`PRAN PRATISTHA’, NOW `DIVYASTRA’!

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the fasting month for Muslims, Ramzan, started on Tuesday, March 12. For a Saturday following the week when even more deadly nuclear weapons developed during the Modi regime and they have quite a divine destructive touch about them. For a Saturday following the week when the Modi government notified the rules of the Citizenship Amendment Act. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa Bachao Abhiyan (GBA) alleged that the intentions of the Town & Country planning ordinance on the outline development plans were modified. For a Saturday following the week when we discovered that there was no Modi guarantee on the safety of Goans from drunken drivers.
AND a few stray thoughts on the fasting month of Muslims, Ramzan, which started on Tuesday, March 12 in India. This is the month when devout Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. They do not even take a sip of water and this could be dangerous seeing the soaring temperatures in Goa this early spring to summer days. Lack of water can lead to dehydration.
The Muslim community is the only religious community which observes such a strict waterless fast from dawn to dusk. Fasting in some form or other is quite the tradition in all religious-minded communities. Hindus do partial fasting during the month of Shravan. They turn essentially more vegetarian and shun meat and even fish during Shravan-ka- mahina. Abstaining from fish is a major sacrifice for all Goans. By way of some consolation several restaurants and several Saraswat Brahmin caterers offer special vegetarian services for lunch, even home tiffin deliveries. The SB veg food is quite special during Shravan.
Coincidently, the Christian fasting season has already commenced. After the end of carnival or carnaval starts the period of Lent when Christians abstain from meat. Lent ends with Easter Sunday which marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Traditionally, at the end of a day of fasting, Muslims break their fast with a few dates. This is probably in memory of the early history of Islam in the deserts of Arabia when fast were broken at sunset in the nearest oasis or settlement. Mecca, the holiest shrine of Islam, is in Saudi Arabia.
In India Ramzan is also a time for politicians across their party affiliations to hold an Iftari party for friends from all walks of life. At the Central level, all senior political leaders from the Congress to the NCP and even Trinamool Congress, hold Iftari parties or get-togethers. This give politicians an opportunity to come close to the Muslim community.
The ruling political party at the Centre does not hold Iftari parties. On the contrary, it has projected itself as anti-Muslim. Narendra Modi is identified with the mass killing of Muslims during the post-Godhra riots in Ahmadabad in 2002. For some reason, Goan politicians do not hold Iftari party. Not even Atanasio Babush Monserrate and Digambar Kamat who are seen as supporters of their Muslim vote banks.
Interestingly, the Catholics in South Goa do not like to surrender land for purposes of kabrastan for Muslim burials. The demand for a kabrastan in Margao has been pending for a long time. I recall many years ago being presented with a gold-tinted very expensive copy of a Quran, when I was editor of the “OHeraldo.” The maulana who came with it first checked whether I would accept it. I said I had no problem accepting any holy books and gave the copy of the very beautiful Quran copy to my Man Friday Ashraf Hassanwala who took care of me during my post-steroids detox years.It is not easy to hold a Quran in hand. It should be wrapped in a special green cloth and kept in a secure, clean place. The coming home of a new Quran is a major event.

CAA IS HERE!
AND a few stray thoughts on the Modi government notifying the rules of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The amendment was carried out four years ago. Rules were kept pending following widespread protests. The BJP government is hoping to use the Citizenship Act to further polarize Hindus and Muslim people of the country.
Anticipating protests during Ramzan month security has been strengthened. The Citizenship Act provides for granting citizenship to minority residents of Pakistan, Bangladesh and other Muslim nations. It is primarily for the minority Hindu population in Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, the act also covers the minority Christian community. There are a large number of Goan Catholics in Karachi, Pakistan.
Ironically, the majority of the refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh have been Muslims. Due to poverty in Bangladesh, many lakh Muslims crossed the border for greener and safer pastures in India. They have settled down in Assam and West Bengal and other parts of the India.
The CAA is seen as an attempt by India to interfere in the internal affairs of neighboring Islamic countries. Their timing of the notification of the rules is questioned. It is unlikely that the act will be implemented seriously as the code of conduct for parliamentary elections will come into force early next week. West Bengal has already given notice that it would not implement the new rules. A lot of Hindus and even Indian Muslims who migrated to Pakistan are not happy. This is because Indian Muslims are treated as second-class citizens by the Punjabi Muslim mafia. What the amendment act plans to do is to consolidate Modi’s image as a protector of Hindus.

