RAVE PARTY: A rave is an electronic music dance party that lasts all night. Raves are common in North Goa, traditionally in Anjuna and Vagator (Photo credit: Leonid Cheis)
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the 150th birthday of the Mahatma Gandhi was celebrated. For a Saturday following the week when the Central government backtracked on its decision to impose a ban on single use plastic. For a Saturday following the week when the courts got tough with the PWD contractors on their failure to repair potholes. For a Saturday following the week when talk of a nude party continued to spread.
AND a few stray thoughts on the irony of the Bhartiya Janata party government celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
There has never been any love lost between the Mahatma and the Sangh Parivar (which are the roots of the BJP). The principle bone of contention was Muslims in particular and the formation of Pakistan. Hindu fundamentalists were totally opposed to the splitting of India into India and Pakistan. The suggestion, not surprisingly, came from the British who were masters of the game of divide and rule. Moreover there was no scope for compromise between the Muslim League, headed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Gandhi even went to the extent of suggesting that the problem could be solved if the prime ministership was offered to Jinnah. This of course was violently opposed by leading Congress leaders like Sardar Patel and Rajendra Prasad who was the first president of independent India. There were growing fears of clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Finally, Gandhi virtually bullied Nehru and Patel into agreeing to the partition of India into two states, India and Pakistan.
While India projected itself as a secular democratic republic, Pakistan was formed as an Islamic state. Violent riots broke out all over the country, particularly in Punjab and Bengal in bordering areas. Gandhi was so disturbed that he went on an indefinite hunger strike in Kolkata insisting that he would not break his fast till the riots stopped. Such was the moral clout of Mahatma Gandhi that Muslim leaders came to him promising to stop the riots if he gave up his fast.
The principle on which the states were split were population and geographical contiguity which ironically led to not one, but two Pakistans. Punjab was split leading to the formation of West Pakistan. Similarly, Bengal which had a large number of Muslims, was split into East Pakistan and India. There was no linguistic divide in Punjab, with people on both sides of the border speaking the same language. In contrast East Pakistan was dissimilar — the dominant language was Bengali. The west always dominated the east of Pakistan leading to a war between the two.
Though Mujiboor Rehman was elected as the president of East Pakistan he was not allowed to occupy his office by the ruling Punjabi Muslim mafia. A huge influx of refugee started crossing the border into India. There were also reports of atrocities against the Bengalis in East Pakistan. This led to the Bangladesh war which was primarily fought by Indian soldiers calling themselves the Mukti Bahini. The war was over in a week with 90,000 Pakistani soliders surrendering to the Indian army and the formation of the new state of Bangladesh. This was a triumphant moment for Indira Gandhi who was then the prime minister of the country.
Though it was Mahatma Gandhi who led the battle for the liberation of India from British colonial rule, ironically he learnt his main weapons of protest from the British. Trained as a lawyer in the UK Gandhi moved to South Africa where he had got a job as legal advisor to a group of Gujarati merchants. The seeds of revolt against racism and colonialism were sown not in India but in South Africa, when he was not allowed to travel in the first class compartment of the railways which was reserved for whites.
Gandhi returned to India but for a year on the advice of his mentor Gopal Krishna Gokhale he went on a country wide tour in a third class compartment to find out what the ground reality was. It was Gandhi’s very high moral principles, which coincidently are similar to the values of the RSS, which won him the respect of the majority of the people.
Unlike other politicians Gandhi believed in the concept of “Daridra Narayan”, (the saint of the poor). Gandhi dressed in a dhoti or loin cloth even when he was invited to participate at the Round Table Conference in London.
Gandhi developed universal publicity for his adamant commitment to non-violence. Most countries, including the British laughed at him at the idea of India securing independence through non-violence. But Gandhi had studied the British very well and was aware that a large number of distinguished citizens in the UK were opposed to violence against peaceful protestors.
The British had still not forgotten the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at Amritsar in Punjab where Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer shot and killed a large group of Indian unarmed protestors, including women and children. In fact recently the Archbishop of Canterbury on a visit to Punjab publicly apologized for that act of barbarity although the British government has still not done so.
It is ironical that the BJP should be celebrating Gandhiji’s 150th anniversary, particularly at a time when Article 370 has been revoked. There has been a lock down in Kashmir for over two months with all the top leaders in jail.
SINGLE USE REVERSAL
AND a few stray thoughts on the Centre and State governments reversing the ban on single-use plastics from October 2, 2019.
It only took 24 hours for Narendra Modi to decide that business was more important than pollution. Even more importantly, Modi must have worried about the loss of over ten crore jobs if the ban on plastics was enforced.
Let us first define what is meant by single-use plastic. What this means is all plastic cutlery like spoons, knifes, plates and even pet bottles are considered single use plastics. This of course includes all kinds of plastic bags. Single-use plastic are specified because there are some plastic items which can be reused or recycled.
Pet bottle manufacturer have been claiming that they can be recycled though this is denied by all those fighting against the degradation of the environment. Plastic, like a cockroach, seems to live forever. It can take hundreds of years to decompose.
If all the drains in Panjim and elsewhere in Goa are overflowing it is primarily because they are choked with plastic bags. The quantity of single used plastics has grown enormously. The biggest defaulters are the multinational companies. They are aware that the lower middle class cannot afford to buy an entire bottle of shampoo or even washing powder. They have therefore come out with sachets (mini packets) costing
10 which are affordable to everybody. The most advertised products on TV are the ten rupee sachets of surf to remove stains and even10 sachets of shampoos. So even if you cannot use beauty products regularly, even the poorest of the poor can use them occasionally. Not surprisingly the largest part of income from the sale of shampoo or soap powder.
