By Rajan Narayan
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) concluded on Tuesday, November 28, 2023. For a Saturday following the week when concern is growing among activists of the 80% soil erosion of the Western Ghats. For a Saturday following the week when report that two students were beaten by a teacher at the Sankhali constituency, which is represented by the Chief Minister of Goa Dr Pramod Sawant and Bicholim. For a Saturday following the week when National highways are to have standardised rumble strips.
AND a few stray thoughts on the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) which concluded on Tuesday, November 28 with both Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and the Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Youth Affairs Anurag Singh Thakur present at the occasion. Chief guest of the occasion was Michael Douglas, the son of the famous American actor Kirk Douglas.
Michael Douglas has an Indian connection in the form of wife Catherina Zeta-Jones who is somewhat of Indian origin. Michael Douglas is a very famous director and actor himself. He was here with wife Catherine and son to attend the closing ceremony of 54th IFFI.
At the master class conversation which he addressed, Douglas recalled his close connection with Satyajit Ray, the master filmmaker of West Bengal. It is Delilah Lobo who has been appointed as vice chairperson of the ESG who contributed enormously to the success of the current year’s IFFI. Delilah Lobo is the wife of the Calangute MLA Michael Lobo. Unlike the wives of Vishwajit Rane and Babush Monserrate Delilah Lobo has got her reward a little too late.
But Delilah Lobo has made the best of the opportunity and handled the management of the latest IFFI. She earned the gratitude of the media by organizing a dedicated parking for their two-wheelers. The media in Goa use mostly two-wheelers, very few have a car to bring to office because of high prices of petrol.
The media wanted Delilah to have the place outside INOX complex pavement to be reserved for their two-wheelers and she made sure of that. Media personnel do not see films. Most concentrate on press conferences and master classes. They had to return to their office to file their day’s stories. It was a god-sent for them to have a parking space close to the INOX screens and Kala Academy also let two-wheelers in for parking.
The highlight of IFFI this time was certainly the master class conducted by Rani Mukherjee. The actress who shot to fame with the film “No One Killed Jessica.” It was Rani Mukerjee’s film character that was modeled on that of journalist and anchor woman Barkha Dutt. Barkha Dutt followed her mother’s footsteps and covered the Indo-Pakistan war at the border. Alas, she is one of the casualties of the Narendra Modi government. The entire NDTV team of Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai and finally the directors Radikha and Pranoy Roy were shunted out with the BJP government coming to power. NDTV was taken over by the Reliance group.
Coming back to the film festival there were several memorable films. In a departure from tradition it was not Chief Minister Pramod Sawant who organised the IFFI party on the last day of the film festival. But Delilah Lobo who in her capacity is the vice chairperson of the ESG who organized the party. The party was ironically, held at the parking lot of Anjuna GTDC. A departure from the parties held at 5-star hotels. Except that the late Manohar Parrikar held his IFFI party on the last day of the film festival on a newly constructed state-of-the-art bridge over the Mandovi river.
It may be remembered that it was Parrikar who brought the IFFI from Delhi and other venues to Goa. It happened when Information & Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj was in the BJP government and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. IFFI has now completed 20 years in Goa and become the permanent annual venue for it. This year IFFI was majorly sponsored by Jio, the Reliance mobile platform.
IFFI also saw Bollywood taking it over. Many objected to the presence of movie maker and shaker Karan Johar at the inaugural ceremony’s front rows as guest of honour. Even the chairperson of the Indian films jury protested. Film star Salman Khan got a royal reception when he turned up at IFFI for the launch of a niece’s film. The film star paid courtesy calls on the chief minister and met up with Delilah and Michael Lobo who shared photographic moments with him.
A lot of Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities got more importance than the makers of genuinely creative cinema. But one can hardly blame the film authorities for the public prefers and revels in techno crazy masala films than quieter, more sensitive films.
