SANSKAR: Those who have become rich very quickly thanks to the patronage of the BJP have too much arrogance and no basic manners, they are attitude seems to be one of “Hamari hesiyat nahi hai!”
By Rajan Narayan
A FEW stray thoughts and a few observations for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the new rich boors promoted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Home Minister Amit Shah have destroyed the image of India in disguise. For a Saturday following the week when though there have been fires of severe intensity for over a fortnight, there has been not a single human casualty or even damage to built-up property. For a Saturday following the week when the Supreme Court has struck down the law against consumption of beef passed by the BJP states. And declared that anyone in the country is free to eat what they choose. For a Saturday following the week when the state government seems to be more and more into promoting festivals than the infrastructure of the state. For a Saturday following the week when domestic tourists started behaving like their counterparts on the airlines.
AND A few stray thoughts on all the incidents of misbehaviour in both Air India and other international aircraft which have happened not in the cattle class but in the business class. The fares in the business class are twice that of the ordinary fares and only the rich can afford to travel by business class. Before the Modi government came to power, we never had incidents of businessmen urinating on seated passengers in the dark. We never had instances of college students smoking and assaulting the crew on the flight. These have not been exceptional incidents but have been occurring time and again.
The airlines including Air India recently re-acquired by the Tatas seem to be helpless. Neither the captain nor the stewards seem to be able to control the unruly brats, who think the fact that they are travelling business class confers special privileges on them. I have travelled by business class from Bombay to London in the past by Air India at least twice. There aircraft have four toilets , two for men and two for women in the business class for roughly 16 passengers. So there are enough washrooms facilities.
It is significant that not a single incident of misbehaviour has been reported from the so called “cattle class.” The cattle class is the expression used by the bold and beautiful and rich and powerful for those who travel in regular class. In one experience Infosys chairperson Sudha Murthy recalls how at a New York boarding centre some bitchy rich women mocked her and presumed that she could not be travelling in business class and was in the wrong queue.
The difference between the regular passengers who account for 80% of the aircraft’s seating capacity is that there is no liquor served to them. For a long time now smoking too has been banned in the regular class. Most of the passengers are junior and middle level executives travelling on business, or middle class families on a holiday. They are all educated, well-behaved and some of them travelling for the first time are in awe of their first air journey. There was a recent image on one of the TV channels of how an elderly Tamil grandmother was taking her first flight and she was fascinated by clouds outside her little aircraft window.
The curious part is that such incidents occur rarely in other parts of the world. In India these incidents have been happening even as Modi boasts of India being the third largest economy in the world. Modi, despite being a dictator like Russia’s Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping, keeps insisting that he presides over the largest democracy and mother of democracy. Which I presume includes the right to misbehave both in the air and on the ground.
MISBEHAVIOUR NOT LIMITED
AND a few stray thoughts on misbehaviour not being limited to the air. As recently as last Saturday a local waiter was beaten by domestic tourists in a restaurant for refusing to give them liquor after midnight. The waiter in turn called his friends and the tourists were justifiable thrashed. Even in the five-star hotels there are any number of cases of tourists getting into the swimming pool drunk. There are five-star hotels which have bars attached to the swimming pools. Such misbehaviour is most widespread amongst domestic lower middle class tourists. Who come to Goa by the bus load or in hired tempos.
These groups of tourist will choose a beach point to stop and park and settle down on the nearby pavement spaces to unload their travelling kitchen to cook the meals for their group tourists. The tourists will drag cartons of beer bottles and other liquor down to the sandy beach and drink there while relaxing. Afterwards the bottles broken or not are left behind for somebody else to clean up…or the bottles break and get into the beach sand, making it dangerous to walk bare foot as many tourists like to do. They don’t listen to the life guards and risk their lives by swimming in the no-swimming zones of the sea.
During the season and weekends popular Miramar beach in Panaji is taken over by domestic tourists with their beer bottles and snacks. This is in sharp contrast to the time when Goan families used to go for picnics on the beaches, particularly in areas at Calangute and Candolim beaches. This normally happened during the Christmas season when all the non-resident Goans came home to catch up with their families in Goa. This is also the time when dowagers are looking up young men closely to see if they were suitable boys for their daughters before putting out a proposal.
