Saturday, December 31, 2005

Goa's official NRI convention on Jan 3-4, 2006

Gomant Vishwa Sammelan, the Goa government's name for its annual convention of expat Goans, is being held on January 3-4 at the Kala Academy.

If one goes by the official programme, it promises to offer lots of official speeches -- including an inauguration at 4.30 pm on Jan 3 "at the hands of H.E. Shri S C Jamir, Governor of Goa in the distinguished presence of Shri Francisco Sardinha, Hon'ble Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly".

On January 4, what's promised is interactive sessions between 9.30 am and 3.50 pm with the deputy CM and tourism minister Dr Wilfred de Souza, and minister for education and industries, Luizinho Faleiro. Given the trend of our politicians to talk-down to the voters, and do very little listening, one wonders how "interactive" will interactive be.

Later, at 4.30 pm, there will be a 'face to face' with chief minister Pratapsing Rane and former CM (now Opposition leader) Manohar Parrikar.

The program says there's not much on Jan 3, apart from floral welcomes, variety entertainment, a dinner, and an address by the Governor.

For a state which has about the highest out-migration levels in the world (according to anthropologists like Robert S Newman *), Goa has done precious little for its expat community. So can we expect anything but more platitudes?

Jan 4 programme will have a presentation on the industrial "scenario" (9.30 am), a question-and-answer session with views of NRIs and summing up (10.10 to 11.15 am), a presentation on the education scenario (11.30 am to 12.20 pm), a presentation on the tourism scenario (2.30 to 3.10 pm), another Q&A (3.10 to 3.50 pm), a Q&A with the CM and the leader of the Opposition (4.10 to 5.30 pm) and a valedictory address by the CM (at 5.30 pm).

--- * See Newman's essay, 'Goddess of Dreams, Homeland of Gold' in "Of umbrellas, goddesses & dreams: Essays on Goan culture and Society", Other India Press, Mapusa 2001. On page 89, he writes: "... well before and even after (1961), Goans have been migrants to many parts of the world. The experience of Diaspora, of being a stranger in a strange land, has been a quintessentially Goan experience. Goa, along with Greece, Ireland, Malta, Lebanon and some small Pacific island states, must have one of the highest rates of migration in the world. For many, other parts of India have been the lands of fortune. Many more have earned their livelihoods in East Africa, the Gulf sheikhdoms, North America, Portugal, England or Australia. In some parts of Goa, even today, a great percentage of the men work on ships, roaming the world to return only once in a year or eighteen months."]

Friday, December 30, 2005

Manipal, arogyacards, and Goa

There's an advertisement in The Hindu (once of my favourite newspapers) or April 22, 2005, which shows Sunil Kambli of Goa, with his son Sahil. He's quoted saying: "I never knew how Manipal ArogyaCard could be of help, until it helped when my son fell ill".

The efficacy of private, profit-oriented healthcare is another debate. Some hospitals are simply too costly, prescribe all kinds of superfluous treatment, while others are fairly efficient. That's beyond this debate.

What is the subject here is the way in which patients from Goa are today seen as a market for hospitals outside the state (mainly in coastal Karnataka, Belgaum, Bangalore or elsewhere). Once, not too long ago, Goa had a superior health care system, compared to its neighbouring outlying areas. We looked down condescendingly on patients who came *here* for treatment.

Now, the boot is on the other foot.

Firstly, we need to take note of the changing situation. Secondly, we need to ask: how did we fall back? Was it, in part at least, because our state opted to go in for a contractor-fuelled plan of having a (near-giant) new Goa Medical College, while they don't even have the funds to take care of basic usables in the health-care process?

Maybe someone with a better understanding could give us insights. FN

GEM links... from Mumbai

They're sometimes called GEMS, short for Goans-East (Indians)- Mangaloreans. Today, they form one marriage market (probably the most stringent test of whether a group forms a 'community'). Of course, there are caste and class divides, and regional ones too. It's not all hunky dory.

But, when these small groups migrate, they tend to interact quite closely. Cynthia Gomes-James was recently mentioning how she had was part of the GEMS of Texas network.

For those interested in understanding more about the communities involved, here are some recently-published books and CDs that might be of interest:

* Trace is "a historical review of the East Indian Christians" by Teddie J Rodrigues. Available in Mumbai from Marie Concessio of Bandra 26006446 or Dorothy Rodrigues at Vila Parle 26119225 or C Pereira of Amboli 55833495 or Anskar Pereira at 20th Century Restaurant and Stores Opp Orlem Church Malad W.

* Directory of the Catholic Diocese of Vasai, priced at Rs 60, available from the Examiner Press or with Lavy A D'Costa, 98193 77556. Postage extra. Copies also with the Bishop's House, Barampur-Vasai or with Jeevan Darshan, Media Commission, Giriz, Vasai. REleased on October 3, 2005.

* The Catholic Medical Guild, listing Catholic doctors of the Archdiocese of Mumbai. Released in October 2005. Available from Dr Neil Abreo on 2438 4858 from 10 am to 1 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm.

* A cookery book, 'Queen of the Kitchen' by Adrian and Rochelle (nee Drego) Newnes), released in October 2005. Has 13 sections of "delicious preparations and useful information". Priced at Rs 100. Available from phone 26006457. Part of proceeds will be earmarked for a scholarship in the names of Cyril and Fanny Drego and William and Molly Newnes, to deserving children.

