Sunday, March 20, 2005

HS D'Lima of Andheri, noise, and activists

At IFFI-2004 one heard of a film about the work of HS D'Lima (70), who has been campaigning against sound pollution in Mumbai. Unfortunately, in the shower of films, news conferences and hurry to 'get the story out', one didn't get a chance to view that. So, ignorance remains bliss. More recently, a friend mentioned that D'Lima had been attacked. Going through my pending stack (mess would be a better word) of papers, one read the March 7, 2005 issue of Indian Express report that D'Lim "sustained two deep cuts on his left arm but was otherwise unhurt". Apparently, the attack took place outside his Andheri residence. Activists were quoted as planning to launch a group called MITRA (Movement against Intimidation, Threats and Revenge against Activists). Does anyone know more about this person and his campaign? Is there any Goan connection, as the name might suggest? Just curious.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Goa, police claims, and the accidental death reality

This report from the Hindustan Times has thrown up a shocking piece of statistics: Goa accounted for the highest rate of accidental deaths -- 71 per 100,000 population, as compared to the national average of 26.4. The report is titled "Two rapes, four murders every hour in India" and is based on "figures compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The "North", Africans in India, etc...

Fundacao Oriente later today, March 10, kicks off a lecture series series that continues its earlier Indo-Portuguese historical and cultural interactions. Some of the topics are interesting, and the speakers are mostly people one could look forward to meeting. This Thursday, from 6-7 pm, Dr Glenn J Ames has a catchy title for his talk -- 'A Tale of Four Cities: The Provincia do Norte in an Age of Decline and Rebirth, 1640-1683'. The 'Provincia do Norte', or the Northern Province, was the hardly-northern not-far-from-Bombay edge of the colonial Portuguese empire in South Asia. Dr Ames here tells the story of four cities -- Diu, Daman, Chaul and Bacaim (today's Vasai) -- in the rebuilding of the Estado da India of the 17th century, as the Portuguese colonial state here was then known. He's Professor of French and Portuguese history at the University of Toledo, USA. He's currently in Goa as a Senior Research Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies. His earlier books include Renascent Empire?: The House of Braganza and the Quest for Stability in Portuguese Monsoon Asia, ca. 1640-1683 and Vasco da Gama: Renaissance Crusader (2005). In this session, Dr Ames' argument is that the Portuguese by the late 'seventeenth century, were beseiged by both European rivals (like the Dutch) and indigenous powers like the Mughals and Bijapur. Comments he: "The decade which began with the loss of Cochin to the VOC (Dutch) and the reluctant transfer of Bombay to the English, ironically also marked the beginning of three decades of vital reform for the Estado da India". His study looks at the geo-political, religious and economic challenges confronting the Portuguese Crown in Asia, between 166301700 and more. He'll explain the importance of the "Provinces of the North" in this reformation process. On March 17, Prof Jean-Pierre Angenot, a Belgian-turned-Brazilian known for his TADIA (The African Diaspora in Asia) Network , explains the history and geography of the current-day often-neglected African diaspora in India.On March 24, journalist-turned-Kala Academy member secretary Vinayak V Khedekar talks on 'traditional communication technique -- phonology' while a week later photographer Sunil Vaidyanathan talks on 'India through my lens'.

Can you build within 500 metres of the high-tide line?

Can you build within 500 metres of the high-tide line? (Yes, no, depends?) What do you do when you find an electric pole stuck in your backyard, after returning back to Goa, set there without anyone's permission? (Can you do anything at all?) Can a buyer ask you to 'convert' your land before selling it? (What are the illegal rates?) What's the dividing line between a "Portuguese house" and one which is traditionally Goan? (Surprise: There are no Portuguese houses in Goa, as architect Gerard da Cunha unequivocally says, just a synthesis between the Portuguese and local style of houses!) Can a British national own property in Goa? Foreigners can, only if they establish they are a person residing in India, and that takes a half-year residence here to qualify. What does the 182-days-residence criteria (required to be considered a 'person resident in India') mean? What facilities are there for people of Indian origin to own land here -- except for farmland -- and can their children inherit it? If you're interested in such questions, and real estate issues, check out the Homes & Estates: Goa's Property & Building Trading Guide magazine that comes out in four issues each year. The Spring 2005 issue (Vol 6 Issue 3) is out, and is priced at Rs 30 UKP2 US$3 or Euro3. It promises "over 2000 listings" of properties too. Have never myself checked out how effective this is as a tool to scout for properties. But as Goans rush headlong into a mad rush to sell their ancestral properties (a point _VM_ made not too long ago) the importance of such information becomes obvious. There are two good panels offering architects' and legal answers. Many raising queries are foreigners. This is edited and published by Michael Lobo of Parra and its art director is his Japanese wife Tomoko Mikada Lobo. Generally, useful information. Even if one is suspicious about all those glossy adverts put out by the real estate lobby, which has significantly damaged the charm that lures to Goa, and has also made homes too costly for most local-earning locals to ever afford!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Rochelle Pinto... on pamphlets, caste and class

