SMRC: The Salgaocar Medical Research Centre is one of the oldest charitable hospitals in Goa which was started by the late VM Salgaocar. It is now looked after by Ranjana Salgaocar, the wife of elder brother Shivanand Salgaocar.
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the `Goan Observer.’ For a Saturday following the week when the impression that everyone seems to have is that I am crorepati. For a Saturday following the week when the owners of the Tito’s Night Club, which have encroached virtually the entire Baga beach, announced that they are sold off. For a Saturday following the week when the tourism industry got a major relief with the centre deciding to issue five lakh free tourist visas.
WE ARE NOW 18!
AND a few stray thoughts on the 18th anniversary of the
Goan Observer.’ After working for 20 years building up theOHeraldo’ from a small, insignificant Portuguese paper, to the largest circulated paper in Goa, I was compelled to quit. Not because the management wanted me to leave but son Raul Fernandes who inherited the paper from his father AC Fernandes started asking me to get him a casino license among other favours from the Manohar Parrikar government. Since I believe that editors should not be dalal to owners I decided to walk out. I had just got married for the second time and together with my wife Tara decided to start our own political weekly. A weekly which would be independent and would not dance to the tune of owners or industrialists or politicians.
At the end of 20 years of making
Herald’ owners crorepati when I decided enough was enough of torture, the owners of OHeraldo decided I was worth barely Rs1 lakh by way of a gratuity. Which was the legal minimum that I was entitled to at the rate of half a month’s salary for every year of service. Tara also pitched in with her savings and we hired a flat at the Tropicana Apartment at La Campala Colony at a very modest rent thanks to Goa Suraj Party Chief Floriano Lobo. TheGoan Observer’ was born.
All that we had by way of equipment was two computers, one donated by the late CS Mirchandani, a close friend. But what we lacked in hardware we more than made up in software. We hired a very bright intern who had stood first both in her BA and MA exams in English literature. An old colleague Melanie Sequeira, who insisted that it was I who gave her a break in journalism, and she voluntarily offered to work for us free for a month.
Melanie had joined me as my secretary in the
OHeraldo’ several years back. She was too good for a secretary’s job and I had asked her to look after the magazine section. She went on to become the first news editor of theGomantak Times’ which the Chowgule Group had started.
But to stay with the
Goan Observer’ amongst other things between the pages of the tabloid, our covers were masterpieces designed by best art director in Goa, Shamir Deniz. Our marketing was taken care of by the renowned MC Alan Pinto. We had a part time chartered accountant, Reginald Dias.
The capital funds of theGoan Observer’ were contributed were contributed as much by my big industrialist friends as by my loyal not so rich friends. They were my fans in the
OHeraldo’ and they contributed between Rs2,000 to Rs10,000 each. Amongst my major contributing friends was a retired employee of the BSNL, Frank Martin, who was even in his 70s came for every one of our board meetings, asGoan Observer’ had been registered as a private limited company.
THANK YOU FRANK
I first met Shivanand Salgaocar, when he must have been in his teens. There was a gentleman called Mr MR Pia, who used to introduced the children of small town industrialist to distinguish citizens of Mumbai. I don’t know why I fell into his category of important people that young Shivanand should meet. I was then the Editor of Imprint the most prestigious literary magazine in the country. Since MR Pai who is to run the Forum of free enterprice requested me to join him for lunch to meet young Shivanand I could not refuse. SO we met at the Samarkant restaurant at the Oberoi which then specialised in pollination food. It was embracing situation to me because both MR Pai and young Shivanand were dressed in suits. I was offcourse dress in my worn out jeans- not out of fashion but because the length of time I had worn it – and the purple kurta. But then I had developed confidence myself and I was comfortable in my casual clothes in any situation. We generally had a discussion on the state of the economy while I told him something about the literary world. Strangely I have forgotten all about it till I met Shivanand after shifting to Goa at a party where he reminded me at our meeting at the Samarkant. Of the two brothers he was the more low key and did not socialize much. The Salagocar medical research centre started by the late VM Salgaocar is now looked after his wife Ranjana. ’
We had to develop other profit centres to be able to grow. Luckily for us a Goan resident of Canada, Ben Antao, asked us if we would publish one of his books? It was obviously much cheaper to have books publish in Goa then in Canada. This not only marked the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship and opened up a new source of revenue for us.
We published several books of Ben Antao, as also a book on quitting the cigarette addiction authored by Mario Sequeira, and another book on marriages made in heaven but lived on earth by Jerome Mendes.
The most profitable venture was our desktop publishing venture which also included the autobiography of the only Goan, who was chairman of the State Bank of India, PG Kakodkar (now no more, bless him). Besides desktop publishing we were also lucky to be commissioned to write a book on the Opinion Poll by Dattaraj Salgaocar, whose father VM Salgaocar played a major role in financing the anti-merger forces. The government of Goa also gave us the privilege of producing a history of the last phase of the Liberation struggle from 1946 to 1961.
Everything was fine until I fell out with the late Manohar Parrikar who became a more and more dictatorial chief minister. At the
OHeraldo’ the last straw had been over a legal issue he issue to all publications, banning them from carrying any news about his family put out by the Opposition Congress party. At theGoan Observer’ the vendetta continued and our government advertising became less and less and our cover stories were honestly critical of the government of the day.
In 2014 when Narendra Modi became the prime minister of India our situation became worse. Many private businessmen became afraid they would be victimized if they supported the
Goan Observer’ with advertising. The last straw was the lockdown announced by Narendra Modi in 2020. With small businesses shutting down there was no question of theGoan Observer’ being able to survive and keep its head above water, even our small advertising petered out. The BJP government would not give us any assignments. Worse still it refused to pay our long-standing advertising dues from earlier on.