* East Indian cassettes and CDs recently released include 'East Indian Bhavarathchi Gaani'. Another CD "based on the great booklet 'Cristpuran', written more than 350 years ago in chaste East Indian language, is in the offing". Hymn booklet also available. Contact Fr Borges at Kurla 25042573, Jacob Gomes at Kurla 2503 6889 or Alphonso Tao of Parle 2064 3962, Candida D'Souza Mulgao 0250 2320025 and Cyril Fonseca of Thane 9821 113128.

And if any reader would like to gift me a copy of any of these books, I'd be more than grateful. Not because of the cost, but due to the difficulty of sourcing and getting across the books from Mumbai! --FN

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Quote... unquote: Jos Peter D'Souza on the death sentence and capital punishment

Criminal lawyer Jos Peter D'Souza has this to say in the RENEWAL:

Since the recent judgement in Goa (a death sentence) was delivered by a judge who professes the Catholic faith, it would be interesting to look into the stand of the church on the question of capital punishment....


Most folks in Goa have forgotten about the last time there was a hanging at Aguada Central Jail. The hangman had to be brought in all the way from Calcutta. The hanging did not even cause a ripple in our society. Murders and rapes continued. A full generation has passed. This time round, things are different. No longer are people willing to be silent spectators when there is a dead man walking. The Church here in Goa, especially, will be expected to take up the debate. After all, it has been vociferous on various social issues, and this is a matter of life and death. The question is, will it.

Peter, one of the young Goans who returned from Mumbai in the 'seventies, and is now a prominent lawyer based in Mapusa (handling a number of narcotics cases in recent years), suggests that the Church hates the sin, but never the sinner. He writes: "Abolition of the death penalty is further testimony to our conviction that God is indeed the Lord of life." He cites the statement on death penalty which came from the Catholic Bishops of the United States in 1980.

Small world: Rajan P Parrikar

I ran into (literally, we had some strong-worded discussions earlier) Rajan Parrikar, a Goan in the US, and we were talking how Hindus and Catholics in Goa are like Christians and Jews in the West! This is Rajan's comparison, and it makes sense. Sometimes aloof, sometimes antagonistic, sometimes sharing with a lot of commonalities. (My theory on this is that it's the press and the politician who has the biggest stake in ensuring a continued divide.)

In the course of our discussions, I mentioned our Jewish anthropologist friend Dr Robert S "Bob" Newman, who's coming down to Goa in a few weeks time.... When I mentioned his wife Sudha's name, Rajan remembered them clearly: as the lady who took walked in Sant Inez with a saree and long-sleeved blouses, way back in 1979! Small world.

That was when Bob was doing his early research in Goa. We meet up in 1985 too, when I was a young journalist in the Herald.

Rajan grew up in Sant Inez. He studied in the Goa Engineering College, and has worked for aerospace organisations in Silicon Valley. After an antagonistic (almost) start to our exchanges, we found a lot of commonalities. Including the fact that we are both passionate about the Net, and are the same age!

You need to check out his many, well-informed (and sometimes hotly argued) postings on Indian classical music at Usenet newsgroups (search for "Rajan Parrikar" on ) and just yesterday was baiting him into publishing his first book on the subject. He sure knows this subject, and is extremely passionate about it.

Liturgical bread...

If you wondered where the host came from at Mass, here's this advert in the 'Renewal' (the Goa church's official bulletin) which explains. Apparently the 'liturgical bread' comes from St Joseph Church, Takwada, Usgao in Ponda taluka. (Phone 2344342 or 9890 490343).The advert thanks for the "unstinting support extended" and also says that due to taxes on commodities, and the "purchase of a new cutter to improve the quality of hosts" the price fo rthe same is being hiked.

New rates: Rs 50 for 1000 small and 10 big hosts, Rs 30 for 500 small and ten big hosts, and Rs 15 for 30 big hosts. Rates effective from November 2005. Manager Fr Felix Lobo says they have centres at the Pernem church, Mapusa church, Panjim pastoral library, Pilar animation centre, Margao clergy home, Margao light house, Usgao church... and there's even a scheme offering 100 packets of 1000+10 for Rs 5000!

Alumni networks in Goa (some possibly missed too!)

From some Goa-linked-alumni networks * Carmel College alumni mailing list. * Department of Commerce Goa University, alumni. * Goa chapter, BITS alumni association mailing list * Goa College of Pharmacy alumni mailing list * Engicos, Goa College of Engineering, Farmaguddi mailing list * Goa Institute of Management alumni in Chennai mailing list * GIM alumni jobs * Goa Medical College, alumni * Goa University Department of Management Studies * Government College Khandola mailing list. * Holy Cross High School, Bastora mailing list * Little Flower of Jesus alumni, Calangute October 2005 * Lourdes Convent, Saligao mailing list. * MonteDeGuirimSchool * St Mary's, Mapusa mailing list * St Stanislaus Ex-Students Association, Hill Road, Bandra. See ExStanislaus recent updates. * St Thomas, Aldona-Boys mailing list * St Xavier's Mapusa past pupils informal network

Aires... in Mumbai

If you were wondering about the new location of advocate Aires Rodrigues, a greetings message gave me his contact details. As below:

Aires Rodrigues, Advocate High Court, Mumbai Mobile 09822 684372. Office: Room No 36, AAWI, 1st Floor, High Court, Mumbai 400032 Tel 22673617 Res: 4/21 C Eucress, Wadala (East) Mumbai 400037. Tel 241 47761. Email airesrodrigues at

St Stanislaus links

Many Goans have studied in St Stanislaus at Hill Road, Bandra. Here's a link to their alumni network: Email exstan at Website Phone 2640 1799 Fax c/o 2643 0582.

