BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when I realized I had perhaps wasted 35 years in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the new president of the GCCI declared war against NGOs. For a Saturday following a week when Goa continues to stink with new initiative site to solve the waste management crisis. For a Saturday following the week when rain continued to play havoc not only in Goa but even in Mumbai. For a Saturday following the week when I discovered that the number of nursing homes and self-styled hospitals had multiplied hugely in Goa.
And a few stray thoughts on completing my 72nd birthday on Thursday, July 4.
Of my 72 years, I have spent about half my life — 36 years — in Goa. In retrospect I wonder if I would have not been better off in Mumbai. If I had stayed back in Mumbai where I became the youngest editor of the monthly Mirror at the age of 26, I would have perhaps become one of the top journalists in the country. I may have been the top journalist in Goa when I was in the Herald, but that did not matter. This is because local issues like the Konkani language agitation, the war against local goondas, the GBA fight to cancel RP 2011 and the anti-SEZ agitation do not get any attention in the national media.
Even when I won both a criminal and a civil defamation case against the Sanatan Sanstha — which is accused of being implicated in the murder of several intellectuals — none of the national papers took any notice of it.
Unfortunately, although almost every senior journalist right from Rajdeep Sardesai to Barkha Dhut and all the rest have holiday homes in Goa, they think of it as just a fun place and have no concerns about the transformation of the state into a concrete jungle.
So much so whether as editor of the Herald or at present of the Goan Observer, it has no impact on the rest of the country. I may have played a significant role in Konkani becoming the official language of the state. But then that was 30 years ago. And the present generation does not even remember or care what the official language of Goa is.
Many millennium kids have not even heard of the GBA agitation or the anti-special economic zone agitation. Nor do they remember the investigative stories I did for Herald and Goan Observer. I built up the Herald from scrap and made it the mostly widely sold papers at least in South Goa and among the minority community. A position which no other English paper has been able to dislodge. The owners of the Herald made crores of rupees from the Herald but because I refused to be a puppet my a my total salary when I left the Herald in 2003 after 20 years of very hard work was
20,000. My gratuity for 20 years of establishing a very successful English daily was1 lakh (calculated at the rate of half a month salary for every year of service — imagine how low my salary was for most of my tenure there). I quit the Herald because generation next which took over was only interested in making money and wanted me to get them casinos licenses. Perhaps I made a bigger mistake in quitting the Herald and starting the Goan Observer. Not that we did badly, and in fact at the height of our glory, despite a hostile BJP government, we even made some profits.
But then came Modi and from 2014 we have got no government advertisements and most of our private advertisers are terrified of helping us openly. The TOI and The Hindu might be able to survive despite Narendra Modi’s ban on government ads to them for being hostile to his government. But a small publication like Goan Observer cannot survive on private advertising alone. This is partially because of the size of Goa and the fact that there are very few industries in the state. There is, of course, a lot of construction activity but most of the ads for apartments, etc, appear on social media or in papers outside Goa since many target rich buyers from outside. So unless you have very deep pockets you cannot afford to sustain a weekly in Goa, particularly if the government is hostile to you.
I have no complaints against the Goan people. They have showered a great deal of love and affection on me. At the height of my steroid phase when I needed to go to London for treatment, the people of Goa contributed over
3 lakhs for my air fare and medical treatment. Neither my owners nor the government gave me a paisa. When I turned 60 all the prominent citizens of Goa gave me a purse of15 lakhs to purchase a flat in Goa. By the time I received the money the cost of 2BHK flats had risen to over `50 lakh. In fact, at present prices, no one in the middle class can afford to buy a flat in a good locality as the prices are being quoted in crores and not lakhs. And then of course besides the hostile government there is the problem of generation next. My friends in industry are all my contemporaries. Most of them have retired and handed over charge to their sons with whom I have no emotional connect. The sons are not interested in the issue of freedom of the media. They are only interested in making more and more money through fair means or foul.
