PLAY SAFE: Just in case the Goa Government decides to throw you out on the claim that you are a Muslim Bangladesh Refugees keep all documents ready which comply with the Citizen Amendment Bill passed by Parliament
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Sangh Parivar passed the Citizens Amendment Bill targeting the minority Muslim community. For a Saturday following the week when the war between Vijai Sardesai and Digambar Kamat turned even more bitter. For a Saturday following the week when industrialists in Goa like industrialists in the rest of the country were not even willing to admit that economic growth had fallen drastically. For a Saturday following the week when thanks to the Electricity department there was leakage of water pipes more than half-a-dozen time during the last one month. For a Saturday following the week when Goans seem to be very sussegad over the huge increase in the price of onions.
CAB PASSED BY RS
And a few stray thoughts on the Sangh Parivar which has an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha passing the Citizens Amendment Bill. The CAB (Citizens Amendment Bill) in theory claims asylum would be given and Indian citizenship provided to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis from countries making their life hell. The very glaring omission is of the minority Muslim community.
It is clear the real objective of the bill is to marginalize if not eliminate the Muslim community from India. This criminal act is sought to be justified by Home Minister Amit Shah as getting rid of migrant refugees from India. This has become the excuse to convert India into a wholly Hindutva state. The Home Minister in his election speeches in Jharkhand and Karnataka has ominously repeated that that termites will be systematically hunted and thrown out of t he country. This is almost like the Nazi dictator Hitler systematically and brutally eliminating the Jews from Germany. Even as the bill was passed there are thousands if not lakhs of Muslims confined to camps in Assam. Indeed, it all started in Assam where a very large number of refugees from Bangladesh crossed over during the war with Pakistan.
As the Bangladesh economy kept going down more and more people of that country infiltrated into India. And they moved not just to Assam and the North-East but the entire country, including Goa. Since both the residents of Bangladesh and West Bengal speak Bengali, it is difficult to distinguish between Bengali Indian-born citizens and refugees from Bangladesh. But what the BJP refuses to acknowledge is that as many or more Hindu refugees crossed over into Assam as Muslim refugees.
On the demand of a youth organization called Assam Gana Parishad, an agitation was organized more than a decade ago for sending the refugees back to Bangladesh. The student leader who led the agitation later became the chief minister of Bangladesh. It must be admitted that the huge amount of refugees who crossed over into Assam imposed a burden on the relatively small state of Assam.
The massive influx of refugees also affected the other North-Eastern states of Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and Uttaranchal Pradesh, which were originally part of Assam. What scientists, scholars and intellectuals, who signed a petition demanding that the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the current form should be withdrawn, object to is the specific victimization of the Muslim community. The greater principle involved in the Sangh Parivar is blatantly trying to convert India or what it perceives as Hindustan into a Hindutva state. The core of the protest is that religion has never been used as a criterion for citizenship in the country. The Constitution of India which came into force in 1950 very clearly guarantees freedom of expression and most important of all freedom of worship to every Indian.
FREEDOM OF WORSHIP
What this CAB is doing is depriving a large part of India’s population amounting to almost 20% of the right to worship Allah. But CAG is discriminatory because it does not seek to evict Hindu refugees from Bangladesh! There was a demonstration even in Goa led by leader of Congress Legislative Party Digambar Kamat at the Raj Bhavan against the CAB in its present form. Goans have a reason to worrying because it is not only Goan Muslims who may be affected by the bill. The bill which will be applicable to the entire country will insist on the Muslim minority or indeed all citizens producing documents to prove that they are citizens of India. In the case of Muslims there is no question of labeling them refugees from Bangladesh which is much too far away and does not share a border with Goa. But with the rising fear about migrants taking over Goa and the Muslim population having risen to more than 15% in Goa, the Sangh Parivar may well misuse the bill even in Goa. Not just Muslims even niz Goenkar are worried about CAB. This is because an adamant Salazar, the Portuguese dictator refused to recognize the liberation of Goa which coincidently took place on December 19, 1961.
Salazar to the contrary had allowed all Goans before liberation that they and their heirs of three generations would be entitled to Portuguese citizenship. The presumption being that since Portugal does not recognize Goa’s liberation and considers all Goans as Portuguese. Even now any Goan born before liberation or their children or grandchildren can apply for Portuguese citizenship. The ugly reality is that thousands of Goans and residents of the former Portuguese colonies in Gujarat, Daman, Diu and Nagar Haveli have been moving out of Goa and India on Portuguese passports. This is not out of any love for Portugal which is in a worse economic condition than Goa. Young Goans in India by the thousands applied and got Portuguese passports when Portugal became a member of the European Economic Community (EEC).
The principle of the EEC is that you do not need visas for travelling between EEC countries or working in them. Since the UK was part of the EEC along with Portugal, Goans could migrate and work in the UK using their Portuguese passport. This is how thousands if not lakhs of Goans migrated to London to work there. The only worry is that the honeymoon may be coming to an end with the UK exiting the EEC. If the UK is no longer a member of EEC Goans will no longer be able to work in the UK on Portuguese passports. There is still suspense on the fate of Goans working in the UK on the basis of their Portuguese passports.
In theory Goans with Portuguese passports could move to other European countries like Germany, France or even Portugal. But the problem is the language barrier as Goans with Portuguese passport do not even know Portuguese leave alone German or French. There is however a large community of Goans in Paris who migrated from St Andre with the help of the late Fr Freddy of Bambolim church. But not only Goans working abroad but even Goans holding Portuguese passport living in Goa are threatened by the CAB. This is because Goa does not recognized dual citizenship. Many Goans particularly politicians and officials are alleged to have acquired Portuguese citizenship including for all the children of Churchill Alemao, excepting his daughter Fatima. There is an ongoing court case filed by Aires Rodrigues against MLA Isidore Fernandes, demanding his disqualification for holding a Portuguese passport. Only Indians can contest elections in Goa. Not surprisingly 12 Goans who had acquired foreign citizenship have applied for registration as citizens of India.