In October 2005, a new managing committee was in place: Fr Lawrie Ferrao SJ (president), Warren Valadares (vice president), MelvRodricks (hon secretary), Mario Dias (joint hon secretary), Walwyn D'Souza (hon treasurer), Melville Ferns (jt hon treasurer). Dass Joseph, Stanislaus Lewis, Salim Shah, Denzil Rego and Charles Dias (members).

Some initiatives include assisting the ALMs (which is "slowly but steadily growing in stature in the suburbs"), helping the Talasari schools, reaching out and expanding the membership of the association, career guidance for the school boys (including aptitude tests), and instituting scholarships in the names of Fr Edmund Carrasco SJ, Daphne Gabriel, John Neef, William D'Souza. Some alumni who passed away recently include Rocque Pereira and Capt Collin D'Cruz. Also remembered are beloved former teachers Master Willie D'Souza and Master Mohanlal Dutt (Hindi), according to a recent report.

Newman Choir ... in Mumbai

N Carneiro Alphonso has a recent update (The Examiner, Sept 10, 2005) on the Newman Choir, founded by the late Fr J B Fernandes, after the 38th International Eucharistic Congress in 1964 "from amongst the members of massed choirs".

Norma writes: "When he retired in 1986, it ceased to exist. However, to continue his good work of propagating sacred music, in 1999, his friends and former choir members founded the Fr J B Fernandes Sacred Music Foundation that presented many choral programmes in churches [in Mumbai] by several other choirs from June 2001".

We're told that the Fr JB's own Newman Choir was revived the next year and "since then, under the baton of Dr Rohan D'Souza, it has very successfully given concerts at the Tata Theatre and St Andrew's Auditorium in Bandra, besides Lenten programmes in churches" and "it has now established itself as a major choral ensemble in the music life of our city [Mumbai], which has its distinctive identity of presenting only sacred music".

Currently, the choir consists of 80 members "of all ages and includes professionals and students". They meet every Sunday evening for rehearsal. Thanks for the update!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

20, 45... random numbers at Goanetters' meet 2005

20, 45... random numbers at Goanetters' meet 2005

>From Frederick Noronha Goanet-Goa

"Did you count whether 20 people are coming?" Cecil Pinto asked. I laughed in reply; the estimate was as rough and unpremeditated as the functioning of Goanet. Like this list -- based on serendipity, goodwill and love-and-fresh-air -- the Goanetters meeting 2005 went ahead fairly smoothly too.

It wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say we all learnt from one another. I almost passed out to learn from Cynthia Gomes James, who works with GE Logistics, that she got 45 email responses to one of her articles, put out via the Goanet Reader. Now, that isn't the kind of feedback one even gets from being published in the main newspapers in Goa. You wouldn't even have so many people stopping you to offer feedback on the streets of Panjim. Hey Cynthia, when is your book coming out?

Cecil and engineer-turned-writer Jose "Amazing Goa" Lourenco were the first in. They were already tucked into what seemed to be a meal; but it was 4 pm and we were a few minutes late. Before Jose was a lone copy of his yet-to-be-officially-released book on the churches of Goa. Frankly, the printer in Goa has done a good job of the book (not to speak of Jose's expectedly-good content). Hard to believe that Jose could get this quality in Margao itself.

For his part, Cecil was unusually silent, despite my best attempts to provoke him. He has apparently changed his introductory punch-line, and now describes him as "world famous all over Goa... and in coastal Karnataka".

In true Goanet style -- what would life be without a few blatantly offtopic posts? -- we just wasted time in endlessly introducing everyone to each one. Till Gerson da Cunha, the Mumbai-based advertising guru Gerson da Cunha [1] asked whether this was all that was going to happen.

By this time, some of our early guests had already come, excused themselves and left. There was Eddie Verdes and family, from the Gulf. Rajan Parrikar, a Silicon Valley engineer who studied at the Goa Engico (Engineering College, Farmaguddi) is an e-friend via the s.c.i.g network [2] or [3]. (What's that, someone asked.) Rajan is active on Usenet newsgroups like [4] Someone once described him thus: "Rajan Parrikar's strengths are as a critic: his observations are intelligent, intricate, irreverent, spicy, humorous, and venomous." Another poster said: The Lester Bangs of Indian Classical Music.

Vivian "Shenzi" D'Souza came in from idyllic Succoro (Bardez) but had to leave early.

[1] +Mumbai&sourceid=mozilla-search&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8 &oe=utf-8&client=firefox&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:unofficial [2] [3] [4]

Gerson spoke briefly about their work at AGNI -- the Action for Good Governance and Networking in India. [5] He stressed on the importance of citizens to raise their voice so that governments are forced to take note.

Vivek Menezes, aka VM (or VM de Malar) [6], next presented Goanet's plan to build a group blog, an initiative which he would lead. VM, now in his thirties and resettled in Goa after being abroad since the age of 13, narrated his experiences with Goanet since its early days. He made the point that diaspora issues are seldom covered by the media in Goa. "For a community that is well-educated and wealthy, we are quite primitive in deploying technology (to serve our communication and other needs)," he argued.

[5] [6] vmingoa at

VM pointed to the way in which blogs had changed the mainstream media, and pointed to the recent example where Goan scientist Helga Gomes (of Verna) had gone to Antarctica, as part of a US mission, and had written a very interesting blog about her work and voyage there.

