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Of Highways and Highwaymen

Vol No CX No: 293 Goa, Tuesday 23 November, 2010

Idiot box addiction


n a survey conducted by the Social Development Foundation (SDF) of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) among children and parents all over the country (including Goa), it emerges that most Indian children between the ages of 6 and 17 watch television for more than five hours a day! This puts Indian children on par with their US counterparts. Just the other day, addressing ‘The Hindustan Times’ Leadership Summit in New Delhi, former US President Al Gore lamented that Americans are developing shorter attention spans because they watch five hours of television a day. So, at least in terms of television viewing, India is already a superpower! The parents, says the survey, are of the opinion that TV programmes are getting worse, because of derogatory language and adult themes in shows that air from 7pm to 10pm. Does that mean the parents don’t watch these shows themselves? Unlikely, but the survey does not enlighten us about this. Excessive viewing of television has scientifically been linked to a greater risk of obesity, as well as aggressive and violent behaviour amongst children. An adult (or child) who watches five hours of TV a day is far more likely to be obese than one who watches for less than an hour. Most kids are already addicted to television long before they enter school, the survey says. Two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen for an average of two hours a day. Kids under six years old watch an average of about three to four hours of ‘screen media’ a day (TV, videos and DVDs). Alarmingly, 56 per cent of four- to six-year-olds, when asked to choose between watching TV and playing with their friends, preferred television. Children spend more time watching television than any other activity except sleep, the survey found. The survey also highlights that children younger than 8 years cannot uniformly distinguish between real life and fantasy or entertainment, and that they quickly learn that violence is an acceptable solution to resolving problems, particularly if the aggressor is the hero. Children who watch violent shows are more likely to hit their playmates, argue, disobey authority, and are less willing to wait for things. The news is not much better for older kids. Pre-teens and teens (eight to 18 years) spend between four to six hours a day in front of a TV screen. But, the survey said, the longterm effects of television on academic achievement were unclear. Be that as it may, it seems clear that parents need to step in and create activities for their kids that can wean them away from excessive television viewing. Otherwise, their prospects in life will suffer.

Learn from Nepal


wo managers from a new casino in Goa are finding to their cost that the police and judiciary in Nepal are much tougher than their counterparts back home. Jasbir Singh Gill recruited 14 Nepalese girls in Kathmandu to work in his casino, but was arrested on the charge of trafficking in women when the parents of one of the girls complained. When his boss Harish Bhagwan Suryavanshi went with documents to prove that it was bonafide recruitment, he was jailed too. While this seems very unjust, one point is noteworthy. A Kathmandu district court has ordered them to be in custody till their trial is concluded. It seems foreigners accused of crimes in Nepal face obligatory imprisonment, even if their alleged offences are bailable, to prevent them from escaping the country. If the police and judiciary in Goa were more stringent on these aspects, we would not have Atala-type ‘gotalas’.

Building a completely new highway will be cheaper than widening nH17, says antHony SiMoeS In 1999, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government conceived a major super-highway dream, to speed up transport on India’s then perceived trunk routes. Finances were to be independent of any budgetary provisions; funded by a cess of one rupee on every litre of diesel and petrol sold. Because of this, it did not matter whether we had an NDA government or a UPA government in Delhi. This (ongoing) fully financed project would never get sidelined. As vehicular traffic increased, so would income, neutralising any inflationary pressures. As a first step, the two-lane National Highways (NHs) connecting Bombay, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai would be four-laned. This was called the Golden Quadrilateral, covering a total length of about 5,500 kilometres. Simultaneously, work was to start on two sixlane highways – one running north to south from Srinagar to Kanyakumari, and another running east to west from Silchar in Assam to Porbandar in Gujarat – a total of approximately 7,000 kilometres. To carry out all these projects, the central government formed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), an autonomous body that reported directly to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and did not fall under the Ministry of Surface Transport (MoST). States like Goa, which are nowhere near these super-highways, were expected to get spur roads connecting their existing two-lane highways to the new trunk routes. After 11 years, what are the plans of the Goa government? Has it asked MoST to provide a spur road connecting the Golden Quadrilateral and the Srinagar-Kanyakumari super-highway to NH4A and NH17? Instead, the Goa government is now trying to four- or six-lane NH17. What a massive duplication of infrastructure! Or has the north-south link been surreptitiously shifted westwards? Don’t be surprised if the NHAI in its infinite wisdom has included the four/sixlaned NH17 as part of the Srinagar-Kanyakumari north-south link. That will be the beginning of the end of Goa’s coastal belt as we know it. The loss will be irreparable; the devastation permanent. When the Konkan Railway was being pushed


