BARRED: National and local electronic media and even the photographers were barred from covering the IFFI opening ceremony (left). Subhash Chandra of the Zee Group, a BJP Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, has benefited through his close association with the Sangh Parivar by getting the rights to cover the 52nd IFFI.

By Rajan Narayan

THE latest instance of BJP crony capitalism is the sale of the rights to cover the opening ceremony of the International Film Festival of India and all other major events including the closing ceremony to Zee Television network. As in the other cases of crony capitalism, the rights to cover an event organised by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the Entertainment Society of Goa is now out of bounds to both national and local TV cable channels and even still photographers.
It was not only the right to cover the opening ceremony which was sold to Subhash Chandra of Zee TV Group but also the opening ceremony itself. The opening ceremony which is traditionally organised by the Director of Film Festivals was contracted out to a private agency Red Chillies, owned by Karan Johar, who is a staunch member of the BJP. The guest of honour for the opening ceremony was Hema Malini, who is a Rajya Sabha BJP Member of Parliament. The star performer at the BJP function was also a bakht and an unlikely one at that, namely the great Salman Khan. The other Khans, of course, are persona-non-grata such as Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. Amir Khan has been barred because his wife suggested that under the BJP government, it would not be safe to live in the country. Akshay Kumar is already a citizen of Canada.
This is not the first instance of crony capitalism in Goa. Indeed, Goa is the biggest victim of crony capitalism. The biggest threat to Goa’s environment comes from crony capitalism. Gautam Adani, amongst the industrialists who are very close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi secured a huge coal concession in Carmichael in Australia. The project is expected to produce 10 million tonnes per year. Though as the crow flies Kolkatta is the closest port to download the coal, due to objections by Mamata-didi, the Calcutta Port Trust refused to set up a coal berth for the Adanis. It was easy for Gautam Adani to shift his coal unloading facilities to Goa which has a BJP government and has the patronage of Minister for National Highways and Ports Nitin Gadkari.

GOA may have at least temporarily relieved of the pollution caused by the transport and export of iron ore. But the quantity of coal being imported into Goa is 20 times the quantity of iron ore which was exported at the peak of the demand during the China Olympics. Adanis who had already had a coal unloading berth at the Mormugao Port Trust have been allowed to expand the coal unloading capacity to over 25 million tonnes annually. No doubt as the mining of the concessions in Australia grows, the quantity will also increase. Goa will become the dirtiest cargo port in the country. Adani has chosen Goa to import his coal even though he owns two ports in Gujarat, namely Mundhra and the JNU container port which he bought recently.
Nitin Gadkari has not only permitted MPT to increase the coal unloading capacity. From the port, the coal which is meant for the Jindal steel and aluminium plants in Karnataka and the Adani thermal power plant located at Hospet. The existing national highways are not broad enough and strong enough to carry the weight of the coal trucks. This is why the national highways passing through Goa to Karnataka are being expanded on a war footing. Never mind that this involves the destruction of several ancestral homes in various parts of the state.

THE BULK of the coal will, however, be transported by the South Western Railway which operates between Vasco da Gama and Bengaluru and passes through Hospet. The existing South Western Railway line is more than adequate for the transport of passengers. However, it is not adequate to carry the hugely higher volumes of cargo which primarily consists of coal. This is why the South Western Railway is being double-tracked. Which means that instead of just one railway line, there will be two railway lines now so that the transport of the coal cargo is smooth. When there was only one line, both passengers and cargo had to wait at a bypass to let the main train pass. Now the waiting time has been cut as the number of trips undertaken not by the passenger trains but by the cargo trains can be increased exponentially.
As in the case of the expansion of the national highways, the doubling of the South Western Railway will also affect built up structures including ancestral homes. In Cansaulim, for instance, the additional track will pass literally through the residence of the former chief minister, the late Dr Proto Barbosa, who came to power after the toppling of the Rane government in the late 80s. Similarly, several residential houses and commercial establishments will have to be demolished to provide the additional space for the second track of the South Western Railway to be laid. In several parts of south Goa, there have been agitations and work on the doubling of the tracks has been blocked by local citizens led by Goencho Awaaz.

