AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY: ‘My name is Anthony Gonsalves’ made famous in the movie ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ by Amitabh Bachchan (right), was a tribute by Laxmikant Pyarelal, the lyricist, to his guru Anthony Gonsalves (left), originally a resident of Benaulim. His daughter Laxmi Gosalves was in fact the Sarpanch of Benaulim for some time
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when we discover that music continues to offer a large number of jobs for Goans. For a Saturday following the week when fewer students appeared for the SSC and the HSSC exams. For a Saturday following the week when one of the many causalities of Modi Raj has been independent media. For a Saturday following the week when take-away and delivery seems to be killing the hotel industry. For a Saturday when once again Titos and Mambos are in trouble.
And a few stray thoughts on music still providing a large number of jobs to Goans.
During the Portuguese colonial regime there were no jobs for backward class Christians as well as Hindus. This is because the Portuguese regime did not encourage education, fearing a revolt against them. You could study up to the tenth standard if you belonged to bhatkar families. For the children of tenants and bhatkar, some bhatkar provided patshala (schools). To study further you had to go to Dharward or Bombay, which most Bahujan Samaj Goans, both Hindu and Catholic, could not afford. But there were churches and chapels in every village and each had a choir master who taught not only singing, but most importantly how to play the piano, the violin, the saxophone and an entire range of instruments.
Before Goan musicians landed in Mumbai there were no orchestras in the Hindi film industry. Film producers were not familiar with any other instruments except sitar and tampora. It was Goans like Chris Perry and Braz Gonsalves, and above all Anthony Gonsalves, who brought orchestras to Hindi film music. Which means you can hear a wide range of melodies instead of only the limited range that Hindustani classical music offered. It has been acknowledged by no less than Laxmikant Pyarelal, that the film ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ was a tribute from Pyarelal to his musical teacher, Anthony Gonsalves, who later moved to the US where he performed in several Hollywood films.
Many of the fortunes of the industrial houses promoted by Catholics in Goa had their origins in music. The capital for the CMM empire developed by Pascoal Menezes and his son Cesar Menezes, came from the gold coins that Pascoal’s father used to receive as a musician in the Angola army, then part of the Portuguese empire. The inheritance of Salu Fernandes, the weighing machine champ of Goa, was his father’s income as a musician with the British army in Pune. Curiously, the father of Vincent Ramos, area director of the Taj Group of hotels in Goa, was a colleague of Sallu’s father in the British army band in Pune.
It is not only in western, classical and popular music that Goans got jobs in large numbers. There was the devidasi tradition whereby artists were extended patronage by rich temples like Mangueshi, Shanta Durga etc. Some of the best singers in the country like the Mangeshkar sisters, Lata and Asha, were of Goan origin. However, they never sang in Goa because of the allegation that they were kalvan (devdasis) and were treated insultingly by the Brahmins in Goa. The Brahmins started chasing them only when they became successful.
Similarly Jitendra Abhisheki, Kishori Amonkar and her mother Mogubai Kurdekar, who were world famous musicians, are of Goan origin, who came up because of the support of the temples.
The hospitality industry in Goa and Bombay are the monopoly of Goan singers. Even the dance bars of Bombay are serviced by Goan singers. Goa is probably the only state in the country where every Catholic house has a piano, and both boys, and girls play the guitar and sing. Couples and singletons enjoy karaoke sessions where everyone sings their hearts out.
Gone are the days when we could hire a band for a wedding or an event for `1,000. Big names now charge lakhs for occasions like New Year’s eve.
Similarly, most bands and restaurants in Mumbai are also dominated by Goans. Patricia Rosario, who is professor of local music at Oxford, is of Goan origin and still holds classes in Goa. Nigel Rosario, who was part of the Vienna conservatory and who passed away recently, was an outstanding musician. There are still many ladies in Goa who prepare students for musical diplomas from the Trinity college in Cambridge. Then of course there are those who sing in the tiatrs and Konkani singing stars like Lorna and Remo, not to mention Hema Sardesai. The tiatrs are the training grounds for future bands which are then hired by the Bombay film industry.
The best part of music as a career is that you don’t need any formal education. You don’t need even a tenth standard certificate. All you need is talent. Even the ghumot and arti specialists who play at Ganesh festivals make large amounts of money.