CHOD ANI CHOD DEV BOREM KARU
Literally thousands greeted me and wished me a long life on my birthday Thursday July 4th. Many of them showered praise on me for my contribution to Goa and preserving the unique identity of Goa. I must admit I provoked my well-wishers by posting on Facebook a thought which has been bothering me — whether I have wasted 36 years in Goa. Good wishes and praise unfortunately do not pay printing bills. Good wishes do not pay medical bills. Only those who are very wealthy can afford a long life.
At 73 I have already completed the biblical span of three score and ten. In view of the hostile attitude of the State and Central government only those with deep pockets can afford to run media houses. You must have heard that the Modi government has stopped advertising in The Hindu, Times of India and the Anandabazar Patrika because they are seen as hostile to the government. The only way we can sustain the Goan Observer is with your help. If a thousand well-wishers each contribute `1,000 or more by way of life-time subscription or donations we will be able to sustain an independent Goan Observer.
Help us in transforming Goan Observer into a youth weekly which will update you on how to improve your skills and prepare yourself for the new jobs which will replace the existing jobs. With the government mandating that all two wheelers should become electric, existing mechanics will have to adapt to the new electric engines. We wish to dedicate the Goan Observer, with your help, to the youth of Goa. We also hope young people will come forward to shoulder the responsibility of managing and editing the ‘new look’ Goan Observer.
We specially appeal to some of our sensitive politicians and business people to help us realize the dreams and aspirations of Goan youth, so that they no look for prosperous pastures abroad. You can WhatsApp on 9422386966 or deposit your contribution directly to the Goan Observer bank account.
— Rajan Narayan
Which is why at the age of 72 I feel totally depressed. I do not know how long I can keep the Goan Observer alive. And since I am dependent on the Goan Observer for my own survival I do not know how long I will survive. I want someone younger to take over management and editorial control of the Goan Observer to preserve the unique and distinct identity of Goa. I am willing to hand over the controlling business of the zero liability company at no cost. But there have been no takers so far as nobody wants to take on the establishment.
On my 72nd birthday I want to thank the people of Goa for being so supportive. I only wish gen next was as concerned over the future of Goa as their parents were.
111th GCCI MEETING
And a few stray thoughts on the 111th general body meeting of the Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
In the last 35 years I have attended many AGMs of the Goa chamber. I have seen many presidents, from the extremely generous Nana Bandekar to the charming and democratic Cesar Menezes to the extremely active Nitin Kunkolikar to of course all the old timers like the senior Dempos and the Salgaocars. I have never met a more arrogant president of the GCCI than Manoj Caculo — the newly elected president of the GCCI. I have never heard a GCCI president declaring all-out war against the NGOs in his first speech to the members of the chambers.
Manoj Caculo in collaboration with Vishwajit Rane appears to be determined to shut down NGOs. NGOs who object to the massive cutting of trees to build the Mopa airport. NGOs which are protesting against the change in the floor space index to permit 8, 10 and 12 storey buildings in Panjim which already faces a major crisis of water, power and waste management. Manoj Caculo wants to close down the NGOs which are protesting against the late Manohar Parrikar’s eco resort in forest land in Canacona. NGOs which are protesting the privatization of the GMC. Surely the GMC does not need a French catering company to run its canteens. Manoj Caculo wants to close down the NGOs who want to preserve the paddy fields. He wants to close down the Rainbow Warriors and the GBA which objects to Goa being converted into a concrete jungle. He wants to kill NGOs which protest against encroachment of the St Inez creek. He wants to ban NGOs who might protest against his encroaching on the road for parking vehicles in front of his mall — particularly with festive offers when the entire road is blocked.
The NGOs, or most of them, consist of citizens of Goa who want to preserve Green Goa. They are citizens of Goa who do not want Goa to become another gambling and sex destination. The NGOs are citizens of Goa who want to revive agriculture. No Goan is foolish enough to dig his own grave by opposing eco-friendly projects which will give well-paying jobs in Goa. Goans migrate because of necessity and not out of choice. There may be some NGOs like the ones at Merces who were opposing the IT park at Chimbel. But they are the exceptions rather than the rule.
If all Goan Ministers were like Rohan Khaunte and were keen on private companies giving Goans first preference for jobs, people would welcomed it. As Khaunte rightly pointed out, companies being set up in Goa should train locals in the skills that they need. There is no reason why migrants should occupy 70% of the jobs in the hospitality industry.
