Thursday, April 30, 2009

Goa DoE circulars : Parents see little

The circulars issue by the Directorate of Education(DoE) to both aided as well as unaided schools, have a had a mixed response from parents and citizens of the  state. Some parents felt that the guidelines issued to aided schools about favoring students nearer to the school as compared with students staying farther away, were already being followed and there was nothing new added to benefit the aggrieved parents.

Some parents feel that making only distance as the criteria would erode and neglect the merit for the purpose. Also if a particular village or city area has a sub-standard school, the parents would be compelled to admit their children is such schools at the cost of quality education in schools farther from their residence. This would therefore mean that the residents of rural areas would not be able to send their wards to good urban schools which are considered to be having  a better quality of education.

Also such a move, would lure parents in rural areas to re-locate their residence to urban areas in quest of complying with the new regulations of being in close proximity to the schools of admission. Some other parents and members of government aided schools lamented that neither the managements nor the parents were consulted while making such an important decision by the DoE.

The fears  were that there was no proper assessment or study over the new guidelines nor any thought towards the number of documents required to be furnished to calculate the points accruing to each candidate as per the new guidelines.

Some other parents felt that the move is only aimed at filling up the sub-standard schools in the villages whose enrolment is on a steady decline. Some parents of students in unaided schools were of the opinion that the donation issue of such schools has strangely not been touched by the DoE and pointed it out to be the evil in the system of admission in such schools.

Also parents are unhappy that the perennial problem of the medium of instruction has been left untouched. Parents aver that they are discouraged from admitting their children to the aided schools on account of the medium of instruction which is the vernacular language of Konkani or Marathi upto the fourth standard. Parents feel that the medium of instruction is the major problem and not the distance of the school.

Goa's unaided schools get deadline of May 30

A backlash from parents of children admitted in unaided schools in Goa seem to be making the authorities stand up and act. The recent outspokeGoa unaided schoolsn drive by such parents have made the directorate of education (DoE) take serious note of the complaints made by the parents about demands for donations by certain schools as also the rampant increase in fees of such schools without approval from the directorate.

The move has prompted the DoE to issue a circular to all unaided recognised, primary and secondary schools in the state of Goa to submit their fee structure before May 30 for its approval. The fee structure so submitted will include the registration fee, admission fee, caution money, tuition fee, annual fee and development fee.

In another jolt to the high handedness of such schools, the school managements are also required to consult parents and government nominees on the managing committee before framing the fee structure. The circular issued to the schools also points out the serious discrepancies committed by some schools that despite its previous circulars, some of them either collect fees without prior approval of the DoE or do not submit the fee structure within the specified time. They have also been asked to notify class wise fees chargeable to the candidates

The school managements have also been advised to follow the regulations prescribed in the Goa School Education Act 1984 and keep the same in regard to salary of employees without burdening parents through fees. The DoE has also instructed schools to allow sufficient time for candidates to pay the fees and in the event of a candidate deciding to join another school after paying the fees, the school has to refund the fees on production of the receipts of payments after deducting the admission fees.

In addition, the DoE has also asked the schools to file an audited statement of the previous year to the accounts section on or before June 15 and have been warned of strict action if they fail to adhere to the instructions

Experts urge Goans to stay away from Frog meat

The Indian Bullfrog as well as the Jerdon Bullfrog are reported to be facing the threat of extinction and the continued fancy for frog meat among many Goans could prove to be detrimental to our ecological concerns according to experts who have raised the alarm bells against the poaching for frogs in Goa

Bullfrog Goa Frogs are a distinct part of the ecological balance of the environment and their reduction or extinction would have serious consequences. If there are no frogs, or fewer frogs in Goa, it could lead to a rise in vector borne diseases as there would be a surge of insects since there would be no frogs to eat them. Also the threat of snakes intruding into human establishments in search of food is another reality in the face, as the main food for snakes is frogs and their reduction through human poaching, could cause the unnecessary imbalance in Goa.

Excessive harvesting of frogs upsets the ecological balance and increases the need for insecticide to protect crops, thereby increasing both pollution and costs of agricultural produce. Also the amount of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in use in agriculture also contributes to the decimation of a huge population of frogs in the state of Goa.

The forest department along with "wild Goa" is expected to tighten the enforcement regulations regarding the poaching of frogs in the state in the coming season and defaulters can expect the worst nightmare if caught while poaching for their jumping chicken.

The authorities in Goa have also decided to create a mass awareness by involving people from all walks of life to participate in the drive. This includes students being involved in organising contests, quiz competitions, screening of short educative films besides street theatre.

The authorities in Goa have also identified the favourite spots for frog hunting in the state and the list is being circulated among forest and police officials to enable better co-ordination in the clampdown on offenders. There is also a proposal to spread awareness through the Church to spread the message to the faithful to abstain from poaching or eating frog meat. Village gram sabha meetings are also considered to be another avenue of creating mass awareness in the villages of Goa

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Goa Schools face new directives for admissions

Proximity of a school to your residence in Goa will soon be the major criterion in the granting of admission to students in Goan schools in the primary and secondary section from the next academic year as new admission guidelines will aim to restrict the choice of parents to admit their children to the schools closest to their residence.

The above guidelines are based on a marking system under which a student will get marks in proportion to the distance of the school from his/her residence. The guidelines seem to be a fallout of the tendency among parents to send their children to the few best schools in the state thereby influencing a rush in the popular schools, thus creating an unrest among parents.

Under the new admission guidelines, the students residing within a distance of 3 km from these schools would receive 30 marks for admission while those staying between a distance of 3 to 5 km will get 25 marks. Residences between 5 to 8 km would be awarded 20 marks while those staying between 8 to 10 km would be entitled to only 15 marks.

Further, the admission guidelines offer 10 marks to the students who have migrated to the state by way of transfer of their parents. There is also a provision to give 10 marks to a student based on extra-curricular or sports activities.

The Department of education feels that the parents residing in rural areas are attracted to the urban schools although they may be residing far away from such schools and although there may be more than one school in their area of residence. This fancy for urban schools has somehow created a wide imbalance in school admissions in Goa with few schools having large waiting lists of anxious parents desiring admissions while other schools are near empty with only five to ten students admitted in some cases. The new guidelines are aimed at solving the problem.

The department has also stressed on transparency in the admission process and has prohibited schools  from conducting oral or written interviews of either the parents or the candidates

Government forests in Goa, thinned out

In what may appear to be an alarming situation for the ecological balance of Goa, it has been found that although the state claims that over 35 percent of its land is under forest cover with nearly 1,225 square kilometers in forested area, there is not even one hectare of government forest in the three talukas of Bardez, Salcete and Mormugao.

The above situation has influenced the state forest department of Goa to employ ways and means to encourage a mass drive in afforestation by tree plantations in the talukas by involving panchayats, schools and non-government organisations. The response has however been very limited.

It has been reported that in Bardez taluka there is an estimated 1,777,79 hectares of private forested land in the taluka. the forest dept of Goa in the meanwhile is trying to encourage people to plant trees outside the forest areas which would not only provide the greenery but also be a source of future need for timber and firewood and the forest dept of Goa has therefore launched the mega tree plantation drive for the year 2008-09

However people in Goa seem to have a fancy for ornamental species or fruit bearing species of plants and hardly anyone was coming forward to avail the forest department scheme of providing seedlings  of forest trees while there was demand for garden and horticultural species.

Another reason for the reluctance of people in Goa unwilling to plant trees  is due to the fact that once the trees grow, the land is identified as forest area and is placed under the conservation list making it impossible for the owners to cut the trees from the conserved area or develop the land for personal use.

