BANNED: Prime Minister Narendra Modi remained silent on China’s attack on India in his 15- minute speech on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. However, the BJP government has banned 59 apps including the popular Tik Tok which is also of Chinese origin
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when I realized that Facebook is a far more dangerous weapon than a knife or a pen. For a Saturday following the week when on why there cannot be equal friendship between the superrich and the middle class. For a Saturday following the week when I believe that generation next does not appreciate the relationship you had with their parents. For a Saturday following the week when in our worst days following the lockdown it was only a few industrialists who still stood by us. For a Saturday following the week when my wife Tara found a place in the biography on Manohar Parrikar written by Sadguru Patil and Mayabhushan Nagvenkar. For a Saturday following the week when the future continues to be very grim for the print media and in particularly for small independent anti-establishment publications like the Goan Observer.
AND a few stray thoughts on my belated discovery that Facebook is far more dangerous than a knife or a pen. Historically I have been perceived by many Goans as the goonda with the pen. This is because I fearlessly took on the gangs that operated all over Goa in the early 90s. I do not spare anyone, whether they were politicians who belonged to the ruling party or the Opposition. Contrary to what a lot of my colleagues in the media claim I did not seek to either consciously built relations with industrialists or go out of the way to favour them. On the contrary because I exposed acts of omission and commission even amongst my close friends I have lost many good friends. I have never learnt to type or input data into a computer because I have had the luxury of having a secretary from the time I was 27 as the editor of my first publication, Mirror. So much so I have never actually used a ball pen to either write my cover stories or Stray Thoughts column which I have been writing for 37 years now, since I came to Goa and converted the Portuguese OHeraldo into the flourishing English version which continued to carry the two Os on either side of the title so that we could retain the registration. The Herald continues to be called the OHeraldo by the older generation.
The only problem with relying on dictation rather than writing my reports and the Stray Thoughts is that it results in voice fatigue. Particularly since I’ve developed a lump in my oesophagus due to acid reflux.
Even when dictating I am conscious of what I am saying. Most of the time when I am writing an investigative report or Stray Thoughts I make my own notes. Dictating a story still gives one the opportunity to check what one has keyed into the computer, as I normally get a printout. This gives me an opportunity to make changes if there are mistakes or I have been too harsh to honour good friends.
With Facebook there are no opportunities to review what you have messaged whether by ordinary message or Whatsapp which claims to retain the secrecy of your message. In the click of a button the message is gone and the damage has been done. The fact that the person you have sent a message to is not in front of you does not give you an opportunity to clarify what you meant or assess the damage you may have done with a hurtful message. On Facebook messages are often sent on impulse. This is similar to committing acts of violence without thinking about the consequences.
Dattaraj Salgaocar has been a very close friend whom I have known for more than 40 years. I have frequently been sending messages to him rather than talking to him as my throat and voice is getting worse and often I find myself speechless. My voice becomes very hoarse and difficult to understand. I do not know which specific message of mine did the damage. But the fact remains that a very close friend who has been a pillar of support even when the government turned hostile to the Goan Observer has broken off contact.
I have subsequently sent several messages apologizing for any unwitting message which may have been hurtful. Facebook is like the words of the famous poet who declared “The moving finger writes and having writ moves on…” And not all your piety or wit, can lure it back to cancel half a life. In another extremely regrettable message to a senior media friend whom I had hoped would take over the Goan Observer my attempt to provoke him back fired and he is was deeply offended. In this case too my apologies have not been able to remedy the situation for he does not even respond to calls any more. I am wondering if I should throw away my so called smart phone which I do not seem to able to use with caution and discretion!
COMMITMENT TO JOURNALISM
AND a few stray thoughts on my belated discovery that there cannot be an equal relationship between people belonging to the richest sections of society and those who are part of the middle class like me. There are several Goan journalists who have often accused me of cultivating industrialists and going out of my way to oblige them. The truth is the few industrialist friends I have left are in the Opposition. My basic commitment is to journalism. Or more specifically to tell the truth irrespective of whether the person concerned is a very close friend or not.
Only one of my good industrialist friends realised this. When he was felicitating me on my 60th birthday Anil Counto remarked that there was a time when he was very upset with me. This was soon after our first meeting. At that time Anil Counto along with his then partner Victor Alburqurque had been given a commission to build the municipal market in the early 80s. Alcon, the company that Anil and his friend Victor had started, after resigning from the PWD, had completed he four-storeyed building at the site where the INOX Complex was built later.
The curious part about the new Municipal market building was that it did not have a staircase to reach the 4th floor! I made enquiries and found out that Alcon had built the staircase-less market. I used to meet Anil very often at the Clube Vasco Da Gama at the Municipal garden in the evenings where both of us used to drop in for a drink. When I asked him about the missing staircase, he told me that the plot of land where the staircase was to come out had not been given to the company as there was a dispute. So for almost two years or more the market building could not build a staircase. I wrote about the Municipal market which had no staircase in the Herald the next day and unwittingly mentioned the name of Anil Counto. He was understandably angry as the Municipality would blame him for leaking the information.
The large hearted Anil Counto told guests in his speech on my 60th birthday celebration that it was then only he realised that for me the interests of the public are more important than any personal loyalty to friends. Unfortunately, not all my industrialist friends have been as understanding.