The most disturbing part of the CAB is that while Pakistani, Kenyan, Nepali, Iranian and French nationals can apply for Indian citizenship, Muslims and Goans face the threat of being thrown out of the country!
AND a few stray thoughts on the worsening relationship between former deputy chief minister and Goa Forward Chief Vijai Sardesai and former chief minister Digambar Kamat. It is also clear that the Pramod Sawant government has turned anti-Vijai Sardesai. The biggest joke is that the Town & Country Planning Department of which Vijai was the minister has ordered the demolition of Vijai’s office in Fartoda. Vijai’s candidate, Babita Angle, has been thrown out of her post as mayor of Margao. Vijai’s attempt to protect himself by invoking the name of the late Manohar Parrikar has also backfired. Sardessai thought he would make the BJP happy by renaming the road outside Ravindra Bhavan as Manohar Parrikar Road. But strong opposition came, particularly from Catholic residents, including the much respected and loved Dr Francisco Colaco who has emerged as a top leader in South Goa.
BATTLE OF NAMES
A very funny drama or tiatr took place in regarding the re-naming of the road in question here. Vijai took a board with Manohar Parrikar’s name in a tempo and installed it at the junction. The anti-Vijai group sent another tempo late at night and replaced the Manohar Parrikar board with that of Jack Sequeira who is considered by many as one of the fathers of the Opinion Poll. Vijai does not seem to be concerned as he has gone on a holiday to Mauritius, the popular tourism destination in the Indian Ocean. Vijai travels as much or more than Babu Azgaokar. It may be recalled that Vijai in the company of Babush Monserrate went to London to see the World Cup semi-finals. Which is probably why India lost. And talking of CAB since Vijai was born in Brazil he may also be treated as a refugee and asked to leave India.
AND a few stray thoughts on repeated breakages of expensive gigantic water pipes supplying water from the pumping stations to north and south Goa. It is not the PWD engineers who are responsible for the frequent breakdowns in water supply. The blame has now been established with the Electricity department.
It is Power Minister Nilesh Cabral who should be blamed. There are frequent power breakdowns at the pumping stations at Opa which supplies water to Panaji and Ponda and Assanora which supplies water to south Goa. When power fails understandably water cannot be pumped. Worse when the power comes back there is a very high pressure surge backward which damages the pipeline. It doesn’t help that many pipelines are ancient. The new pipelines laid to supply water to south Goa are so badly built and not at all break proof. The amount spent in repairing pipelines is more than the original amount on laying them. As far as power failures are concerned the telecom companies are primarily responsible. The officer in charge of the Panjim internet services told me that he was disgusted as private companies like Jio and Airtel were damaging BSNL underground cables. In the process of the competitive digging by various telecom companies and particularly Jio, electric lines also got impacted or cut. In any case in most parts of Goa and particularly in villages the high voltage lines are overhead. It may be recalled that a supervisor was electrocuted when he was surveying the Sonsoddo garbage mountain recently. All it takes for power to break down is a crow swinging on an overhead wire. One should send a CD of the song `Jhoot Bole Kawa Kaate’ to Power Minister Nilesh Cabral.
AND a few stray thoughts on the season of festivals. The months of November and December mark the festival season in Goa. It started with IFFI held for nine days between November 20 and 29, 2019. Simultaneously, commenced the novenas of St Francis Xavier and the feast was celebrated on December 3. A week later we had the feast of Panjim Church and Margao churches devoted to Mother Mary. On the cultural front followed the Goa Arts and Literature Festival which featured more outsiders than Goans or so it seemed. Now all set to commence is the third edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival which was originally sponsored by the Munjals who made their fortunes on Hero motorcycles. This time industrialist Srinivas Dempo is among the main patrons, perhaps reflecting the slowdown of the two-wheeler industry. Serendipity will be followed by Christmas. The climax of the festive seasons will be the electronic music festival Sunburn which returns to Goa courtesy Babu Azgaokar. This may compensate for the order by Captain of Ports to pull up his son’s floating hotel at the Panaji jetties.
AND a last stray thought on Goans not being very concerned about the rise in the price of onions. This may be because many Goans may have bought and stocked the little bunch onions available plentifully at the fairs just before the monsoon rains. Perhaps Goa is the only state in India which as special festival called purumentachem fest meant stocking up all requirements needed when it starts raining during the monsoon months. In village homes one may still see bunches of these so called dry spring onions hanging from the rafters. But there is common concern about the scarcity of onions amongst hoteliers big and small. In popular Goan cafes like Café Real, Café Bhonsle and Café Tatto a favorite tea time snack is kandabhoji or onion pakora. These are no longer available or have become expensive because of the huge increase in onion price the country over. In other parts of India onions have been responsible not only for tears but have toppled governments. The government of the late Sheela Dixit, the longest serving chief minister of New Delhi, was defeated because she could not control the prices of onions. It is not just the price of onion but also the price of vegetables which has gone up because of very heavy rains in August and September. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant should not blame the people of Goa for not growing onions. Onion prices have shot up and hit double century all over the country. Clearly there is nexus between politicians and wholesalers. Which is why nobody thinks of putting up refrigerated storerooms and trucks so that vegetables stay fresh longer and without spoiling. Though it is true that the bhaile or outsiders in Goa are more interested in growing vegetables even in their small gardens or grounds attached to colony homes.The bhaile even grow exotic vegetables broccoli and avocado vertically in pots on their balconies. Goans are more busy selling their land to builders to travel out of Goa and India.