AND a few stray thoughts on the fires which have been raging in Goa for the last 20 days. Even as on the 15th to date the fires have not been extinguished completely. The biggest victims are of course the Mhadei and Netravali sanctuaries. Besides thousands of trees being reduced to ashes, the flora and fauna too has suffered with wildlife being virtually affected. Big animals like wild bulls can run away and create havoc in neighbouring village farms. But there is no escape for centipedes and millipedes and spiders and hedghogs and the little critters who seek escape from the forest fires. It is the small animals which contribute significantly towards the biodiversity of the sanctuaries.
It would not be so surprising if the fires had only started in the sanctuaries. There are thick forests and possibly dry grasslands in the sanctuaries. Richard d’Souza, former chief conservator of forests, insists that there is so much moisture in these areas that spontaneous combustion is not possible. It is absurd to attribute the fires to the rise in temperature from around 33 degree C to maximum 40 degree C as this is not enough to cause fire breakouts. In Australia and California it is only when the temperatures goes up above 60 and 70 degree that fires break out spontaneously.
If you look at the pattern of the 50 odd fire breakouts in recent times and how they remained burning for 15 days and more, it is clear that they occurred on hilltops in various villages. Traditionally, in Goa, the mini hills are called dongor and depending on the size of the hill we have a “moti dongor” or “dakta dongor.” In each of these incidents of fire across Goa from Pernem in the north to Canacona in the south, they have occurred only in uninhabited hilltops at steep slopes. It is impossible to even climb these slopes, let alone set a fire on top of the forested hills.
Clearly, this is an deliberate act by criminals wanting to clear the hills of the vegetation. All outsiders if not Goans dream of a house on a hill. It is strongly suspected that it is the builders lobby in collaboration with Forests Minister Vishwajit Rane and Town & Country Planning Minister Babush Monserrate who are behind the sudden fire outbreaks on Goan hills. All the scorched land on the hilltops will no doubt now be converted into settlement zones.
FREEDOM TO EAT BEEF!
AND a few stray thoughts for another Saturday on the Supreme Court judgement rejecting the petition for the ban on the slaughter of cattle, their transportation and storage of beef for consumption. In several BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan several Muslims have been lynched on suspicion of just storing beef in their homes. There was a recent twist in the story when the carcasses of over 50 cattle were discussed not in a Hindu dominated area, but in the backyard of a BJP leader in Uttar Pradesh. This is of course claimed to be a conspiracy by the Muslim community.
There seems to be a misunderstanding about beef. Even according to the BJP bakht only the slaughter of the holy cow is banned. Even Muslims do not eat the meat of the cow as they also maintain cow sheds for dairy milk. It is only buffalo meat which is officially considered beef.
Several BJP states in the country had moved a petition seeking a ban on slaughter, transport and consumption of beef. All these petitions before the various high courts were clubbed and heard by the Supreme Court. The SC made it very clear that there could be no ban on the consumption of buffalo meat or beef in any part of the country. There are states which have banned the consumption of pork which they consider unholy, particularly states which have a large Muslim population. There was a proposal to ban the slaughter and consumption of dog meat in the North-Eastern states. However, now the SC has made it clear that no government may interfere in the choice of any citizen to eat whatever they wish. They are free to eat the meat of their choice.
Why this is particularly important to Goa is that beef is the largest meat eaten by both Catholics and even Hindus amongst the tribal community. This is because beef is the cheapest of all the red meats compared to goat meat and chicken which is the most important. Significantly, Narendra Modi specifically mentioned in his speeches in the North-East states that there will be no ban on beef.
AND a final stray thought for a Saturday following the week of the so called traffic drive started by the police to minimise accidents. The police put up a high-powered radar on the Atal Setu bridge to catch drivers speeding. It registered as much as 1,500 cases in 24 hours. This has not prevented anyone from speeding and there have been 20 accidents on the Atal Setu since it was launched. The surface is so bad that it is being re-done by L & T people. In the meantime the Zuari bridge has also recorded its first two accidents. The traffic policed have been helpless about stopping driving under the influence of liquor. This is because the fines are so nominal. Most of the accidents have been attributed to minors driving their parents’ cars. It has now been decided that if a minor is caught driving a car without a license the parents will be fined Rs10,000.