NIGHT LIFE: Even more then the beaches it is the casinos and the night life which attracts tourists. It is particularly popular with single women.
By Rajan Narayan
AND a few stray thoughts and a few observations for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when social activists gained a major victory in protecting the ecology of Goa. For a Saturday following the week when Sudin Dhavalikar got the power portfolio. For a Saturday following the week when the BJP government at the Centre tried to impose Hindi on the whole country. For a Saturday following the week when the official language Konkani of Goa is sought to be buried by Dr Pramod Sawant’s BJP government. For a Saturday following the week when Goa seems to have already become the nightlife capital of the country.
And a few stray thoughts on social activists scoring a major victory in protecting the environment. The Goa bench of the Bombay High Court upheld the verdict of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court that the alignment of the new transmission line to Tamnar should be along the existing line. Former power minister Nilesh Cabral had proposed acquiring large areas of land and cutting several thousand trees to set up a new 400 W transmission station in the heart of the Mollem forest. Senior Adv Nigel Costa Faria convinced the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court that this would cause unbearable damage to the ecology and the biodiversity of the Mollem sanctuary.
For quite some time activists in South Goa led by Judith Almeida and the Benaulim MLA Capt Venzy have been fighting the three projects sought to be implemented by the Goa government for the benefit of coal baron Gautam Adani. Adani has secured a huge franchise to operate a very large coal concession in Australia. The coal is meant for the Jindal steel and aluminium plants in Hospet in Karnataka and the thermal power station of the Adanis also in Karnataka.
The Centre had started implementing the double-tracking of the South-Western railway from Vasco to Bangalore. This in simple language means there will be an additional track as against the single track on which the trains to Karnataka operate. The advantage of double-tracking is that the number of trips that goods trains can make will increase substantially. The activists rightly pointed out that the only beneficiary of the double-tracking would be Adani and Jindal as there is no significant increase in passenger traffic from Goa to Karnataka. The hordes of tourists from Karnataka who flock to Goa either come in their SUVs or fly to Goa.
At the insistence of the Union Minister of Highways Nitin Gadkari, the national highways leading to Karnataka are also being widened. Both the double-tracking of the South-Western Railway and expansion of the national highways to Karnataka has resulted in the cutting down of thousands of trees. Several ancestral homes particularly in Majorda and Cansaulim are also likely to be affected by the double-tracking of the South-Western railway.
This would include the ancestral home of the former Chief Minister of Goa Dr Proto Barboza which is just beyond the level crossing in Cansaulim. The activists have opposed all three projects which pose a major threat to the ecology of Goa. The government challenged the decision of the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court directing them to follow the guidelines of the CEC to align the new overhead transmission lines alongside the present alignment. There is already a transmission line to Mollem but the former power minister was seeking to lay a fresh transmission line to double the capacity for the benefit of the additional trains which would be operating with the double-tracking of the South-Western Railway.
The Union railway ministry has stepped up the efforts to lay overhead power cables to save diesel which is the main fuel used by railways. The Supreme Court will hopefully intervene to stop the double-tracking of the southwestern railway and the expansion of the national highway leading to Karnataka.
It is unfortunate that when important verdicts like this are upheld by the Supreme Court, the credit inevitably goes to the Goa Foundation. This is because it is the Goa Foundation that has the contacts to hire lawyers to fight the case in the Supreme Court. In the process, the contribution of local activists and lawyers like Nigel Costa da Faria are not given credit due to them. The ecology of Goa is still under major threat as the Centre has conferred autonomy on the Mormugao Port Trust. The Mormugao Port Trust has now become the Mormugao Port Authority and that means the state will have no control over it decisions and actions. Already the MPA has abused its powers to privatize two of berths which have been handed over to the Adanis and Jindals.
AND A few stray thoughts on Sudin Dhavlikar getting the Power portfolio in the allocation of departments to the three additional ministers. We understand that the local senior leaders of the BJP were against any alliance with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP). Particularly because the Dhavlikar brother who control the party had entered into an alliance with the Trinamool Congress. But Dhavalikar has a reputation of always managing to get the ministry irrespective of which party forms the government. He has been a minister both in the Congress coalition government and the BJP government. Indeed, he was part of the cabinet of the late Manohar Parrikar.
But when Pramod Sawant took over following the sad demise of Manohar Parrikar, he was dropped from the cabinet. It was on the insistence of central leaders like Nitin Gadkari and Amit Shah that Sawant was compelled to accommodate him in the new cabinet.
In the excitement about the allocation of the power portfolio to Dhavalikar what has been missed out is the fact that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has retained the education portfolio. Presumably to carry out the national RSS policy of saffronising education. It maybe recalled that all states ruled by the BJP have been directed to project national and local majority community leaders in school text books. The RSS has always claimed the credit for the liberation of Diu and Nagar Haveli by the Azad Gomantak Dal without any help from the Indian Army. There is some truth in this as the then chief minister of the Bombay Presidency which included Gujarat, prevented the Portuguese garrison in Daman from coming to the rescue of the Portuguese soldiers in Diu and Nagar Haveli.
