LETTER TO THE EDITOR FOR ISSUE DATED APRIL 24 2021

DO NOT SIT YET, YOU HAVE A LOT TO WRITE!

That’s what Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao advised Tomazinho Cardozo while felicitating him for his lifetime’s contribution towards the growth of the Dalgado Konknni Akademi on his 75th birthday commemoration function Sharing price of place with the birthday boy are Tomazinho’s wife Irene Cardozo, DKA President Vincy Quadros, renowned scientist Dr Nandkumar Kamat, Walter Menezes and other dignitaries and friends. The function saw the release of the book Speaking Out – The Life and Times of Tomazinho Cardozo’ written by Walter Menezes. Earlier scientist Nandakumar Kamat had compared Tomazinho Cardozo to Clark Gable (the actor who played Rhett Butler in the 1939 blockbuster filmGone With the Wind’), he urged the younger generation to read the book to understand the values of a true Goan! The book covers more than nine decades of history, especially the pre-liberation era and after that, from 1930 right up to 2020, “The book is like a cultural kaleidoscope written by a multifaceted personality.”

GCCI SUPPORTS APP-BASED TAXI SERVICES

THE Goa Chamber of Commerce welcomes the strong stand taken by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho and Tourism Minister Babu Azgaonkar in the case of tourist taxi operators.
Goa is the only state in India where the taxis are running without fare meters and this has led to a large number of complaints of overcharging and harassment of tourists, bringing a bad name to the state and tourism industry.
Unfortunately, successive governments in the state have been succumbing to the pressure tactics of the taxi operators and also to the pressure from some of its own MLAs. Because of the Government dragging its feet, Goa Chamber and TTAG had in the past approached the High Court which had given definitive directions to the State government to ensure that all taxi operators install fare meters within a specific time period.
The clear stand taken by the CM and his colleagues is welcome. The government has even shown its willingness to resolve the issue in an amicable manner by offering to pay for the cost of the meters. And even supporting the taxi operators own app based service. After all this if the taxi operators are adamant about non-installation of the fare meters and opposing the Goa Miles taxi service it smacks of arrogance. They are now increasingly losing the sympathy of Goans.
Business people travel across the country and avail of app based taxi services like Uber and Ola and they are very efficient and cost effective. Goa Miles compares fairly well with the other app based taxi services in the country and is gaining popularity within the state. It is unfortunate that Goa’s taxi operators are taking the law in their own hands to harm the Goa Miles taxi drivers.
This is totally unacceptable. We appeal to government to be firm as also for taxi operators to accept the government’s offer to play a meaningful role in the development of the tourism sector in Goa.
— Manoj Caculo, President, GCCI

MANMOHAN SINGH WRITES…
Dear Prime Minister, it is now over a year since the world, and India, have been grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic. Many parents have not seen their children, living in different cities, in over a year. Grandparents have not seen their grandchildren. Teachers have not seen children in the classroom. Many have lost their source of livelihood, and several millions have been pushed back into poverty. With the second surge that we are currently witnessing, people are beginning to wonder when their lives will get back to normal.
There are many things we must do to fight the epidemic but a big part of this effort must be ramping up the vaccination program. I have some suggestions in this regard. In making them I want to emphasize that I am putting them forward for your kind consideration in a spirit of constructive cooperation in which I have always believed and acted upon.
First, the government should publicize what the firm orders for doses placed on different vaccine producers and accepted for delivery over the next six months. If we want to vaccinate a target number in this period, we should place enough orders in advance so that producers can adhere to an agreed schedule or supply.
Second, the government should indicate how this expected supply will be distributed across states based on a transparent formula. The Central government could retain 10 percent for distribution based on emergency needs, but other than that, states should have a clear signal of likely availability so that they can plan their roll out.
Third, states should be given some flexibility to define categories of frontline workers who can be vaccinated even if they are below 45 years of age. For example, states may want to designate school teachers, bus, three-wheeler and taxi drivers, municipal and panchayat staff, and possibly lawyers who have to attend Courts as frontline workers. They can then be vaccinated even if they are below 45.
— Dr Manmohan Singh, Motilal Nehru Place, Delhi

