Veteran journalists have been arrested including Prabir Purkayastha and the offices of NewsClick has been sealed.
By Rajan Narayan
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when we fear communalism is creeping into Goa. It started with the vandalisation of the Shivaji statue. For a Saturday following the week when the caste census in Bihar shows that the most backward classes account for more than a quarter of the state’s population. For a Saturday following the week when Goan scheduled tribes have been recognised by the Centre but they have not got any benefits. For a Saturday following the week when the BJP has started targeting online media. For a Saturday following the week when former deputy mayor of Chengde City in China Su Aiguo choked to death after drinking water which got into his lungs.
AND a few stray thoughts on communalism creeping into Goa. It started with the vandalisation of the statue of Shivaji Maharaj near Karaswada village near Mapusa on August 14, 2023. This was followed by parish priest of Vasco Fr Bolmax Periera making negative remarks about Shivaji. This led a Shivbhakt group to storm the police station demanding his arrest. The priest apologised belatedly and soon after Cardinal Filipe Neri forbid parish priests from making any disparaging remarks about other religions of the country.
We thought that Muslims in Goa would observe traditional communal harmony. On Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday on September 28, Muslims in a show of strength joined the traditional procession winding down June 18 road in full strength in Panaji. There was no trouble in Panjim but in Margao, the municipal corporation removed a large counter serving soft drinks to those in the Margao Eid-ul-Milad procession. This caused tensions between Muslims and Hindus.
We suspect that the provocation was politically motivated because Moti Dongor, which has a majority Muslim population, is the vote bank of Margao MLA Digambar Kamat. The Moti Dongor Muslims have switched loyalty to Vijay Sardesai after Digambar Kamat dumped Congress to join the BJP.
However, the Margao municipal corporation is controlled by Digambar Kamat and the procession jumla may have taken place out of revenge by interested parties, the tensions continue. Following the Margao incident, some offensive remarks were made against Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. The police acted promptly and have registered cases against two ABVP members. The growing tension is dramatized by new offensive comments made against a Hindu deity. Naturally, Catholic and Muslim communities are uneasy.
The Hindutva fundamentalist groups have become hyperactive. The State government has expressed a desire to erase symbols of Portuguese rule. But ironically, even Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in favour of the Uniform Civil Code which is a Portuguese legacy. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant wants to promote Goa as Kashi of the south and all niz Goenkars must be alert to maintain and protect communal harmony in Goa.
BIHAR CASTE CENSUS
AND a few stray thoughts on the revelation of the caste census in Bihar which says that the most backward classes account for more than a quarter of Bihar’s population. The combined population of economically backwards, other backward castes, schedule castes and schedule tribes add up to more than 80%.
So called higher caste including the Yadavs have been looting Bihar and Lalu Prasad Yadav was sentenced in the multi-crore fodder scam. There were many other scams relating to jobs in the railways when Lalu was railway minister.
In Goa, it was first chief minister Dayanand Bandodkar who empowered the backward classes. He brought them all together under Bahujan Samaj. The biggest group is the Bhandari Samaj which is represented by a former CM of Goa and currently Agriculture Minister Ravi Naik and BJP’s AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik. The most neglected are the scheduled tribes who account for 12 % of the population.
According to the Manusmriti there are four castes and these are Brahmins (priests, gurus, etc), Kshatriyas (warriors, kings, administrators,etc), Vaishyas (agriculturalists, traders, etc, also called Vysyas), and Shudras (labourers). The Tamil version of the Manusmriti insists caste is not determined by birth but defined by your abilities. So there is mobility and a scholarly Shudra can be a Brahmin.
However, the BJP is more concerned with community than caste. According to Narendra Modi the Congress conferred the benefits of progress to Muslims at the expense of Hindus. The caste census is part of vote bank policies and the BJP now claim that the biggest caste in India is the poor only.
GOAN SCHEDULED TRIBES
AND a few stray thoughts on Goan scheduled tribes who have been recognised by the Centre but they have not got any benefits. The tribal groups include Gowdis, Velips, Kunbis and Dhanghats. Of these, the Dhanghats who are the shepherd tribe have not been included in the tribal groups and given representation in the assembly. Ironically, while there are no scheduled castes, one seat by rotation is reserved for SC. At present Pernem has a reserved seat represented by Babu Ajgaonkar.