"We need to shake-up the way we look at ourselves. Blogs can have an explosive effect on media, society and culture," he said. When VM made the point that the diaspora was "disconnected" from Goa, others agreed that the Gomant Vishwa Sammelan (the government-organised non-resident meet, this year scheduled for Jan 3-4, 2006), as currently held, was a "waste of time".

Other suggestions that came up included one to share with non-residents the needs of Goa. It was also argued that the heritage of Goa, now under immense pressure whether from commercialism or corruption in planning, had to be projected to the diaspora and all Goans as something which "exists, is valuable, and which we all should care about".

Melinda Powell-Coutinho stressed the need for those away from Goa to be aware of things, and stay connected. The former Air-India air hostess said after living years in Goa, she was still to come to terms with the local style of driving on the roads, and the problem of garbage.

Manuel Caldeira, a Merceskar now in Moira, felt said that some Goans wanted to do very little with their home. Veena Patwardhan, of Cuncolim and Mumbai, said people seemed to busy fighting private battles, while not being aware of the wider problems that faced them, including political.

Others who spoke included Bailancho Saad's Albertina 'Tina' Almeida, Anita Comelo, Ana Goswami, Miguel Braganza... and help me to fill-in the missed out names here. Hermano Xavier, a young Portuguese national of Goan-German origins, now doing his higher studies on a Portugal-India exchange scholarship at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi), was more in listening mode, though he does have a lot to contribute. He runs the website and the mailing list. See

"With many expats need an answer to the question of 'What can we do?',' said Cynthia Gomes-James, who helped the formation of a Goan-East Indian-Mangalorean group in the US, called the GEMS of Texas. She suggested listing 'action points' via Goanet, where readers across the globe could take a stand. She also suggested a 'volunteers for Goa' project, where young people could spend some months or a year doing some constructive work here.

Anibel Ferrus-Comelo, who worked with labour in the UK, pointed to the example of the Filipino diaspora who were both the most organised and politically conscious. Filipino expats have 'exposure trips' to their own country, where they could get a real idea of what's happening in villages and schools, she noted. She pointed to issues of migrants, in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere, who were under pressure due to poor working conditions, and often defenceless, contrary to the perception of all expats doing well.

Various brief discussions followed. Some questions were raised about 'social software' [7]

[Social software enables people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate through computer-mediated communication and to form online communities. Broadly conceived, this term could encompass older media such as mailing lists and Usenet, but some would restrict its meaning to more recent software genres such as blogs and wikis. Others suggest that the term social software is best used not to refer to a single type of software, but rather to the use of two or more modes of computer-mediated communication to engage in community formation.]


VM made a strong appeal against "the idea of ourselves being continually defined by others". Gerson da Cunha stressed that this could be "the last generation for whom Goa exists in the way it is in our minds...." He said that as one speaks, Goa was being changed. Across the Mandovi river, a monstrosity of a Tata project was pointed to, coming up to disfigure the once-green area.

"Cyberspace could be used to start a movement, to further a cause," Gerson suggested. His offer to help the initiative was appreciated by all. "Land-use changes are critical... I don't think we will succeed, but we can put the sunset off for awhile," he said.

"If *you* don't do it, it's not going to happen," was a message that everyone left with. Besides the blog, and the other initiatives cited above, Jose Lourenco offered to take the leadership to build a Goanet-supported database of global Goan skillsets. Gerson suggested Goanet look at specialist 'silos' focussing on news, the literary world, and causes.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Portraits on tiatrists

Alex A A Fernandes of Portrait Atelier -- portrait_atelier at -- has done some really great portrait photos of tiatrists of the Konkani stage. These people do deserve some recognition... as Goan society has largely looked down on their work, almost snobbishly! Explains Alex: "I have (in mid-Nov) completed my series on contemporary Tiatriste. The whole process took about three weeks and was shot in my studio in Goa and Mumbai.... I initially planned to display these pictures (of 34 various artist who so graciously came forward to be photographed) at the IFFI. I had approached the authorities in charge of the festival to give these artists exclusive coverage in terms of gallery space at the INOX or the Kala Academy. I had decided to foot the whole bill for shooting the pictures plus framing them and printing an introductory brochure which gave a brief history for each artist.... It soon became apparent that the people responsible for the organisation of the events at the IFFI didn't want to see me or listen to what I had to say."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Overcharging at X'mas time...

Business Standard [1] has this report quoting "industry sources" in which Sreejiraj Eluvangal from Mumbai writes in a report (datelined 19, 2005) that Goa's five-star hotel rates are likely to scale a new peak next fortnight. It says, "With increased air-connectivity and increasing number of Russian tourists, room-rates are higher by around 20 per cent from last year, with deluxe rooms going for around Rs 20,000 per night and five-star rates hovering around the Rs 15,000-mark." 20% seems like a gross underestimate. The entire tourism sector goes into hyperinflation here during the year-end cut-throat season. For instance, the Goa-Mumbai Volvo service in early January is quoting Rs 1500 for tickets which usually cost Rs 500! Obviously the government isn't unduly worried about unfair profiteering. But then, a large number of politicians also double up as hoteliers, transport operators and the like! [1] Hotel tariff zooms up by 20 % in Goa

From an expat, in NZ

Ruth Desouza, senior research fellow and centre co-ordinator at the Centre for Asian and Migrant Health Research of Auckland University of Technology informs about a brief article she has written about The Treaty and Indian communities. She says it's in a recent Global Indian e-zine: Ruth cautions that the whole e-zine takes "a while" to download. And her centre is part of the Centre for Asian and Migrant Health Research/ Faculty of Health & Environmental Science. You can email her at ruth.desouza at or check out the website

Monday, December 19, 2005

Systems of rice intensification

Was just reading (in Dams, Rivers and People Vol 3 Issue 8-9 Sept Oct 2005) a brief mention of the increase of rice production in rain-fed areas of Cambodia due to SRI, or systems of rice intensification. This is supported by the European Commission and GTZ (the German technology agency). Unlike pesticide/fertilizer-based 'Green Revolution' technologies, this is considered to be a sustainable manner of increasing yields.