Jonas Correia, Aldona

Benedicta Almeida, Assolna

Most meetings of any organisation or bodies are held on Sunday for larger attendance. There is great disappointment when these meetings are postponed by half to one hour due to lack of quorum. What is funny is that the delayed meeting becomes legally constituted even if the attendance is poor. People, therefore, feel reluctant to come for meetings. Moreover, agenda is diversed, which compounds the problem and prolongs meetings. Some try to dominate the proceedings and deny others the opportunity to speak. As a result, people stage a walk out as they are fed up. It is time quorums for all meetings are abolished. Meetings should start, progress and end on time.

Freedom fighters, GBA, NGOs, other organisations, and all Goans should come forward to oppose NH17 and NH4A alignment. PWD minister should first check all the roads taluka-wise which are destroyed. NH17 is a project which serves self interests of concerned few and people are objecting to the same. We are in a democracy, people’s voices are to be considered. Demolishing houses will hurt the sentiments of people. Government is of the people, for the people, and by the people. The benefits of Konkan Railways are enjoyed by non-Goans.

23 November 1910 Civil registration laws

Laws of the Civil Registration which are being decreed, makes compulsory the registration of Births, nuptials, and deaths.

Government decision

The local government decided that the services undertaken from different Secretariats should be from 10am to 1pm.

Minister studies substitution

The Home Minister is in the process of studying the manner of substituting the religious orphanages which were affected by the Decree of 8 October through the intervention of the Government.

Decree to be issued

The Separation of the Church from the State affairs is going to be decreed very soon.

Children’s day Blossom Cabral, Nagoa Children’s day was celebrated recently on 14 November all over the country. On this joyous occasion, cultural programmes and competitions were held making the child free to participate and enjoy. This auspicious day is also the birthday of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Parents who inculcate good habits and discipline at a nascent stage can hopefully expect their wards to emerge as responsible adults. In turn, children should also respect their parents, teachers and society at large.

CM’s advice Mac A, Velim It was interesting to read a recent story of how our CM Digambar Kamat gave a keynote speech and advised all those in the media to have a stronger social conscience. Perhaps, someone should read his speech back to him. Government is known to turn a blind eye to issues concerning Goans. We have MLAs who are seen more in the papers for their side jobs in running lounge bars in their constituency, or the other thug MLA who has overseas businesses. Our CM’s speech should be read at the next assembly session.

In many places, it will be too close to existing railroads, which may have to add extra tracks. It will require too much re-location of existing pipelines, fibre- optic cables, power transmission/distribution lines, transformers, etc. An honest cost/benefit analysis will unravel an unmitigated techno-economic and social disaster. We will be leaving future generations an unwanted legacy of a permanent nightmare. The most cost-effective option is to leave the existing two-lane NH17 as it is, to cater to the needs of traffic originating and terminating in Goa. A four-lane super-highway can be separately built as a corridor through Goa to hasten transport between Maharashtra and Karnataka, in the hinterland, where land is cheap, and the area sparsely populated, keeping displacement and demolition to a bare minimum. The alignment for this road has already been surveyed in detail; it’s the original alignment of the Konkan Railway. The Narrative (Vol 1) is available at the Goa Foundation. Vols 2 & 3 (Estimates/Quantities, etc) are available with the Railways. The cost of the highway will be very low, be-


