GRABBED: Just as Parrikar grabbed the chief minister’s kodel, he also attempted to take control of the Goa Urban Co-operative Bank

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) again displayed its desperation to win by foul means if it cannot win fairly. For a Saturday following the week when a huge controversy broke out on social media over Prateek securing the 77th rank in the IIT advanced entrance exam. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa Football Association (GFA) suspended 46 professional players, including a few plying their trade in the Mukesh Ambani-owned Indian Super League (ISL), for participating in an unregistered tournament in the state. For a Saturday following the week when it was revealed that the students who got 100 per cent marks in the SSC did so with the benefit of a lot of grace marks.


AND a few stray thoughts on the BJP’s obsession with winning at any cost. We can understand Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and the BJP high command using dirty tricks to steal the mandate even though they got only 13 of the 40 seats in the Legislative Assembly. What the BJP did in bullying or bribing the Goa Forward (GF) and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) to help them form the government is inexcusable.

It is irrelevant whether the bribe came in the form of hard cash or lucrative portfolios. It is not a surprise that Vijay and Dhavalikar were ready to forget all their principles and opposition to BJP for the portfolio of Town and Country planning and PWD.

It was a matter of prestige for at least Manohar Parrikar if not for the BJP that they should form the government in Goa. From a larger perspective the loss of Goa would reflect badly on the BJP who had considered Parrikar such a competent leader that they had given him the defence portfolio. But it does not speak well of Manohar Parrikar and the BJP that they should play dirty in the election to the Goa Urban Co-operative Bank.

The Goa Urban Co-operative Bank like most of the co-operative banks in Goa is controlled by the Saraswat Brahmans who have been the backbone of Manohar Parrikar in the Panjim Assembly constituency besides the Catholics of Miramar and Campal.

There were two groups of Saraswat Brahmans contesting the Goa Urban elections. The group which was in control was led by Dr Anil Gaunekar while the BJP panel which wanted to take control was led by Dr Govind Kamat. The Govind Kamat group lost the election much to the rage of Manohar Parrikar.

But Parrikar is a master of the game of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. So to secure control of the Goa Urban, the BJP nominated two of its bhakts to the executive committee. These included Sonia Kuncalienker, general manager of Prudent Media and  wife of Sidharth Kuncalienker. May be it was meant to be a reward for Sidharth for giving up his Panjim seat for Parrikar. But the fact remains that Parrikar got involved in match fixing for the control of the Goa Urban Bank. Worse still he divided the Saraswat Brahmin community in Panjim which will go against him in the bye-elections.


UNFORTUNATELY for Parrikar, unlike Governor Mridula Sinha, the Registrar of Co-operatives was not willing to blindly obey Parrikar’s demands. The registrar struck to the rules and refused permission for the nominated members to vote for the post of chairman. Without their votes Dr Govind Kamat had no chance to take control of the bank. Worse still, the courts refused to give any relief to Parrikar.’s chamchas This is a major setback as it exposed the lack of morals on the part of the chief minister and his insensitivity towards even his own Saraswat community.

But all politicians and political parties have wanted to take control of co-operative banks. The Margao Urban for instance, has been controlled by Ramakant Angle for decades. Similarly the Mapusa Urban has been controlled by Ramakant Khalap. Politicians are anxious to control co-operative banks as they can use and misuse them as there are very few controls on co-operative banks. There is the story of how the Mapusa Urban under the instruction of then Minister of State for law in the Gowda Ministry, Ramakant Khalap, directed the banks to give a loan of `50 crore to the son of the then Prime Minister Deve Gowda without any security or even a proper address. The address in the loan application of the son of the then prime minister was care of the prime minister’s office.

The Non-Performing Assets (NPA) of co-operative banks are much higher than that of the nationalized banks. In fact many of them have been told not to grant fresh loans by the Reserve Bank India. Among the banks whose accounts have been frozen are the Mapusa Urban. Politicians have always been keen on controlling these banks as they can use them for their elections and to do favours for those who will be useful to them. This is the first time that Parrikar himself has got himself involved in match fixing in election to a co-operative bank.