The forest department is willing to provide good seedlings of teak, matti, nano, sisso, kokum, tamarind,canes, bamboos etc during the oncoming monsoon season. While the efforts of the forest department in Goa may be modest, a beginning has certainly been made in the right direction and it surely depends on the people of Goa to take the drive forward and bring more land under tree cover for the future needs of Goa and Goans. this concept would help to protect the natural forests of Goa and help to make provision for the future needs of timber and firewood for the state

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Goa Catholic Minority front to lodge complaint with EC

The Goa catholic Minority Front(GCMF) a newly formed organisation is expected to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission and the Minorities commission Delhi against the office of the chief Electoral officer for the controversial statements made by him that " weddings in Goa should be cancelled if couples do not get permission to serve liquor to their guests art their wedding receptions".

The GCMF which has been formed in a bid to safeguard and protect the interests of the catholic community in Goa has appointed Mr Barnabe Sapeco from Panjim as its convenor while Mr Eddie Fernandes of Vasco is its co-convenor.

The association informed that weddings in Goa are events which happen after lot of advance planning, often a year before the wedding date. The organisation strongly condemned the statement made by the chief electoral officer that weddings be cancelled or postponed if the requisite permission to serve liquor is not obtained at their wedding receptions. This, they opined was a direct insult to Goa and Goans at large while highlighting the immaturity on the part of the Chief Electoral officer in responding to a very delicate issue which discriminates against a minority community.

The sentiments of Catholics have been hurt by the restrictions as the serving of wine at wedding receptions is an age old custom and a local tradition of Goans.

It may be recalled that nearly fourteen wedding couples had sought permission from the election commission to serve wine in line with earlier precedents when such permission was allowed in such special cases

Malaria prevention in Goa

The government of Goa has painfully discovered that awareness on prevention of malaria was lacking among over 60% of participants according to amalaria in Goa study conducted by the Goa Medical college for the state government to assess the effectiveness of malaria prevention campaigns during the forthcoming monsoons in the state of Goa.

A study made under the topic " Evaluation of Behaviour Change Communication under Anti-malaria month in Goa 2008" which was conducted by the dept of preventive and social medicine, GMC, states that a majority of over 60% of the participants were unaware of any measures taken by government to prevent mosquito breeding. Over 40 percent recalled insecticide spraying activities undertaken by government bodies and near 57% mentioned fogging activity.

Goa has been found to be prone to malaria and the incidence of malaria is found to be high in the monsoon season and the government pf Goa therefore observes the months of June, July and August as anti-malaria months. Behaviour change communication(BCC) is the strategy adopted by national Vector Borne diseases control programme to achieve this purpose.

The major findings of the above study are that the level of knowledge about malaria, its symptoms, mode of transmission, breeding sites etc was high in the studied population. It was also found that the practices adopted by the study population for prevention and control of malaria were inadequate.

The study recommends that considerable emphasis should be laid on intensive insecticidal spraying activities, wide use of larvivous fish and insecticide treated bednets, maximum utilisation of mass media and interpersonal communication skills.

The study concluded that malaria is a manmade disaster and often linked to construction activities and its control needs co-ordinated efforts from many other government departments such as town and country planning, irrigation, railways, urban development, fisheries, professional organisations etc, this inter sectoral co-ordination has an all round immense impact on the success of anti-malaria campaign through BBC.

The study revealed that although it has been known for a century that mosquitoes transmit malaria there is still a wrong notion among local communities that malaria can also spread through modes other than mosquito bites.

Most of the study participants identified fever as a major symptom of malaria. Second most common symptom identified was cold chills followed by rigors, headache and vomiting. There were also nearly 4% participants who did not know the symptoms of malaria. However over 90 percent of the participants did not know about Insecticide Residual Spray ( IRS)

Goa High Court directs petitioners to file SEZ pleas

All advocates appearing in petitions relating to the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Goa have been directed by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court to finish filing and exchanging their pleadings by May 7 2009.

A division bench of the court made it clear that no further adjournment would be granted and also suggested that the petitions could be taken up for final disposal in June this year.

The court was hearing petitions filed by six SEZ promoters who have challenged the show cause notices issued by the Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC). The notices direct the promoters to stop the work and revert the land allotted to them by the state government in view of the change in the state's SEZ policy.

The promoters - Meditab Specialities PVt. Ltd, Peninsular Pharma Research Centre Pvt Ltd., Paradigm logistic and & distribution pvt ltd, Planetvie mercantile company pvt ltd.,Inox mercantile company private limited and Maxgrow finlease Pvt Ltd. have all pleaded in their respective petitions that as they have invested heavily in the SEZ projects, they have suffered huge losses due to the stop work orders issued by the state government and prayed that the notices be quashed.

It may be recalled that the GIDC had acquired around 3.8 million sq m of land across the state to set up SEZs. However what allowed was a large scale opposition from locals in Goa to the SEZs since 2007 which inevitable forced the state government of Goa to rethink its policy which resulted in the subsequent scrapping of the SEZ policy and show cause notices were issued through the GIDC.

On may 7, the court is also expected to hear various public interest litigations filed by the villagers of Keri, Sancoale and Verna challenging the GIDC's decision to allot land in their respective villages on lease agreements for SEZs.

The villagers have alleged that the land in question was allotted under fraudulent means and without any public involvement in the whole land allotment process. It may be recalled that recently a CAG report had slammed the GIDC on its procedure of allotment and for the handling of the whole SEZ issue.

Goa Shipyard Ltd delivers patrol boat to coastal Police

The Goa Shipyard Ltd., has successfully delivered a sophisticated fast interceptor boat to the state Coastal security Police.The said boat was built under the Ministry of Home Affairs plan for equipping the Coastal Security Police.

The Glass reinforced Plastic boats being manufactured by GSL comprise two models categorised under 5T and 12T boats.

The 5T boat delivered today is 9.6 metres long and capable of operating at 35 knots on full load with an endurance of 75 nautical miles with 25 per cent reserve fuel capacity. The boat is capacitated to carry four crew members along with a patrolling party of 10 persons and is fully equipped with life saving, fire fighting and communication facilities.

The boat is fitted with 2 outboard motors of 275 HP each for propulsion and manoeuvring.The wheel house is fitted with anti-ballistic panels for protection of patrolling crew to withstand a threat of an AK47 assault rifle at 10 metre range.

The 12T boat is 13 metres long, capable of operating at a 35 knots on full load with an endurance of 75 nautical miles with 25 percent reserve fuel capacity. The boat can carry 4 crew and a patrolling party of 16 persons and fully equipped with life saving, fire fighting and communication facilities. The boats are fitted with 2 main engines of 500 HP each with water jet propulsion.

The boats are designed and constructed for deployment in Indian territorial waters for day and night surveillance and investigation of suspected vessels in and around harbour, anchorage and along the sea coast.The boats are highly sea worthy and the unsinkable type due to 10 percent reserve buoyancy even when filled with water.

With this successful construction and launch after trials and delivery iof the first batch of these sophisticated boats, the Goa shipyard Limited has achieved a landmark milestone of venturing into GRP technology.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Goa's Milagres Saibinn feast at Mapusa

For the many things that Mapusa is famous for, one of them is certainly the Milagres Feast which draws huge crowds to the city of Mapusa in North Goa. Mapusa's feast of Our lady of Miracles draws peMilagres saibin, milagres feast Mapusaople from all religions and communities besides the Catholics from Goa. In Goa the tradition of devotion to mother Mary exists profoundly and people of other communities often make a point to attend the catholic feasts of our Lady.

