PRIDE: Shikha Pandey has done us all proud. The Air Force officer is also a prized fast bowler on the Indian National Women’s Cricket team
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Goa Forward boss Vijai Sardesai seems to have developed doubts about having joined the BJP. For a Saturday following a week when Goans are desperate for State government jobs but nobody seems to be interested in Central government jobs. For a Saturday following the week when a public hearing has been announced for the marina that has been proposed at Vanxim island adjacent to Divar. For a Saturday following the week when war broke out between the Electricity Department and the CCP. For a Saturday following the week when the current focus is on the dangers of plastics in our lives (to which we have devoted this special issue).
And a few stray thoughts on Goa Forward president Vijai Sardesai having second thoughts on supporting the BJP.
It may be recalled that when late Manohar Parrikar decided to come back to Goa, Vijai Sardesai unilaterally offered the support of the three-member GF to the BJP which had secured only 13 seats in the Assembly. With the support of the GF, the MGP, and some Independents, the BJP managed to hijack the government even though it was in a minority.
The magnet was Manohar Parrikar. Even before the 2017 elections there has been the discussion of an alliance between the Congress and Goa Forward on the understanding that Digambar Kamat would be the chief minister. With the Congress getting an unexpected 17 seats and emerging as the single largest party it could have easily formed the government if the GF had decided to extend support to it. But there was a rift within the Congress as the then GPCC president Luizinho Faleiro was determined that he should be chief minister.
Even before the infighting between Congress leaders could get over, Michael Lobo had already wooed Vijai Sardesai and taken him to the Raj Bhavan to extend support to Manohar Parrikar.
It is logical that Vijai Sardesai chose to support Manohar Parrikar as an alternative to Luizinho Faleiro. The question is why does he continue to support the BJP after they made Pramod Sawant, a relatively junior MLA, the chief minister? Indeed, Vijai Sardesai had ambitions of becoming the chief minister himself. I understand that in fact an offer was made to him, conditional to his merging with the BJP.
Unlike in the case of the MGP, or a section of it which merged with the BJP, Vijai Sardesai was too late. Meanwhile a group of 10 Congress MLAs led by leader of the Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar also merged with the BJP. With 27 MLAs the BJP did not require any more MLAs. Instead of offering the chief ministership, the BJP dropped Vijai Sardesai from the Cabinet. From hero to zero is the sad story of Vijai Sardesai.
Digambar Kamat might welcome Vijai back to the Congress but with the defection of the ten Congress MLAs, chances of the party forming the government is very unrealistic. Meanwhile the BJP seems to recognize the value of Congress MLAs better than the parent party, with Chief Minister Sawant not only attending but praising Reginald Lourenco, the Curtorim MLA, on his 50th birthday.
CENTRAL GOVT JOBS?
And a few stray thoughts on Goans who are so desperate for state government jobs, shunning Central government jobs. Or is it a case of the Central government avoiding giving jobs to Goans?
On Tuesday there was an ad from the Army for recruitment for clerks and technical jobs. None of the jobs required high skills. Even the LDC jobs advertised required only 50% in the 10th standard. We can understand if the Goans avoided jobs that may have involved active combat, but the majority of these jobs were clerical and technical jobs, for which a diploma from the ITI would have been sufficient. The recruitment was being conducted in Goa, making it easier for Goan candidates.
Similarly a few days ago there was an ad campaign for recruiting Goans in various divisions of the Navy which has the biggest contingent in Goa. Indeed, Goa is the HQ of the navel air base, and is home to the only aircraft carrier that India has at the moment. The number of Navy people working in Goa will easily exceed 20,000.
The salaries of the Central government are higher than the state government. It is not as though in the past Goans have not only joined the Defence Forces, but achieved very senior positions. There have been many senior officers of all three wings of the defence forces including the Army, the Air Force and the Navy. The Chief of the Defence Staff some years ago was General Sunith Rodrigues, who was later posted as governor of Punjab.
There is a large Defence colony in Porvorim where a number of defence officers have settled. Similarly, there are many retired Defence personal in Vasco. More recently the daughter of the Hindi teacher of the Kendriya Vidyalaya, the Central government school in Verem, joined the Air Force after passing out from Goa Engineering College. She is more popularly known for her achievements in the cricket field as a fast bowler Shikha Pandey, in the Indian Women’s Cricket team.
Perhaps Goans do not want to join the Defence Forces or apply for Central government jobs because they will miss their xitt-kodi. We cannot blame them because even former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar used to complain bitterly about missing his xitt-kodi and used to come to Goa every weekend to enjoy it.
What we fail to understand is why Goans are not willing to take up jobs even with the Post Office. The Post Master General N Vinod Kumar was telling editors that there are over 200 vacancies for postmen and clerks in Goa. Surely Goans should have no objection to being postmen which in a sense are white-collar jobs which offer a very handsome salary. Are the tests too tough or is it a fact of Goans being reluctant to wander from home to home delivering letters? This could be because the Central government-run Post and Telegram Service refuses to employ Goans. Even nationalized banks do not seems to attract Goans, as even my colleagues have shown little interest in applying for probationary officer jobs in nationalised banks.