Often, debates over caste and class degenerate into a public airing of our biases and arrogance. The issue of caste has been hotly debated, not once but twice (and there's probably lot more to come) in cyberspace. Take a look at the February 2005 archives of Goanet for instance. Incidentally, in an article titled A Time To Publish published in the Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai) issue of February 26, 2005, Rochelle Pinto makes some interesting points indeed. EPW says the "article discusses two sets of pamphlets that appeared towards the end of the 19th century in colonial Goa, in an attempt to show how precedents and norms established by European print were not exactly reproduced in the colony. The function of print and the genre of pamphlets, in particular, were altered by class difference, caste hierarchies and the context in which rural and urban politics functioned in Goa." Quote: "Increasingly, in the early decades of the 20th century, the monopolies and usurpation of land rights by nadkarnis, kulkarnis, and other dominant castes began to be challenged across villages in Goa. In the Old Conquests of Goa, the territories conquered from 1510 on, the institution of the ‘communidade’, which administered village land through councils whose membership was hereditary, male, and usually upper caste, was particularly strong. Rising literacy levels among sudras had, however, resulted in their growing visibility among groups of litigants in Goa. Salaried employment outside Goa had enabled sudras to use print to supplement litigation for land-rights. Within Goa, the form of the pamphlet was considerably altered when they adopted it to challenge the monopolies of kulkarnis, nadkarnis, and their own village communidades." Surely, a very interesting and insightful read!

Looking at where Goa is listed among the "major destinations". Sometimes useful and interesting. The technology used to enhance communication is also neat. Have been posting there sometimes.

The problem with bankers...

They have tonnes of money to offer when you don't need it, and none when you need it the most. For long we've heard complaints that Goa's credit-deposit ratio is simply too low. For every hundred rupees banked, less than thirty is lent out. Meaning, Goa's poor levels of entrepreneurship gets even more badly depressed! Check this link on for posts related to Goa's C-D ratio. Dunno if NRIs (non-resident Indians) really need loans to build homes. Anyway, the State Bank of India, the other day, handed out a brochure saying that just this is on offer. What a waste? Anyway, to check the SBI sites visit or or even Caution: for some reason, the last mentioned site doesn't seem to be working at the time of writing.

Anjuna in the 'seventies

Anjuna in the 'seventies. The hippy face of the coastal village. From an online scrap-book. Check the photographs.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Lured by the sea... and its stories

It sounds near unbelievable, but 700 Goans died in fatalties in the high-seas during World War II alone.Thanks to the research of Cliff J Pereira , you now have detailed accounts of how many Goans died on which ship. (For instance, 61 Goans died on the British SS Khadive Ismail, sunk in 1944 by a Japanese submarine, 63 aboard the British SS Rohna destroyed by German aircraft fire in the Mediterranean, 60 aboard the MV President Doumer, flying the flag of Aden, and sunk by a U-boat in the North Atlantic in 1942, 44 aboard the British SS Calabria (also sunk by the German U-boat U-103 in the North Atlantic under Captain Shutze and so on. Goans were killed aboard British, Indian, Norwegian, Dutch,Hong Kong, South African,Egyptian and even a Kenyan Ship -- the SS Oltania II.) Take a look at this fascinating story of the Britannia pieced together by journalist Melvyn Misquita. But Goa's history with the sea is not just connected with World War II, or even just the 20th century. It goes back to beyond the Portuguese period. Guess what? Drawn by strange stories and the lure of the sea, a network of Goans of a younger generation are working to set up a cyber maritime museum. Together with Melvyn, one of the moving spirits behind this initiative is Cliff J Pereira. Read a longish story about the work he's doing and why his interet here. Mario Alvares is one of those who's behind this initiative and he's the person behind Goan.Name genealogy site. The XCHR, the Xavier Centre of Historical Research, is also backing this initiative. Besides this foursome, also present was Cecil Pinto, and myself, for the first meeting that got underway. It resulted in the launch of a Goa Maritime Museum mailing list. There's space for a lot more to come up here.