SOIL EROSION CONCERNS
AND a few stray thoughts on concern amongst environmental activists of the 80% soil erosion going on in the Western Ghats. There has been a steady degeneration of the Goa section of the Western Ghats. This is because of the hill cutting and the widespread slaughter of trees on hill slopes. This is compounded by the doubling of railway tracks from Goa to Bangalore for the benefit of the industrial groups Adanis and Jindals. The Tamnar electricity project also passes through the Mollem Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Western Ghats are crucial to the wellbeing of the ecology of Goa. Climate changes we are witnessing in Goa are because of the destruction of the ecosystems of the Western Ghats many of our river waters rise.
The Western Ghats have been described by environmentalists as the backbone of the pleasant climate that Goa enjoys. This year however we saw rain in November. It was a prolonged monsoon too. When the monsoon stops Goa will suffer searing temperatures without its greenery which was all around most of the time. The temperature was up to 32 degrees in November.
The present Goa government is oblivious to climate change and permits the conversion of green areas into commercial settlements. If this does not stop Goa will lose its Western Ghats and all that this means to the climate of Goa continuing to be pleasant and desirable. Then the tourists too will disappear for who wants to a Goa without water and as hot as hell.
BEATING UP STUDENTS
AND a few stray thoughts on the report that two students were beaten by a teacher in Sankhali constituency represented by Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant, and also Bicholim. On Monday, November 27, two teachers were arrested for assaulting minor school students, one a Class III student and the other a Class VIII student. Both teachers from a school in Sankhali and the other from a school in Bicholim have been arrested.
While the Sankhali school incident took place on Monday, November 27 the other took place in Bicholim on September 9, 2023. In the November 27 incident a teacher of the Vitthal Rakhumai Government Primary School in Vithalapur, Sankhali slapped a Class III boy student so hard that he hit his head on the edge of the wall. The mother of the child, who hails from Zariwada in Sattari, filed a police complaint. Police sub-inspector (PSI) Vikesh Hadfadkar is further investigating the case.
In the other case, the teacher assaulted a girl student on September 9, but was arrested on Monday, November 27 by a police team formed under the supervision of Bicholim Police Inspector Rahul Naik. Bicholim police said a complaint was filed by the girl’s mother stating that on September 9, between 8.15 am and 9.05 am, the teacher behaved “in an inappropriate manner in the Class VIII classroom.” As per the complaint, the teacher pushed the student, which caused her to fall, resulting in her sustaining minor injuries to her leg. Based on the complaint, Bicholim police registered a case under Section 323 of the IPC and Section 8 of the Goa Children’s Act. Further investigation is in progress by LASI Vibhavari Gawas under the supervision of Naik and Bicholim SDPO DySP Sagar Ekoskar.
It is alarming that there are more and more reports of students being beaten up by their teachers. The teachers in school are supposed to inspire respect in their students. Corporal punishment is out of the question. Students particularly in 11th and 12th standards are young adults and can be very sensitive. Any acts of physical violence against them result in strongly to be condemned.
In such cases teachers themselves turn into goons and beat up students. It is very tragic, indeed. Of course it is even worse when communal issues play a part in the covet or overt mistreatment of the students. It may be recalled that a teacher was reported to ask a student to beat up Muslim students in Muzaffarnagar just because were from a different community. The teacher abused his power in victimizing the minority community.
Fortunately, in Goa there is no discrimination against the minority. Thankfully, the CM has set up an enquiry into the beating up of students in his own constituency.
AND a few stray thoughts on National highways to have standardised rumble strips. Commuters will soon breathe easy as the Road Transport Authority along with the state government is set to install standardised rumble strips along the national highways.
Citizens have been raising concerns over the irregular rumble strips put on the roads, which have often led to accidents. A highly placed source at the RTA requesting anonymity maintained that a majority of road accidents are caused by human error.
National highways are designed for the free movement of traffic. But rumble strips have to be installed to alert the motorists about the presence of a junction ahead. Humps have been banned on highways making way for rumble strips, whose number will be limited to six. In case the number of rumbles needed to be increased the strips will be laid in batches of six. The official said that all the strips on the roads will be regulated and replaced as per the new guidelines.
The rising road accidents call for speed regulation, he reckoned, adding that statistics have shown that 80% of fatal accidents are due to human error, overspending or drunk driving.