AND a few stray thoughts on the attempt by the Modi government to impose Hindi on the rest of the country. As of now Hindi is only one of the national languages. Every state has its own identity and its own official language. It may be recalled that there was a huge agitation in Goa to recognize Konkani as the official language of the state. This is not the first time that the Centre has tried to impose Hindi on the states of the south which are very proud of their own languages.
I recall that way back in the 60s when I was in college in Bangalore, there was a huge agitation against the attempt to force local students to compulsorily study Hindi. South of the Vindhya ranges none of the states from Andhra Pradesh to Kerala to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and the new state of Telangana have ever accepted Hindi. In states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala the locals are fanatical about their own language. If you communicate with them in Hindi or even English the chances are they will not reply to you.
All the sign boards of not just government offices but even private shops and establishments are in the local language. Tamil Nadu in particular is very proud of the Tamil language which they insist is superior even to Sanskrit. Successive chief ministers of Tamil Nadu have always spoken and written in classic idiomatic Tamil. Even in states like Maharashtra, Hindi is not acceptable. The Shiv Sena has always been insisting that all business establishments should display their identity in Marathi. The claim is that Hindi is the language spoken by the largest number of Indians and is the official language of Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in the country. Hindi also is the predominant language in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar.
But even in the case of the states which are considered part of the Hindi belt, every state has a different dialects. In Bihar for instance there are half-a-dozen dialects in which Hindi is spoken. When I was involved in famine relief work in Bihar in the 60s, I encountered a dialect called “khadi boli” which uses a different vocabulary altogether. When a local of Bodhgaya told me that sand had fallen into a well he used a Hindi dialect which gave me the impression that a bear had fallen into the well. The famous linguist Naomi Chomski has pointed out that the dialect of a language changes every 20 kms. In London you are unlikely to understand a word of what the locals speak. Because they do not speak English but English in Cockney.
PARTY DESTINATION GOA
AND a few stray thoughts on Goa increasingly being treated as a party destination even by single women. I discovered this from a Facebook post from a lady who wanted to know which was the best place in North Goa to buy a house for her to be part of the hectic nightlife in Goa from Friday evening to Sunday night.
Apparently, she is not the exception going by the tremendous response she has received to her enquiry for the best location to enjoy the nightlife of Goa. Initially, I mistakenly thought that the post was from a call girl looking for a base to conduct her business. But apparently not since there was a response from other single women who have moved to Goa to enjoy the nightlife.
Though I’ve lived in Goa for more than 40 years I have never thought of Goa as a hot nightlife destination. Admittedly groups of local young people like to party during weekends at Anjuna, Vagator and Morjim beach belt where almost every other hotel or shack doubles as a night club. I was however unaware that even outsiders from Delhi, Bombay and even Calcutta, have started re- locating in Goa primarily because of its night life. This could possibly be due to the crackdown on nightlife in BJP-ruled states. Or the greater worry is that if the popularity of Goa as a nightlife destination is encouraged because of the easy availability of liquor and drugs there will be removal of all curbs against the lingering Covid-19 pandemic.
Goan nightclubs are not quite as safe as they are projected. If you are watching your drink there is every chance that someone may put a few drops of ketamine in it, the classic date rape drug. Ketamine is actually an anaesthetic drug that comes in liquid form, making it easier to spike the drink of a young or attractive lady. I’m told that ketamine affects the memory temporarily and slows down body reactions with the result that the young lady wakes up without a clear memory of what transpired.
Wittingly or unwittingly the Goa government also seems to be determined to make Goa the nightclub capital of India. Already there are a variety of attractions from gambling, to drugs, to nightclubs belting out trance music. It is significant that neither the chief minister nor tourism minister have made any commitment to the banning of casinos, leave alone shifting them of the Mandovi river.
GOODBYE COMMUNAL HARMONY
AND the last stray though for another Saturday. It is unfortunate that the RSS is polarizing Goa on communal lines. For over 500 years at least all communities in Goa have lived in communal harmony. There is no hard evidence of the BJP’s claim that more than 500 temples were destroyed by the Portuguese colonial regime. As far as I am aware it was only during the brief period of the Inquisition that some temples were targeted.
In most cases the Hindu population of the old conquests (primarily Salcette) took away their deities to Ponda taluka which was ruled by the Bhonsules of Sawantwadi and had the protection of Maratha chieftain and king Shivaji Maharaj. Since Liberation Goa is one of the few states which has never witnessed communal clashes. With the exception of the minor clash in Gudem, Curchorem.
The locals objected to the use of a housing board residence as a Madrassa for the local Muslim children. Then as now rumors were spread by hardcore Hindutva fanatics that Muslims armed with swords had come in large numbers from Karnataka, which was totally untrue but was used by mischievous elements to target the houses and property owned by Muslims in the Curchorem Sanvordem area.
The incident which took place on Ram Navami day in Baina (dealt with in detail elsewhere in this edition) was part of the national strategy of the RSS to target the Muslim minority. In the past also when Muslim festivals have coincided with Hindu festivals there has never been any problem.