HOMEGROWN COLONIALISM!
GOANS Wait with bated breath for the Speaker’s verdict on the defectors after a delay attributed to the pandemic (in a sworn affidavit at the Supreme Court). We recently marked the golden jubilee of a veteran politician’s services and watched the usual suspects/convicts/dons praise him for laying the foundations of our new class of what can only be called home-grown colonialism.
A castrated citizenry waits meekly for crumbs in manifestos past and future, only to watch MLAs renege like clockwork, on their “utor.” Elsewhere listen to Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, on being hailed for her work to include empathy in governance, she said: “I try to view it from the lens of children, of people and the most basic concept and idea of fairness. As a minister, if you want to spend money, you have to prove how you’re going to use it to improve intergenerational well-being. We’re hoping to embed on what the public is actually asking for: how to improve societal well-being and not just our economic problem.”
WEGo, or Well-being Economy Governance countries had fared exceedingly well during the COVID 19 pandemic, and as such their model has caught the attention of the awakened world. The latest member of this little club is Finland, best known for its stellar universal, empathy-based learning construct. The Finns had prudently joined Iceland, Wales, Scotland and New Zealand to best prepare for any future pandemics/untoward climate-change events, while other nations like our very own Bharatdesh focus on getting back to rapacious business as usual!
The economy of wellbeing emphasises the balance between the three dimensions of sustainable development — social and economic in environmental sustainability. In the economy of wellbeing, public resources are allocated for improving people’s wellbeing. In the long run, the sustainability and stability of society will improve.
The informal WEGo members track their progress according to certain established guidelines but these are concepts completely unheard of in modern day educated Goa. True, local experts had come up with Goa: Vision 2035’ — a socio-economic roadmap prepared on the lines of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness model, but the plan was shelved! Instead Goa government’s machinations diluted coastal zone laws to expedite Denmark’s Blue Flag certification for beaches, tried to bulldoze a path through a UNESCO protected wildlife sanctuary (complete with a tiger corridor) and pushed double tracking for coal transportation, in an age when coal-fired power plants are being phased out. The casino lobby was given a Rs277 crore break to help the sin industry sink its fangs and tentacles into our next gen.
One of the member countries of the WEGo initiative is Wales, which boasts of having the world’s first Future Generations Commissioner. Sophie Howe, a mum of six, is tasked with keeping all Welsh political parties on the straight and narrow. The eventual winner, as mandated by the Future Generations Act, has to govern while ensuring that the protection of the environment, intergenerational equity and kids’ future are always at the forefront.
With an eye on the potential changes heading mankind’s way, Ms Howe’s predominantly women team is enacting measures to surf over a tsunami of challenges, work with them and convert it into profits, while lesser prepared lands flounder. Using surplus public funds, they are launching initiatives to pre-empt crime rather than punishing delinquent behaviour. They provide kids in at-risk, low income housing neighbourhoods with educational aids and mentoring with the industry’s best; their mandate includes setting up parks and green spaces every few hundred meters, using the arsenal of present day IT to speed up governance. In stark contrast, Goa’s horrendous model doesn’t even attempt to factor in the future of kids.
WEGo isn’t about the “grass being greener.” It’s a matter of ending a saprophytic feudal system that is feasting, whilst defenceless youngsters are lulled into an alcohol/narcotic/gangland induced haze, and early graves.
—Chris Fernandes, Miramar, Panaji

17, 26, 17, XXX…?

SEVENTEEN, 26 and 17 (April 20-21-22) — these deaths could have been avoided over the  three days. These are tragedies that have come about due to specific decisions taken or not taken. More so considering the vaccination drive is on.

Since February there has been not only an exponential rise in cases in the nine states of India but a similar % rise in deaths. This trend was a forewarning and the crisis was waiting to happen. In Goa, Goa Inc spoke with their names on why nothing needs to be done, if not opening Goa up further with no restrictions.

We now know these people cannot learn a lesson because they are not capable of logical reasoning. The vaccination drive started but they couldn’t wait! “We must have a few dollars more,” and they pushed it. Well, they got it and must now take responsibility for  the deaths many of which could have been avoided.

The government must take full responsibility four our tragic situation. How disheartening is the meek leadership of the other parties! They only make noises: What prevented them from going to court? The half-baked notices of this and that to be in lockdown is adding insult to the sacrifices which have already taken place and are taking place every day.

Alternatives, availability of vaccines, oxygen, plans: Nothing! Dying means nothing. We cleverly delink the same from decisions we took or rather did not take. In the end blame the people, the public. We asked for it! The government is innocent!

— R Fernandes, Margao

LIFE & DEATH

AS covid-19 new cases spurt in India to an all-time high of 3.16 lakh cases and the number of fatalities reach 2,102 — here is a word of encouragement for all our country’s people. Please fight the spread of the novel coronavirus by empathising with those around us despite the social distancing. Step up vigilance and awareness against and observe SOPs.  We are now in a situation when lockdowns should be imposed but we are hardly in a situation when it can be imposed! Aam aadmi need to work and earn for their daily hand to mouth lives and life cannot be put on hold for them. Life must continue with precautions in place. Consider those around you and behave prudently so that the infection is discouraged.  Last year being a leap year the Olympics were supposed to be held in Tokyo, but they have been postponed and let us hope they will take place sooner or later and light up our bleak lives. Let us collectively fight this life and death situation with discipline with everyone responsible for contributing their mite! Together we can triumph.

–Elvidio Miranda, Panaji

TRYING TIMES FOR JUDICIARY

IN the midst of spiralling covid infections our  Judiciary too is facing very trying times. Justice NV Ramana takes over as  48th Chief Justice of India on April 24 for a 16-month tenure. Born into a humble family of agriculturists in Andhra Pradesh, Justice Ramana had during the 1975 Emergency, as a student leader, fought for civil liberties while sacrificing an academic year.

He recently mooted the idea of the need to set up a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation which could go a long way towards improving our judicial infrastructure while maintaining its independence and autonomy. This corporation may be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge at the centre and a retired High Court judge in the states. They could act as a median and catalyst in pursuing judicial projects instead of sitting judges having to interact with the politicians in power.

The Constitution of India is very clear on the distinct roles of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. It envisages a free, fair and independent Judiciary. The highest standards of judicial independence must be ensured by warding off even the faintest trace of governmental influence on the judiciary.

With the other pillars of our democracy currently severely dented, our only hope is the Judiciary. The government wants to overpower the Judiciary and there is a very disturbing disquiet over the slippery slope on which judicial values are slithering. Judicial independence must be ensured for it is the last hope of justice for the common man.

The public must have faith in the Judiciary and transparency is a fundamental component of its independence. Any direct or indirect interference by politicians in the selection and appointment of judges threatens the very independence of the Judiciary. If the Judiciary is reduced to being a mouthpiece of the government, courts will lose all relevance. This is why the Judiciary must never be manned by persons tilting or aligning towards any political party. Judges should have the spine to crack down on political illegalities regardless of how high their position. If judges cannot independently balance the scales of justice the temples of justice in this country would be null and void.

Justice VR Krishna Iyer once said, “Even so, the creed of judicial independence is our constitutional ‘religion’ and, if the executive use Article 222 to imperil this basic tenet, the Court must ‘do or die.’” Andrew Jackson, the late American president, believed that all rights secured to citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous judiciary.

— Aires Rodrigues, Ribandar

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