For the Catholics who celebrate this feast, Mother Mary is the Milagres Saibinn while for the non-Christian Goans, Milagres Saibinn is "Tulzai Sateri Devi".

Prior to the feast , a nine day novena is observed and the feast is celebrated on the second Monday after Easter Sunday and is scheduled for the 27th April this year. Somehow it has a special connection to the Shirgao zatra that usually follows the feast.

At Shirgao, it is Goddess lahirai that is worshipped and according to tradition, Lahirai and Milagres Saibinn are considered sisters. According to a very prominent publication from Goa, Goan folklore traces the lady of Miracles of Mapusa to be one of seven sisters who was converted to the catholic religion by the Portuguese. Her other six sisters are apparently worshipped at different temples in the state of Goa. Ketko is known to be the only brother who is revered by the fishing community in Chopdem in Goa.

So come 27th may, the religious divide if there is any in Goa, simply dissolves while a flock of Goans make their way to Mapusa on Monday to seek the blessings of Milagres Saibinn.

While Catholics believe in the intercessory powers of Our Lady in eternal salvation, the Hindus consider her as the incarnation of Goddess Mirabai, sister of Goddess lahirai. During the feast, Catholics offer garlands of the firecracker flower or Ratan Abolim and candles or wax replicas of body parts while Hindus also do the same while also doing an Abhishek of the statue with coconut oil.

While the Mapusa Church is dedicated and named as the Church of St Jerome, it is more popularly known as Milagres Church as it is the most popular feast of the Mapusa parish and is therefore celebrated with much pomp and gaiety while also being considered as the feast for the traditional purchase of provisions and grinding stones as per the well known Goan tradition of "Purumentachem fest" just as is done in Margao for the feast of the Holy Spirit.

There is also the interesting traditional exchange between the two supposed sisters. While lahirai sends one 'colso' ( pot) of oil on the feast day, Milagres Saibin reciprocates by sending a basket of mogrim( fragrant flowers)  on the zatra day.

Milagres saibinn is also considered as a deity who cures ailments and the sick come to her seeking her intervention.Meanwhile the temple of Shree Lairai Sateri at Shirgao which is located around 2 kms from Assonora on the Panaji-Valpoi Highway will come alive with its Sirigao or "firewalkers' zatra on April 29th.

Goa parties vs Goa elections

Goa parties in this case are not the political ones that are fighting the Goa elections. Rather they are the ones who have been crying foul that elections are responsible for their party going awry. Wedding party that is.

It is no secret that over the years, the various directives of the election commission seem to have infused a discord among common men and many of the directives seem to be out of touch with reality and the prevailing customs and traditions or ground realities of a particular region or state.

The latest controversy over banning of liquor at wedding parties in Goa has been met with a very bitter taste from the affected party people who have termed this high-handed autocratic attitude of the election commission as being out of sync with common sensibilities. Such an attitude only contributes to the frustration and irritation of the common man in Goa who is more inclined to boycott voting thereby undermining the whole electoral process.

Weddings in GoaIt has to be noted that wedding parties in Goa are planned months in advance, if not years. During such planning, most often,  neither the elections are decided nor the government announcements to that effect is made. No notifications are done while Goans are busily preparing for that great day in the life of a family. With elections suddenly beating the drum, are Goan weddings expected to shut down their plans at the last minute at the cost of all the planning and with much money down the barrel?

The custom of serving liquor at weddings is a traditional Goan custom as also being an Indian custom at many Indian weddings all over the country. However it is more prominent in Goa since colonial times. Such wedding receptions in Goa are private affairs with no public access to such parties. how does such conduct affect the elections in Goa? That too despite seeking specific permission on a case to case basis? Isn't the denial of permission to such wedding receptions a case of extreme high handedness by the concerned authorities?

It seems that the election commission is keeping Goa on par with states with a rampant history of poll violence such as lawless Bihar or belligerent UP, in absolute disregard for Goa's history and cultural traditions besides being the country's hottest destination of world tourism.

Inducing the closure of over thousands of bars and wholesale liquor shops etc in the name of elections for weeks together does not improve the conduct of elections in any way. All that it causes is artificial shortage to the common man which is abused by black marketers as per their whims besides the inconvenience to Goans , hardships, monetary loss and loss of business for Goa thereby straining the government exchequer due to an inexplicable clampdown.

It is therefore time for the election commission to do some self-introspection and identify the areas where its stubbornness is causing more harm than good. Whether its efforts in a particular direction bear the fruit for which they were instituted or whether the enforcement of certain directives only contribute towards the bitterness of the common man without riddling the actual problem.

All rules and regulations need to be updated regularly keeping in mind the practical situations at hand while ensuring no dilution in the effect caused towards seeking the desired results.

Goan women now eligible for fire-fighting

It is certainly not a man's world anymore. At least not in Goa. With women already occupying responsible positions in India's defence, police, pilots etc, it was only a matter of time before they broke through another male dominated bastion in Goa. Firefighters. The Goa state fire force throwing its doors open to women to sign up as firefighters in the state's force was therefore a welcome step.

Women joining the Goa firefighters force will be initially given fire prevention duties. Goa's state fire force has already replaced the term "fireman" with "firefighter" while a permission from the home department is awaited for a change in the recruitment rules to enable women to take up operational duties in Goa. The same is necessitated due to the fact that presently, there are no recruitment rules and requirements of physical standards for women personnel, so these are expected to be framed shortly. Women are expected to be enrolled in the positions of officer and firefighter level.

Those women applying for the position for firefighters in Goa, will have to undergo six months of training and will further be sent to the national Fire service college at Nagpur for further training.

In the gradual transition, women personnel will be initially placed on the fire prevention cell and will be given charge to check buildings and other sites to see if they meet fire safety norms before receiving a certification. They will later be deputed for on-site firefighting duties.

Rescue operations could also be taken up by the women personnel particularly in cases of rescuing women and children during a fire incident. West Bengal and Tamil Nadu are reported to be the only two states besides Goa to have a presence of women in the firefighters department

Goa govt's fixes criteria for rich and weak panchayats

The Goa government has diluted the criteria to classify panchayats as rich and thereby opened the windows for more panchayats to comer under the ambit of the weaker panchayats to enable them to avail of the government schemes of financial grants..

Panchayats with an annual income of Rs 10 lakh are now considered as the richer panchayats and therefore are now out of the government aid package except the matching grants on tax collection. Under the revised scheme, the government of Goa released Rs 203 lakhs around March 2009 to the weaker panchayats to  pay their salaries of the staff.

However the above criteria have hit some panchayats who are close to the 10 lakh figure but whose salaries and pending bills of contractors make them difficult to take up any developmental or maintenance works in the village. This has prompted the government to establish a new set of guidelines to clarify the richness of a panchayat more accurately.

The method adopted is to first consider the panchayats annual income. Then it will deduct the cost of the panchayats administrative expenses and the salary component of the staff and only if there is a surplus balance would the panchayat be considered as a rich panchayat. However the Panchayats are required to submit their audited reports to the government every year to enable them to evaluate their financial position.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Election commission relaxes restrictions in Goa

Post polling in Goa the election commission has relaxed certain activities in the state which includes tours of ministers to districts and accompaniment of officers on such tours, calling for bids, evaluation of such bids and finalisation of bids and awarding of contracts.