Music flows... "boat songs" from Goa

William Rodrigues is one of those young Goans, struggling it out back in Goa, stymied by limited opportunity, a small market, and the other negatives that go along with a small place. But I guess he loves Goa, and that's why he came recently with his Goan Boat Songs. Needless to say, the charm of Goan music doesn't seem to be quite well represented in all its richness and diversity in cyberspace. This search throws up some 700 entries related to "Goan music". is an attempt at having a music magazine online. It could do with more regularity and inputs. (Look who's talking!) But returning to my long-haired musician friend, William stumbled across me via the Net, and wrote in from some overseas location some months back. Hearing his 'Goan Boat Songs' (Sinaris, 2004, Rs 150) was quite refershing. It has a number of medleys that we would know, in Konkani, Portuguese and English. There's the Goan folk song Santan Mauxi, the medley dulpod mix Come From England, the Portuguese Brazilian Maria Isabel, the Goan folk dulpod Aiz Etolo, the Portuguese Corredinho O Malhao, O Malhao, the Kunbi folk song Vauraddi, the mando and dulpods Surya Devun Gelo, Goan party medleys, Cadie Za Za, mando and dulpods Pauso Boglec Paulo, fuggdi song Gaddi Chalolea and the dekhni Aum Saiba Poltodi Vetam. Some things don't change in Goa. Our musical prefernces stay frozen in time. Almost. Why complain? It reminds one of the days in the 'sixties, when Goa was undergoing severe transformations, and music perhaps remained one consoling constant. Is this what the expat Goans would like to tune in to? Would the hype-chasing tourist who lands on the river boat cruise find a chord resonate in this music? What would the purist say at this packaging of Goan music? William's CD puts it bluntly, when it says: "All songs are performed live. Ghumot (Goan drums) are played by William Rodrigues. No extra takes and fine editing is done, in order to preserve the feel of live music, with real performance and rustic nature." William (36) says he's been playing since his school days in Fr Agnel's at Pilar, and has been on the drums, guitar and keyboards. He plays with Purple Haze, has his own one-man band, does solos and freelancing with other bands. Earlier he played with the Music Makers. This is his first CD, though he plans one of fuison music. Of late, he's been touring more often -- and has performed in Thailand, Singapore, around India, in Dubai, Portugal, and the UK. William's favourites are Latin music, Jazz, Country Western, and Goan. What's the music scene like in Goa, a place of so much talent? "Just okay," he says, with a smile. "Technology is taking the place of music. There's a lot of confusion. Bands are sidelined by pre-recorded music. Some persons who don't know anything of music take advantage of it." He feels the clubs are hardly cultivating suitable kinds of music. Not everyone is given exposure, and a chance to grow -- much is based on cliques. Goa's musicians need a professional approach. Society should be quicker to recognise talent, he feels. Everyone should be given a chance to grow. "There is money, but people don't want to pay. They'd rather pay a musician from elsewhere than someone from Goa. Especially the hoteliers," he complains. There's little or no support (specially for Western music) from the government and tax-payer funded institutions. Among musicians, the lack of originality stems from the fact that nobody's encouraging it. Of course, the small market of Goa also makes things further difficult for the musician. Musicians have to become producers here, and the small market in a small state means its unmatured too. Maybe it's time for the musician from here to look at other channels of getting their work known. You can contact William at williamrodrigues1 at

Sailing... towards an ERP

Express Computer had this article Goa Shipyard: full steam ahead which says the shipyard has been "building ships much faster after it deployed an enterprise resource planning system". It is written by Sushma Naik in the February 28, 2005 issue of the publication.It says GSL was facing "rought weather", and notes that shipbuilding is a competitive industry with the GSL's prime customer, the Indian Navy, increasingly awarding contracts via a competitive bidding process. Quote: "This put GSL in a situation where it faced competition from other shipyards both in India and abroad." Express Computer argues that while the public sector GSL "had the requisite IT infrastructure in place,its IT systems existed as islands with no bridges to connect, exchange and analyse data. Its home-grown systems supported business processes such as procurement, finance, stores and payroll; as these systems were not integrated, project analysis was extremely difficult." GSL decided to go in for an ERP solution from SSA Global with Godrej Infotech as the implementation partner.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Open wells, harvesting water

This isn't quite related to Goa, but it's simply too important to ignore. Check out these articles on rainwater harvesting from the Bangalore-based newspaper Deccan Herald which I once worked for. This Tuesday's article (March 1, 2005) focussed on using open wells for harvesting rain water. It said: "One well can recharge ground water from 1000 sq mts of area, which means one million litres of water." It also made other relevant points. For instance, over the last 3000 years, open wells have been one of the single largest providers of water to villages and towns. Over the last 40 years, their role has got diminished thanks to the "bore well culture" and the unsustainable exploitation of ground water. Further facts: * As long as water was drawn by hand, the demand and withdrawal of water from the dynamic water table was sustainable * Pumping of water through electric and diesel pump-sets withdraws such large quantities that water in these wells vanish. * Once dry, the wells become garbage dumps, further polluting ground water. Here's the way forward: * Open wells have a major role to play in the artificial recharge of ground water * Rooftop rainwater and surface water flowing in storm water-drains can be filtered, the silt removed and allowed to recharge open wells * Existing wells are ideal structures for recharge. Deccan Herald says digging a new well costs Rs 8-12,000 depending on diameter and depth. Guess that should be more in a costly place like Goa. Their advice: "Look for a concrete ring maker in your neighbourhood, and he should put you in touch with a well digger. Make sure contaminated water is not allowed to be recharged. For more tips, check out Rainwater Club or even talk to S Vishwanath at 23 64 16 90 or 23 53 24 35 in Bangalore.