If music is a source of jobs in Goa it make sense for the state to set up more musical academies’ like the Kala Academy. We would like to acknowledge our gratitude to Furtados, the largest music store in the state, which has been supporting the tunes played by Goans.
And a few stray thoughts on the fall in the number of students appearing for the SSC this year.
This is not because there are fewer students. On the contrary enrolment in the secondary section has increased. The reason is that the government has gone back on the policy of automatic promotions till the 8th standard. Every school in the state, whether government or private, wants to get 100% pass percentage. To ensure that every student in the 10th standard passes, poor students are held back at the 9th standard. So instead of having a number of 10th standard drop outs you have students dropping out at the 8th and 9th standards. This is the reflection not on the students but on the quality of teaching.
Only 20% of government primary schools have qualified teachers at the primary levels. When the Central government decided to provide a last chance to qualify as trained teachers by holding special diploma in education courses and exams, only 55% of the existing senior teachers passed the exam. If teachers can’t pass exams how do you expect students to do so.
The weakest performance amongst students is in Maths and languages. This despite giving them laptops and computers. Since Marathi or vernacular languages were the medium of instruction and continue to be the medium of instruction up to the 4th standard, students don’t learn any English. When they suddenly switch over from Marathi or Konkani to English they are not able to cope.
Studies conducted by PRATHAM have shown that 5th standard students cannot do simple arithmetic. Sometimes I wonder whether poor English often reflected in the headlines in newspapers is because Goa was a Portuguese colony, unlike the rest of India where the British opened English schools.
The biggest causality is technical education. The only technical institute before Liberation was the Goa Medical College which was set up to meet the requirement of doctors by the Portuguese army in Africa. Though Portugal itself has a very small population, it ruled the waves like the UK and has control over very large populations.
There were no ITIs in Goa then, let alone BITS Pilani or Indian Institute of Technology (IITs). When Liberation came all the engineers for the Electricity Department and the Water Supply Department came from Karnataka or Kerala. Even today the head of the Electricity Department is Rekha Mathew, a Malayali. More than 40% of the nurses in the GMC are 3rd generation Malayalis. Goan nurses prefer to try for jobs abroad as the salaries are much better.
The problem is at the top and the bottom. Those who hold degrees or post-graduate diplomas in engineering and medicine cannot get jobs in Goa because there are no industries which can offer the jobs and salaries they expect. Industries complain is that the quality of training is so bad that those who pass out of ITI do not even know basic skills. No wonder the majority of plumbers, electricians, AC mechanics and mobile phone technicians are from other states. This is despite the fact that there are institutions like MICE which offer training in IT-related lower level jobs which fetch handsome salaries. Most old people who want catch up on their non-existing computer skills go to charitable institution like MICE, as the charge is very reasonable.
Goans concentrate on collecting as many certificates as possible, waiting for the golden goose — a government job. Government jobs pay very well and with every pay commission there is huge jump in salary. Most also offer you opportunities to make big money. No other organisation offers mothers two-year maternity leave.
The unfortunate part is that most Goans can afford to stay unemployed. There is always one or more members of the family in the Gulf who sends money orders or rather remittances through money exchanges. They have a roof over their head thanks to Dayanand Bandodkar who initiated the law which transferred the land to the actual tiller of the soil. Unlike in the other parts of the country, landless labour (mundkars) who worked with the land lord were given small pieces of land to build their own houses. Bandodkar made this mandatory by ensuring all mundkars were entitled 250 mtrs in rural areas and 150 mtrs in urban areas. Nobody goes hungry in Goa because there is fish in the river and coconut trees to make fish curry.
Goans with rare exceptions do not have fire in their belly — the ambition to reach the top. Fortunately things are changing. 20-year-old Malaika, daughter of Mac Vas of Big Boss, is already a photographer for National Geographic. Gabriella, daughter of Alice and Dean D’Cruz, is studying environmental sciences in Oxford. Clearly the girls are doing better than boys. Perhaps the boys, like the tourists, are distracted by feni.
DEATH OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA
And a few stray thoughts on the murder of independent media.