It is also reporting success from Andhra Pradesh. Does anyone know if this is being/can be applied in a place like Goa?

A quote: SRI is becoming increasingly well-established paddy cultivation method that consumes only as much water compared to the present normal practice, requires only two kgs/acre of seed, involves early transplantation of single seedlings (8-10 days old) with spacing of 25x25 cm, less use of chemical fertilizers, and yeild that is double the normal practice. The food grain produced is better for health as the application of chemical inputs is reduced...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Expat Goan, returning home, finds enterprise here isn't a gift


By Frederick Noronha fred at

"I love my Goa," says 65-year-old Manuel Caldeira, as he enters into his home's gate, in the quaintly-named Novo Portugal (literally, New Portugal) locality of the North Goa village of Moira. Like many in these emigration-prone parts of Goa, Caldeira spent a large part of his life away from home -- in Portugal, Germany, Greece, Algeria and Canada.

But, despite the longing to return, today he has one word of advice for anyone wanting to exercise their enterprise here: don't.

Back in Goa for two years, he came loaded with enthusiasm and plans to craft his long-time hobby of ceramic work into a cottage industry here. "I didn't come with money, but with tools, techniques and ideas," he says. He was however in for a rude shock. His plans got stuck in the ground for a number of complex reasons, which reflect the reality of current-day Goa.

Scattered across his large home are tiles, some ready for dispatch in boxes, with various Goan motifs. But this one-time student of civil engineering in Portugal, and former aeronautical engineer from the Technical University of Berlin, certainly hasn't been having it easy.

Caldeira's roots go back to Merces and Chandor, but he opted for life in Moira, as he finds semi-urban Merces at least too crowded. While an engineer for 27 years serving with North American corporates -- like Northern Telecom, Allied Signals and ITT as its software quality assurance manager -- he kept his interest alive.

He spent his spare time over 15 years at trade-shows, gift shows and wood-craft shows, picking up hints about the workings of the global gift industry. "Countries like Thailand have well-crafted gift industries. But I realised that India's gift industry is probably less than five per cent that of North America's. Unlike the other countries, we don't use sophisticated tools and processes for the production of gift items," he says.

So, when he came back, he brought a forty-foot container packed mainly with tools and the technical support to create what he believes could be a centre "excellence in the craft industry in India".

But can a cottage-industry run out of a cottage? This is an issue he's currently trying to sort out with the authorities, and a small number of complaining neighbours.

Goa Handicraft, he says, told him that no NOC (no-objection certificate) is needed by a cottage industry. But complaints from a neighbour led him to be visited once by the sarpanch, thrice by the health officials, twice by pollution control authorities from Panjim, once by the tax department from Panjim, twice by the electricity department from Mapusa, and once by the deputy collector from North Goa and even by the police inspector at nearby Mapusa.

In one visit, Caldeira claims the police came in with two weeks with nearly a dozen people to take him and his wife into custody. He has been fined Rs 63,481 by the electricity department too.

But currently, this man with an unusual past, believes he can stick on. Caldeira left for Lisbon at the age of 19 to study engineering, and was the first Goan student after the end of colonial rule to leave Portugal to become Indian citizen in Paris. In 1964, while studying at the Technical University in Berlin, he crossed swords with the pro-Portuguese Goan movement who he sees as having been then linked to subversive activities in Goa.

But it was the gifts sector that has been a long-time passion. "Today, most countries use sophisticated tools, processes, packaging and make quality products at competitive price and have good customer reputation," he says. But he feels that India has a lot of catching up to do.

For a state which promises the red-carpet to its large number of emigrant sons and daughters, cases like these throw up inconvenient questions. Does Goa encourage the small entrepreneur, a sector which could bring about big change if replicated across a sufficient number of cases? How does the state balance neighbourhood concerns with with entrepreneurial intent? Above all, for a state notorious in allowing big industry to get away with the open violation of the law, what yardstack does it use for the small player?

"In North America," argues an angry Caldeira, "it takes less then 20 minutes to register your tiny enterprise or small scale industrial (SSI) unit with the authorities. After registration, you can manufacture and sell the product and the contribute tax to the Government."

But, he sees Goa as being vastly different. Says he: "There is very little interface with the government here. In Goa, we have a (bureaucratic) government system with all possible obstacles to kill progress. The bottom and the top of governance is mostly rotten in Goa."

Goa, he believes, is both beautiful and rich in resources. "But some people with a mediocre mentality have embraced corruption, killing prosperity and this is one of the reasons why every investment is running away (from here). Unless there is a dramatic change in Goa, nobody, including NRIs, should come back to become victims of jealousy and corruption," says he.

