The Case of the Missing Temple

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

This article is about the temple of one of the most widespread and important deities of Goan village society, which is also however almost invisible as well as unknown to many Goans. The deity is Maharingan, and the reason for the invisibilation is because Maharingan is a Mahar deity, and Mahars are a community that would be openly called ‘untouchable’ in the past. Today, although such terminology and behaviour are banned by law, they are still treated as outsiders in not just many Goan villages but also in urban Goa. And their temple is a witness of this unspoken but persisting discrimination.

 

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Cops and Sentinels

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By DALE LUIS MENEZES

 

The ‘Traffic Sentinel’ initiative by the Goa Police has divided public opinion. While both sides, that is, those who support and those who oppose the initiative, have their reasons, most miss the forest for a few trees. Many do not seem to notice the larger issue at stake, which is, public law and order, due process, and the efficient functioning of the state. While there is no doubt that traffic violations need to be curbed, it appears that the authorities have abdicated their role in the maintenance of law and order. And yet, it should also be highlighted that the citizens cannot be expected to fulfill the duty of the state and its agents.

 

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Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas? (Progress of All with All?)

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas is a poll slogan apparently coined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which, according to his website, translates as Collective Efforts Inclusive Growth, and is supposed to be at the core of the functioning of the present Government. However, if one were to assess how Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas is being applied, one would need to look at two factors: one, whether bland unity or bland equality measures, can succeed in contexts that are ridden with power imbalance; and two, to consider if the State’s vision of progress is a progress that is accessible to the marginalized sections of society.

 

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Big Corporates and their Political Minions need the Boot

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Monkeys are taking over village roofs across Goa, from Pernem to Canacona. According to Rama Velip, environmentalist and anti-mining activist, this is just one of the ways his village of Colomb has changed over the last decade. Most of the paddy fields and coconut plantations were damaged by mining run-off. Water availability went down; with heavy pollution of the river and wells running dry, the winter paddy cultivation was stopped. Increasingly erratic and unseasonal weather changes routinely cause crop failures. On top of all this are unwanted visitors: hoards of monkeys, along with leopards, wild boar, and bison. In fact, with bison attacks becoming common in the talukas of Bicholim, Sattari and Sanguem, some villages have demanded a drastic change in the classification of Goa’s state animal from ‘protected’ to ‘vermin’, which would allow them to be killed.

 

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Past and Present for 2019

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By DALE LUIS MENEZES

 

Our political condition becomes worse with each passing year. The nature of public debate (rather the absence of it), the deteriorating condition of public infrastructure, and unscrupulous bids have plunged Goa’s into chaos. Thus, taking stock of the bygone year, or reflecting on the past on any anniversaries (such as the recently concluded 57th Liberation Day of Goa), appears to be an exercise in futility. However, can we really afford to ignore the past? If we do, we run the risk of subjecting ourselves to the same political manipulations of the past. It is only by considering the past errors that we are able to avoid blunders in the present and future. However, making sense of our present in relation to the past (thereby charting a vision for the future) is not as easy as it seems.

 

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Need of the hour: English MOI and reservations for all

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The Dr B R Ambedkar Memorial Lecture Series this year saw both the distinguished speakers, Advocate Martin Macwan and Prof Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, speak, among other things, of the same two issues in their speeches. One was about English-language education – a subject of burning debate in Goa – and second about the need to expand caste-based reservations – a subject which is like the proverbial elephant in the room, i.e. always ignored.

 

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Fishing in Troubled Waters: Markets and Laborers

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By DALE LUIS MENEZES

 

Six months after the shocking revelation came to light that fish imported into Goa is preserved in the carcinogenic formalin, the issue is nowhere close to a solution. Recently, health minister Vishwajit Rane announced that the ban on imports will be in place for six months, except for those traders who comply with health and quality regulations. This apparently unstoppable poisoning (or adulteration) not only brings the governmental authorities under the scanner for being unable to stop such malpractices, but also highlights the manner in which the fishing industry operates in most parts of coastal India. It is important to discuss the labor practices and potential policy decisions that would address allied issues, including the issue of formalin.

 

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Stances about RCEP* and FTAs* need to go beyond election year!

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By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA

 

Even as India played a critical role in shifting the deadline for the conclusion of negotiations on the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to 2019, it has floated the idea of a new approach to free trade agreements. “We will do a completely new approach toward FTAs (free trade agreements). … We are appointing two independent agencies, who will talk to all the stakeholders…it is a first major change. This will be a new template which will emerge for all future negotiations and we are working on it”, India’s Commerce and Industries Minister Suresh Prabhu is reported to have announced at an event organized by India’s Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association. “So, while we need FTAs, we will make FTAs in a way that will also benefit India to begin with, and other countries also,” Prabhu told the gathering.

 

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How Ancient are Ancient Temples?

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Hindu temples in the news means that election season is upon us. First there was the violence at Sabarimala in Kerala, following the Supreme Court judgement lifting the temple’s ban on the entry of women of menstruating age. In what Kerala’s BJP chief reportedly called a ‘golden opportunity’ for his party, women trying to enter the shrine were violently stopped by rampaging mobs. Meanwhile in the north, we see the sudden reiteration of the old Sangh Parivar demand for a Ram temple on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid. The demand was not surprisingly accompanied by the declaration that only Modi would build the temple, which is why he must be voted in again.

 

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