AND a few stray thoughts on all the unnecessary controversy created by Samir Kelekar over Prateek Rebello coming 77th in the All India list of those who made it to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). On top of it I have been tagged to a post which gives the impression that I am crying for a Goa whose people have forgotten their heroes. In his latest Facebook posting Samir says “a people who forget history are doomed”. According to him we Goans have forgotten IIT JEE toppers of the 60s. Samir himself got the 136th rank, which was far higher than Parrikar and Kejriwal. However, Samir is talking of some old timers who were among the first 10 of those who passed the IIT exam in the 60s. People like Mangesh Wagle, who apparently was a product of the Bhatikar High School, and a Nitkant Kenkere (4th rank) and Kapil Surlakar (9th rank). The other dinosaur like me who has just turned 70 is an Anil Palekar, who got the 35th rank in 1969. Coming to this century apparently a Ralph Silva of Vasco got the 33rd rank in 2006. I cannot understand how citing the ranks of all those who have done better than Prateek in any way detracts from his achievement as the first Goan or should we say the second Goan in the 21st century who ranked among the first 100.

Comparing those who are competing for IIT seats now with those who got into IIT in the 60s is not fair even if they may have done their schooling in Goa. This is because the number of people competing for the seats was much less in the 60s then at present. Moreover the education system was not as bad as it is now. Even before Prateek there have been isolated cases of Goans getting into IIT. But never before have Goans in double digits been successful. We are not just talking about one Prateek, but 17 others from a class of 30 making it into IIT. This is almost as good as the Bihar record of the maths professor who takes under his wing the under-privileged and has achieved 100 per cent results with all 30 of his students making it into IIT.

What we are looking at is systemic change. In the past individual students may have got into IIT because of their unique talent. But many others who had equal talent could not make it as they did not have the infrastructure to train them. Until even a decade ago, it was rare for even five Goans to get into IIT in a single year, unlike this year when a record  20 Goans got in. This is a result not only of talent, but systematic training and coaching. It is the special classes started by the Mushtifund school in collaboration with Vyankatesh Prabhudessai which made it possible for talented Goans to achieve their ambition.

Vyankatesh Prabhudessai has been holding classes for entrance exams to IIT and other engineering and medical colleges for more than a decade now under the name “The Aryaan Study Circle”. However, it is only relatively recently that the training for IIT was integrated with a regular school education. What Mushtifund did was pick up the brightest and the best at the 8th standard level itself and start a special class for 30 students (chosen on merit), in collaboration with Aryaan. It is this jugalbandhi of Suhas Sardesai, the administrator of Mustifind, and Vyankatesh Prabhudesai of Aryaans which made it possible for a larger number of students to qualify for the IITs.

I don’t mean any disrespect to the golden oldies who managed to figure in the first 10 in the 60s. But it is not that everyone who passes out of the IITs necessarily becomes a role model. The IIT is also responsible for creating monsters like Manohar Parrikar and Arvind Kejriwal. So to insist that by failing to remember or pay homage to those who made it to the first ten our system has degenerated, is rubbish. Prateek deserves all the credit for his 77th rank because he was competing against lakhs of students from all over the country and we need to applaud and celebrate every achievement. I did not cry for Goa as the impression was created by tagging me to the lament about how we have forgotten the success of earlier generations of Goans including him. We should not be hostages to the past and we should celebrate the future which Suhas and Vyankatesh have made possible. What Goa needs perhaps is more Suhases and Vyankateshs, and Samir should be joining them instead of shedding tears about the forgotten IITs.

What I like about young Prateeek is his laid back and cool attitude to all the praise showered on him, and his poise in replying to all the stupid questions that we journalists ask him. As it is, he is a victim of poor research or laziness on the part of the Times reporter Gauri who claimed that he was the first Goan who figured among the first 100 in the IIT advanced list. How do you expect the poor reporter, sorry special correspondent now, (who likes to forget that it was Goan Observer which trained her), to know that there were Goans who had made it to the first ten way back in the 60s when she was not even born.

However, that apart, when Prateek was asked what strategy he had adopted to climb so high, his response was “Why are we are talking about strategy? This is not a war that we need a strategy”. Prateek has his head and heart in the right place just like his father Dr Oscar Rebello and his low profile mother Marisa Rebello D’Souza, daughter of the late Sylvester D’Souza. I only hope he has not inherited Dr Oscars temper.

Grace Marks

AND a few stray thoughts on a mystery behind SSC students and even HSSC students getting 100 out of 100. And students getting 100 per cent in their SSC exams. In my time you were considered brilliant if you got between 70 to 80 per cent in physics, chemistry, and maths, and 60 to 70 per cent in arts subjects like history, economics and even commerce. Now many students seem to get a 100 per cent even in languages, whether English, Marathi, or Konkani. This is not because students have become brilliant overnight. This is because of the competitions between the various boards to give grace marks to push up the percentage and the performance of their respective boards. It is a Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin contest.