attended a remembrance get together for a friend’s father this weekend. As he spoke about his father and all that he stood for, I was reminded strongly of my own father – indeed of an entire generation that we are now losing. A generation of educated, middle class, government servants – who lived life on very strict terms and to very high values. They believed in honesty and integrity and lived by their commitment. My father was entitled to an official car, but the one time his driver gave us a lift to college, he begged us not to tell Dad or he would have got fired for misuse of official property. When, during a union agitation, the union leader abused all the officers as thieves, my father stepped forward and slapped him. The Union leader was a skinny Bengali and collapsed on the spot. Everyone waited in tension, because the Unions were legendary for their violence and aggression. When the leader came around, he simply said ‘This man dared to slap me because he is an honest man.’ After that, whenever the officers were gheraoed, Dad always got home early because the agitators would slip him out the back gate. Austerity was part of their code as well. We never wasted anything. Nor did we ever buy anything that Dad considered wasteful. In later years, he was baffled by the idea of brand names that

Oppose alignment


through coastal Goa instead of the hinterland, the corporation filed an affidavit before the Justice Oza Commission claiming the KRC would run 120 trains per day and put bus owners and truck owners out of business. The re-alignment activists, it said, were in cahoots with the bus/truck owners. Today, the KRC is struggling to run 120 trains per week, and just 10 per cent are freight trains. That is behind the four/six-laning of NH17. But in Goa, it makes a mockery of town/village planning and road design. Over the last four decades, huge numbers of dwellings have been built on either side of the existing two-lane highway. All of them will have to be demolished, at a tremendous financial and social cost, as land prices are very high. The existing horizontal and vertical alignments will have to be adhered to, but will hamper the hi-tech vehicles now being manufactured. The plan will need too many on/off ramps, clover leafs and interchanges to allow Goan traffic to access and leave NH17 as proposed, unless the NHAI visualises the Goa stretch merely as a corridor for through traffic between Maharashtra and Karnataka.

TheAccidental Activist

Abolish quorums

100 Years Ago

Politically incorrect

cause of the superior quality of the survey done by J Y Marathe, former Engineer-in-Chief of the Central Railway. In this plan, the Zuari Bridge is only 213 metres long. At present, the KRC bridge is 987 metres long, with an added total of 850-odd metres of viaducts on either side. It avoids the Mandovi crossing altogether (nearly 860 metres). Instead, it has two bridges of 22 metres and 45 metres length across the Mhadei and Khandepar rivers. Because of the nature of the terrain, earthworks will be a bare minimum. It will greatly benefit the mining industry in North Goa and reduce the sufferings of the people now badly affected by mining traffic. The toll collected from mining traffic will be huge, because of high tonnage and a large number of trips. To prevent traffic from using the existing NH17 to avoid toll, vehicles with non-Karnataka and non-Goa licence plates should not be allowed to cross-into Karnataka from Goa, unless they pay double the toll charged for the super-highway. Similarly, vehicles with non-Maharashtra and nonGoa licence plates should not be allowed to cross into Maharashtra from Goa without paying double-toll. Interestingly, on his last visit to Goa (for Eduardo Faleiro’s birthday), Kamal Nath gave Chief Minister Digambar Kamat an ultimatum. Either give Goa’s clearance by 31 October or he will shift the highway out of Goa via Karnataka. Digu-bab should have taken the offer, since the original SrinagarKanyakumari six-lane highway was supposed to go that way, before the NHAI surreptitiously shifted it to the NH17 route to cut costs. They are running out of money because they originally understated costs to get the north-south and east-west links sanctioned. Now the chickens of their earlier chicanery are coming home to roost. These links will anyway prove to be an environmental disaster, by causing flooding, especially in areas of heavy rainfall. Already, year after year, large sections of India’s new highways get washed away in floods. But that is only to be expected; all these super-highways have been built piecemeal by dozens of different contractors, with no holistic approach in terms of environmental impact assessments. It’s an unwanted legacy.