The commission has also instructed that security briefings of the Chief Minister and the Home Minister in essential times should be undertaken by either the home secretary or the Chief Secretary who in turn should be briefed by Police agencies.

The commission seeks to safeguard a free fair and transparent election system  to provide a level playing field to all political parties while ensuring that there is no scope for public complaints that the political establishment in power on the day is not misusing government machinery for political purposes.

however the Election commission has also reiterated that their instructions should not be construed as any restriction to any security related activity of the law enforcing agencies and should not be therefore used as a reason for any inaction ort delay in action to be taken by them. Bonafide performance of the police agencies in the execution of their duty or exercise of their authority should therefore be expected to be undertaken

Goa forest dept jumps high to rescue jumping chicken

Jumping Chicken, the pet name given to frogs by frog-eaters in Goa, which has been a imagetraditional delicacy for a section of people in Goa with the advent of the monsoons, is on the most powerful and vigilant radar of law makers this year thanks to the state forest department which has decided to start a " save frog" campaign in Goa

So on the jumping list will not only be frog catchers, but also restaurants in Goa who have been traditionally known to serve frog meat and the list of such erring restaurants is currently being compiled by the department in a bid to evince the co-operation of such eateries while urging them to stop the practice of servicing the "jumping chicken"

Education and the spread of awareness of the threat to the existence of frogs and thereby the ills effected to the ecosystem in Goa would be a part of the campaign initiated by the forest department.

The punishment includes a fine of Rs 25,000 and upto three years imprisonment. patrolling teams for the monsoon season are being worked out to patrol for offenders in most frog-prone areas known for abuse by frog catchers. Wild Goa, a network of wildlife enthusiasts are expected to assist the forest department in the whole campaign.

The rickshaw run celebrations in Goa.

And so after trudging down 4000 kms you would think they were tired in the rickshaw run spring 2009. But hold on. They all had a blast of a party in south Goa at Colva to let their hair down longer and longer after all the hair splitting journey they adventured with .

So nobody missed out on the action to tell all the tales of the rickshaw run from Shillong to Goa and the whole party place was agog with music song and a lot of noise. Beer flowed into the sun drenched souls who made the journey in little less than two weeks while the music gobbled a part of their unbridled attention.

Here are some pictures




The rickshaw run traditionally culminates with a game of cricket at the final destination. However , Goa being a soccer crazy place, the loyalites were quickly switched to a game of soccer and the next day followed with a football match against a local Goa based colva team and the soccer-crazies among the rickshaw run participants turned up in the unmistakable rickshaw run jerseys as one unit to put up a brilliant fight and although the final score read, 2-0 in favour of the local team, the match was fought much more evenly and had all the thrills and also the laughs for the folks to remember for a long time to come. Below are some pics.



IMG_2186 IMG_2188

The rickshaw run will await a send off from Goa to the next destination in India by the Indian winter of September 2009. Till then!

Rickshaw run teams storm into finish line at Goa

The rickshaw run spring 2009, organised by the adventurists from UK saw plenty of teams among the 47  that originally set out from Shillong making it to the finishing line set at Colva thereby completing the rigorous 4000 km journey in the unbelievable conveyance of the rickshaw to Goa.

Receiving them at the finish line at Colva were Dan Wedgwood and Neeraj Lama of the Adventurists who had a personal tete-a-tete with each team converging on the finish line at Colva in Goa. The scene was one of great sharing of experiences as team after team were overflowing with their bit of experiences which they were keen to share with the other teams who made it to Goa from Shillong in less than 2 weeks time.

RickshawRun finish line in GoaThe whole atmosphere therefore was one of great fun, laughter and revelry with the tiredness of the teams disappearing after meeting the other members of participating teams leaving an open ground for great camaraderie and fun at the finish line in Goa.

So teams form the United Kingdom to Australia and Belgium, to New zealand made it to the finish line with only a few teams still awaited to drive in their rickshaws with a blazing trail of experiences behind them. Plenty of photographs and videos of the experiences were being shared and the joy of the experience was simply hard to contain among the participants who finally landed in Goa.

Rickshaw run in goa arrivals board

At the finish line was also an "ARRIVAL BOARD" put up by the adventurists, to details the chronological order of arrivals with a one-liner space to gist out the experience. There were some hilarious lines among those columns which the participants wrote down themselves.

On the arrival board among the many comments, one team, the "Not 2 Shaw" wrote - 'Run off road by lorry, missed sleeping goat by inches'. Another "the Phew" mentioned "'Chief of Police gave us his mobile number!" while the Blazing Chillies jotted to record - "nearly hitting an elephant (with no lights)"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rickshaw Run teams to blaze into Goa this week.

The "rickshaw run" has captured the imagination of Indians all along its route with absolute disbelief written all over the faces of many in the country who have witnessed the white skinned Europeans or some unfamiliar faces riding the 150 cc travel-bounty of many Indians to be in the command of people from various parts of the world and that too on Indian terrains.

rickshaw run to goa in actionIndeed who could ever imagine, that the 150 cc 2 stroke 3 wheeler auto rickshaw to be a vehicle which could inspire a true sense of adventure? That the vehicle essentially meant for travel within the city could take the distance of 4000 km and thereby raise over half a crore for charity besides fostering a cultural interlude between the east and the west?

To the surprise and bewilderment of many however, the Indian rickshaw has done all of the above and much more. The Adventurists , a UK based company who initially rode on this brilliant idea to pioneer the rickshaw run since December 2006 couldn't be more satisfied with the outcome.rickshaw run to goa team

The whole adventure of the rickshaw run has caught on the spirit of many all over the world who after being caught by the bug have decided to take the plunge into this unique form of adventure. The next step is simple. Little preparation and even lesser luggage is all you take along with you as you fly down to India and launch yourself into driving the auto-rickshaw over thousands of kilometres of questionable terrain.

The route is continuously changed to keep the adventure a challenge. Daniel Wedgwood of the Adventurists informs that "the routes are changed once we get the odd team surviving one route, which makes them move it to somewhere more tougher and the whole route is planned to be covered in a vague time of two weeks without specific route plans" .

So from the 23rd of April 2009 onwards, there was a warm welcome awaiting the 47 participating teams who were to cross the finishrickshaw run to goa spring 2009 line at Colva in Goa anytime from that day after having left from Shillong on the 12th of April 2009. So a total of 113 participants were keenly awaited by Daniel Wedgwood from the league of adventurists International Ltd and his Indian head of "the adventurists' Mr Neeraj Lama at Colva. Participants hailing from countries such as England, USA, New Zealand, Finland, Belgium, Australia and Sri-lanka were all being awaited for the finale of the Spring edition of the Rickshaw run from Shillong to Goa.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Goans pursuing Portuguese passport : How to do marriage registration in the Portuguese consulate

For the Goans pursing their Portuguese passport in a bid to enter Europe, and the world of opportunity that Europe offers, the Portuguese paPortuguese passport for goansssport has been a godsend. For the newer generation born after 1961, however the procedure is a little arduous with the requirement of registering their parents first and then being eligible to apply.

The procedure therefore involves registering the birth of one parent in the Conservatoria in Portugal and then registering the marriage of the parents, thereby obtaining the 'Assento de nascimento" ( registration of birth) and the "Assento de Casamento" (registration of marriage) which subsequently enables those born after 1961 to be eligible to apply.