One of my earliest friends in Goa was Auduth Timblo of the Fomento group. We met long before I joined the Herald because for some time I worked as the general manager of an advertising agency (Imageads) which specialised in promoting public issues. In simpler language this means marketing the shares of new companies or additional finances of existing companies. I was promoting the public issue of Fomento which owns the Cidade de Goa hotel. So I first met Auduth in the office of the advertising agency at Nariman Point in Mumbai where the Timblo Group also had an office on the 3rd floor. Auduth, after I joined Herald, considered me a very good friend and boasted that it was he who brought me to Goa.
When his hotel Cidade de Goa was attacked by Babush Monserrate I was the only journalist who came to help out Auduth Timblo We were also involved along with real estate industrialist Datta Naik of Monginis in the campaign against Manohar Parrikar and the BJP in the year 2000 election. Then it happened that the Supreme Court issued an order to demolish a large part of the Cidade de Goa hotel for violating CRZ rules. Auduth persuaded the then Chief Minister Digambar Kamat with whom he was very close to retrospectively change the concerned laws to save his hotel. Despite all my close friendship with Auduth I felt that what he had done was wrong and wrote about it. Overnight the industrialist who used to consider me his best friend became my bitter enemy! I have reason to believe that he started The Goan on Saturday which first came out as a weekly newspaper was to kill the Goan Observer.
AND a few stray thoughts on how generation next has no concern or regard for old friends of their parents. There are many industrialist friends who were very close to me and extended their fullest support to the Goan Observer. The most generous were Nana Bandekar and Anil Counte. However, when fathers retired and sons took over I stopped getting advertising support from my old friends. Many of them expressed their helplessness. They were apologetic about their inability to help me as they had pledged not to interfere after they had transferred their business to their sons! And Gen Next is not sentimental and only concerned with earning as much profits as they could. They did not see any point in being seen to be friendly with a friend of their father’s hostile to the ruling party. I lost a large number of friend and a great deal of support for the Goan Observer as Gen Next would not extend the kind of help their parents did. I don’t blame my senior friends as having given a commitment to their children not to interfere they could not go against their wishes. Understandably, family is more important. However, whenever they could, old friends have still helped me out as much as they can.
Since 2014 when the BJP came to power at the centre and 2017 when they hijacked the Goa government, we have been having serious cash flow problems. During the Congress government we not only used to get our share of advertisements but also assignments for our desktop division. I recall with gratitude the then Chief Minister Digambar Kamat who gave me the assignment to write a book on the history of the Goa liberation movement to coincide with the diamond jubilee of Goa’s Liberation. During successive elections I got a lot of assignments from the Congress party which boosted the revenues of the Goan Observer. Our mistake perhaps was that we put all our eggs in the Congress basket.
Understandably, when the BJP returned to power they took revenge. Not only were the payments for advertisements released by the previous Congress government delayed, we got very few fresh ones. Worse still the Department of Culture stopped buying copies of the books we published and did not give us any new assignments. The lockdown of course was the last straw. There was a freeze not only in advertising but on all pending payments.
The freeze continues and we do not know how long it will last. We are like many other businesses part of a vicious circle. Since all business activity whether it is hotels or new constructions or casinos or the first Indian cruise liner Angriya or all kinds of events, it’s been a lockdown without any source of revenue. You cannot expect advertising when everything is in a state of lockdown and there is no activity. We ourselves have been major victims and Tara and I have not only been foregoing our salaries but paying our staff from our meagre personal savings. We understand that the families of members of our staff, who have been extremely loyal to us, are dependent on salaries for their basic necessities. They are not getting free rations of rice, wheat and doles from either the Centre or State government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised that the State government, at least those who run the BJP, would reimburse employers for salaries paid to employees during the lockdown period. We planned to write to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to fulfil Narendra Modi’s promise! The dilemma is that if employers themselves do not have cash flow how may they continue to pay employees and meet other expenses of printing, renting, even the internet and internet, power and water bills?
LIES OF PARRIKAR
AND a last stray thought on my 75th birthday and my 50th year in the media. Coincidently our commitment to the truth above all has been acknowledged in a new biography on Manohar Parrikar. The new biography by Sadguru Patil and Mayabhushan Nagvenkar confirms my exposure of the lies of the late Manohar Parrikar. Tara and I are the only people from the Goan media mentioned in the biography. It recounts the story of how we almost caught the late Manohar Parrikar eating ross omelette at the dirty gaddo vendors outside Alankar Cinema in Mapusa at the height of a gastro and jaundice epidemic in Panjim. Tara wrote a story on the front page of the Herald about how the late Parrikar was greatly attached to the gaddo outside Alankar cinema hall (`Is this where the Chief Minister of Goa dines?’)
For this Manohar Parrikar forced the Herald management to stop her writing for the paper. Worse still, early morning at 7.30am on the day the article appeared Parrikar himself called us and denied that he ever went to the gaddo. Thank you Sadguru and Mayabhushan for confirming our report. We hope to continue to report the truth, to expose corruption and defend the common man. We can only do that if niz Goenkar donate generously to free Goa from fear, not only of the coronavirus but the Modi government at the Centre and State.