pushed the cost of objects into the stratosphere. It was beyond his comprehension that people could pay five figures and more for things like jeans. The habit of getting my wardrobe off the footpath has stayed with me all my life. That generation also had a very active social conscience. They had lived through the birth and first cycle of Naxalism. They had also inherited first hand, much of Gandhi’s philosophy. ‘Inclusion’ wasn’t a fancy word in our household – it was simply what we did in everyday life. Growing up in Calcutta, we children wished the rickshaw wallas, thanked the shop keepers, and played cheerfully with the children from the small ghetto next door. Long after Dad was gone, we began to discover just how many people he had helped out, how many children he had given an education to, all the small causes he had supported. The men of that generation were all Spartan, to a surprising degree. They walked wherever they could, or took the bus. Train travel was a huge novelty for us children, and even now when I stand on a railway platform, I feel a tingle of excitement and adventure. Catching a plane, on the other hand, feels much like catching a bus these days. We shared our remembrances of the father who had died. But

We need to move on

Adelmo Fernandes, Vasco

Over the past many days, there have been several letters to the editor praising Portuguese rule in Goa. Some said that administration during the Portuguese regime was clean and that there was no corruption with rare instances of crime and murder. Others commented that discipline and respect for life existed during colonial times and Portuguese imparted good education. There may be some truth in it. I was not born during Portuguese rule and therefore am unaware whether Goa was like heaven-on-earth as is being portrayed. But I will not trade my freedom for anything in the world. Freedom is precious. Even birds like parrots realise the true value of freedom, despite being caged. Given an opportunity, they will fly away. Some have said that during Portuguese times, one could sleep with the homes open. Can this be construed as freedom? We should be proud of our country and stop praising the previous regime. Fighting corruption is everyone’s duty and should not be confined to freedom fighters only. We should move on. It will be prudent to close the debate and be happy in our present circumstances.

Ubaldo Braganza, Margao I fully support the condemnation of the visit of NRP Sagres to Goa by Serafino Cota. and Co. The Portuguese came to celebrate achievements of the 16th century. It hurts us and revives revive bitter memories. Marcos Alemao’s (Herald, 19 Nov.) love and admiration for Portuguese stems from his ignorance towards history. The Portuguese wanted to convert all Goans to ‘brown Portuguese’ to be the King’s loyal subjects. A decree was passed in 1684 abolishing Konkani usage and they failed in an attempt to replace it with Portuguese. The colonialists tried their best to keep Goa backward - economically, educationally and culturally. There were no jobs then in Goa, except mining. Goans went elsewhere in job search. At the time of liberation, only Liceu, a teachers training school and the medical college existed. In comparison, there were hundreds of colleges and several universities in the neighbouring states. M Alemao wrote of Mahanand’s crimes. The Portuguese, themselves, were the fiercest criminals. They enforced the dreaded inquisition. Camp Lazarus in Old Goa was a stark reminder. The Portuguese held public

we were also sharing our memories of those who had made us what we are. By today’s yardstick, our parents would be considered losers. They never managed to build homes, they never owned cars, and they never put away a fat bank balance. But they achieved what we are finding so difficult to do. They achieved lives cleanly and lived decently. They were moral compasses for their children and for those around them. Growing up, we looked down on Dad’s staid middle class life, with the arrogance of the very young. We felt that he was old fashioned and regressive and we were the young rebels who would usher in change. It was only in later years that I learnt to appreciate that in his own way, my father had supported the best kind of change there was. ‘Social inclusion’, ‘Values’, ‘Moral Integrity’ – we learnt the labels later, but we saw them in action, in our parents lives. Now we are slowly losing that generation. And what a loss it is. As the gap between the privileged and the unprivileged widens into a gulf, as consumerism washes over India, as simple values are swamped by the creed of getting ahead, we need more than ever the remembrance of past people. These are simple people who lived simple lives. It is time to remember all our parents and all that they gave to us.

