FED-UP: Vehicle owners in capital city Panaji are sick and tired of the manner in which roadworks are happening in a disorganized and irresponsible manner, leaving huge stretches dug-up, blocked off, water pipes broken and spouting water fountains merrily in times of water scarcity.
By Rajan Narayan
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when millets have now become upper-class. For a Saturday following the week when Pramod Sawant insisted that sports were not important. For a Saturday following the week when the Panaji-Porvorim business hubs remain paralysed due to dumb-style digging. For a Saturday following the week when literally hundreds of outsiders have been relocating in Goa and starting small and big businesses to make a living. For a Saturday following the week when Goa was facing a severe shortage of chartered accountants.
AND a few stray thoughts on how down-market millets have now become upmarket super food. Our grandparents and parents lived long, healthy, robust lives right up to their 90s. There are still several Goans in rural Goa who are fit and active in their 90s. Goan senior citizens are much healthier than their children. This is primarily because the older generations grew up eating ragi, jowar and bajra and other millets. Except for fish curry, the large-scale use of rice and wheat was unknown in Goa. Unlike their superior brothers’ rice and wheat, millets are very high in protein. They were also the cheapest food grains available. The below-50s generation in Goa which has completely changed its lifestyle has many more health problems than the older generations.
I have personal experience growing up on millets. My childhood was spent in Bengaluru which was Bangalore once where the most popular food grain was ragi and jowar. Moreover, millets were much cheaper than the open-market rice and wheat. The ration shop offered rice and wheat of very poor quality and with any amount of grit in them. Somebody had to wash and clean them before they could be fit for eating. Ragi and jowar are so popular in Karnataka that you even have beverages like ragi malt and other innovative ragi products.
Till I was 20 years old I lived almost entirely on ragi. Then of course when I moved up the economic ladder I moved up to the so-called superior food grains of rice like basmati rice and refined atta. But the Ashirwad atta produced by the ITC is much less healthy than millets like ragi, jowar, bajra, etc.
The Narendra Modi government is promoting millets as exotic food grains. They are being projected as the high-protein answer to health problems. Millet has become so fashionable that even five-star hotels are having special millet menu festivals. The Marriott at Miramar beach is offering a wide range of millet preparations. It is commendable that millets are being promoted.
Unfortunately, the ground story is that the poorer farmers have been giving up the cultivation of millets. And with millets becoming fashionable now they have become more expensive for the aam aadmi. So by irony, the poor will be eating higher quality rice and wheat while the rich will be eating millets.
SPORTS NOT IMPORTANT!
AND a few stray thoughts on when Pramod Sawant insisted that sports were not important. Pramod Sawant has never been a sportsman. Unlike the first chief minister of Goa, Dayanand Bandodkar, who was a great lover of sports and who built the Bandodkar Stadium at Campal Promenade, Dayanand Bandodkar also introduced the Bandodkar gold cup football tournament which attracted teams from all over the country.
Before Liberation, a number of Goans were part of the national hockey team and some of them even participated in the Olympics. Football of course was the most popular sport with five of the ten leading clubs located in Goa such as the Salgaocar, the Dempos, the Vasco sporting, etc. This sport offered a source of livelihood to many young people. The football clubs were sponsored by the big mining companies who hired football players as regular employees. The only other organization which promoted sports and employed sports persons was the Customs department. Till a few years ago you could see sports persons employed by the Customs department practicing at the Campal playgrounds.
According to Pramod Sawant the emphasis should be on skilling and not on sports. By skilling, the chief minister is referring to trades like that of mechanics who repair refrigerators and air-conditioners, and electricians, plumbers, etc. What the chief minister does not realize is that Goans do not want to be plumbers or electricians. Most plumbers and electricians as well as other skilled persons like carpenters and builders are from outside Goa.
Pramod Sawant does not seem to realize how profitable sports can be. The chief minister does not realize that sports is also a skill which can fetch much more income than what electricians and plumbers can earn. We have the example of Shikha Pandey who is part of the Indian women’s cricket team. She is also playing in the ongoing private cricket league which was started recently. Players who perform for the IPL teams get paid by the sponsoring companies. There is an auction and the best players are selected. Shikha Pandey was selected by the Delhi franchise for over Rs3 crore.
Former Indian captain Mahindra Singh Dhoni is from one of the most backward states of India, Jharkhand. His parents were low-level government servants. He could only offer to play cricket because the railways offered him a job as a train ticket examiner. Similarly, many of the top players in the country are employed by big corporate houses like Tata. The biggest success stories are from the North-Eastern states. An outstanding example is Mary Kom who won the Olympic medal in boxing. The best archers in the country are from the northeast. Haryana is the home of wrestlers with several women wrestlers like the Phogat sisters have made it to the Olympics.