"(Officials) they tell me this is Goa and you have to follow our rules. There are many cases in the villages where the government officials have no mercy of poor. I was told that a poor farmer had to sell three goats to get the job done; a single mother with two kids had to pay 5,000 rupees to official to get her child admitted in the school...," an embittered Caldeira alleges.

He sees the multiple-NOC (no-objection certificate) system as a dubious, if not questionable, procedure. It allows for blocking and extortion at varying levels, he suggests. Caldeira argues for ending the NOC system and having a more effective and clean manner of approving useful proposals while balancing diverse interests. Besides, he suggests, the government authorities should make public the time required to process every document, including in the judicial area. These are the basic actions needed for urgent changes to be introduced "to get the wheel of prosperity in Goa in motion", He says.

There were other challenges in working to make things work in a place like Goa, where he dreamt of creating "export-quality products".

Training local skills was the first challenge, as much of his equipment was not known here. He then could also not run the electric motors, because they use a 60 Hertz circuitry and not the 50 Herts prevalent in Goa. Then, all his cutting tools have carbide components, and he could not find a single source for sharpening the same in Goa and in Mumbai!

"There are no sanding materials available for my different sanding equipment. There are too many power interruptions during the rainy season. The rainy weather is hard on the tools and is not good for woodworking. Wood is expensive here, not kiln dried, the quality is not consistent and supply is limited. So I shifted to ceramics," he explains.

Ceramics is considered eco-friendly, and it is still in its infancy in India as compared to the situation in other countries. "It could employs a lot of un-skilled labour, well suited to rural areas and only few resources need to be imported. Most of ceramic manufacturers in India are located in the north (of the country) and it is an opportunity for Goa to take the leadership for the south," argues Caldeira.

Plans for his firm Manuel Ceramics (MC), a tiny enterprise registered with the Department of Industry and Mines, has its goal to design and make export-quality ceramic items of bone China, stoneware and red clay, to make ceramic decorated tiles, plates, coasters, beer mugs, souvenirs, dinnerware, mirrors, jewelry and one day even furniture.

Processing of 8"x10” ceramic tiles is done mainly by tile manufactures. But he believes that his unit could change this, producing images of religious and other monuments, sceneries and decorative images. So, he employed three fine-art graduates and six support staff, to create multicolour tiles with Goan and Indian designs -- including depictions of wild life, Madhubani art, and the Ashtavinay (popular Indian religious icons).

Strewn across his sitting-room in his large home, he has wooden-framed ceramic work packaged and titled 'Beautiful Goa' with the coconut-leaves design on it. "To maintain quality of our product we also make the wood frames. We also created clocks using the design of Goan shell windows. Then, we created a 'Demikombo', a rooster with a head of Goan. Demikombos will be decorated with coconut leaves and different Goan images," he explains.

Caldeira believes he could introduce to Goa the slip-casting process,'Demikombo' beer stains, souvenirs, dinnerware statues and tall vases. His dreams of exhibiting in the Fontainhas Festival of the Arts and the International Film Festival of India didn't come true, with the authorities undertaking multiple investigations, follow-ups and stop-work orders.

Caldeira says he told the authorities that he was creating "real long term opportunities for our unemployed youth". But the message, he says, wasn't received with enthusiasm.

Village authorities, following the complaints, ordered him to stop all his work activities. "This results in a big loss for NRI investments, a loss of genuine dreams to contribute for a prosperous Goa," as he sees it, but obviously others taking a different perspective would see things differently.

"My operation is a cottage or tiny enterprise and does not belong to industrial category. It is malicious to call my operation an industrial operation, which allows the authorities and complainants to beat me with a heavier stick. In Goa, industrial units are only found in industrial estates, segregated from the rest of population by a security wall and security guards. Abroad tiny enterprises and SSI units could be found everywhere," he argues.

Caldeira argues that he knows places in downtown Vancouver with more than fifty employees doing manufacturing work.

But, while these issues can be debated, Goa does have the odds against it -- official claims notwithstanding -- when it comes to unleashing the entrepreneurial skills of its own citizens, its siezably-large diaspora, and also potential migrants who have something positive to contribute here rather than just be lured in by talk of subsidies and misutilised bank-loans. (ENDS)

Goan to Antarctica.... Helga's blog is doing fine

Here's the blog of a Goan scientist currently in the icy-continent, and it's called 'Goan to Antarctica....'. Helga's latest posting is posted on Goanet as Who are you wearing?. And there's even this interesting comment-piece from VM de Malar titled Goan Dreams and Penguin Kisses. A quote:

She's a real-life hometown hero, a fiercely loyal daughter of Verna who studied entirely in Goan schools before heading off in pursuit of scientific excellence. Here, we're taking down the bright lights of IFFI and turning into the peak of high season. Meanwhile, Dr. Helga do Rosario Gomes is aboard an icebreaking ship near Antarctica, surrounded by giant ice floes and penguins, and the apparatus of a world-class scientific expedition.
Anyway, some time in the coming weeks, a car will turn into the old Verna road and there will be an eager, perhaps slightly frozen-looking, face carefully checking the old neighborhood for changes. All that forbidding ice and those fickle penguins left far behind; Dr. Helga do Rosario Gomes will be home again. Till that happy moment, our thoughts and prayers go with her into that frozen frontier. We're rooting for you, Helga, stay warm.

Co-operative banks... and politicians

For long, I've been intrigued by the relationship between co-operative banks and politicians. Like in the case of many other issues in Goa, we have little 'literature' on this subject, and hence it becomes difficult to comprehend its manifold ramifications.

