single Indian apple in town…instead the market is flooded with apples from Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, China.
The apples from China are watery, crunchy and flavourless. The Red Delicious from USA are glossy dark red with a thick skin, taste like tissue paper; this season there are also the little Chelan, No.4015; the Royal Gala from New Zealand once upon a time tasted like they were fresh, crisp, flavourful but not anymore! All the vilayati or imported apples from far off places are selling at `200 per kg (about five or six apples depending on size). They are not worth buying yet we buy them and end up with a mixture of apples old and not so old…fruit vendors will mix old and new fruit for a bigger killing.
There is something rotten at the core of the imported apples story. They look good, buy them, but a day or two later when you cut them you’re face to face with a spreading rot at the central core of the apple! Other apples acquire soft brown patches and have to be chucked.
Some of the imported apples smell vile too like they have been doctored (or wax polished)…one looks for Indian apples but there is this suspicion that until the imported apples are sold out none of the Indian apples will make an appearance. When Indian apples from Kashmir or Simla or Kinnaur make an appearance they sell at the same price as the imported apples! At one time one distinguished imported from Indian apples by the little stickers with name and number of apple stock. Now even Indian apple producers stick on these silly stickers to pretend they’re premium fruit.
Nobody has yet nailed the scam that is imported apples. On Tuesday morning at the Panaji market one could find plums and peaches from Jammu & Kashmir but our very own desi apples are still hiding somewhere, refusing to reveal themselves in the presence of vilayati apples! Given a chance one would prefer to buy Indian apples naturally for they have a fresher, more wholesome flavor than the imported apples.
Clearly all our imported fruit and especially apples are doctored for good looks, longer shelf life and ill-health…but we don’t care. Nor do our FDA powers-that-be. The story is getting clearer and clearer. All our organic premium fruit of mangoes, also dry fruit, spices, even vegetables, seek export markets in the Middle East and European countries – while we are the receiving end of leftover fruit or last year’s stock.
The story of formalin-laced fish repeats itself ad nauseum even when it comes to organically cultivated fruit and vegetables! We Indians are not good enough for the best, we’re only good enough for the worst and sub-standard, and we won’t even boycott that which contributes to our ill-health! Never mind the “Make in India” legend.