CONFINED: All the Congress candidates given tickets to contest on Goa’s Valentine’s Day assembly polling were confined in Bambolim Beach Resort to prevent them from defecting to the BJP!


AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when it would appear that Arvind Kejriwal would be the main challenger to Narendra Modi in the 2024 Parliamentary Elections. For a Saturday following the week when the Congress imprisoned its candidates fearing that they may be tempted to defect. For a Saturday following the week when the Russian invasion of Ukraine has dramatized how interdependent the world has become. For a Saturday following the week when the Church is reported to have leased out the Caritas Holiday Home at St Inez to a private party. For a Saturday following the week when we discovered that Goa does not have a veterinary college although the population of pets is growing phenomenally. For a Saturday following the week when there was confusion about the future of education in this country.

AND a few stray thoughts on the perception that Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi party high command Arvind Kejriwal is the most likely challenger to Narendra Modi in the 2024 elections. Any party or politician who wants to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to win over the states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Orissa. The states have historically been referred to as the BIMARU states of India. Though they are no longer sick and many of them have seen rapid development, they occupy the majority of seats in Parliament.
No leader or party like the Trinamool Congress for instance may dream of challenging Narendra Modi by concentrating on small states like Goa and the North East. These small states together have less than 50 seats in the 552-seats Parliament. Any party has to win 300+ seats in the parliamentary elections to be able to stake its claim to form the government.
Unlike Mamata Banerjee, who has been focusing on tiny states like Goa, Kejriwal very shrewdly concentrated more on larger states like Punjab, Uttarkhand and Uttar Pradesh, which went to the polls during this phase of the elections. The gamble seems to have paid off as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has swept Punjab. Admittedly AAP has not had much success in Uttar Pradesh as the vote has been split between the Samajwadi Party, the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj, not to mention the Congress.
In Punjab it was a tri-cornered contest between the Congress, the BJP and AAP. With Kejriwal’s victory in Punjab, he will be the chief minister of the first state which is completely controlled by AAP. Though Kejriwal is the chief minister of New Delhi which he won with a huge majority, he had virtually no power. New Delhi being the national capital all power rested with the lieutenant governor, as New Delhi is a Union Territory. The Supreme Court itself has endorsed the decision of the Central government that all decisions taken by the AAP government be approved by the Lt Governor Pradeep Baijal.
We can understand the Central government wanting to keep law and order with itself. But absurdly the Kejriwal government had to take the permission of the LG even for home-to-home distribution of rations during Covid-19 lockdowns.
With the Punjab victory Arvind Kejriwal will now be a full-fledged chief minister and he will probably hand over Delhi to his trusted lieutenant, Manish Sisodia. Prashant Kishor has obviously backed the wrong horse for challenging Narendra Modi in the 2024 parliamentary elections.

WITH all exit polls predicting a hung legislative assembly in Goa, the Congress has gone to the extent of keeping its candidates in jail. Not the Colvale Jail where normal criminals are kept. All the Congress candidates given tickets to contest Goa’s Valentine’s Day assembly elections on February 14 have been confined to the Bambolim Beach Resort near capital city Panaji.
There was a lot of nervousness not just about who will sleep with whom but more importantly, who will chief minister of Goa. Michael staked his claim publicly and went to Delhi to meet the First Family of the Congress. Of course he called it a courtesy call. Digambar Kamat, the only Congress chief minister who completed two terms in the office went chasing Michael Lobo to Delhi to have a meeting with Congress heir Rahul Gandhi.
On the eve of counting all parties had their jailors rushing to Goa. The chief strategist of the Congress party P C Chidambaram, Dinesh Gundu Rao in-charge of the Goa assembly elections, and a couple of additional bodyguards, already arrived in Goa on March 16 to keep a watch at Bambolim Beach Resort. Though Prashant Kishor claimed in a public online interview to The Wire that he was not involved with the Goa elections, he is also back in Goa along with Mahua Moitra and Derek O’Brien.
This follows the exit poll prediction that the TMC-MGP alliance would get two to five seats. Sadly for Arvind Kejriwal and all the AAP enthusiasts, the exit polls have clubbed AAP with the others and have not even dignified it with the chance of getting any seats. This is ironic as the public perception is that the AAP could do very well in Goa while the TMC would score a duck.
It may be recalled that there were loud protests from the thousands recruited by the TMC that they had been abandoned by Prashant Kishor and his IPAC gang. What Prashant Kishor does not realize is that if the TMC-MGP alliance wins any seats it will be because of the MGP and not the TMC.