Just yesterday, a friend who understands the subject well (having been part of these banks for a couple of generations), made some interesting observations on what makes these links grow. Looking forward to any other feedback and debate.

Obviously, the co-op banks are a source of funds and influence for politicians. If you can give friends access to "loans" (often unrepaid or with repayment stretched endlessly) huge sums of (undeserved) monies, it makes you all that more powerful. More so, in a small state.

Like government-funded schools and (sometimes) colleges, handing out jobs to friends and family is another source of influence and encashable political clout. Likewise, it's a source for funding elections, and meeting the liquidity-needs of politicians.

[This is not to suggest that the co-op banks are the only -- or even a major -- source of politicians liquidity in today's Goa. But it is one, little-understood source that has been effectively working for long, before the arrival of many of the monied lobbies we see at play in Goa today -- real-estate, money-lending, luxury tourism, big industry, village-level political corruption, the harvest-the-ecology lobby etc.]

Interestingly, one learnt that politicians actually could be using the co-op banks to turn 'black' (untaxed) money into 'white' (legit). They take loans to launch their projects from the co-ops, and then show as if they're repaying the same from legitimate incomes!

It's a win-win-win situation for the politician. When elections are near, funds are at hand. If they win the elections, they have more additional 'sources' by which to repay the loans (which they, in any case, need not be in a hurry to repay). If they repay, that can also be a channel for converting black-money-into-white. If they lose, the 'bad debts' can be written off.

One cycnical response to this trend was the fact that former CM Manohar Parrikar used the bank issue to squeeze his former ally Ramakant Khalap, though both had a peaceful modus vivendi over the way Khalap ran his Mapusa Urban Co-op 'Bank of Goa' when they were allies together in the BJP!

My guess is that in information-poor Goa, most of the citizens don't even have a clue of the major forces having an influence on their lives and day-to-day existing.

We tend to ignore the issue, since we don't understand it. But it is around all the same... and won't go away simply if we wish it to. FN

News from Lila's

Apurva "Apu" Kulkarni <deochar at> writes in to say: "My apologies: Lila won't be reopening on the 7th (of December). It is suspended for an indefinite period of time. Please bear with us. Thank you! Apurva."

Sorry to hear that! Lila's was a good initiative (in Sant Inez, Panjim) to showcase the arts and other talent.

Another Sea Harrier crashes...

We've been discussing this issue on Goanet over the past day or so.

Below are some articles written in the past. Unfortunately, the media in New Delhi doesn't seem to see this as much of an issue. Maybe it has nothing to do with the location of Dabolim, but more to do with the choice of the Sea Harriers as a suitable aircraft costing billions ofrupees. FN

PS: All the articles date back to past years, maybe two or more.

PPS: The second report is not related to Sea Harriers, and has to do with a mid-air collision. But there could be some pointers there....

Goa sees latest in string of Sea Harrier crashes; airport back in action From Frederick Noronha

PANAJI (Goa), Dec 17 (IANS): Thursday noon's crash-landing at Goa's Navy-controlled Dabolim airport continues a long string of mishaps in India involving this sophisticated air-defence, surface-attack andreconiassance British aircraft.

Before noon Thursday, an Indian Navy Sea Harrier crash-landed. Two pilots, including a trainee, ejected safely. The aircraft is learnt to have crashed on the runway during landing at a short height.

Traffic at Dabolim, Goa's lone airport that gets international flights on the weekends, was temporarily closed. Incomding flights from nearby Indian cities were delayed at their respective airports.

In 1983-1984, India obtained a batch of six Sea Harrier Mark 51s, apart from two tandem-seat "T.60s" for use off their carrier INS Vikrant.

Ten more Mark 51s and a T.60 were ordered in 1985 and delivered in 1989-1991, with another batch of seven Mark 51s and a fourth T.60 ordered and delivered after that, for a total of 23 Mark 51s and four T.60s. Two more T.60s, which were modified from RAF surplus T.4s, wereobtained in the 1990s as attrition replacements.

The Indian Sea Harriers have operated off both the aircraft-carrier Vikrant and the INS Viraat, previously the HMS Hermes. The Vikrant was refitted with a ski jump in 1991, which forced the retirement of the carrier's French Breguet Alize maritime patrol aircraft. The Vikrant was retired in in 1996 but the Viraat, with a 12-degree ski jump,stayed on in service.

Military statistics indicate however that a number of Sea Harriers have been lost in accidents here. This includes losses during accidents in May 1988 (near Goa), June 1988 (Chengalpatu district), June 1992, Dec 1992, Aug 1994, Feb 1996 (missing during nightflying oversea from Goa), Sept 1997 (in the sea off Goa), Nov 1998 (in Indian Ocean), May 2001(near Canacona, Goa), Aug 2003 (off the Goa sea).

The Sea Harrier, as its "FRS" (flight-reconnaissance-strike) designation implied, was intended to be a multi-role aircraft, suitedfor air combat.

As its primary target was expected to be Soviet Bear-class turboprop reconnaissance and missile-attack aircraft, the Sea Harrier's subsonic speed was not regarded as a major limitation.

The Harrier emerged from the P.1127 / Kestrel by a complicated and more-or-less lucky sequence of events. The aircraft that resulted, though suffering from a number of limitations in performance, range, and warload, proved extremely useful, and became an important front-line asset for both the Royal Air Force and the US Marine Corps(USMC).

