MULTIPY: Chief Minister announces that Shivaji Jayanti would be celebrated in four cities in Goa, including Panaji.

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government virtually forced every individual to hoist the national flag at their home. For a Saturday following the week when I would like to share my memories of attending Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort in New Delhi. For a Saturday following the week when Chief Minister Pramod Sawant made it clear that Goa will remain a harmonious state. For a Saturday following the week when the prices of tomatoes came tumbling down slightly but now it is the turn of the onions to bring tears to the eyes of housewives.
AND a few stray thoughts on when the Narendra Modi government virtually forced every individual to hoist the national flag at their home. Even worse the aam aadmi is expected to take a selfie with you posing and smiling and upload it on the government website. Those who uploaded their selfie with a flag got a certificate from the government. We hope that this certificate will not be demanded when you apply for a passport or admission to a college.
In fact, the “ghar ghar tiranga” advisory is very irresponsible. The national flag is a very sacred symbol. Like the religious books, the national flag must be handled with great respect. The national flag can be flown only during the day from sunrise to sunset. After sunset the national flag has to be brought down and stored carefully. It is not necessary for ordinary citizens to hoist the national flag every day. It is not clear for how many days the national flag should be hoisted on the top of any house.
There is a whole code of conduct with respect to the national flag. There are specifications for the creation of the national flag. The flag may be of any size but the proportion of the saffron white and green are specified. Similarly, the Ashoka Chakra at the centre has to have 24 spokes. What has happened due to the ghar ghar tiranga campaign is that at the end of the day the streets were littered with the national flag with was discarded at some stage.
In fact, till two decades ago, individuals and private parties could not hoist a national flag. It was the industrialist Jindal who is presently blackening the face of Goa, who went to the Supreme Court. The SC granted his submission that citizens should have be allowed to place the national flag at home or on vehicles. It is difficult for a common man to pay due respect to the national flag.
The government has made it clear that hoisting the national flag is not compulsory. Dr Shekar Salkar, who has posted a selfie, would have had an accident as he or his wife climbed up on the terrace to hoist the national flag. Since he is overweight the ladder almost collapsed. His wife Medha Salkar then climbed the ladder herself and and hoisted the national flag.

AND a few stray thoughts on my memories of attending independence day at the Red Fort in New Delhi. In the 90s when I was editor of “OHeraldo” a group of editors were taken by the government of Goa to New Delhi to witness Independence Day function and celebrations at the Red Fort venue. The Red Fort itself is an imposing building over 50 meters high.
It is from the top of the Red Fort rampart walls that the prime minister addressed the country on Independence Day. Never mind that Red Fort was built by the much loved Mughal emperor, Akbar. Fortunately, the name of the Red Fort has not been changed to Saffron Fort or some such thing.
There has always been a march past and other cultural events during Independence Day celebrations. It is a grand occasion to which the cream o society in Delhi including the ministers and prominent citizens are invited. This is beside the public or janata who come and who sit on plastic chairs or stand to watch the goings on.
Normally in the Prime Minister’s speech, the focus is on the development progress and welfare of the country. No political statements are made. This year we are told Leader of Congress Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge boycotted the Red Fort function because Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that the BJP would be back in power next year 2024. As far as I can recall the president of Portugal Mario Soares has attended the celebration in 1992.
Interestingly, the then Cabinet minister at the Centre, our own Eduardo Faleiro, did not attend the Red Fort function. But later in the evening Mr Falerio wanted to host a cocktail and dinner for the Portuguese delegation in Delhi. All of us went to the Taj Mansingh Hotel for cocktails and dinner hosted by Eduardo Falerio.
Independence Day is a declared dry day all over the country. The Taj Mansingh manager told Minister Eduardo Falerio that the bar was closed because Independence Day is the dry day. Falerio was furious and told them he was ordering them to open the bar as he was the minister in the central cabinet. The Taj management remained firmed and told him that it was his government that passed the order. So we all went back to Eduardo Falerio’s house where he had enough stocks of daru.
It is a thrilling exercise to be present at the Independence Day and Republic Day functions at the Red Fort. It inspires and strengthens a sense of patriotism.

AND a few stray thoughts on Chief Minister Pramod Sawant making it clear that Goa will remain a harmonious state. In his Independence Day address in Goa the CM firmly declared that anti-social elements would not be allowed to disturb the harmony in Goa. “Our Goa is a secular state. Yet some anti-socialist elements are looking to heat up the atmosphere. Our governments will not fall for it. The unity of Goans cannot be broken. Hindus, Catholics and Muslims have lived in unity and celebrated each other festivals.”
The CM made a critical reference to the article in the church bulletin which tried to provoke the minority Christian community. Even as the CM assured that Goa’s communal harmony would be maintained, he continue to pursue the Hindutva agenda. Perhaps to compensate for the controversy over Fr Bolmax Pereira’s remarks at a church sermon, he announced that Maharaja Shivaji’s birthday would be celebrated in four cities in Goa.
Tragically, just on the eve of Independence Day a statue of Shivaji at Kharaswada near Mapusa was vandalized by three Catholic young boys. This is most unfortunate and strict action should be taken not only by the government but also by the Church. This should not become the provocation for any fresh Hindu-Catholic confrontation.

AND a few stray thoughts on when the prices of tomatoes came down slightly now it is the turn of the onion to bring tears to the eyes of housewives. Despite all the talk of progress and development the cost of living continues to grow up. Tomatoes prices have come down to Rs50-Rs60 which is much higher than the average in early years. But this is no consolation as onion prices have started growing up again. This means that restaurants will stop offering onion pakoda. You can imagine what a meal would taste like if there is neither tomato or onion in one of bhaji to go with roti or puri. Tomatoes and onions are not the only veggies with soaring prices. There is a huge increase in the price of ginger, fresh ginger is Rs250 kg we are told.
In some parts of the country as in Bengaluru the price of bananas is going up. With the festive season around the corner it is expected that all prices of vegetables and fruit will shoot up merrily. The price of edible oils and even rice has gone up sharply. The government is not concerned as it is obsessed with its “amrit kaal” where the focus is on industry and not agriculture. The farmers have not received any major benefits during the ten years of the Modi government.

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