CORONAVIRUS DRIVES TOURISTS AWAY

EMPTY: Not only flights and trains but even beaches and shacks are empty because of fear of catching coronavirus

BY RAJAN NARAYAN

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week of the first death anniversary of former Chief Minister of Goa and Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar. For a Saturday following the week when despite any specific excuse the Goa government went into panic over coronavirus. For a Saturday following the week when horse trading within the Congress intensified with the resignation of the MP Deputy CM Madhavrao Scindia. For a Saturday following the week when I became disgusted with smart phones.

PARRIKAR MEMORIAL

And a few stray thoughts on the first death anniversary of former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on March 17, 2019. The death of Manohar Parrikar coincided with the Shigmo celebration and resulted in the cancellation of the parade. Manohar Parrikar was cremated adjacent to the memorial of the first Chief Minister of Goa, Dayanand Bandodkar.
There has been an incessant demand for building a similar if not grander samadhi in memory of Manohar Parrikar. The Bandodkar samadhi is literally barricaded on all sides with no access. It opens once a year on the death anniversary of Dayanand Bandodkar. The layout of the samadhi suggests that those who designed it thought it would be stolen by his enemies. Instead of being a monument to a great leader it looks like an eyesore on Miramar beach. It would be gross injustice to build another stone memorial next to this first memorial of Bandodkar. I very much doubt if Manohar Parrikar would appreciate being put in a “jail” like that of the first Chief Minister’s memorial.
As far as we know no permission for the building of another memorial have been acquired since the death of Parrikar. To build any permanent structure on the beach you need the permission of the Coastal Regulation Zone Authority. You also need the permission of the Pollution Control Board. Apparently, as we learn from Devika Sequiera, one time chief reporter of Heraldo, that other permissions are also needed for the building of a memorial in a tourism zone area. Not surprisingly while most newspapers have mentioned the fact that Devika Sequiera has filed the case in the High Court against the construction of the memorial, for the first time Times of India has mentioned her name. Local papers including the Herald where she had worked very hard to build it into a giant, did not mention her name.
The irony is that Devika Sequiera’s uncle was Jack Sequiera and he was amongst the biggest adversaries of Dayanand Bandodkar. Bandodkar and Jack Sequeira led opposite groups during the Opinion Poll. Bandodkar wanted Goa to be merged with Maharashtra while Jack Sequeira wanted it to be an independent state, though later had to settle for status of Union Territory. The general expectations were that since it was Congress effort which brought liberation to Goa, the party would sweep the first elections to be held in Goa. Ironically, the Congress which was the party in power at the centre when Goa was liberated from Portuguese colonial rule, did not won a single seat in the first election. Provoking Jawaharlal Nehru to comment “Goa ka log ajeeb hai!”
Instead of a memorial it would be more appropriate if an education institution devoted to technology or an aircraft factory was set up in memory of Manohar Parrikar. This would justify Parrikar’s ambition for Goa and benefit Defence Ministry with more jobs being created for the people of Goa.

LOCK-DOWN GOA

AND a few stray thoughts on the lock-down on Goa by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant. There has not been a single death due to the coronovirus in Goa. No one has tested positive for corona virus in Goa. Though tourists from many neighboring states and across the world visit Goa very few positive cases have been reported. Despite this Goa has been virtually locked down by Pramod Sawant with the closure of schools, colleges, gyms, casinos, spas, concerts, etc.

Beaches, shacks empty

It is bad enough that Goa has witnessed a poor tourism season. Even worse, entry to casinos for domestic tourists has been banned. To make matters worse for the tourism industry, even the finals of the Indian Super League between ATK and Chennaiyin FC were held in an empty Fatorda Stadium. The most important 22 players were there, the umpires were there, the ball boys were there, the TV technicians were there, only the people to watch the match were missing. Poor Goa FC was once again deprived of a victory in the ISL final.
It may be recalled that during the first ISL final FC Goa lost the match in the last few seconds under suspicious of foul play. Co-owner of FC Dattaraj Salgaoncar was beaten up by one of the players. Raj in turn filed a police complaint who arrested the player. The legendry Zico who led Goa to the first appearance in the finals resigned as coach in protest. A disgusted FC Goa management comprising of Dattaraj Salagaocar and Shrinivas Dempo resigned and handed over the club to Jaydev Modi, owner of Deltin Offshore Gambling.

foreign flights stopped

Tourism has been the biggest casualty of coronavirus even though it has not claimed any victim. The beaches and their shacks are empty. Even in five-star hotels which are visited courtesy relatives abroad are empty. The CM is now reportedly considering a ban on domestic tourists from Maharashtra and Karnataka. The Education Department has cancelled exams upto class 8th and only exams from class 9th to HSSC will be held. Many trains have been cancelled and this has affected domestic tourism. There is no entertainment any longer as casinos and night clubs have been shut down till end-March.