DIVINE WEAPONS
AND a few stray thoughts on even more deadlier than nuclear weapons developed during the Modi regime – these weapons have a divine touch. “Divyastra” is the name given to the new nuclear Agni-warheads created. This is the most powerful nuclear missile India has manufactured. The nuclear missile which was successfully tested over last weekend has a range of 7,000 km. It can effectively counter threats not only from Pakistan but also from China. China, in fact, recently protested against Narendra Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh which shares a nebulous boundary with China. There is still a dispute over China’s capturing some land in Arunachal Pradesh and China refuses to give regular visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh. It thinks it is all Chinese land. Our relationship with Pakistan is also still stormy on borderlands.
Every time there is a terror attack fingers are pointed to terror groups functioning from Pakistan. In the case of the latest blast at the Rameshwaram Café in Bengaluru, there is an allegation that it was carried out by a terror group controlled from Pakistan. The movement of the terrorists who set off the explosion has been traced to Batkal, a Muslim populated enclave in Karnataka. Batkal is known as a smugglers’ paradise and has been linked to communal riots.
Karnataka has a number of terror groups. A hotspot is Hubli at the Idgah Maidan was the scene of many communal riots. Fortunately, Goa has remained an island of peace. Which is why it has attracted thousands of Muslim migrants from Karnataka seeking peaceful co-existence.

ALWAYS MALA FIDE T & C!
AND a few stray thoughts on the Goa Bachao Abhiyan alleging that the intentions of the Town & Country planning ordinance on the outline development plan in Goa are mala fide anew. The ODP seems to permit large-scale conversion of farming and orchard land into settlement and commercial land. The ODPs are drafts which indicate the broad areas which are sought to be converted.
In the recent past, there was mass conversions by T & CP Minister Vishwajit Rane. They have been disguised as corrections. The myth is that there were some mistakes in the 2021 regional plan which have been corrected. The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court objected to the ordinance issued by the Town & Country Planning Department. It may be recalled that the GBA started off by opposing the 2011 regional plan drawn up by Babush Monserrate. Babush literally sought to sell Goa to builders. He had a coloring competition for builders in the Monserrate mansion in Taleigao. His friends could paint the areas which they wanted converted for construction purpose, mostly the paddy fields. This was allowed on the basis of how much they were willing to pay of course.
The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court raised objection to the plan thanks to the GBA headed by Dr Oscar Rebello. The then Chief Minister Digambar Naik scrapped RP-2011 mercifully. A committee was appointed under the chairmanship of Charles Correa for the new RP 2021. This was never formally notified. Now Vishwajit Rane claims he is implementing it in the larger and smaller interests of Goa.

NO MODI GUARANTEES!
AND last stray thoughts when we discovered that there were no Modi guarantee ads for some serious issues. The advertisement on March 12 claimed that the Modi government has guaranteed the safety of Indians by vaccinating 20 crore people. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against drunken driving. Drunken driving is the biggest threat to the safety of Goans.
Perhaps the authorities may come out with vaccines for tourists visiting Goa, to make them develop a distaste for daru. It may or may not apply to the upmarket five-star hotels which are offering liquid brunches, whatever that means. A leading hotel is offering unlimited drinks as part of its Sunday brunch.
In February and March hotels in Goa offer unlimited liquor or daru to lure tourists from the rest of the country, the foreign tourists are not so hung up on booze. March is the khao-peo month when the caju and palm urrack and feni season commences, it is something Goans are crazy about. Tourists too are taking a shine to urrack and feni cocktails although they haven’t discovered the brief charm of drinking non-alcoholic fresh neero, the beverage of the ripe caju fruit called caju apple. It is refreshing and most cooling.

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