In 1966, Britain's planned CVA-01 class aircraft carriers were cancelled, apparently ending the Royal Navy's involvement in fixed-wingcarrier aviation.

However beginning in the early 1970s the first of a new class of "through deck cruisers" was planned, carefully named to avoid the term "aircraft carrier" to increase the chances of funding.

These ships would eventually become the Invincible class aircraft carriers. With little modification, a 'ski-jump' was added to the end of the 170m deck, the carriers could operate a small number of STOVLjets.

In Britain, earlier versions of the Sea Harrier were ordered by the Royal Navy in 1975. Sea Harriers claimed successes in air combat in the Falklands (or the Malvinas) War with Argentina.

India purchased 24 Sea Harrier FRS.51s, a version of FRS.1, 23 of which remain in service.

In 2002 the UK Ministry of Defence announced plans to withdraw the Sea Harrier from service by 2006. The aircraft's replacement, the Lockheed-Northrop-BAE F-35, is not due until 2012 at the earliest however the UK's Ministry of Defence argues that significant expenditure would be required to upgrade the fleet for only six yearsservice.

Sea Harriers are capable of vertical/short take off and landing (VSTOL). Figures here indicate that the Indian Navy currently has some 17 Sea Harriers in its fleet, costing according to unofficial figuresapprox US$9 million each. (ENDS)


By Frederick Noronha

VASCO DA GAMA (Goa), Oct 1: Carpenters and other workers putting on finishing touches on a bungalow at Goa's port town of Vasco da Gama watched with amazement at the aerial fly-past, till they realised thatthe Ilyushins flying overhead were about to come crashing down on them.

"There are three bodies in the next room," said a shattered Prabhakar Acharya, 44, a migrant-carpenter from the coastal Karnataka region of Udupi. He was one of those lucky to escape from a bungalow being constructed, after a mid-air collision of the two crafts here Tuesdaymorning.

This time, it wasn't one of the V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing) Sea Harriers -- quite a few of which have crashed in recent years -- that was making news. This time it was the relatively safe IL38, purchased from the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Ironically, the day of the tragedy -- which killed 15 people -- was to have marked the 25th anniversary and 30,000 hours of accident-free flying of Squadron 315. This squadron is made up of premier maritimereconnaisance Ilyushin 38 aircrafts.

The IL-38 is considered a "potent anti-submarine, anti-surface vessel platform", Navy officials had said prior to the illfated event. This squadron has participated in all major operations and exercises conducted by the Indian Navy since her commissioning on October 1,1977.

Flag Officer Goa Area Rear Admiral Sunil Damle voiced regret at a late evening press conference at the loss of the 12 navy officers and men. They have been identified as Lt Commanders R Saini, S K Yadav and Jaideep Dutta; Chief Air Artificer V Kumar, MCPOR J P Singh.

In the other aircraft were Lt Commanders K S Rathore, S K Dutta, Karadi and N Nirmal; MCPOR (Tel ) II ACM I Prakash, CHAA (ACMPE) AK Yadav andMCAA-I S George.

Indian Navy officials here also said the incident occurred at 9.45 am, and added that the colleagues were "highly experienced" fliers. Initial official reports said it was unclear the accident was caused bymechanical failure, malfunction or human reasons.

Both the Ilyushin Soviet-build crafts crashed just close to Goa's lone Navy-controlled Dabolim airport, and on a hillock on the outskirts of this coastal state's port town which is home to the sprawling navalstation.

One craft ploughed into the half-finished bungalow, while the other ended up as mangled parts in a fenced-off area across a road, less than a kilometre away. Nearby, at a few hundred metres distance, is acollege where clesses were underway.

By afternoon, Goa fire force personnel were seen tearing down the rubble, trying to rescue workers possibly still trapped inside. Crowds were seen thronging to the venue to the mishap, to see the hard-to-believe site, atop a hillock overlooking the azure Arabian Sea.

"We were looking at it (the crafts in the sky) and within two minutes we realised that one of the planes was hurtling down at us," Acharya, from the village of Hangargatti in nearby South Karnataka's Udipi taluktold this correspondent, speaking in Hindi.

On the site, Navymen were quick to cordon off the area.

Vasco-da-Gama, a crowded port town of nearly 100,000 named after a sixteenth century Portuguese explorer and today a navy base, was largely plunged into a power-failure, as one of the crashing aircrafts ploughed also into a 33KV hightension line supplying power to the area, before grinding to a halt largely wrecked.

Goa is home to INS Hansa, India's premier naval air base. Currently this small state is considered to have the country's largest naval airstation.

In recent years, it has however been plagued by repeated air crashes of its vertical-takeoff Sea Harrier aircrafts, for unexplained reasons.

Besides being home to the IL 38, the maritime anti-submarine aircraft built by the former USSR and part of Squadron 315, Goa has also been home to the French-built turbo-prop Alize aircrafts, the Sea Harriers, the Soviet TU142Ms, Kamov 25 anti-submarine helicopters, and Chetakhelicopters, among others.

Monday, December 05, 2005

ControlNet India (Goa), now a part of Persistent Systems

ControlNet India, a 100% subsidiary of Campbell, CA-based ControlNet Inc. has announced officially that it was recently bought over by Persistent Systems, an outsourced software product development company, for approximately US $2 Million (Rs. 9 crores). See the details at this list-post.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Xavier's re-union

Here's the announcement for the St Xavier's College reunion, that happens on coming Sunday, December 11, 2005 from 10 am till 1 pm. The college completes 42 years... plan to be there.