Unlike Indira Gandhi, Modi has not declared an Emergency and introduced censorship officially. All that he does is get his friends to buy the papers and television channels which are hostile to him. For instance, immediately after Modi came to power, CNN 18 which was run by Rajdeep Sardesai, was taken over by Mukesh Ambani and both husband and wife were sacked. NDTV was taken over by junior Ambani who promptly sacked Barkha Dutt. The Indian Express got rid of their bravest and most critical journalist, Shekhar Kapur. In state after state, independent publications were denied government ads. Even the few government ads they got were not paid for. If we approach industrialists to give us the same ads they have given other pro-government papers, the response would be “Do you want to kill us?”
A classic example is what happened to the late Vinod Mehta. Vinod Mehta, the founding and high profile editor-in-chief of Outlook magazine, was forced to step down in February 2012, largely due to the Radia tapes controversy. Poor Vinod Mehta pleaded with his contacts to help, and proprietor Rajan Raheja offered him a respectable exit as editorial chairman of the group where he was just a figurehead. I am inclined to believe that it was this that brought about his heart attack. He was replaced by Krishna Prasad, who in turn was shown the door only days after Outlook carried an expose on the RSS’s alleged role in trafficking tribal girls to convert them to Hinduism. Immediately the government attacked. The RSS filed an FIR against the magazine for “inciting communal hatred’ in Assam. There were raids by the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate, the Income Tax department and even the NIA.
If you think instances like this happen only in big cities you are mistaken. Right here in Goa we have first-hand experience. The Director of Tourism sanctioned an ad. Before the release order could be sent there was a transfer and a chadiwala became the Director of Tourism. So the ad was cancelled. This happened for the second time because we had a confrontation with the Tourism Minister over Sunburn. Even worse when one of the reporters from the Times of India asked too many question at the press conference he was told that he should stop attending press conferences. He was bluntly told by the news editor, who was a very good journalist, that the Times tradition was to cover a press conference but not ask any questions. Which is absurd, because press conferences are held to get more information or expose the party holding the press conference!
Meanwhile the Modi government is threatening to file a case against the Managing Director of the Hindu for stealing secret defence papers relating to the Rafale deal which could carry an imprisonment of 15 years. The Supreme Court, however, has made it clear that neither the journalists nor lawyers, who use the allegedly stolen material, will be punished.
Would Manohar Parrikar be liable to punishment for 15 years if it is proved that he has stolen the dissenting note of the defence officials? Parrikar of course could argue that he had every right to retain the controversial papers since he was Defense Minister when the deal was concluded between Narendra Modi and the French President. Indeed when the deal for the 36 Rafael air craft was signed, which bestowed a gift for `31,000 crore on Anil Ambani, Parrikar was not even in France but eating xitt kodi in Goa.
And a few stray thoughts on hotels and restaurants being badly affected by home delivery.
For a home delivery service you don’t need to have a restaurant, you only have to have a kitchen and an address for delivering the food. I find that increasingly Swiggy and Zomato are gaining at the expense of the good old traditional restaurants. Swiggy and Zomato do not do any cooking. They do not have to have any fancy premises or any premises at all. All they need is computers and delivery boys. So that they can afford to offer 50% commission on the food they deliver. If you can get your favourite biryani at home at 50% off the rate you pay in a restaurant why should you go to the restaurant?
In Bangalore it is much worse, where even the Udipis who offer dosa and idli have been forced to join the Swiggys and Zomatos. But this is because traffic in Bangalore is so bad that it will take you more time to reach the restaurant than to eat the food, even if it is just 1 km away.
This is a new opportunity for Goan houses, some of whom are already doing it. Hire a few migrants and make them roll out chapatis. Prepare tiffin boxes with 200% margin and deliver them to houses. There will be a time when both men and women will be ignorant of cooking and cooking will be a specialised profession like electronics or law.
And a last stray thought on the show cause notice issued to the most famous or notorious night clubs of Goa, Tito’s and Mambo’s, who have been the most popular night clubs for over 20 years.
Indeed, the crowd is so much that the road leading to the clubs is inevitably closed. The Goa Coastal Regulation Authority has ruled, after a detailed inspection, that over 80% of Tito’s and Mambo’s are illegal and need to be demolished. There is nothing unusual about this as they have been committing irregularities all the while. They have been getting away with playing loud music in the open in violation of the sound control rules. They have the patronage of every MLA of the Calangute constituency.