MARINA ON Nauxi
And a few stray thoughts on the public hearing that has been planned on the proposed marina at Nauxi.
Four years ago the Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board gave an in-principle nod for two marinas to come up on the Zuari river. There have been massive protests against the marina project with the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) set to conduct a public hearing on November 2, 2019 at Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee indoor stadium Dona Paula, to decide on the merits and demerits of the Rs 350 crore-marina project. Whenever there are objections to projects suspected to the violating CRZ rules, public hearings are called to decide on the objections. It may be recalled that there were several public hearings about the coal handling berths at the MPT.
The greater dispute however is on the ownership of waterways in Goa. The MPT has been claiming that the entire area stretching from Zuari to Dona Paula to Agaciam and beyond that to Chicalim and Cortalim fall under the jurisdiction of the MPT.
Critics have pointed out that building the marina would be an environmental disaster. All this is part of larger plan or conspiracy by the Union Minister for Transport Nitin Gadkari. Gadkari is in favour of nationalizing all the rivers. Since the suspension of mining, Nitin Gadkari has been seeking to convert the MPT into a coal port. The ore that used to be exported is sought to be replaced by huge quantities of coal which will be imported from Australia by the Adanis. Since river transport is much cheaper, Adani would like to use the barges for transporting the coal to Karnataka where the thermal power plants of the Jindals and the Advanis are located. By bringing the rivers under the jurisdiction of the MPT it would be possible for Nitin Gadkari to bypass any objection to the nationalisation of rivers.
Earlier the fear was that our roads and our cities like Vasco would become black with coal. The new fear is that our waters, already tainted by casinos, will turn black.
CABRAL AND CCP WAR
And a few stray thoughts on the war that is broken out between the Electricity Department and the CCP.
Power Minister Nilesh Cabral has discovered that the Municipal Corporation and government departments have not paid their electricity bills. The arrears are the highest in the case of the Opa water plant which supplies electricity to Panjim and Ponda. Indeed the transformers at Opa are so ancient that water is often disrupted because of breakdowns in power supply.
Nilesh Cabral gave all government departments a shock by cutting off power to the Panjim Municipal market for two days as along with interest its arrears had increased to `5 crore. This does not include the power supplied to the shops with whom the CCP has not entered into a lease. Only exceptions were a few shops which have got their own electricity meters.
The CCP, after the intervention of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, has agreed in principle that it will pay the arrears in instalments. But what has been established is that all government departments will have to pay their power dues.
Cabral has rightly pointed out that Goa does not generate any power of its own. All the power that is supplied to the residences and offices is bought from power generation companies. The Power Department cannot be expected to subsidise the other government departments at the cost of making losses.
Obviously the decision of the power minister has given the CCP similar ideas. As in the case of the Power Department, many government departments and private parties owe a huge amount of house tax to the civic body. Private parties, including the casinos and 5-star hotels, have not even been paying for the collection of garbage. The CCP has decided to collect the tax from all government offices, many of which are owned by the PWD. We do not know how much house tax arrears the Electricity Department has to pay.
The Power Minister has also decided that business establishments and private parties who delay the payment of their electricity bills will not only have their connections cut but will have to pay penal interest on the dues.
And a few stray thoughts on the differences attached to various festivals in different parts of the country.
While in Bombay Dussehra and Diwali are some of the most important and popular festivals, they are almost ignored in Goa. In Goa Tulsi Vivah, which falls a month after Dussehra, is more important than Diwali and Dussehra. Tulsi Vivah marks the period when the ban on marriage is lifted and young people can get married again. It takes the form of a symbolic wedding between Krishna and Radha in the aangan. Those familiar with the Krishna story will be aware that while Krishna was married, his real girlfriend was Radha, who was given a place in the courtyard to mark her devotion to Krishna.
Similarly, the harvest festival fall on different days, and are called by different names in various parts of the country. While it is Ugadi which is the New Year in Andhra, in Tamil Nadu it is Pongal and in Kerala it is Onam.
There are different legends associated with the different festivals. We have no objections to feasts and festivals. In fact the complaint about Goan employees is that they are more enthusiastic about attending feasts than work. The real problem is the banks. Banks have different days as holidays in different States following the local tradition. This very badly affects cash flow as a Delhi cheque or a Bombay cheque may be delayed because of the regional holidays in the places where the companies are working. We have been waiting for clearance of our cheques in various cities to pay our bills. Considering that the PM wants India to be digital and ATMs work 24×7 I don’t understand why clearing a cheque also should not be continuous and simultaneous 24×7.
And a last stray thought on plastics which are very injurious to health — and in fact, can even make you blind.
I recall sitting in the restaurant of the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai sipping a cocktail. The cocktail came with a hard plastic straw. When I raised the glass to drink the cocktail the plastic straw went deep into my eye and I needed an operation.
This can happen with flimsy plastic forks and spoons too. We have to be cautious when feeding children and ensure we protect the eyes. Plastics can be more dangerous than formalin for Goan fish lovers. All the plastics thrown on the beach inevitably end up in the stomach of fish and other marine life, from where it travels to our stomach.