NITIN GADKARI who built the express E-Way between Mumbai and Pune was keen on building an expressway between Goa and Mumbai. The expressway between Mumbai and Pune has cut down the travel time from ten hours to less than three hours. Fortunately, the Bombay High Court turned down the proposal by Nitin Gadkari to build an expressway between Goa and Mumbai. The Bombay High Court told the minister to first repair the potholes between Goa and Sindhudurg. The Mopa airport was also originally proposed by Nitin Gadkari not for the benefit of Goa but for the developments of the coastal areas of Maharashtra such as Vengurla.
Crony capitalism is the name of the game not just in Goa but in the entire country. When Gautam Adani secured the franchise to mine for coal in Australia, the deal was to be funded by the State Bank of India (SBI). In the wake of stiff opposition the proposal was dropped. There is strong resistance to the opening up of the Christchurch coal reef in Australia itself. In the context of the ongoing debate on climate change, a decision was taken recently in Glassgow by world leaders to reduce fossil fuels by 30% over the next decade. Of all the three power generation technologies, namely hydro, nuclear and thermal, the last is the most polluting. India has the largest number of thermal powers which are adding to the problem of climate change.
It is not only the widening of the national highways and the double-tracking of the South Western Railway which are matters of concern to Goans. The Central government recently decided to nationalise all the rivers in the country. This means that the states will have no control over the use to which rivers are put. Historically, iron ore mining has been profitable in Goa because the ore has been transported from the pitheads to the harbour by barges. Several jetties are currently being set up on the Sal River in south Goa which will probably be used for storage and transport of coal just as barges used to be used for transport of iron.
It is not just Goa that has been a victim of crony capitalism. The Narendra Modi government has decided to sell all the “temples” of modern India which the first prime minister of India Jawarharlal Nehru had commissioned for building. There is already a proposal for selling the Oil & Natural Gas Commission which is the largest producer of domestic gas in the country to the Mukesh Ambani Group of Reliance. Incidentally, the Mukesh Ambani Group of Reliance has already entered into an agreement with the Saudi Arabia giant Armaco which make it a monopoly on both petroleum, diesel and cooking gas. Is it any surprise the prices of oil, petroleum and cooking gas are shooting up continuously in the country? It is not because Narendra Modi forcibly imposed a hug on Pope Francis that the price of petroleum and diesel have been reduced a bit. This is because of the forthcoming elections in Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh.

IT IS, of course, commendable that Air India has gone back to the Tatas. It was ironically acquired by the Indian government at the instance of the first prime minister, Jawarharlal Nehru. It is not widely known that Ratan Tata had to pay a huge amount for the Modi Cares Fund to buy back his own airline started by his uncle JRD Tata. Though the fund is called PM Cares, it is outside the purview of the Right to Information Act and nobody knows to what use it is put.
You must wondering why BSNL network has collapsed. All the senior staff of the BSNL have been given voluntarily retirement. The linesmen who have retired have not been replaced. All this is because it is proposed to sell BSNL to Jio, the Mukesh Ambani telecom company. This is because BSNL is the only telecom company in the country which has underground fibre optic cables from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari. There are strong objections to the towers being put up for fear of radiation damage to the health of residents in the vicinity. Reliance has killed all the other telecom companies like Vodafone and Idea which have merged, and Airtel, by shifting the revenue model to data rather than calls.
For the first time, the private sector in the country has been allowed to make defence equipment. It may be recalled that when Narendra Modi went to Paris to strike the Rafael fighter aircraft deal, he was accompanied by Anil Ambani. Part of the deal was that a substantial part of the Rafael purchase would be assembled at a defence facility to be put up by Anil Ambani. Though the local CBI has given a clean chit to Narendra Modi on charges of kickbacks in the deal, French media continues to allege massive kickbacks. The price of the Rafael aircrafts sold to India is much higher than those sold to other countries.
There are strong rumours that the Hindustan Aircraft Ltd (HAL) and the Indian Telephone industries which were pioneers promoted by Nehru as public sector units will be sold to the Adanis and the Ambanis. It is even proposed that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) which was the baby of the former president Abdul Kalam will become the Indian version of the American millionaire created private space company Bezo. It is Jeff Bezo, who has built and launched the spaceships which carry American and other astronauts to the international space station.

IN THE kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed is the king. This is based on a short story by Oscar Wilde. Similarly, in a kingdom of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah everything will go digital for the benefit of Mukesh Ambani. Already you can register sales deeds online. You do not have to go the passport office to submit your documents. You can do it online. Even if you want to get married, you can avoid the first trip by sending your documents online. You can consult doctors telephonically and get your pathology reports online. It is the telecom companies which are making the killing on the COVID-induced digital transformation of the world. No wonder the suspicion persists that COVID was created by Bill Gates in collaboration with perhaps Mukesh Ambani. Not surprisingly, the rich have become super rich, the middle class marginalised and the poor have shrunk to new depths of poverty.


  1. GSRP/RG is saying Ghati to non-Goans. GSRP/RG is anti-National party, because they say Ghati to Indians who are staying in Goa. Ghati is a bad word for Indians who are staying in Goa.

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