GOLD: Antonio Luis Santos da Costa of Goa-born parents, became prime minister of Portugal not once but twice. Antonio was responsible for the return of the gold which Goans had taken loans against and which had been taken to Portugal.
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday following the week when we think Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Luis Santos da Costa can do more good for Goa. Antonio da Costa of Goan origin was elected twice as prime minister of Portugal. For a Saturday following the week when Rishi Sunak, sworn in as the prime minister of United Kingdom, returned to India all the crown jewels like the Kohinoor diamond which was stolen from India. For a Saturday following the week when after two years the much desired charter tourism has revived and Goa is rejoicing over Kazakhstan charter flight.
AND a few stray thoughts on Antonio da Costa of Goan origin being elected as prime minister of Portugal twice over. I recall a visit of Antonio da Costa to Goa for the first time after he became prime minister of Portugal in 1985. He came to Goa in 1987 when I was at the OHeraldo in the early days and recall devoting an entire issue in Portuguese to the visit. I was also invited for an exclusive lavish sit-down banquet at the Cidade-de-Goa. All the Portuguese Goans of the big families kept calling me up for passes for the exclusive dinner. The prime minister’s entourage had brought tons of bacalhau, which is a favorite salted cod fish of the Portuguese palate. There was of course bebinca and the bol sans rival. Goan industrialists and officials proudly displayed the medals given to them by the Portuguese government. There was a lot of envy that I, and outsider or bhaile, should have been invited to sit down with Portugal’s prime minister for dinner.
UK’s new prime minister, Rishi Sonak, should follow the example of Antonio da Costa. It was only after the first visit of da Costa to Goa that Portugal officially recognized Goa as part of the Indian state. All through the 1970s Portugal’s dictator Salazar had refused to accept and recognize the Liberation of Goa. In fact, he stipulated that any Goan born before 1961 would be considered as a Portuguese citizen along with their children and their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren – all would be entitled to Portuguese citizenship and visas.
There was not much interest in Goa in the beginning about migrating to Portugal, since language is the main problem with the younger people. Then Portugal joined the European Economic Community and members of the EEC could travel from one country to another country in Europe on a Schengen visa and this included work permits to migrate to the United Kingdom and many had this in mind when they went off to Portugal which became a getaway to the UK. The door was after the UK left the EEC. The UK’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak should do something about the security of those who came to work in the UK on Portuguese work visas.
The most important contribution made by Antonio da Costa was to bring back the gold which was pledged to Banco Nacional Ultramarino which was the primary bank of the Portuguese in Goa. It was taken over later by the State Bank of India headed by Goenkar PG Kakodkar. The bank used to lend money to people in need, both common people as businessmen, against deposits of gold as security.
Just before Liberation of Goa the bank transferred all the gold to Portugal. So thousands if not lakhs of people lost their hard-earned earnings. It was Eduardo Falerio, then the Union Minister for External Affairs, who negotiated with the Portuguese government for return of the gold loans. Fortunately, Antonio da Costa’s parents had taken a gold loan from a Portuguese bank. It took 15 years finally for the gold to be returned to Goa. By that time many of the small people who had borrowed had passed on in life. Presumably there is still unclaimed gold lying with the SBI which is waiting for the real borrowers to come.
AND a few stray thoughts on Rishi Sonak of the United Kingdom who may return to India all the crown jewels including the Kohinoor diamond which was stolen from India. It is well known that after the takeover over of the British empire by the late Queen Victoria, lots of jewelry was stolen from India for the British crown. The theory is that the princes who surrendered to the British and accepted them as masters had gifted the jewelry to the British royalty.
Closer to the truth is that much of the jewelry was taken at the point of a gun. Most of the jewels in the crown of Queen Elizabeth (who passed on recently) now belongs to King Charles III and his consort queen Camilla. It must be admitted that British India’s royal families spent all their fabulous wealth on collecting jewelry and living the royal life, caring little for the welfare of their citizens.
The plight of the Indian people in those times has been dramatized in Aamir Khan’s film Lagan in which it is depicted that the British refused to give the villagers enough time in times of famine when there was rain, to pay the revenue due to the British crown. The pets of royalty were treated better than the people.
It was a situation somewhat similar to what happened in France when the report goes that queen Marie Antoinette when she saw the angry citizens of France protesting against the opulence of the French royal court is famously quoted as saying if the people have no bread to eat, they can eat cake. The British undoubtedly brought some good to their prime colony of the British Raj in India and this includes the education system at school and university level. They set up Bombay University and universities in Madras, Calcatta, Delhi. This education is what freed the people to learn about freedom and equality and exploitation and gave birth to the idea of a freedom movement against the British in India.
Jawaharlal Nehru who was one of the leaders of the freedom movement, spent many years in London, and was impressed by the Socialists. The great Mahatma Gandhi himself spent over ten years in South Africa as a lawyer and started his civil disobedience movement from there. The fact remains that the British did not allow any Indian to become a minister leave alone a prime minister.