The Goan tribals like the Red Indians in the United States are the original residents of Goa. They are nature worshipers and pray to ant hills in sacred forests. They have their own songs and dances which include tourist songs like “He pori konachi” which are actually tribal songs. Unlike Hindus Goa’s tribals are buried and not cremated. They are also very artistic. They have suffered and are much neglected and must get reservations for jobs and in educational institutions.
ONLINE MEDIA TARGETED
AND a few stray thoughts on the BJP starting to target online media. The Narendra Modi government has shut down NewsClick, the oldest and most influential online news media. The charge is that NewsClick got Rs39 crore funding from China in the last three years to promote Chinese propaganda. Scores of journos have been raided and computers and mobiles seized.
Amongst the veterans arrested is Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, who we remember was our colleague in “Business India.” Paranjoy was earlier editor of the prestigious “Economic & Political Weekly.” Even other staff of NewsClick like designers have been subjected to raids. The Press Club of India, Editors Guild and veteran journalist N Ram of “The Hindu” have condemned the attack on NewsClick, calling it motivated. ‘
So many of the country’s independent journalists have been forced to go online because of the cost of printing due to punitive GST. We fear that more online publications like The Wire may be targeted next. Publications like the “Caravan” which has been critical of Modi and the BJP have been raided along with perceived hostile anchors like Barkha Dutt, Faye D’Souza and Rajdeep Sardesai among others who have been victimised. The forcible shutdown of NewsClick may be the beginning of a crackdown on print media too which already de facto.
DRINKING WATER CAN CHOKE!
AND a few stray thoughts on Su Aiguo, the former deputy mayor of Chengde City, who choked while drinking some water too quickly at 11pm on September 2. He was sent to the hospital for emergency treatment but unfortunately passed away at 3am on September 3 at the age of 65. The sudden death of Su Aiguo tells us whoever we are, classmates, colleagues, relatives or friends in a certain advanced age group, that no matter what we do we must pay attention to two things: One is to beware falling, two is be cautious while eating and drinking and to do it slowly without haste or talking at the same time. This may spare you death by choking. .
After turning 75 we began to train our self: When drinking water stop everything else and concentrate on drinking water only. The elderly are prone to choking because their throat muscles and nervous system degenerated with age become weak. So beware, have patience and do not do anything in haste, no multi-tasking please.
The following is information passed on to classmates by a wise doctor who is still active in the medical field. It is worth referencing, especially if you or your relatives or friends have become elderly:
Zhu De, Liao Chengzhi and Wang Yongqing all died from pneumonia caused by choking on drinking water (milk, soup, etc.), which is a common problem among the elderly. If there are elderly people at home, please note:
- Use a straw when drinking water and keep your head down when swallowing.
- Please drink thick soup instead of thin clear soup. Clear soup flows quickly and it is easy to choke when breathing is not smooth.
- Please do not drink liquid while there is still solid food in your mouth, and do not drink while chewing. If the water stays in the mouth for too long, it will flow into the trachea and cause choking if you are not careful.
- Do not speak or turn your head when there is food or water in your mouth.
Please develop a new habit of drinking liquids. Old people do not have the same physical strength and endurance as young people. If liquid or food enters the trachea and is coughed out, the face will turn red and the blood pressure will soar. Sometimes choking can be fatal!
As the saying goes: Old people are afraid of two things: Afraid of “choking.” Second, fear of “falling.” As you get older, you must do things slowly like drinking water and eating slowly, attentively and cautiously.
Some more evidence: in the early morning (October 7, 2022) Lin Doudou’s husband Zhang Qinglin died of illness. The cause was he choked on a mouthful of soup two months ago which entered his lungs while eating, and caused pneumonia. Treatment was ineffective and he died at the age of 78.
So remember this. As you get old and older you should pay special attention to two precautions: How to prevent falling and how to prevent choking. Friends, take care of yourselves.