Rohan told the GCCI that Goan industrialists were not even willing to provide information on how many employees they have and how many were Goan. Apparently a leading retail company has been recruiting staff from Sawantwadi and even Belgaum because they are willing to work at lower wages. Unless we start providing skills training for air traffic controllers and aeronautical engineers all the employees of Mopa will be migrants, just as all the employees at London biggest airport are Goans. Manoj Caculo should realise that people who live in glass houses cannot afford to throw stones.
WASTE AWAY in the RAINS
And a few stray thoughts on the continuing battle on waste management.
In Panjim the waste is piling up and flowing down the streets in the rains because there is no garbage dump. The excuse offered is that some of the trucks are broken down. It is not known if the Saligao waste management plant has started accepting garbage from Panjim.
It is also not known if the mini waste treatment plant near the Hira pump on the way to St Cruz has been commissioned. What is clear is that the drains have not been cleared, leading to water logging everywhere. Imagine a wall falling on a Mercedes car in capital city Panjim. Elsewhere also, migrant workers have had a narrow escape.
In Mumbai where it has rained even more heavily more than 25 people have lost their life, most of them due to the collapse of a retaining wall. Runways were shut down too.
Even the Goa airport is not rain proof with mass cancellations. The Agassaim to Cortalim stretch has become choked. In Margao the battle between Fomento and the MMC continues with the civic body asking for details of the license of Fomento. But Margao is still not segregating the garbage which is the main cause of the breakdown of the Sonsodo plant.
There is a ray of hope for Panjim. Thanks to the initiative taken by Babush Monserrate, work on the Bainguinim waste management plant will start soon. With his dynamism Babush will be sure it is completed in the shortest period of time at the lowest cost like his Central counterpart Nitin Gadkari. In fact Babush should be made the chairperson of the Waste Management Corporation so that Goa stops stinking.
And a few stray thoughts on the rapid increase in the number of hospitals and nursing homes.
When I first came to Goa there were just half a dozen nursing homes and the only hospital was SMRC started by the late VM Salgaocar. The best known nursing homes were the Pinto Rosario nursing home in Porvorim, the CMM polyclinic in Panjim, the Mapusa clinic in Mapusa and Dr Carmo Gracious hospital in Margao.
Then came the Manipal hospital on the premises of the Goa cancer society illegally transferred by Shekar Salkar. Manipal Hospital has emerged as a major medical centre. It is willing to pay lakhs to its consultants, but will not part with money for qualified MBBS resident doctors and experienced qualified nurses. Victor Apollo, which is now plain Apollo, gambled with cardiology and did not succeed, although it still has the best gastroenterologist in Dr Jose Filipe Alvares.
A group of the best doctors in Panjim decided that Manipal and other corporate hospitals were exploiting them and started their own hospital called Healthway. Some of them were close to former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and expected that they would get land free, plus assistance from the government. They are now discovering that only people with deep pockets can start hospitals. Plus, if you have 30 directors there will always be fights between them.
We are putting together a quality guide to medicare which will include doctors, radiologists, pathologists, dentists, ophthalmologists and nursing homes and hospitals. For now we would suggest that you confirm that the hospital has an ICU even if you’re getting yourself treated only for malaria. Hospitals which boast of hip transplants if not kidney transplants may not have the infrastructure. Most importantly check if the resident doctors have an MBBS degree and that the nurses are qualified. Life depends not on the consultant and super specialist but the nurses and resident doctors.
HELP THE GOAN OBSERVER!
And a last stray thought on my 72nd birthday.
It is in your interest to keep the Goan Observer alive. We invite anyone interested in preserving the identity of Goa to either help us, or take over the management of the Goan Observer. We are open to reinventing the magazine to make it a consumer oriented or business magazine or even a magazine for kids and education — as long as it is committed to Goa. We have no liabilities. We have assets worth `25 lakh but are running out of money for routine expenses like salaries and printing. Give us ads. Give us donations. Give us your time and your talent to raise resources and transform the Goan Observer into an youth-oriented weekly of, for, and by niz Goenkar.