There are the SSC Boards to which the majority of students belong. Then there are the Central schools which have their own board exams. We also have the ICSE schools which claim to be affiliated to English public schools and are a favourite with the bold and the beautiful and the rich and the powerful. There is the fourth category which claims to follow a free school model, ideal for admission to schools abroad.

Excepting for the last, all the other three are concerned with their students doing better than the others. So the various boards within a state, and the boards in various parts of the country, compete with each other to give grace marks to increase the percentage of passes and the marks of the top rankers. Some even give additional grace marks if the questions are tough. Students, at their end, also fight for every mark they can get. One student fought a case in the High Court because in the multiple choice model of exams she felt that the official answer was wrong and her answer was right. She won the case which improved her percentage from 94 per cent to 95 per cent.

I also discovered that grace marks are given for participation in NSS, NCC and of course sports. There was a time when many talented sports persons dropped out at the 8th or 9th standards to concentrate on their all important 10th and 12th standard exams. This was before Sakshi won the bronze and Sindhu won the silver in the Olympics. A recent news item revealed that a sport person got as many as 42 extra sports marks which took her percentage to 98 per cent. Those who get 75 per cent get 10 grace marks taking their percentage to 85 per cent and those who get 85 per cent have their marks inflated to 95 per cent. Finally some sense has dawned the central government and it has decided to stop the practice of giving grace marks in SSC and HSSC to inflate percentages except in cases where talented sports persons need the extra marks to pass the exam.


AND a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. The GFA has suspended 46 players who took part in an unregistered tournament without the permission of the GFA, in violation of GFA regulations that call for a one-year ban on players or officials for taking part in an unrecognised tournament. This is a strike against the ISL also, as some of the players are big-shots in the Mukesh Ambani-owned ISL, who probably thought they would get away with their defiance.

Historically, all the top football clubs in the country, of which half are in Goa and Bengal, were part of the national league. But the ISL has succeeded in getting the support of the president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Praful Patel, and is the cool kid on the football block, with the national league, which is also known as the Independence League or I-League, losing it’s importance.

Ever since the football equivalent of the cricket IPL was started, there were indications that the AIFF would declare the ISL to be the premier league, to which the national league would have to take second place. Teams which have been the cradle of football, like Mohan Bagan and Mohammad Sporting in West Bengal and the Dempo Sports, Salgoancar, and Sporting Club in Goa, would have to pay to play in the ISL. The Goan teams, except for Churchill Bros opted out of the national league in protest. They were hoping that the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) would knock some sense into the AIFF and its president, Praful Patel, but big money talks big, and both the AFF and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) have accepted that an AFC Cup play-off would now be allocated to the winner of the ISL as opposed to the Federation Cup.

For the coming season Patel is trying to convince the I-League to accede to his proposal that the I-League winners will get a AFC Champions League (ACL) playoff spot, while the ISL champions will play the AFC Cup playoff. According to the proposal if the I-League winners fail to make it past the ACL playoffs, they will automatically drop down to the AFC Cup group stage. However everything is in a state of flux and all signs seem to point towards the I-League gradually losing ground to the ISL.


THIS marks the death of football as we knew it, as the ISL is a private club owned by Mukesh and Neeta Ambani. It cannot claim to represent the dreams of all the young boys and even girls, who have grown up playing football in the paddy fields of Goa and Bengal.

The ISL is all about big money. The national league is about the common man. It is not the AIFF or the government which has been nurturing football in the country. All the heroes of the ISL are from the private clubs founded and nursed by individuals like the Dempo family and the Salgaocar family.

To add insult to injury, despite their sporting spirit and superb performances on field, FC Goa, which was started by members of the two football families, Dempo and Salgoacar, was given a huge fine — most of it to go to the Reliance-owned Football Sport Development Limited (FSDL). The co-owners were suspended and 15 points were to be docked for the next ISL season. All this ostensibly for boycotting the post match ceremony of the ISL final because of a dispute. However, those in the know say that FC Goa were the victims of the Ambani dominion of the ISL.

Later the appeals panel brought down the fine and said the amount to be paid to FSDL, should be utilised solely for investments in grassroots football development programmes. The panel also overturned the suspension and docking of points. However, as long as the Ambani’s control the ISL, the ISL is business, not football.

RIP Football.

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