The entry of food aggregators like Swiggy and Zomato have added to the problem. Every time you order a dish from any restaurant through the aggregators you get plastic cutlery. Until recently, even a restaurant like Fortune was offering packed lunches in plastic thali. Better sense has since prevailed and the plastic thali has been replaced by areca nut leaf-made corrugated boxes.
As the CM himself has pointed out, government departments are among the largest contributors to plastic waste. Pramod Sawant has commented that half of the generation of plastic waste will stop if single use plastics and plastic bottles are banned in government office. As in the past, under pressure from the plastic lobby, at the last moment Prime Minister Narendra Modi shelved the report on not only imposing a ban on single used plastics but imposing heavy fines on that.
POTHOLES FOR GOVT
AND a few stray thoughts on courts getting tough with the government on the pothole issue.
In response to a PIL filed by AAP, the High Court directed the State government to submit a time bound time-table by which all potholes would be filled. Instead of filling the potholes it might be cheaper and more effective to concretise the road as it has been the experience that repairs to potholes last only for a short time.
It is also unlikely that contractors will tender for repairing potholes if there is a penalty and a maintenance guarantee clause. The problem is the nexus between politicians and contractors. Politicians demand kickbacks from contractors, in turn forcing them to use inferior material leading to potholes.
Roads have to be made totally waterproof if they are to be pothole-proof. Potholes occur because there is seepage in the various layers which form a road. It did not help that there were heavy showers for almost two months from the middle of July to the middle of September. It is only now that the rains are showing some signs of receding but there is obviously no point in repairing potholes if they are going to be washed away with the next monsoon. The work should be lasting.
The petition also asks for display of the names of the contractors as well as engineers at the site of work. It would be good to also put up all the information on a website so that it is easy to hold people responsible and accountable. Now nobody cares because they know not only the engineers but the ministers themselves get kickbacks. The reason why the PWD has the most greedy ministers is because it has the biggest budget and the scope for looting money is the highest.
NUDE PARTY SCAM
AND a last stray thought on the disgusting reports of a nude party to be held in Morjim.
Clearly Goa has developed such a bad reputation that people are ready to believe anything about Goa. The curious part is who was behind the so called ‘nanga’ party, at least according to the police. The party was not organised by Tourism Minister Babu Ajgaonkar or former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar or even any of the notorious night clubs like the ones in Anjuna where Scarlet Keeling died.
According to the police the nanga party was advertised on social media by a small-time event organiser from Bihar. Apparently 30-year-old Armaan Mehta, after spending all his money on daru and girls, was eager to make a fast buck. This at least is the police version of the story behind the nanga party advertisement.
Not that nanga parties do not take place in Goa as the rave parties which are held during the tourist season are almost nanga parties. But it is difficult to believe that an event organiser from Bihar would organise such a party!
TIME and again you have been spreading a blatant lie that the Mapusa Urban Cooperative Bank advanced
50 Cr loan to ‘’Kumar Swami, son of PM of India’’. When you published such a canard through Goan Observer in the past I had refuted the allegation and had invited you to examine the records of the Bank personally and or through Charted Accountant. You had glossed over this request.
You have again alleged in your above column that ‘’among the most notorious cases was the huge unsecured given to the son of the then PM Devegouda in whose cabinet Khalap was Law Minister. Khalap was then also executive Director of the Mapusa Urban Cooperative Bank. No security was sought for the allegedly over50 Cr loan and the address of the borrower was simply entered as Kumar Swami son of PM of India’’.
If any of the above allegations was or is true I would have been languishing in jail. Mr Manohar Parrikar, then CM of Goa had taken over the Bank between 2002 to 2006. He had examined every loan proposal and had even filed criminal cases against me and other Directors of Bank including some borrowers. His police failed to prove any allegation and the cases finally fizzled out. The statutory auditors, as well as the inspection teams of RBI, have been constantly checking and auditing every account of Mapusa Urban Cooperative Bank. None of them have come across any loan account to any Kumar Swami ‘’ at any time nor have they come across any loan given by Mapusa Urban Cooperative Bank to any individual, firm, Trust, society, any corporate body or any other entity beyond the limits prescribed by RBI. For your information I may add that the highest limit of loan permitted by the RBI has never crossed
3.5 Cr. The Mapusa Urban Cooperative Bank is presently waging a battle for its existence. The falsehood of the type your have published will unnecessarily add to the complications. Not once have you ever asked me or MUCB for any clarification about the so called loan of50 Cr. to Kumar Swami or to anyone else. Besides our audit reports are also available for inspection to any member on request. You too may visit our head office personally all through your Charted Accountant and verify the facts.
For the purpose of records, I wish to state that:
(1) MUCB never granted any loan to Mr. Kumar Swami or to anyone else any loan of `50 Cr or any other amount at any time.
(2) I have never been executive Director of the MUCB. There is no such post in the Bank.
(3) As no loan was ever granted to Mr. Kumar Swami, the question of any security against such a loan does not arise.
Your Insinuation has caused me and the Bank immense pain. You have deliberately tarnished my image and the image of MUCB. No amount of money can compensate me or the Bank for the deliberate, malicious and intentional defamation. I deny every allegation and call upon you to publish your apology on the first page as well as the ‘’STRAY THOUGHTS’’ column of Goan Observer in the forthcoming issue and withdraw all the allegations and insinuations wrongfully heaped by you upon me and MUCB.
Hope you will not force me nor the Bank to resort to available remedies to undo the wrong.
— Ramakant Khalap, former CM