COVID-19 BEACH: There is a proposal to re-name Calangute, Candolim and Baga beaches as Covid-19 beaches, as local MLA Michael Lobo does not want any restriction on tourists in his constituency.


AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Section 144 that has been imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19. For a Saturday following the week when students have lost a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. For a Saturday following the week when despite the ever increasing cases the State government continued with Hunar Haat. For a Saturday following the week when many universities included Vishwabharati started by Tagore are alleging interference by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For a Saturday following the week when the frequent breakdown of servers is severely affecting the banking sector and e-learning.
AND a few stray thoughts on the Port and Waste Management Minister Michael Lobo claiming that Section 144 does not apply to tourists. Saint Michael Lobo, the Calangute MLA who is the patron saint of Covid-19 in Goa even says that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) does not apply to tourists. When it was brought to his attention that there were huge crowds outside and inside the casinos, he claimed that the Section 144 could not be applied to them.
Similarly, Michael Lobo is perhaps of the view that happens inside hotels including night clubs, does not concern Goa or Goans. Michael seems to have the backing Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who is more worried about the income from tourism then the spread of Covid-19 infection. The CM has overruled Health Minister Vishwajit Rane who wanted to impose curbs on visitors from Maharashtra.
The attitude of the CM is unacceptable. The Union government and the BJP should sack him for his absurd attitude towards the spread of Covid-19. Particularly, because it is the Central government itself which keeps confirming that the Covid-19 situation is going from bad to worse, with the majority of states reporting a second wave of Covid-19. The countrywide deaths on Tuesday, the day after Holi, was 356 which is a 104-day high.
Presumably those who insisted on playing Holi without masks or maintaining social distancing paid the price. They presumed that they were immune to Covid-19 and the contagion got them to prove them wrong. But why blame them when the Uttar Pradesh government has gone ahead with the Maha-Kumbh mela where several lakh people gathered for a holy dip in the Ganga river. They are of course protected by the Hindu gods from contacting the infection.
The Union Health Minister of India Dr Harsh Vardhan has questioned the States about the present surge of Covid-19 and found that it was beyond the capacity of the medical infrastructure available. He revealed that there are ten high burden districts which do not have medical facilities like ventilators to cater to Covid-19 patients. Maharashtra continues to be the worst hit with eight districts in the state showing a huge increase.
National capital Delhi has as many as 8,000 cases. On an average there have been more than 200 cases in Goa with increasing admissions to the ESIC hospital in Margao and in the GMC. Dr Siddharth Bandekar the Dean of the GMC, who is in-charge of Covid-19 operations in Goa, lamented that people have stopped taking covid-19 seriously. They treat it like the common cold and refuse to get tested even when their oxygen level in blood falls below 80.
As a result many patients are brought dead to the hospital or die within a few days of admission. Bandekar has warned that those who have symptoms should get tested and if positive should get themselves admitted in hospital. Home isolation doesn’t work in Goa as a majority of patients do not have large homes offering a spare room which can be set aside and managed as a Covid-19 patient’s room.

AND a few stray thoughts about Babush Monserrate crowing that his son Rohit is the mayor of Panaji. After the wife Jennifer who became the MLA of Taleigao, now we have the son without any political experience of any sort, being appointed mayor of Panaji. The new mayor Rohit himself has admitted that he has no administrative experience and will be depending on others more experienced than him. His only qualification for job of mayor of Panaji is that he is the son of Panaji MLA Babush Monserrate and the Taleigao MLA and Minister for Revenue Jennifer Monserrate who is his mother.
When asked about his plans for Panaji the new mayor is reported to have replied that he will implement his father’s plans. We all know how Babush Monserrate has converted Taleigao into a concrete jungle by building roads across paddy fields. This time around not only the father but mother Jennifer congratulated their son and claimed that Rohit would be a good mayor with the help of former mayors and veteran deputy mayor Vasant Agshikar will manage the job.
Babush’s chamcha are MLAs of St Cruz, St Andre and Cumberjua. Which affectively means that he now controls the whole of the Tiswadi taluka. If the BJP does not stop him now he will soon demand the chief minister’s post after the elections to the Legislative Assembly early next year. The only way of prevent this is to ban migrants from voting in Goa and making them vote in their own states. It is the growing migrant population which is the fuelling Babush’s steady growth of power and influence.


