SEND TAXI MAFIA TO JAIL!

SABOTAGED: Rogue tourist taxi-drivers are now trying to sabotage the growth of Goa into a cruise terminal.

BY RAJAN NARAYAN

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when politicians who are not even aware when the Opinion Poll was held hijacked Liberation Day. For a Saturday following the week when a simple solution to rescuing nightlife from the sound ban would be to have soundproof nightclubs. For a Saturday following the week when Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte was set for a confrontation with a tourist taxi mafia which is not willing to accept any government controls or regulations. For a Saturday following the week when the Central government had ruled out Sanguem as a venue for the Indian Institute of Technology. For a Saturday following the week when Goa University signed a memorandum with the World Konkani Centre at Mangalore for joint research.

HIJACKED LIBERATION
AND a few stray thoughts on the politicians who are not even aware when the Opinion Poll was held and hijacked Liberation Day. I am appalled by the lip service paid by all the politicians ranging from Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant to IT Minister Rohan Khaunte, who are probably confused about when the Opinion Poll was held. The tragedy is that no homage was paid to those who fought to maintain the autonomy of Goa like the late VM Salgaocar, Jack Sequeira and Uday Bhembre, called the “Brahmastra” and who all passionately promoted Goa’s unique identity. The Goa government has failed to acknowledge even Chandrakant Keni, the then editor of “Rashtramath,” the Marathi paper supporting a separate identity for Goa.
While Jack Sequeira has got more than his share of publicity, the late VM Salgaocar who literally funded the battle against the merger, was not even acknowledged by the chief minister of the other speakers. In fact, I was surprised that the International Center where I was spending the weekend, did not have a copy of the “The Triumph of Secularism”– a book written jointly by Rajan Narayan and Dr Sharon Cruz on the Opinion Poll. I personally like to pay homage to the late Sharon Cruz, the best researcher in Goa, who unfortunately died an early age of fibroids.

SIMPLE SOLUTION
AND a few stray thoughts on when a simple solution to rescuing nightlife from the sound ban will be to have soundproof nightclubs. There are been successful experiments on the South Goa beaches where dancers used earphones so that they would not disturb others. After a lot of complaints against Tito’s noise-making, it is now fully soundproof.
The problem with Goa is that all the shacks, particularly in Anjuna and Vagator, have converted themselves into nightclubs playing trance music through the night. It is not just in Calangute but in Anjuna and Vagator also original Goans residents are moving out, renting their premises to outsiders who actually finance and run this highly profitable drugs and trance music all nightclubs. They cannot be called nightclubs in the traditional sense of the word but they are more likely more complex than the old hippie parties of the 60s in Goa.
I fail to understand why not a single 7-star or 5-star hotel in Goa has a nightclub or do they? They are the ones who can afford to provide soundproof nightclubs where you can party all night. It is absurd to argue that these will be beyond the reach of ordinary tourists, as most who visit the deadly nightclubs of Vagator and Anjuna are quite well off. It may be recalled that the last victim was a chartered accountant who had come with her companion to try out the trance experience.
There is no doubt that most young people in India do think that Goa is for drinking and eating and partying. The wide variety of niche eateries here are much sought after. Whatever the government may do, domestic tourists will continue to flood Goa to drink and to dance or really trance. For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with trance music, this is electronic dance music or EDM after the beat of the heart, this is hardly music as most musicians of Goa know it. It is a dull repetition of sounds that become louder and louder. Taking you into a different world altogether.
Indeed, you cannot trance unless you are in Goa to check out the drugs scene, thinking it is something new and exciting. New tourists are wooed into trying drugs as the acceptable recreational thing to do in Goa. The tragedy is that most of the tourists do not know about the various kinds of drugs in the dark drugs market and how they affect the senses or their side-effects. There are drug peddlers who sell them killer drugs. At least in the case of hash or ganja the government might as well legalize it as a small high is better than death due to overdose or misuse of one of the killer psychedelic narcotic drugs.
AND a few stray thoughts on when the tourism minister was set for a confrontation with a tourist taxi mafia which is not willing to accept any government controls or regulations. The tourism taxi mafia can never be controlled because they not only have political patronage but are a vote bank. The majority of the tourist taxis are owned by NRIs who have returned to Goa or are still working abroad. Many of them own multiple tourist taxis. So it is ridiculous to argue that tourist taxi-drivers are a poor lot who will suffer if they are forced to charge reasonable rates for their taxis.
It is absurd that I have to pay Rs700-Rs1,000 to go from Caranzalem to the Goa Medical College & Hospital. The fare from Dabolim to Calangute and Baga can exceed Rs3,000. The irony is that many tourist taxis have installed digital meters which have been subsidized by the government. This is merely ornamental as either they don’t work or the taxi drivers refuse to work them and they become defunct. There is great unanimity of perhaps fear among tourist taxi operators. All of them will quote the same ridiculously high prices even if it means that they get less business. The criminal aspect of the functioning of the tourist taxi mafia is that while they will drop you at the hotel, they won’t wait there to take you back. Indeed, even in your private vehicle, you can only drop your friends at their hotels. You cannot pick them up as that is the monopoly of the tourist taxi mafia. The curious part of it is that despite the court orders and government threats the taxi mafia gets away with defying all orders. Is it a question of supply and demand?
Are there too many tourists coming in who are willing to pay any price demanded by the tourist taxis and they are here only for a short vacation? The victims are of course local resident Goans who cannot afford the exorbitant tourist taxi fares. It is not so easy to get a driver either for your personal car as the minimum wages demanded are Rs15,000 plus. If it is any consolation things are not much better in Mumbai as the better three-quarters discovered on a recent ongoing trip to Mumbai. Even if you exercise the option of booking a cab from a variety of app-based taxi operators, it does not mean you will get your cab immediately when you come out of the airport. You will have to wait in the queue. And outside the Mumbai airport there is goondagiri by tourist taxi-drivers which many say is much worse than in Goa.