Letters to the Editor

Letter of the Day

Oppressive colonialists

By Venita coelho

“Auto de Fe’s” to ‘celebrate’ inhuman torture and death. Marcos Alemao now has the freedom to write letters which was not available to his predecessors in colonial Goa.

Ill-effects of alcohol Samir Khan, Mapusa Apropos your news item “45% Goans alcoholic” (Herald, 10 Nov) This is, indeed, shocking. Alcohol has been the scourge of human society since times immemorial. Soaring crime rates, mental illness surges, and broken homes bear mute testimony to alcohol’s destructive power. Alcohol is a disease. What is the benefit of revenue accrued from the sale of liquor when its impairment is much higher than its income from sale? We must take concrete steps to end this evil by banning sale of liquor, like in Gujarat.

Unforgiving silence Aires Rodrigues, Ribandar PM Manmohan Singh’s long silence and inaction on the 2G spectrum scam is unforgivable. The corrupt have to be dealt with an iron hand. The string of scams and the

escalating rise in graft and greed is a matter of great concern. Severe punishment needs to be handed down. This will give the government some teeth in punishing the corrupt.

Traffic snarl Domingos S D’Souza, Calangute Just over a fortnight back during the end of October, the traffic police were seen experiencing the daunting task of controlling/regulating the traffic jam along the Calangute/Baga stretch of road. The nightmare of unimaginable chaotic traffic standstill can snowball into a potentially dangerous and catastrophic situation with the arrival of international tourists. Supply of essential services to numerous hotels, restaurants and beach shacks have come to a virtual standstill posing inconvenience to business and tourists alike. Government authorities connected with safety management and traffic control will not have any clue in case of an emergency. Tourism authorities should give an urgent and serious thought to have a viable contingency plan (till a new diversion by-pass road is connected to Baga beach) so as to avoid a huge traffic snarl.

Untrue rumours Joel Fernandes, Cuncolim This has reference to the letter ‘Evolution theory a hoax’ by Bernard Simoes (Herald, 10 Nov) He claims that evolution theory consists of lies and hoaxes which were proven wrong 50 years ago. Now this itself appears to be a lie, to mislead readers. Who proved it wrong and how? When? Maybe he got hold of a rumour.

Shelter confirmation Joaquim Correia-Afonso, Benaulim There has been a hue and cry regarding the so called “bus stops” erected by some corporate bodies. These are neither “bus stops” nor “bus shelters” They are shelters for commuters, who are provided with protection from the sun and rain. It is for the benefit of the common man.

Paths of Wisdom Mother’s Role Lord Krishna visited Queen Gandhari to console her after the Kurukshetra battle. She accused Him: “Though You are God, how could You be so partial. You supported the Pandavas, but could not save at least one son out of the hundred sons I bore.” Krishna replied: “Sister, I am not responsible for the death of your children. You are responsible.” Gandhari replied: “Krishna how can You be so hard hearted to accuse me thus?” Krishna replied: “Sister, you gave birth to a hundred sons but did you ever cast your loving glance on at least one of them? You chose to remain blindfolded. You could not see for yourself how your sons were faring. Your sons are indeed the most unfortunate ones because they could not enjoy their mother’s tender care and affectionate glance. How could they grow into disciplined, dutiful and righteous heroes? Mother is the first teacher and preacher”. “Just think for yourself the situation and compare it with that of Queen Kunti. Kuntî from the moment of her husband’s death, brought up her sons with great care and affection. She was with them both in the palace and in the house of wax as well. The Pandavas would never do anything without the blessings of their mother. They could earn My grace not because of their individual talents but because of Kunti’s constant prayer to Me: ‘Oh Krishna! You alone should protect them.’ Those who are not fortunate enough to enjoy the loving glance of their mother cannot earn the divine vision, nor can they win the love of God.” Thus Lord Krishna enlightened Queen Gandhari on the role of the mother. (Source : Chinna Katha)

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