AND a few stray thoughts on how the Russian Invasion of Ukraine has dramatized how interdependent the world has become. Who would imagine that the price of sunflower oil in India will be affected by the conflict in Ukraine? The ground reality is that Ukraine is the largest producer of sunflowers.
Similarly the prices of crude which is the base for petroleum and LPG has also been affected worldwide, particularly Europe. This is because Ukraine accounts for 45% of the reserves of petroleum and gas in Europe. While the prices of petrol and diesel, not to mention cooking gas, have been going up indecently in India, the fate of Europe is much worse. This is because Europe is cold continent desperately dependent on fossil fuels for heating and not for cooling as in India.
It is also not widely known that Ukraine has the largest reserves of uranium and lithium. The former is the key ingredient in making nuclear bombs and the latter goes into making phone batteries last longer. Ukraine can compete with Silicon Valley in the number of hardware and software companies. So what happens in Ukraine will ironically affect even Russia. The American billionaire Elon Musk, on a personal request from President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy has put up hundreds of Star- links so that internet connections cannot be tampered with in Ukraine.
Though formally World War III may not have started, we are on the brink of it, considering that the biggest nuclear power plant is now in the hands of Russia. The most literally amusing part of the tragic saga of Ukraine is that its president is a former comedian. Starting off with stand-up comedy, he owned his own video company and his shows are as popular in Russia as in Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a joker in real life from all accounts and he became president of Ukraine. But there is nothing amusing about his determination to save his country. When he was offered refuge in Poland, Zelenskyy retorted that what he wants is ammunition. The joke is on Russia which thought it could take the comic- turned-president lightly. In fact, the Ukrainian president has even mobilized the civilian population to fight Russian soldiers on the streets of Ukrainian capital city Kyiv.

AND a few stray thoughts on the shocking fact that Goa does not have either a veterinary college or an agricultural university. The Portuguese are given credit for setting up the oldest medical college in Asia when they set up the predecessor of the Goa Medical College. But they did so not because of any concern for the health of the Goan population. They desperately needed doctors for their much larger colonies like Angola in Africa.
Obviously the Portuguese were not interested in pet dogs and cats and it thought it would be a waste of money to setting up a veterinary college. Which is why the population of dogs if not cats and the holy cow in is higher than the human population in Goa. Although there are no veterinary colleges in Goa. There are only about 122 odd vets in Goa, many of whom do not even condescend to touch the animals they are required to treat in emergencies.
If a Goan wants to become a vet, they have to appear for the National Eligibility-cum- Entrance Test exam for medical professionals. For Goans the closest veterinary college in Mumbai offers a four-year course in veterinary medical science. Goans who pass NEET prefer to seek admission to dental colleges or even Ayurveda college run by Subash Shirodkar — than attend a veterinary college in Mumbai. Even much smaller places like Ranchi and Patna have veterinary colleges. I suspect that its only states with a larger holy cow population which have shown enthusiasm in setting up veterinary colleges. Even though Goa has historically been green paddy fields flourishing even in khazan lands, there is no agricultural university in the state.
The only organization which takes any interest in imparting farming skills is the Don Bosco College of Agriculture in Sulcorna. More recently the Don Bosco order with a lot of help from Miguel Braganza, who used to work for the Goa Agricultural Department, secured permission to convert the original school into a college. It has yet to get permission to set up an agriculture university. The closest agricultural university is in Dharwad. Though Goa does not have an agriculture university, it has a large agriculture research centre at Ela in Old Goa, which is sponsored by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Maybe the ICAR doesn’t want any competition.

And a few stray thoughts on the Diocese of Goa leasing the Caritas Holiday Home at St Inez to a private party to run it as a hotel. The Caritas Holiday Home at St Inez served as a sanctuary for visiting priests and experts participating in seminars conducted by Caritas. It was also open to the public for meetings and conferences. The holiday home is part of the much larger Caritas institutions in Goa like the Centre for the Handicapped in Old Goa.
Caritas is also the only organization in the State which runs a home nursing course for SSC-pass students of either gender in Aldona. Unfortunately, though the demand for home care nurses both male and female is huge, the training centre has only 30 seats. Home care is extremely expensive regardless of whether it is nursing care at residence of patient or hospital rooms. The worst affected are senior citizens.
I recall that during my frequent stays at the Goa Medical College & Hospital, even untrained attendants demanded Rs1,000 for doing a 12-hour shift. There is a private home nursing centre in Siolim which charges a huge amount. My experience with it has been bitter, as they even send young men from the North East without any training as attendants.
Within the GMC itself is a racket in which doctors recommend untrained attendants or retired Class 4 staff for their services as patient attendants. Even more shocking is the complaint filed by the former head of KRIPA, the drug rehabilitation centre in Mumbai, against both the garden and the Archbishop. Apparently, the top clerical authorities of Mumbai, have sold much of the property and assets of the drug rehabilitation centre. On turning 80, Fr Joseph Pereira had handed over charge as managing trustee to a trusted aide.
Unfortunately for Father Joe as he was popularly called, he was betrayed by his own confidant. Fr Joe used to hold alcohol and drug de-addiction camps even in Goa. Besides being an expert on drug de-addiction he was also a much respected veteran yoga teacher who trained under the legendary yoga guru B K S Iyenger of Pune, who specialized in therapeutic yogaasana which he proved could cure anything. A KRIPA yoga centre was set up in Panaji in association with local youth at St Inez but it has now shifted location we believe.
This is the latest in instances of the Church misusing its power. It may be recalled that the Archdiocese of Goa sold Vanshi island of Divar to a Bangalore businessman who wanted to set up a gold course and marina. Vanshi island which has a population and even a church was sold ostensibly to raise funds for the Santa Monica Convent in Old Goa.
The Santa Monica Convent was set up during the Portuguese colonial regime for widows of Portuguese soldiers or Indian women who had been abandoned. It had received huge donations by way of land and funds. The first major property of the Santa Monica Convent which was sold to a pesticide manufacturers MNC Sandoz, which in turn sold it to Indian company Deccan Chemicals. However, the plant is still called the Santa Monica plant of Deccan Chemicals.

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