Untill a few years ago, the registration of birth was naturally followed by the registration of marriage at the Portuguese consulate in Goa. However a few years back, there has been a new requirement squeezed in,  which was not prevalent earlier. The Portuguese authorities have made it mandatory that the "Bilhete de Identidade" be made, in order to be eligible to apply for the registration of marriage. It may be noted that this is not the procedure followed in Portugal, where there is no need for the Bilhete to be made in order to apply for registration of marriage. Therefore for those directly applying through their representative or their attorneys in Portugal, there is indeed a saving of time which is lost in Goa.

After obtaining the Bilhete, one has to apply for an appointment with the Portuguese consulate in Goa. The email address  to apply for the marriage registration is In this email you need to mention your name, address, telephone number or mobile and most importantly scan your Bilhete copy and attach it to your email and send it to the email address.

The Goa consulate which receives the email will then send you a reply with the date of appointment which may be anywhere in between 2 months to six months from the date of your email depending upon their Portuguese consulate in goaappointment schedule.

You need to therefore prepare the requisite appointments just a month or 3 weeks before the appointed date provided there are no correction related problems with your papers which would take more time. The documents prepared carry a validity which is best used if the documents are prepared closer to the appointment date. So a period of three weeks before appointment date is comfortably ideal.

The following documents are required by the Portuguese consulate in Goa to apply for the marriage registration.

1) Bilhete de Identidade - Original copy only - Not to be attested
2) Assento de Nascimento ( the one who is registered in Portugal)
3) Civil marriage Teor
4) Church Marriage teor
5) Original Indian Passport of the spouse
6) Birth Certificate (Teor) of the spouse

Only Item No 3,4 and 6 need to be attested with the Notary, collector and the Home department. If any of these three documents are in English, they need to be translated in Portuguese and those translations also need to be attested by all the above.

The attestation fees currently levied by the Portuguese consulate per document is Rs 719 while certifying originals is Rs 163. The cost of the marriage registration process is approximately Rs 6,600. Depending on your number of documents ( if there are translations ) , it is safe to carry an amount of Rs 13,000 (marginally on the higher side) to the consulate to take care of all the other fees of certifying other copies of Bilhete and Indian passport etc.

The marriage registration process has unfortunately not been specified any time period and may take anywhere between 4 months to six months after applying. Follow up is therefore the key.

Wishing Goans the very best in their quest for claiming the Portuguese nationality. For a complete list of posts on the help offered on this blog for the Portuguese passport process, CLICK HERE.

For any enquiries, kindly leave comments below.

Goa Bullfights : PETA petitions President

PETA may well again play spoilsport for the miniscule number of people in Goa for whom Bull fights, called "Dhirio" is a sport and who are currently patronised by none other than politicians of the State who want to make Bull fights in Goa legal, with some of them making the issue a poll plank.

The people for ethical treatment for animals (PETA) have criticised the Goa Legislative assembly's move to amend the Prevention of Cruelty act  (PCA) 1960, which could pave the way to make bull fights in Goa as a traditionally legal sport.

In their petition, the PETA have tried to impress upon the President the purpose for which PCA stands for which is "to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering on animals".

PETA has also made similar petitions to the Governor of Goa, the Chief Minister and the Speaker, urging them to prevent such cruel acts from taking place in Goa while taking up the cause of the hundreds of animals who are pushed and forced into these fights in the name of traditional sport.

PETA also highlighted the damage caused to the animals health as also the risk involving human spectators at such bull fights while calling the bull fights as illegal, unforgiving and inhumane.

Terming the PCA as a central act, PETA maintained that any amendment by the state legislature had to be in accordance with the procedure laid down by the constitution of India..

It may be recalled that the Curtorim MLA Mr Aleixo Reginald Lourencio of the Congress party had moved a private members bill in the legislative assembly in favour of legalizing bull fights in Goa on the 25th of March, which was passed unanimously with the support of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)as well.

The Bill seeks to give legal standing to bull fights, commonly known as "Dhirio" in Goa which is presently under a ban enforced through the intervention of the High court which termed it as a cruelty to animals.

Goa throws up 54% turnout for Lok sabha polls

Over 54 % of Goans turned up to exercise their franchise in the Lok sabha polls for the two seats of Panaji and Mormugao constituency yesterday even as both the BJP and the Congress-NCP combine were upbeat about their chances of victory from both the seats by wishful margins.

The statistics mean that nearly half of the 10.19 lakh registered electorate did not turn up to vote at the elections. The votes are expected to be counted on the 16th of may and the Electronic Voting machines (EVMs) have already been moved to the respective counting centers in the state.

As per the figures  the North Goa parliamentary constituency of Panaji had a voter turnout of 56.5 % while the south Goa constituency had a turnout of 50.3 % . So from a total electorate of 4,86,789 in the north, 2,75,046 voters turned up to exercise their franchise while 2,68,416 voters turned up in South Goa from a total electorate of 5,33,188 voters.

Thw BJP predicted a hat-trick victory in North Goa for their candidate Mr Shripad Naik while the congress exuded confidence in wresting the seat for its coalition partner the NCP.The BJP also feels that in South Goa, the UGDP candidate Mr Mathany Saldanha will have succeeded in grabbing a large chunk of Congress votes thereby weakening the Congress whereas the same fears could be haunting the BJP in the North seat, with the MGP's Pandurang Raut and the Shiv Sena's Upendra Gaonkar estimated to snatch a large pie of the vote bank thereby denting the BJP cause.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cheap stay in Goa

A cheap holiday in Goa is the question uppermost in many minds. By cheap holiday, nobody wants to actually compromise on the luxury of the holiday. What is desired however, is a holiday which can offer the best of everything in Goa but at a reasonably low cost.

Goa beach cheap accommodation

The feeling of a cheap holiday in Goa is not only nursed by the budget travelers but in recent times even the affluent tourist visiting Goa has the question uppermost in his mind. While part of the reason may be attributed to the world recession which has affected many plans of leisure all over the world, Goa is still seen as a destination of a great holiday unwinding for the world tourist as well as the Indian tourist at a fraction of the cost spent on the more famous locations of the world while offering near perfect hospitality.

Goa is naturally endowed with beauty which was initially made famous only through word of mouth publicity after the hippies first  'discovered' its serenity in the early sixties and the news has only spread far and wide to ensure that Goa's plate is full almost throughout the year.

More tourists has naturally meant more business in Goa and therefore more hotels, resorts, rent back homes, apartments and rest homes all over Goa. This has also meant a rise in costs of accommodation in Goa. However for the tourist looking for cheap accommodation it can always be dicey while choosing a place to stay for various durations of a holiday.

While a cheap stay does not mean a cheap room or cheap facilities, tourist run the risk of being offered sub-standard accommodation when they normally enquire for cheap accommodation in Goa. What essentially these tourists desire is good and reasonably luxurious accommodation at a cheaper cost. However do they get it? Unfortunately most often, not.

The reason is that most unplanned holidays can mean being stuffed into an unfriendly hotel room due to the misguided directions upon landing in Goa from various motorcycle pilots or taxi men who are normally out to make a fast buck out of a tired tourist with little or no information.

The answer therefore lies in making a planned holiday. Planning can also be made just before leaving your location for Goa by going online and enquiring on the vast options for a cheap but luxurious stay in Goa. "Goa Living Styles" is a good resource to enquire about the various options for a cheap stay in Goa.  After all good accommodation is a peace of mind on a tired holiday when costs on stay need to be kept on a minimum while enjoyment and luxury has to be optimum.

For options with Goa Living Styles, Click here and send them an enquiry. You should get a quick response.

Wish everyone coming to Goa, a pleasant holiday indeed.