AND the few stray thoughts on how Holi which was celebrated on Monday, despite Section 144, is a major threat to women. Particularly in the north India where Holi is an excuse for young men to terrorize and molest young girls. The belief is that since it is Holi any sexual harassment by young man should be forgiven. Even in Mumbai women are afraid to come out on Holi day, particularly in the slum areas.
Like the carnival in Goa which provides an excuse for the male of the species to harass women, Holi has degenerated into a festival to take liberties with women. The law and order machinery which is so concerned about “love jihad” has no problem with “Holi jihad.” An equally big risk during Holi is the wide spread use of artificial colours which can cause serious skin infections.


AND a few stray thought on how students particularly in the KG, primary and middle schools, have lost a year because of Covid-19. It has been admitted that even at the national level only 8% of the households have the facilities or can afford e-learning. The worst affected are government schools where parents of children cannot afford to buy children smart phones. Even if you have a smart phone and are studying in the best of schools, the probability is that they would be out of range.
Most of the time the servers are down and this means no internet connection to attend the e-learning classes. Even if there is internet the students living in a low-lying area don’t get range. Even while driving from Panaji to Margao there are sections of the road which are low-lying areas out of range.
Even adults find it difficult to learn subjects like maths, algebra and geometry on smartphone. Imagine children having to study science subjects on line. In regular classes in the schools there are laboratories including computer labs. They can be guided by the teachers in the class. Most parents are digitally challenged and do not know how to use smartphones. Children of course learn much faster but parents have no control or knowledge to check whether they are playing games or attending classes!
There is a high risk of children on their smart phone accessing pornography sites! There are of course solutions locking these sites which parents do not want their children to access. Rich parents even install CCTV cameras to keep a check on whether their children at home are using the phone or e-learning. But even if children can study through e-leaning on their home laptops, being locked up in the house deprives them of building healthy social relationships.
In schools children learn to relate to one another and help each other and maintain discipline courtesy good teachers. E-learning does not teach children to perceive themselves as part of a community and participate in its activities. Historically, parents used to send their children to karate classes, music classes, other activities, so that their children learn more skills and are more balanced adults later on. It is also an excuse for parents and particularly mothers to get some time for themselves, instead of having to chase and nag children all day long!
Covid-19 times mothers have no choice since children are at home 24×7. It is even worse if children have parents working from home as their attention is divided between the children’s learning and their own work. Surveys reveal that the majority of Indians who are working from home want to return to their offices. All work and no play also makes Gauri and Krishna into dull children!
Sports has more or less disappeared from children’s life. Even when games like football and cricket are played by adults in professional tournaments like the IPL and IFL, the players have to live in bio-bubbles. They are confined and sanitized in hotel out of which they cannot move except to go out to the field or on stage. Most matches are played without an audience and the games are watched only on screen.
Despite the growing number of Covid-19 cases in the State the Directorate of Education has decided to re-open schools on a regular basis from June 10. The earlier proposal was to recommenced schools on June 21. The final exam results for the exams which are being held online of the classes up to Std 9 will be declared on May 7.
Finally, the teachers who were on duty from home have been granted vacation from June 21. The vacation period for students is May 10 to June 19. The first term will end on October 26 and the second term will end on April 30. The Ganesh Chaturthi break will be from September 9 to 15, Diwali vacations from October 27 to November 16 and the Christmas break from December 24 to January 1. All this is of course provided Covid-19 cases come under control. Otherwise students and teachers will have to spent or lose another year at home.
The pandemic has delayed exams of the Mumbai University by three months. In fact, the universities started their first term only on November 18, 2019 instead of June. The teaching was to end on April 3, 2020. Because of the lockdown less than 50% of the syllabus could be completed even though the faculty were conducting online classes through Google classroom. The university is going ahead with the exams even though the syllabus has not been completed, as many as 540 university students have also lost a year thanks to Covid-19.


AND a last stray thoughts on the second phase of municipal elections which were postponed on the orders of the SC. It may be recalled that civic elections to Mapusa, Margao, Marmugoa, Saguem and Quepem were postponed because reservation for women and OBCs was challenged. In the second round, despite Covid-19 1.58 lakh voters will be risking the infection. A polling day for the second phase of Municipal election is April 23 with the counting schedule for April 26. The biggest fight is expected to be not between the BJP and the Congress in Margao, but between Vijai Sardesai and Digambar Kamat. Historically, nominees of Digambar and Vijai have kept toppling each other’s groups. The problem with the Margao civic elections is that the wards are divided with Fatorda, which is Vijai Sardesai constituency, and Margao which is represented by Digambar Kamat. Those who vote in the second phase will be thermally screened and are expected to wear masks and maintain a two meter distance while standing in a queue. It is also proposed to supply PPE kits, hand gloves and hand sanitizers. The installation they used of the Arogya Sethu App which tells you whether a person close by has Covid-19 or not has been made compulsory.

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