It is a lack of leaders and morality in governance in the UK which has in recent times led to the rise of someone like Rishi Sunak to make it to the top of the power ladder. His predecessor Boris Johnson was accused of breaking his own ban on parties during Covid-19. Boris was forced to resign. Liz Truss, who succeeded him, hasn’t a clue about economics work. The British economy has degenerated into a total mess. It requires a special economic expert to put the economy on its feet again.
Interestingly, the biggest industrial manufacturing of the premium Range Rovers and Jaguars is now run by the Tatas who are still the largest employer in the UK. Rishi Sunak is not of Indian origin. He is of Pakistan/African origin. He is the son of doctor who settled in Kenya but Rishi was born later on in England. He went to Oxford and on to Stanford University where the largest number of Indians seem to find their wives. Anyway, in this case too, it was at Stanford that Rishi met Akshata, daughter of Sudha Narayan Murthy. That is how she got 2% of the shares of Infosys which are reportedly worth 700 million pounds. It makes her richer than the queen or current king of England.
The Conservative party of the UK did not vote for Rishi Sunak because of any Indian roots real or unreal. It voted for him because he has a convincing personality and ability to be able to get the UK out of the economic mess it is in. The former banking investor may well perform a miracle and get the British economy on its feet again. As in India unemployment is the biggest problem in Britain too.
Unlike in India in the UK parents expect their children once they reach of age and even at the age of 16 to go out and make a life for themselves independent of their parents. In the UK less than 5% parents can afford the very expensive higher university education for their children and they must find financial support for higher education if they wish.
AND a few stray thoughts on when I discovered that Konkani cinema has not benefited much from the International Film Festival of India which is in its 53rd avatar in Goa later this year from November 20 to 28. When IFFI was brought to Goa in 2004 by then chief minister, Manohar Parrikar one of the reasons given was that this would give a major boost to Konkani cinema.
Manohar Parrikar went on a demolition spree to create the infrastructure for IFFI. The old Panaji market and part of the old GMC buildings razed for a new INOX multiplex to come up. Make no mistake about the fact that INOX is government property leased to INOX, which is owned by a Gujarati company. Parrikar even destroyed the historic Bandodkar football stadium to create screening structures for IFFI films and events. Elaborate changes were made at the Kala Academy Mandovi river side like the building of a jetty for VIP delegates to land because it made it easier for those staying at the Taj Aguada. They could arrive by special boats for the opening and closing ceremonies of IFFI in Panaji venues and also for the screening of films. But for some reason the jetty was never eventually used for reasons of security.
For the benefit of Goans Parrikar had a huge mela at the Caranzalem watersports grounds where top entertainment groups performed and mostly blockbuster Hindi and some other language films of yesteryear were screened on huge screens put up for the occasion. Only in recent years did Konkani cinema start featuring at IFFI and Konkani films were included in the Panorama section of Indian films.
However, not a single Konkani film has won the Golden Peacock award or any other major international award. Most Konkani films have survived only because of the 50% subsidy given by the Goa government for their production. Unlike in Mumbai or other film centers like Chennai there is not much money for Konkani films. In Mumbai there are financiers like Bharat Shah who listen to a story line and the star cast and even stars are willing to contribute up to Rs1,000 to Rs5,000 crore in their own interests. In return they get free distribution charges. Each theatre is expected to pay a certain amount for screening. Gone are the days when film cans used to travel from place to place. Now it is all advanced digital filmmaking or at least going that way.
Except for Dr Pramod Salgaocar, owner of Geno Pharmaceutical and a cinema lover, who generously finances a film if she likes the story and has a Goan theme. There are very few others like her. The first modern Konkani film interestingly was made by Sandesh Prabhudesai’s brother even before IFFI came along. The truth is the Konkani film industry to flourish needs a helping hand financially. The 2014 film Nachom-ia Kumpasar produced–directed by Bardroy Barretto was one of the few modern day films which broke even and made small profits.
KAZAKSTAN CHARTERS HERE!
AND a last stray thought for when after two dismal years charter tourism revived and the first charter flight arrived from Kazakhstan to Goa on Wednesday, October 26. The Russian charters will come thrice a week and are expected by the end of the month or early next month. British travel agencies have also announced that they will resume charters. There is one major change however, the charters will not land at the old faithful Dabolim airport but will land at the brand new Mopa airport.
Dabholim airport was for the benefit of the southern coastal villages of Goa where the best luxury five-star plus, plus hotels are located, like the Taj Exotica at Benaulim and the Leela at Cavellossim and other starred hotels. Tourism was slack as far as shacks and domestic tourists were concerned although later on the northern beach tourism did move southwards and other kinds of tourism took over the northern beaches like rave concerts.
With Mopa airport now beaches north of the over-crowded Aguada-Baga-Anjuna beach belt will perhaps be marginalized for the beaches further up north in Pernem taluka to benefit…Morjim and Arambol will see a rush of tourists and naturally tourism is now going down to south Maharashtra beach belt of Vengurla, Tirakol, Sawantwadi and further into the neighboring state’s southern coastal belts which are still pristine and being developed into new tourism places to benefit the locals here. I only hope the beaches which are turtle sanctuaries will not be invaded by tourists. Please secure them for only Olive Ridleys and other marine life to live in peace if possible.