Goa observes earth day at Navelim

22nd April 2009 was observed as "Earth Day" by the Navelim Civic & Consumer Forum together with GOACAN and various NGOs from Goa and local villagers and other Forums from South Goa near the Saipem Tollem, at the entrance of the Sewage Treatment Plant at Sirvodem, Navelim.

Pledging to protect nature from indiscriminate destruction were representatives of Nuvem,Davorlim, Cuncolim, Velim Forums, Citizen Welfare Committee, Nisarg Nature Club, MARG and other NGOs from Colva and Benaulim who joined hands in the resolve.

NCCF Volunteer Mr. Sidarth Karapurkar highlighted the efforts put in
by Navelim Forum to get Pollution Control Board to test the water in
the lake, whose report confirms the high level of contamination in the

Sandeep Azrenkar of Nisarg Nature Club spoke of the migratory birds
that used to visit the lake earlier and have stopped now because of
the polluted waters. He mentioned that the Forest department has taken over the Carambolim lake and the same needs to be done here.
Local residents Cruz Rodrigues and Teotonio D’Silva reminded the people of the earlier times when they used swim in the waters especially during the hot summers and the amount of fish they would
catch in the lake.

earth day in Goa

They lamented that Navelim has to bear the brunt of the unplanned development happening in Margao Town. They along with many other local villagers complained that the authorities are doing precious little to solve this menace.

Many poor villagers also complained that their fields are totally spoilt and they can’t even step inside as they get severe rash on their legs. They are now forced to buy rice from shops, whereas they were self sufficient earlier. Who is paying us compensation for this loss? They wondered.

Forum Secretary Joseph L. R. Vaz mentioned that this is not a small problem as a lot of big fish are involved. A sustained long term movement is required and a proper co-ordination between different departments is needed like Pollution Control Board, Margao Municipality, PWD, Sewage Corporation, Water Resources Dept., Department of Science, Technology & Environment (DSTE), TCP, SGPDA, Collectors office, local Panchayats, etc.

Navelim Sarpanch Paolo Pereira told the people that he is happy that a
lot of people are taking interest now. He said that the movement has to grow and that Government listens only when a lot of people make noise. He assured full support for the movement from his Panchayat. Ramona Almeida, Convenor of Velim Forum expressed her support for the restoration of river Sal.

River Sal which runs through Salcete through many villages needs urgent attention. Recently a local newspaper has carried series of articles by Scientist Dr. Nandkumar Kamat on the history of river Sal, and how it slowly started getting polluted over the years due to neglect and improper and unplanned development and the effect and damage to environment.

Roland Martins Convenor of GOACAN, reminded the people specially the
ones staying in flats that every time they use the flush in the toilet, heir toilet gets cleaned but that dirty water is carried away to damage some other land. “These Western type toilets are causing a huge damage to the environment all over the world and people are looking for alternatives”.

He pointed to many villages where huge buildings have come up next to small houses of Goans and a person staying on the 4th floor uses his flush and the dirty waters travels down and enters the house of the poor Goan next door, courtesy the overflowing Septic Tanks and soak pits all over Goa. He told the people that it is no easy task to get the Government machinery moving but if people are united, than nothing is impossible.

He told the people that along with the Government action, people’s co-operation is also required. It is the people themselves who are releasing their sewage into drains least bothered as to where it goes. It is the people only, who drink mineral water and dump the bottles into drains.

It is the people only, who dump their daily garbage into rivers or drains during early morning or late evening when nobody is watching.
Lorna Fernandes, Convenor of Cuncolim Forum proposed some 10 resolutions which were unanimously adopted by the gathering.

Goa goes to vote for a new Indian government

The drums have fallen silent and the fingers are being kept crossed as Goa joins 13 states which go to the polls today to elect 141 candidates to the Lok Sabha from a total of 2,041 aspirants.

Goa elections So along with the state of Goa there are states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Tripura which go to the polls today. However most of these states barring Tripura and Goa are going to the polls in part with some seats either polled for earlier or to be polled for in the third phase of Lok sabha elections.

Goans are faced with a difficult choice of candidates as compared to earlier Lok sabha elections owing to the fact that social activism in Goa has sprung up like never before. Goans have come to the streets to voice their concerns about the degradation of Goa through various quarters of the government and have shown their disgust at government apathy to the rampant and haphazard development of Goa in complete disregard to the life of its citizens.

So while Goans may be unhappy with the choice of candidates on offer, Goa has been known to throw up a good number of voters turning up for the elections. So although thrust with unsatisfactory options, Goans are known to prefer to vote rather than sit at home and brood about the elected nominee.

There is however a common lament that good people are not coming up to contest elections in Goa which is why the sub-ordinate candidates and the same old faces are elected time and again to the parliament.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Goa University to team up with Instituto camoes

Goa university's Portuguese department and Instituto Camoes are together slated to organise  a series of activities to commemorate the 35th anniversary of April 25th 1974's Carnation Revolution also known in Portuguese as the"Revolucao dos Cravos".

It may be recalled that the military coup of that date which had its leanings towards the Left, began on April 25, 1974 in Lisbon, Portugal and heralded the change of regime in Portugal from a dictatorship to a democracy after a two year transitional period.

As a part of the activities, on April 24th, a talk will be held on the topic " Portugal throbbing with a new heart' by a former senior lecturer of St Xavier's college and author of many books, Mr Vasco Pinho.

Silvia Braganca, a Goan born artist and teacher at the ENAV( Escola Nacional das Ates Visuais) maputo Mocambique and researcher of Art education, will speak on " 25th of April 1974- Portugal and the overseas people's freedom". There will also be a documentary ' As Duas Faces da Guerra ( the two faces of the war) a film on colonial war in Africa produced by Diana Andringa and Flora Gomes which will be screened at 7 in the evening.

On the 25th of April a talk will be held on ' I missed the revolution of Cravos of April 25 1974 by a whisker... But I can depose on its trial and repercussions' by a well known lawyer Mr Fernando colaco, who will speak about his experiences before the outbreak of happenings in Lisbon.

This is expected to be followed by the "Carnation revolution in Goa and East Timor" by department of Sociology, professor at the Goa University Dr Alito Sequeira who will speak on social changes which took place after the revolution.

A documentary ' Nos e os Outros- uma Sociedade Plural' ( We and the Others- a Pluralistic society) will be screened at 7 pm and on April 26 some films produced in Portugal in the last 30 years will be screened.

Os Lisboetas 9 20040 by Sergio Trefaut , a documentary about the emigration wave which changed Portugal in the last years will also be screened at 11 am. "Portugal SA" ( 20040 by Ruy Guerra,  a political thriller exposing the dark side of the politicians and their ties with the corporate world will be screened at 3 pm

A Sombra dos Abutres ( 1998), the maiden venture of Leonel Vieira has a plot set in Tras-os-montes, the North eastern region of Portugal, in 1961, when Portugal was under a dictatorship and was controlled by PIDE ( a police force serving the regime and which oppressed all those who were against it) will be screened at 5 pm. "O cinema Portugues  depois do 25 de Abril de 1974" by Serge Abramovic will also be screened.

Goa election campaigning ends as suitors await polls

The dust is slowly settling down on the election campaign in Goa which had reached a feverish pitch in the last few days with rallies, corner meetings and personal visits by the top candidates in their bid to woo the voters to buy their story of providing the best for Goa through a slew of promises.

