UNITY IN DIVERSITY IS BEST!

GALF RETURNS! At the inaugural evening out at the Laran amphitheatre lawns of the International Centre Goa on January 19, 2023…keynote speaker Major General Ian Cardozo shared his memoirs of unity in diversity in the armed forces, while Nobel-award winning economist Prof Abhijit Banerjee said our education system seeks to intimidate, we must respect children more! The 3-day festival witnessed several events of the literary kind lined up for delegates from home and abroad.

OF all festivals of Goa the Goa Lit Fest has a soft corner in my mind and heart! Say it was a green-letter day at the 11th Goa Arts & Literature Festival (GALF) as it returned after a break of three years at the International Centre Goa, on a chilly evening out at the packed outdoor lawns of its Laran amphitheatre lawns, on January 19, 2023. There were many memorable moments with both iconic keynote speakers, war hero Major General Ian Cardozo reminiscing and sharing his memoirs of life in the Indian army, and Nobel-winning economist Prof Abhijit Banerjee reviewing poverty around the world, how it can be helped by giving assets like livestock to the poorest of the poor to break the cycle of poverty! Interesting, no?
Major General Cardozo urged Goans to see themselves as Indians first and to have faith in something the armed forced of this country practice – unity in diversity! He reminisced of life as it was in Goa of the 1930s when as a Bombay boy he visited his ancestral home in rural Candolim, when the kitchen with its unforgettable aroma of food was the heart of the house, there was no Mandovi bridge, no electricity, no water on tap, transportation was by the old bus called “carreira.” He had fond memories of swimming in the sea, having hot water baths, eating Goan pickles and sweets and much more.
He also spoke of living in a Goa full of peace, harmony and unity in diversity, and this is how it has been in the Indian armed forces too. On a Sunday he would visit a temple first with his soldiers and later to a church because it was his religion — wherever the army set up camp it would also establish places of worship for all its soldiers for soldiers had to believe in Goa!
Of course, we have seen how the armed forces are the finest example of unity in diversity and all faiths are represented wherever they set up army base. Only unity in diversity can win in a world divided by a political conflicts vitiated by religious chauvinism! Major General Ian Cardozo’s gently outspokenness was a fitting start for the three-day GALF deliberations which focus on “different ways of belongings” (a theme first promoted by late Mumbai-based educationist and poet Eunice d’Souza who attended previous festivals).
In his welcome address GALF co-curator Vivek Menezes voiced his own sentiment of how at GALF all Goan identities are represented, identity is important as is unity in a diverse India. Don’t see Goa filtered through Bollywood films, he urged, Goa is an ancient slice of the Konkan coast and India’s various identities are represented here in its culture, it is Indian diversity in unity. The evening saw the felicitation of Goa’s second Jnanpith awardee Damodar Mauzo, the release of Konkani mogi Uday M Bhembre’s Konkani novel “Vhodlem Ghor” and the release of this year’s GALF artwork by Nirtupa Naik which was unveiled on stage. There was also some Konkani poetry recital by y Mamta Kelekar.
One of these days you must take time off to read Ian Cardozo’s books “1971: Stories of Grit and Glory from the Indo-Pak War,” “Param Vir: Our Heroes in Battle” and yes, his latest book “Cartoos Saab” is scheduled for exclusive release at one of the GALF sessions. The America-based Prof Abhijit Banarjee and Esther Duflo’s bestseller “Poor Economics, Rethinking Poverty & the Ways to end it” is also a book our politicians should read if they want to do any good for the country! But it is Prof Banarjee’s unlikely book, a cookbook titled “Cooking to Save Your Life” which is due for release at GALF. The cookbook from an Nobel prize-winning economist has raised a lot of interest internationally – maybe men in high places of corporate lifestyles should learn to cook to de-stress, have some fun in life cooking a meal for their womenfolk (or something like that)! The literary feast of book releases, poetry readings, conversations of life and times in general and much else comes to a close on Saturday, January 21, do catch up with it for some vital food to keep your mind and body, heart and soul alive and kicking!

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