STRANGE: Even after 61 years of Liberation the national flag is still hoisted at the Adil Shah Palace in Panaji although the Legeslative Assembly and secretariat have shifted to Porvorim for quite a few years now.


AND a few stray thoughts on the Ghar Ghar Tiranga campaign to further polarize India and Goa along communal lines. For a Saturday following the week when Home Minister Amit Shah’s advocate Uday U Lalit in the Tulsi Prajapati encounter case has succeeded the very honest and respectable Ramana Maharshi. For a Saturday following the week when the national figures relating to primary and secondary education, showed that the standards in Goa were very much lower than the rest of the country. For a Saturday following the week when the Amazon online shopping site has jumped into a junkyard for second hand and expired goods. For a Saturday following the week when all the biggest brand names in the world seem to think the most profitable investment to do is to trade in property in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the shadow of Karnataka seems to be growing bigger and darker in Goa.
AND a few stray thoughts on the government’s Ghar Ghar Tiranga giving the impression that it is another excuse for polarizing the country along communal lines. There is no questioning the fact that as citizens of India all of us are and should be patriotic. This includes residents of Goa who joined the mainstream of India 14 years later then the rest of the country. It is regrettable that many Goan still think that Goa was better off under Portuguese rule, where at least law and order and the roads did not collapse.
For instance the causeway between Ribandar and Old Goa build over 400 years ago is still standing strong. The Ribandar Causeway was built when the Portuguese government decided to shift the capital from Old Goa to Panaji. It is not widely known that the original capital of Hindu Goa was at Goa Velha in Aggasaim from where the Kadamba empire ruled over Goa.
The problem is that unlike in the rest of the country the people of Goa know very little about Indian history. This is particularly true for the over 50s generation. The over 50s generation only learnt about Portugal and other fascist countries like Italy ruled by Mussolini. They knew nothing about the unique non-violent struggle for the independence of India by Mahatma Gandhi, in contrast to the armed invasion of Goa by the Indian Army.
India gained freedom from British colonial rule without a single shot fired. Whenever there was violence during any of the agitations connected with the freedom struggle Gandhi would suspend the agitation, preferring to go to jail. The most famous example being the dandi march. The dandi march has nothing to do with danda but refers to Gandhi’s insistence that the British cannot impose a tax on salt and encouraged people in the thousands to march with him to the seashore at Dandi in Gujarat to make their own sea salt.
Even after freedom came at midnight on the August 14 when the sub-continent was rudely divided into India and Pakistan, Gandhi continued to uphold non-violence. It was a bloody bath with communal riots breaking out on both sides of the border with Hindu families in Pakistan wanting to come to India and Muslims in India wanting to go to Pakistan.
In Calcutta (Kolkatta now) the riots went on for 22 days and ended only when Gandhi went on a non-stop fast prepared to starve to death and that’s when the Muslim leaders laid down their arms. No country in the world has achieved freedom through non-violent means like India. No country has declared itself a democratic socialistic republic like India. The difference between becoming independent and converting into a republic means that it is the Constitution which is supreme. A Constitution which guaranteed freedom of worship. A Constitution which guaranteed freedom of speech and expression. A Constitution which guaranteed freedom of movement from Jammu & Kashmir to Kanya Kumari. A Constitution which does not discriminate between its people on the basis of caste, religion, color or creed.
What should the national flag mean to you? What is the symbol of Ghar Ghar Tiranga campaign? It is unfortunate that the dominating color of the top panel of the national flag happens to be saffron. This is been exploited by the RSS karyakarta to project the false idea that India is already a Hindutva country. The ground reality is that the color saffron represents strength and courage. It represents the blood of our soldiers who have defended India, repeatedly.
I recall a speech given by a senior army officer to the jawan forces. He stressed that when the jawan were facing an enemy they were not worried about religion or caste or creed or even nationality of the enemy. Their only objective was to defend the country. “Desh ki raksha” is the motto of the army. The saffron color of the national flag definitely does not mean Hindutva.
The color would represent a lack of corruption, good governance. Equality before the law for all citizens. The color green means not just the green fields of India but the generous bounty of nature. It is nature which supports us, sustains us. Which is why it is very important in this times of rapid climatic changes that we should protect the environment.
The most important part of the tiranga is the “dharma chakra” of Ashoka at the centre. Ashoka, the great emperor, had decided to give up war after the bloody battle of Kalinga. Ashoka became a Buddhist and set up monasteries all over his vast kingdom. It was thanks to Ashoka that Buddhism spread to Burma, Nepal and most important of all to Japan, which went on to become the most industrialised country in the east.
The dharma chakra symbolizes the wheels of peace, prosperity and good fortune. The dharma chakra which has 60 spokes each symbolizes a virtue that Buddha held dear to his heart. If you do not feel in your heart that “Saare jahan se acha, Hindusta humara,” it would be act of hypocrisy on your part to talk about “ghar ghar tiranga.”
Our so called government servants have no choice because the Modi government has made it compulsory for every government servant to hoist the national flag over Independence Day on August 15. But in Goa people are asking, Where to get the national flag from? What should be at the center of the national flag? If by accident someone puts the hand symbol it becomes the Congress flag. If you put the clock it becomes the Nationalist Congress party flag. The tiranga is complete only if there is a vibrant dharma chakra at the center.
The BJP has already devalued the Indian tiranga. Historically, the code of conduct with regard to the national flag, required that it can only made of hand spun khadi. The BJP has declared that it can be made of polyester. The biggest manufacturer of polyester in the country is Reliance. Most of the cheap national flags available in the country are made in China.
Earlier the code was the flag must be hoisted at sunrise and brought down at sunset. Now we can fly the flag 24×7. The integrity and sanctity the national flag and its uniqueness has been undermined. It is not “ghar ghar tiranga” but “ghar ghar Hindutva.”