Interestingly, both the Congress and the BJP the major contenders for the two seats predicted victory in both the constituencies. However the margin of victory predicted by the two parties differed in opposite directions. While the congress predicted that they would win South Goa by a margin of 50,000 votes, the party was confident of wresting the North Goa seat for its alliance partner the NCP, by a margin of at least 25,000 votes.

The Congress maintained that the response towards the party by the people of Goa was tremendous and even the rural areas of Goa were supporting the party unfailingly.

The BJP also contended that their candidates in both the constituencies would win the elections by a comfortable margin although the comfort was more for the North Goa seat than the south Goa seat.

With the national parties dominating the election scene in Goa, the regional parties such as the UGDP and the MGP claimed to have covered a lot of ground and staked their claim of winning the seat for south and North respectively. However it is expected that these two parties will only cut into the vote share of the Congress in the south and the BJP in the North.

Goa Wedding plans hit hard due to dry election spell

The weddings in Goa which were planned much more in advance to the schedule drawn up by the election commission had to face the weddings in Goaunreasonable brunt of dry days with the commission refusing to grant permission to couples getting married in Goa to serve liquor for the ensuing celebrations.

The excise authorities which received 14 applications from all over Goa from couples with impending wedding celebrations slated for the 21st and 22nd of April had to face the denial by the excise authorities  as the election commission turned down their proposal to grant temporary licences to serve liquor to guests at the reception venues of the wedding celebrations.

Couples tying the knot were therefore a disappointed lot, after the election commission rejected their proposal to authorise the Goa government to issue temporary licences to couples planning wedding celebrations.

However it has to be noted that these couples had planned timagehe weddings at least a year or more in advance to the election commissions declaration of election dates and therefore it was a hard pill to swallow for all the couples who had petitioned the government to grant permission. Tuesday saw nine weddings in the state of Goa with six of them in Salcete , two in Bardez and one in Taleigao.

Meanwhile a number of people gathered in front of the office of the Chief electoral officer on Tuesday morning to register their protest against a comment made by an official that the affected wedding parties could cancel their weddings or postpone it to a later date if they were feeling troubled by the restrictions. Citizens complained that the weddings were planned a year in advance and such comments were uncalled for.

Meanwhile after declining the permissions there were raids conducted on many wedding venues in Goa and the wedding parties were advised to refrain from serving liquor at all costs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Goa Elections - Mormugao Seat - SSS contest

In the Mormugao parliamentary seat in South Goa, the contest seems to have broadened to include three candidates in the fray to lay claim for the coveted seat currently held by the Congress.

So it is the three "S"s in Sardinha, Sawaikar and Saldanha making a fervent claim to the south Goa seat traditionally held by the Congress. While the candidates in south Goa had a much cleaner campaigning system this time with no banners or posters, there were the occasional  loudspeaker jarring vehicles blaring away their commentary to seek votes for certain candidates.

While the Congress candidate Mr Francisco Sardinha was helped in his campaign by their national party president Ms Sonia Gandhi, The BJP candidate Mr Narendra Sawaikar had film actor Shatrughan Sinha and TV artiste Smriti Irani supporting the campaign while the UGDP being a regional Goan party, was ably supported in its campaign by the local party leaders Mr Anacleto Viegas and Mr Radharao Gracias.

Mr Sardinha, being a member of the ruling dispensation in Goa and the centre could derive benefit from the works carried out by his party in the south Goan constituency. Also the hard hitting speech of Ms Sonia Gandhi against the BJP during his election rally in Margao could lend the necessary power to his campaign. Mr Sardinha is also a seasoned campaigner for the last 30 years in Goan politics and a well known personality in Goa which could help his cause.

Mr Sardinha could however bear the brunt of inner party bickering in Goa where the open revolt of Mr Churchill Alemao the PWD minister who's daughter Ms Valanka Alemao was denied the same ticket is seen as a blow to the party's campaign.

Mr Sawaikar has been seen as a new face to the Goan electorate although his name was announced well in advance which helped his campaign. Besides his party's image and popularity, Mr Sawaikar, an unknown entity hasn't got much to get him further among the electorate.

The third "S" in the fray, Mr Mathany Saldanha is a shrewd canvasser who has been fighting for local issues such as the issues of CRZ, environment, special status for Goa, etc and could gobble up a sizeable chunk of votes which may be more harm to the congress than to the BJP. However the denial of his traditional party symbol at the last minute could be hard-hitting on him as also the fact that his reach in the hinterland areas of Goa has been limited.

People in south Goa are largely focused on voting for candidates who they feel could bring about development to Goa and open up Job opportunities to the unemployed youth of the region

The other seven candidates in the fray seem to be relatively unknown with little or no campaigning . These include Mr Jawahar Dias, Mr Derick Dias, Mr Francisco A J Fernandes, Mr Mulla Salim. Ms Smita Salunke and Mr Hamza Khan

Goa Elections : Panaji Seat - Its Shripad Vs Deshprabhu

Over the days it has been pretty clear that the main battle for the North Goa seat is between the two biggies from the old-Congress-new-NCP candidate Mr Jitendra Deshprabhu and the BJP's Mr Shripad Naik the sitting MP while the other 5 candidates are merely making up the numbers either to spoil the congress or the BJP's plans or to simply be also-ran heroes with no chance of putting up a fight leave alone a win.

With hardly 2 days left for the voting to commence on the 23rd of April, it is amply clear that the main battle between the two major national parties is bound to be fierce with  no clear indication of a clear winner as of now. Predictions are that the fight is bound to be pretty close.

The other notable candidates in the fray, Mr Pandurang Raut of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak party, The communist party of India perennial nominee Mr Christopher Fonseca  and the Shiv Sena contender Mr Upendra Gaonkar have all had their campaigns on a limited scale in the North Goa constituency owing to a lower number of party workers and lesser reach while the two independent candidates seem to be relying on family and friends to help them to the final tally.

The last few days were therefore busy for both the congress and the BJP with both the parties holding corner meetings to large meetings and visiting the voters houses to woo the electorate with their manifestoes and promises. The MGP, CPI and the Shiv sena have however resorted to nursing selective places which they feel has their vote-bank in an effort to make their presence felt in Goa.

Mr Shripad Naik commands support from the Bhandari community to whom he belongs and whose population is huge in North Goa. His MPLAD works and his projection of a clean image are considered to be his strengths. However Mr Narendra Modi is the only top leader to have come down to Goa to campaign for him besides the glamour of TV actress Ms Smriti Irani

Mr Deshprabhu on the other hand can take heart from the fact that his party is ruling at the centre as well as the state along with the congress and his top leaders of the party such as Mr Sharad pawar and Mr Praful Patel have come to Goa to campaign for him. However his image of a landlord can be his undoing and internal bickering within the local congress and NCP could be damaging to his prospects.

Nevertheless the people of North Goa have made up their mind regarding the candidate of their choice and the final reply after the voting on April 23rd will be given only on the 16th of May.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Special status for Goa : Promises and curses

The issue of special status for Goa is part of poll rhetoric which is being pulled out like a rabbit out of a hat for the Goan electorate to marvel at by the various candidates at Lok sabha or assembly elections.

Goans should realise that all that is being fed to us is only rhetoric alone with hollow promises. If our political parties in Goa were interested in the special status for this scarce land of Goa, they would have done it on their own without being reminded umpteen times which goes to prove that our elected representatives do not have any own agenda for the welfare of goa. All they can think of is an opportunity to take advantage of. Special status clamour is one such opportunity which can blind the reasoning power of Goans to favour a candidate who may have a history of doing nothing more than put his tongue out numerous times only in speech and no indications of any actions.