As far as Goa is concerned Pramod Sawant should understand sports is also a skill and Goans would be more interested in taking up sports for a living than plumbing or electrical repairs. Regrettably, Goa has no proper facilities for coaching. More than half-a-dozen stadiums have come up as Goa was selected to hold the national championship eight years ago. Goa is scheduled to hold the nationals finally this year. Goans have a natural talent for sports including water sports. Many Goans have made it to the international level in windsurfing, sailing and other water sports. Maybe Pramod Sawant should join a sports academy to understand that sports are also a major skill.
FESTIVAL OF ROAD RAGE
AND a few stray thoughts on how the Panaji-Porvorim business hubs remain paralyzed due to dumb digging. It is almost a year now since work on the so-called smart city started. Under the smart city scheme, the roads were supposed to be concretized. It is also proposed to create cycle tracks though nobody uses a cycle in Goa. The entire city of Panaji has been dug up for creating infrastructure for a smart city. The roads are in such bad shape that heavy vehicles used in smart city projects are destroying existing roads. Even reliably good roads like the one near Azad Maidan and St Inez have sunk under the weight of heavy machinery.
It takes more than an hour to travel a distance of even 2km during peak hours in Panaji. All the roads are blocked and two-wheelers have started using the pavements along the Mandovi riverside. The situation has been compounded by the digging of roads for laying the new cables for 5G by Reliance. You cannot get into Panaji or get out because of the traffic congestion at the entry points. All the bridges were built to make it easier to go to Porvorim and beyond Mapusa. With the Atal Sethu closed the old Mandovi bridges are jammed. The Panaji city bus stand which was the best a decade ago has now become a large badland making it difficult even for the buses coming and leaving for various destinations. Smart city ambitions have converted Panaji into a 365-day carnival of frustration and road rage.
RELOCATING TO GOA
AND a few stray thoughts on how literally hundreds of outsiders have been relocating to Goa to start small and big businesses. The majority of them are Marwari with one large group making nakli cashew nuts. What the Marwaris do is take the worst variety of cashew nuts and pound them to create pieces of cashew nuts. These are sold as Goan cashew nuts which have great demand. There is a simple way of distinguishing fake from real, you will never find nuts uniform size, unlike in the case of real cashews. An upper cast outsider who has set up an innovative businesses.
The ideas are very often very simple. We wonder why the Goans did not think about them. There are at least three groups in Panaji who take tourists for heritage tours. They charge Rs500-Rs2,000 for a tour of the Campal promenade or the Mala-Fontainhas areas. These walking tours seem to be attracting a lot of foreign tourists and even some domestic tourists. In the month of February and March, dozens of foreigners hire local resorts and hold yoga and fitness camps for another foreigner. These are called wellness camps and cost up to Rs2-Rs3lakh for two-week sessions.
The biggest boom is of course in restaurants. When I came to Goa in 1983, the only speciality restaurants were Chinese restaurants. Now every kind of international cuisine is available in Goa. There are half-a- dozen south-east Asian restaurants which focus on Thai food. There are specialized Italian food outlets, particularly in Anjuna and Vagator. There is even a Greek restaurant in Goa owned by a Greek. The Punjabis are not far behind with a new five-star Mughlai and kabab restaurant in Vagator. Fancy restaurant Silly Soul is reportedly run by Smriti Irani’s family. The majority of the shacks are leased out to outsiders. There are very few speciality restaurants started by Goans serving genuine Goan food. The major exception is Copperleaf from Porvorim which now has a branch in Taleigao. The earliest asli Goan restaurant was Ritz Classic near the Municipal garden which still remains the most economical sheet-koddi restaurant.
AND last stray thought on when Goa was facing a severe shortage of chartered accountants. With the introduction of GST and TDS, the amount of accounting work has gone up steeply. A GST or a TDS entry as the case may be has to be done on every transaction. If the GST is not updated there are heavy penalties. At the corporate level, you need charter accountants to calculate the setbacks they can claim against the GST paid.
Unfortunately, CA has been never been popular in Goa. Both industry and even large shopping centers desperately need a chartered accountant. The chartered accountancy course last for four years with an intermediate level and the final level. Students who passed their Higher Secondary School can enroll for the exams for chartered accountancy conducted by a national association. The candidates also have to undergo a three-year internship under a qualified CA. Though the time for completing the course may be long the rewards are as good as for IT or management courses. Fortunately, young people are taking an interest. For the first time this year, nine students passed the CA exams.