Deserted gokarna

During the weekend when I went to temple town Gokarna found it deserted. It would appear that even the priests normally surrounding visitors to the temple to do puja are afraid of coronavirus. Interestingly, despite all the security they are surrounded with, many senior international leaders like the wife of the president of Canada, the Home Minister of the UK and several other political bosses in various countries have fallen victim to the coronavirus. Even flights are going empty and you need not worry about booking tickets in advance.
The biggest victim of coronavirus is the global economy. Which is not surprising as in a globalized world there is extensive contact between the people of the world. This goes beyond tourism and extends to industry. In a globalized world spare parts and even finished products are made in countries where the labor cost are the cheapest. It is not surprising that more than 80% of Apple phones are assembled in China. Similarly, a lot of the raw material for the pharma industry in India comes from China. In recent years there has been a huge boom in imports from China which this includes even images of our gods and plastics items for decorations which are flooding Goa and other parts of the country. In India too the economy is on the verge of collapse. The stock market has fallen by more than 25% since the coronavirus arrived. Not just Dalal Street but stock markets the world over have collapsed.

STOCK MARKETS CRASH

What this means is that hundreds of billionaires have been reduced to millionaires. The value of a company or an individual is measured by the stock market price of the company in a market. If Maruti is doing extremely well the price of the shares of Maruti will likewise go up steeply. Conversely in the light of the decline in the sale of automobiles and two-wheelers the share prices of these companies have collapsed. Though there may not be any major loss to the owners in real terms, their net worth will go down dramatically. It is estimated that since coronavirus spread its tentacles the value of shares has dropped by over `25 lakh crore.
The worst affected are the middle class who invest in shares and mutual funds. Mutual funds are clusters of shares and government bonds sold as a package. When the stock market collapses your income from mutual funds also declines. The wisest option for the upper middle class and those who invest in mutual funds is to cash their funds and shares and buy property or gold instead. It is been the experience in India that the cost of high value real estate never declines whatever the circumstances.
AND a few stray thoughts on horse-trading in politics. Ever since the BJP returned to power with a huge majority at the Center attempts have been made to topple Congress governments. Even more tragic is the fact that Congress leaders themselves are trying to topple their own governments. It was Goa which set the example, being unable to form a government even though it had a majority in the Assembly. In the 2017 elections Goa won 17 of the 40 seats as against 13 by the BJP.
Overnight the picture changed with the BJP hijacking both Goa Front and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), and a few Independents. Though the Congress had won more seats than the BJP, Manohar Parrikar became the CM. It was not the BJP which was lucky but the Congress which was unlucky. It was a fight between senior Congress leaders Luzinho Faleiro and Digambar Kamat which led to the Congress party loss. The Congress has promised Vijai Sardesai of Goa Forward that Digambar Kamat would be chief minister, if together the parties secured a majority. Unfortunately, Luzinho Faleiro was determined to become chief minister again. He poisoned the mind of the High Command Observer Digvijay Singh. So much so even when the Congress and the GF were discussing how to share the fishes and loaves of office. But Manohar Parrikar has already announced that he would form the government.

SCINDIYA QUITS CONG

The most recent case of the Congress government collapsing due to irreparable hostility between its leaders is in Madhya Pradesh. After a gap of 20 years Congress rule, the BJP managed to capture the government in the recent assembly elections. A senior veteran leader, Kamalnath, who was very close to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, was made the chief minister of the state. This despite the fact that it was clear that it was the younger Mahadhav Rao Scindia who was responsible for the Congress victory. Disgusted with harassment by Kamalnath, Scindia quit the Congress to join the BJP. The four time BJP CM of MP, MB Chauhan returned to power. Mahadav Rao Scindia, who has been the member of the Union cabinet several times when Congress was in power, has been given a Rajya Sabha seat so that he can return at nationally. It is the petty fights between Congress leaders which has led to the collapse of the party.
Unfortunately, the Congress is headless with Rahul Gandhi refusing to be president and Sonia Gandhi unwilling to continue. The only option seems to be Priyanka Gandhi who is the only Congress leader who can unite the party at the national level.

SMART PHONE SICKNESS

AND a few stray thoughts on dumb people using smart phones. I am sick and tired of smart phones, particularly because you can take photographs with smart phones. Every time I go out with someone they insist both on individual selfies and group pictures. I am inclined to believe that waiters and hotels are given special training to take photographs for tourists en famille. I cannot understand this obsession with photographs. Why do you need to photograph yourself so many times or get the photographs of people you go out with. This is clearly a case of sheer narcissism. A word which emerged with people being obsessed by themselves. Clearly people have become so self-centered that they have to repeatedly take and look at images of themselves. Worst still they have this compulsion to share their images with everyone they know on social media networks. Most people are so obsessed with themselves that they often revise Facebook photographs of themselves. Surely it is a waste of time and money. Not to mention that taking selfies can be very dangerous. There have been several cases of people killing themselves in the process of taking dangerous selfies perched at the edge rocks and so on.
I believe that smart phones are the biggest curse on our civilization. It has completely destroyed our privacy. Admittedly, you cannot become part of Facebook unless you choose to do so. Unfortunately, everyone seems to want to be part of the social network. I can understand the use of smart phones in emergencies. But surely the use of smart phones for spreading rumors and provoking enmity is not only in bad taste but dangerous. A lot of the riots happening in the country because of fake Facebook posts. All that it takes to start a riot is to post that your neighbour is feasting on a holy cow. Or that some Hindus have assaulted Muslims or vice versa.
I strongly believe that there should be minimum age for the use of smart phones. As in the case of daru and cigarettes young people who have not crossed 21 years should not be allowed to use smart phones.

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