While Goa is in dire straits at the present moment, there is a grave need to shield our resources from the evil eyes of all and sundry who are out to make money at the expense of our land and sea. Our elected representatives who have been continuously reminded of their job needed to voice out Goa's concerns at the centre to enable us to get special status. However there has never been a demand so why should the centre bother.

So the sad part is soon after the election results are declared there will be two sides. One which could not win and the other which won. The winner will forget his/her manifesto and the loser will use the opportunity of the winners' loss of memory to trumpet at future election meetings. All in all it is a hopeless situation that we Goans find ourselves caught in among the cross fire of these more powerful Goans who do not care about Goa.

All manifestoes, promises, assurances are therefore to be treated as election jokes. One wonders as to when the election commission will allow voters in India to register "No-vote". Goans surely would grab the opportunity with both hands to shun all politicians away from the coveted seat..

Meanwhile for the current winner who will do nothing or mumble half hearted voices on the special status, our curses are in waiting.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Goa Lok Sabha elections : Delimitation blues

The South Goa parliamentary constituency is the larger of the two constituencies in Goa and has recently undergone a more demographic change subsequent to the delimitation process for the two constituencies. The Lok sabha polls in Goa on the 23rd of April will therefore be the first time that the elections will be held in delimited constituencies.

Both the north and the south Goa parliamentary constituencies of Panaji and Mormugao have 20 assembly segments each. However the south Goa constituency is bigger of the two by over 50,000 voters. From among the total voters aggregating to 10,18,068 in the state of Goa, the Mormugao parliamentary constituency has 5,32,057 voters as against 4,86,637 voters in the North Goa ( Panaji) constituency.

male voters in Mormugao account for over 2,66,870 in number while that of female voters is around 2,64,561. There are also 626 service voters including 424 males and 202 females. The largest number of service voters is in the Vasco da gama segment which has 365 voters followed by Dabolim which has 175 voters. Both these assembly constituencies are reflecting the presence of the defence establishments.

The above figures are astonishing since Priol constituency has been severed from Mormugao constituency and added to the North Goa constituency in the last delimitation process.Also part of Old Ponda constituency has been added to Valpoi assembly constituency which also falls in the North Goa parliamentary constituency.

The assembly wise aggregation towards the south Goa parliamentary seat is as follows. Three assembly constituencies from Ponda taluka, namely Ponda, Shiroda and Marcaim figure in the Mormugao parliamentary seat. From Mormugao taluka, Vasco-da-gama, Dabolim and Cortalim are a part of the south seat while eight assembly segments of Nuvem, Curtorim, Fatorda, Margao, Benaulim, Navelim, Cuncolim and Velim from Salcete taluka are in this parliamentary constituency.

Besides there are two assembly segments of Quepem and Curchorem from Quepem taluka and two others of Sanvordem and Sanguem from Sanguem taluka are attached to this constituency. There is only one assembly segment from Canacona taluka in the south Goa parliamentary constituency. Canacona is the largest assembly segment in this constituency with an electorate strength of 32,105 while Dabolim with 19,876 is the smallest assembly segment in South Goa.

Women outnumber their male counterparts in eight of the 20 assembly segments in South Goa seat namely in areas of Nuvem, Shiroda, Cuncolim, Velim, Curtorim, Benaulim and Sanguem.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Goa Lok sabha results in 2004 and 1999 polls

The elections to the Goa Lok sabha threw up the following combinations from the host of political parties that were in the fray. This should help readers with some background to Goan election times in the near past.

Name of the political party seats contested seats won won % Votes polled by party percentage of votes polled
Indian national Congress 1 1 100 1,64,432 29.76
Bharatiya Janata party 2 1 50 2,58,750 46.83
Nationalist Congress party 1 0 0   88,,629 16.04
Communist party of India 2 0 0    12,015   2.17
Maharaashtrawadi Gomantak Party 2 0 0     7,584   1.37
Shivsena 2 0 0     6,244   1.13
United Goans Democratic Party 1 0 0     5,881   1.06

Mancurad mangoes still out of the Goan's reach

The "Mancurad" mango or the "Malcorada" mango or even the "Malcurad" mango as is commonly known in Goa is one and the same alright, but addressed differently. Just like a rose by any other name smells as sweet, so does this breed of Goa's King of mangoes. However, all names are currently out of the reach of the common Goencar, or the common Goan, or better still from the "Aam Aadmi".

Mancurad mangoes in Goa The Mancurad mango has always been known to be the most delicious variety of mangoes and have always been in high demand among Goans due to which their rates at the beginning of the mango season go as high as Rs 1000 to Rs 1200 per dozen which is not affordable for the common man with each mango priced at around Rs 100.

At the peak of the mango season, the rates are known to be around 100 per dozen in the last few years in Goa. However this year looks to be sadly different from the previous years. Climate change seems to be the real villain playing spoilsport with the most dear fruit that Goans do not like to miss at this time of the year.

The fear is that the prices of Mancurad which are currently at around 400 - 450 per dozen may remain to be out of the reach of the aam aadmi for the rest of the summer. The blame is pointed towards a poor crop which is a dismal 25% of the average production, which has raised the possibility of its price not falling much lower than its current Rs 400 per dozen.

High quality Mancurad are still commanding a price of around 600 per  dozen and this year, the variety was priced at Rs 2000/- per dozen in the city of Margao, at the start of the season. This year therefore, the prices are unlikely to see any drop below Rs 200 - 250 per dozen  due to the bad crop.

The regions of Fatorpa, Balli and Molkornem are traditionally known to yield a bumper crop of Mancurad mangoes but this year, the produce is 30% less than last year.

The agricultural department of the state put the bad crop down to the fewer number of cold winter days this year compared to previous years. The intensity of the cold days helps in the flowering of the mangoes and the climactic variations have therefore led to a damage to the crops. It is believed that if the cold spell in January had sustained for a couple of extra weeks then the produce could have been reasonably higher.

Shillong-Goa rickshaw run teams

The participants of the Rickshaw run spring 2009 on a trip from Shillong to Goa have selected some very catchy names and some very enterprising people inside those rickshaws. Here's a feature of some of them

This is the team called "Goimage_thumb1aing for Gold" and comprises of Mat Collingwood and Joe Holdsworth . Hailing from England and Wales,they call the rickshaw a tuk tuk.So this is a team agog about this whole run and want to help charities with their adventurism


image_thumb3This team is called "shillong way to goa" and comprises of Nick and Andrew from England.They seem to revel in the lack of ground support, unplanned routes and nil knowledge of local languages and what they call very little common sense. In their words " We will be driving a vehicle with a top speed of 30mph. All we have is an antique compass. "

Team " Goabusters" from UKimage_thumb7 is made up of David , Danny and Nick who find India to be a thrilling experience and so different from Britain. Hilariously, they question whether a driving licence in India is a benefit or a curse and are keeping their fingers crossed on their driving luck.

image_thumb10Now this one is called "Fatmandu'. Can 3 people with a combined weight of over 200kg drive a 150 cc Rickshaw across a field in Kent, let alone 5000km across India? Guess "Fatmandu" believe they can!

image This is the team of the "red Hot Chilli Pappadums" and they just cant wait to hop on their rickshaw and get the excitement of the adventure for charity. Comprises of Patricia and Jaco from the UK and Poland


There are 47 such teams in either twos or threes and all of them are expected to converge on Goa by this weekend, the 25th Of April 2009 and have a ball of a time when they meet up on the beaches of Goa

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