We had a contract with a government lottery agency which sustained our print edition. The contract’s condition was that the results should be carried weekly in the
Goan Observer.’ We were the only registered weekly in Goa and the lottery contract offered enough funds for us to barely cover our costs of printing our weekly issue. But alas, towards the end of 2020 we had to close down the print issue and switch to surviving on the online issue.
Almost a year later we’re still struggling with dignity with a small staff to keep our head above water with the online issue of theGoan Observer.’ Our costs are down but online issues too survive on minimal advertising support! We request all fans of `Goan Observer’ and whoever believes in supporting independent media to contribute at least Rs5,000 to our account by way of a lifetime’s subscription (bank details are on our letters page).
Help us to save Goa from those who want to convert it into the black coal pit of hell.
NOT EVEN LAKHPATI
AND a few stray thoughts on the general impression on we, Tara and Rajan Narayan are crorepati. The impression is being re-enforced by the malicious false rumours of a former colleague. Yes, as a former editor of
OHeraldo’ and editor of theGoan Observer’ I am on talking terms with major industrialists in Goa. It was and is part of my job to keep in touch with politicians to get an idea of what was happening under the surface of politics. To be able to tell our readers who is going to defect from which party and how long the new government will last.
But in all the 38 years I’ve spent in Goa – 20 of them at the mercy of the
OHeraldo’ and 18 with my babyGoan Observer,’ I have never visited the office or residence of any chief minister asking for favours. I’m one of the few editors who did not even ask for government quarters, which I could have easily got at one time! I’ve stayed in rentals all my life in Goa and still do.
In my old basement flat at Dona Paula such was my reputation that I can recall almost all of Goa’s chief ministers and politicians calling on me at some time or another to seek my opinion or to convince me about some issue political or personal. Even considering that I was getting a reasonable salary and the
Goan Observer’ was modestly successful in its first 15 years, today I should have been financially comfortable!
What is not taken into account by those who accuse me making money is the fact that I never took a paisa from any industrialist or politicians for myself. All my resources went towards my medical expenses. After I was beaten up by the hired goons of Mummy Victoria and her son Rudolf at the behest of a leading politician Dayanand Narvekar in 1980, while at the OHeraldo, for almost five years I was in and out of hospitals in search of life.
Only during the first three months which I spend at the Jaslok Hospital, industrialist and friend Dattaraj Salgaocar was kind enough to help. But in all subsequent stays in various hospitals I spent from my own meagre pockets. When it was suggested that I go to London for treatment the people of Goa on the request of the Editors Guild contributed towards my airfare. But not for the medical expenses I had to incur in London.
The most expensive part of my medical torture was the five months I spent at the Mallya Hospital in Bengaluru. I had to be detoxified from steroids if I wanted to live. Dr Shrikanta who rescued me from the evil of steroids told me they should never have been prescribed for me by the GMC’s Dr Sharma, after my severe spinal beating up while returning home to my Dona Paula basement flat in the aforementioned incident. Dr Shrikanta described my medical condition as doctor-induced, and Addison’s disease.
Due to steroids my weight had gone up to 180 kg plus. After he detoxed me I was down to barely 30 kg. I was losing my vision and worked with a dozen odd magnifying glasses. The hangover of the detox still persists since the sudden weight loss of old had destroyed my gut muscles. I still suffer from multiple medical problems but continue to bring out the online version of theGoan Observer’ because of my commitment to the welfare of the people of Goa.
I should have sued the HOD of Medicine of the GMC long ago and the politician for recovery of the huge expenditure incurred on my medical treatment and the mental torture inflicted on me. Since my detox I have also undergone a cardiac intervention and an operation to see if my dysfunctional digestive system can be could sorted for happier health parameters.
At 74 I do not want to go in for anymore tests or medical treatments, I don’t have the money anymore. My only priority is keeping the `Goan Observer’ alive and kicking to ensure that the BJP does not return to power in the forthcoming Assembly elections.
FIVE LAKH FREE VISAS
AND a few stray thoughts on the bonanza conferred on the tourism industry by the Central government. Whoever has bought Titos, be it Nandan Kudchodkar or Shailendra Singh of Sunburn, they will likely profit from the Centre’s decision to offer five lakh tourist visas to foreigners. This should help revive the charter industry which was the backbone of the hospitality sector and taxi mafia of Goa. Leading tour operators like Sita Travels and the Travel & Tourism Association are delighted with the new developments.
There are several lakh people in the UK and Russia who have traditionally made up Goa’s charter market, who are tired of being locked in for months. They are all desperate for a Goan holiday. We can only hope that Pramod Sawant will not be foolish enough to invite a third wave of covid by permitting them to come into Goa without a legitimate RTPCR covid-19 negative certificate.
Particularly with fears that the Delta Plus virus is spreading very fast in the UK and several others countries abroad. The revival of charter tourism will undoubtedly help small and medium resorts which have been the worst affected by the lockdown. The charter tourists from the UK are middle class tourists who prefer staying in small hotels rather than luxurious five-star resorts.
Charters are looked forward to by the hotel industry because unlike the domestic tourist who only spends weekends in Goa, charter tourists spend a minimum of three weeks in Goa.
I WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL OUR WELLWISHSERS FOR HELPING US TO RECALL OUR MILESTONE OF 18 YEARS OF PUBLICATION OF THE
GOAN OBSERVER.’ WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT US AS THE ONLY INDEPENDENT MEDIA ORGANISATION IN GOA. OFFLINE OR ONLINEGOAN OBSERVER’ IS THE BEST!