IIT OBSESSION
AND a few stray thoughts on when the Central government had ruled out Sanguem as a venue for the Indian Institute of Technology. The Central government has made it clear that the site at Sanguem is not suitable for setting up of an IIT. Apparently, the late Manohar Parrikar had offered the Central government six lakh sq mts for setting up of the Indian Institute of of Technology in Goa. But the land available in Sanguem is hilly land and the built up area is only two lakh sq mts. In any case why does Goa need an IIT?
Let the Goa government provide jobs for those passing out of the existing engineering colleges, including the government engineering colleges. This obsession with converting Goa into another Oxford or MIT should stop. Not even 10% of the who pass out of engineering colleges of Goa get jobs locally though the State Engineering Department & Public Works Department keep hiring staff from outside. The only course which use to provide jobs was the mining engineering course which has been closed. Perhaps with the revival of the mining economy there will be some takers of the mining engineering course in the Goa engineering colleges.

JOINT KONKANI RESEARCH
AND a last stray thought on Goa University signing a memorandum with the World Konkani Center in Mangalore for joint research. The long-delayed memorandum between the World Konkani Research Centre at Mangalore and the Goa University has finally come true. This is thanks to Governor Sreedharan Pillai. It is well known that a significant number of Goans migrated or were posted to Kerala when Goa was under Portuguese rule. A Konkani mogi group from Kerala approached Governor Sreedharan Pillai for the revival of the memorandum.
By a coincidence, the Vice-Chancellor Prof Harilal Bhaskara Menon of Goa University is also a Mallu. So between the two Mallus in Goa they finalized the long pending memorandum on research in Konkani in the Raj Bhavan. In fact, there are more Konkani-speaking people in the Manipal coastal belt than in Goa. If you take the migrants into consideration, the Konkani mogi have been reduced to a minority in Goa. There is a very successful online Hindi daily newspaper patronized by the migrant families in Goa which sells at least two lakh copies daily.

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