AND a few stray thoughts on Home Minister Amit Shah’s advocate Uday U Lalit in the Tulsi Prajapati encounter case who has succeeded the very honest and respectable Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana. Understandably, there are concerns that this would undermine the judiciary of the country. Just as there was a great concern when a bench of the Supreme Court ruled that Narendra Modi was not guilty of any of the charges against him in the post- Godhra riots in Gujarat in 2000; similarly the appointment of Amit Shah’s lawyer involved in the Prajapati encounter case, has raised questions about fair justice. It would seem that the SC is now packed with supporters of Hindutva. This is very dangerous as it will affect the minority communities.
Under Justice Ramana he insisted that there should be no discriminatory action against minorities. That nobody should kept in jail without sufficient reason. That bail, not jail, was the law of land. Despite which even Chief Justice Ramana could not prevent the denial of bail to activists of the Bhima Koregaon case.
It may be recalled that among the accused in the case is a famous computer scientist teaching in the Goa Institute of Management, Prof Teltumbde, and the late Fr Stan Swamy, a tribal activist, who died in custody. A number of very important cases are coming up and the decisions of the judges and particularly that of the chief justice will be crucial. The executive post has already been taken over by Narendra Modi & Co as they control 75% of seats in the Lok Sabha.
The legislative house which is the second most important wing of the government. The parliament and the legislative have been taken over by the BJP. The majority of the states are ruled by the BJP. At the centre the speaker suspended all the Congress members for protesting against the absurd targeting of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. In the Rajya Sabha the entire Opposition was suspended. In many states of the country the Opposition is not allowed to talk.
The third and the most important wing is the judiciary. This is because the judiciary does not go by the orders of the government. It does not go by the orders of the speaker. It does not even go by the order of the chief justice. There is a collegium of 34 judges now who decide important issues like the Babri Masjid and other cases of national importance.

AND a few stray thoughts on Chief Minister Pramod Sawant complaining that the standard of education in Goa is much lower than in the other states of the country. The standard of sports also seems to be much lower than in the other states of the country. In the ongoing Commonwealth Games in the UK wrestlers and boxers from the north-east have been winning medals after medals. The gold medallist in the javelian event in the Olympics games is a son of a labourer.
But coming back to education, forget about the quality of education, nobody in Goa seems to want to join the private engineering colleges. Except for the government engineering college there is a 50% vacancy in all the private engineering colleges like the Padre Conceicao College of Engineering, the Pillar Engineering Collage and the Don Bosco College of Engineering. In addition there is the Birla Institute of Engineering and National Institute of Information Technology and now Goa’s Indian Institute of Technology.
Nobody wants to become a super specialist in cancer or diabetes or a surgeon in medicine. Even with the lowered percentage 15% in the National Eligibility Test over 50% of the super speciality seats are vacant. So they reduced the qualifying percentage for super speciality courses to zero percent. The worse performance is at the primary level.
The Marathi medium primary schools are the worst affected and most of them are closed down. After Liberation there were 1,500 Marathi medium primary schools. Now there are less then 500. Everyone wants to go to not just English-medium schools but the upmarket khaas aadmi schools like Sharada Mandir.
A pioneer of education in Goa, Nisha D’Cunha, who used to run the Nisha’s Play School and Shiksha Niketan School in Porvorim, passed away tragically on August 6, 2022. There are many fancy schools in the State of Goa now including the Gera schools which claim that tennis champ Leander Paes teaches their students.
But the problem is that the syllabus set down by the government is so restricted that teachers do not have much freedom to teach. In fact, many teachers are very upset with the chief minister’s remark. They point out they cannot teach without proper infrastructure. There are many government schools where teachers have to teach four classes. If we want good education, we must have a strong foundation. The covid-19 lockdown has destroyed the education system in the State.
AND a last stray thought on how an online shopping site has jumped into a dump yard for second hand and expire goods. Amazon has been ordered to return the money of clients supplied with substandard pressure cookers. Similarly, other websites have been accused of sending outdated or damaged goods. Online shopping has become a nightmare with no guarantee of quality. It is better to go back to good old-fashioned shopping where you can see, feel and ask questions to the salesperson who is selling you something on the spot and face to face.

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