The Vice President of India M Venkaiah Naidu has made remarks which may be “passable” for a party propounding national interest, but not for a Vice President who claims he belongs to the party of the Indian people. An out of turn attack on the English language because it gives you an “English mindset” is laced with vagueness and embellished with a recipe for a perception and diplomatic disaster.
And as The Goa Spotlight, reported, the pattern of enrolment of students in primary schools in Goa, has proven how the Veeps vision of English and an “English mindset” has been confined to the trash can, where it should- with all due respects to the Vice President’s office.
This is what the Vice President said during a function to commemorate the birth centenary of music legend MS Subbulakshmi a few days ago
“Dheere dheere angrezi seekhte seekhte angrezi mind bhi aa gaya hamare mein. Ye acchha nahi hai, desh hith mein nahi hai”—meaning, “Gradually, as we picked up the English language, we also developed an English mind (mindset) along the way. This is not good; this is not in the national interest.”-
These remarks are bound to cause a great deal of umbrage in Goa, a state where English is a great unifier without it being a “mindset”. While differences of opinion between Konkani protagonists and those who have rooted for English as a medium of instruction have been heated, the latter have never been accused of having a mindset which is colonial or worse anti-national. At best, the divide between protagonists of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction and those who preferred English as a language of assimilation and growth, centered around culture and tradition where the need to learn in Konkani or the Marathi medium in schools was liked to protection of cultural identity. When the Digambar Kamat government decided to give government grants to church aided schools, the issue took a politico-religious turn and seen as an appeasement of the minorities, where the need to impart education in English was seen as a move of the Church. While this battle played out, the next BJP government, with 6 catholic MLAs and with independent support from many of the Salcette seats, didn’t want to touch this issue.
We now have a situation where grants are still being given to schools which have English as a medium of instruction, (albeit no new schools are being added to the existing list). But nowhere during this battle have the mother tongue protagonists called those backing English as behaving against the national interest.
The Vice President’s remarks assume significance, also, because was in Goa in Friday, and in an attempt to clarify his earlier remark (without being asked) actually vitiated the discourse further. This is what Naidu said in a function in Goa
India never attacked any country but every tom dick and harry came and attacked us. They ruled us, they ruined us not only they ruined us economically, they ruined us mentally also. Some of the people are suffering from the disease. Somewhere I was speaking about protecting and encouraging the mother tongue and some section of media wrote that I said English is illness, I did not say English is illness. English is not illness, but English mind is illness which we have inherited from the Britishers.
To summarize he made two drastic observations as India’s Vice President
-The British ruined us mentally
-English is not an illness but an English mind is an illness, which we have inherited from Britishers
The almost venomous and supposedly baseless remarks, has the potential to blow up into an international fracas, but in Goa we must be careful that such remarks do not spark off unnecessary controversy and unsavory linkages to English and anti- nationalism. In a BJP ruled state like Goa, Mr Naidu’s remarks (due to his political lineage) cannot sit well, when the party has been walking on a very fragile tightrope balancing, arguably saner, forward looking and the practical lobby which has propounded dignity and support to the mother tongue without taking away grant support to English schools.
Look at what else the Vice President said “I want that in our education policy we should consider (promoting India’s own language). It is our misfortune that we give too much importance to English medium”
How can the Vice President of India (or any right thinking national leader) base his arguments on canvass of nothingness. He says an “English mind is an illness” with an obvious inference that these minds have studied English. He says this without realising that while Hindi is India’s official language (and not national language or rashtra bhasha), hindi is the language to be used for “official purposes”. Proceedings of parliament, files of ministries and all the government work is conducted in the very language, Naidu says has been inherited from the British, who have ruined us mentally.
This is the time for all Goans across both sides of the MOI barrier to tell the Vice President “Yes we have differences over the kind of state support which is mandatory for the mother tongue ( and the eligibility of the language of inclusion to be supported) but at no point of time will be call the backers of English as anti national, or doing things not in national interest”
Moreover the sheer number of parents in Goa, who have enrolled their children in English medium schools in the 2018-19 season alone, is an indication that the religious lines have blurred and evaporated in favour of English .
Out of 98,227 enrollments, 57,897 (58.94%), were in English medium schools (across govt, aided and private schools), 30,550 (38.10%) in Marathi and barely 7,615 (7.75%) in Konkani. Much of this can be attributed to looking at education, jobs and a future outside Goa. Ultimately the choice of language of instruction will be determined by aspirations, influences and practicalities such as these and not by remarks of Vice President Naidu, which embarrass India and will make many Goans squirm.
People’s confidence in the quality of fish will be restored, only when safety mechanisms are visible and implemented
The Goa government was quick to realise that the complete ban on fish imports would have led to absolute chaos in the market as well as a fierce backlash from locals, especially those who are preparing for weddings in their families and wriggled out of a an extremely messy problem by putting an all important caveat in their fishing ban order, stating that only fish which did not comply with the Food Safety and Standard Act would be banned.
However the order, by no means is the final solution to the fish- formalin crisis. What it has done though it has prevented a massive escalation of prices and a severe shortage of fish for local consumption. But it still leaves all stakeholders with work to do and the state government to ensure much higher degrees of monitoring and compliance. Unless that is visible, there will be no restoration of confidence in the market.
This is what the Fisheries department needs to do
1) Set up fish testing units (mini labs) at the Margao wholesale fish market and all other markets
2) Have testing kits at all check points in the state with CCTV cameras and staff where every vehicle carrying fish is inspected and the inspection video and results and transmitted real time to the central control room, which should ideally be in Margao
3) The government should proactively break the presence of a fish import cartel and ensure that there is no monopoly over imports and that all business is not concentrated by force in the hands of a cartel of fish traders. Import of fish should be transparent and without any coercion.
4) There should be no flooding of the markets of imported fish. In fact priority should be given to the fish catch in Goa which can be sold in the Goan markets and only after the arrival of local fish, should imported fish be allowed to come in
5) Work towards a long term course correction by seriously looking into the problem of LED fishing which has resulted in a severe depletion of fish catch in the Goan waters. Getting the fish which Goans like by enabling fishermen to go and procure them has to be a priority, which has been often blocked by fish import cartels.
Most importantly, the crisis needs joint interdepartmental coordination and synergy, by setting up a unified command centre for all decisions consisting of the health and fisheries and transport.
Sujay’s Take 8 : On Rebellion within BJP Goa
Founding editor Sujay Gupta’s video editorial on the stand taken by senior BJP leaders including Francis D’Souza, Laxmikant Parsekar, Mahadev Naik and Dayanand Mandrekar spells clear divide in the saffron party’s local unit. Where will BJP head for after the current crisis?
Girish Chodankar, the man who is keeping the BJP govt going in Goa
The Congress in Goa has adopted one of the most immature brand of politics. It is not just losing allies, but positioning itself as a party which is becoming untouchable to allies, because of the manner in which it has gone about alienating, at least one of its allies, the Goa Forward party. On the other hand party leaders have attacked the PWD minister Sudin Dhavlikar of the MGP, in a manner which has left him fuming. The only hope that the Congress has left, is not because of anything that it has done but because the BJP has undone a lot by its inertia on choosing a successor for Manohar Parrikar and allocating fresh portfolios.
The Congress has actually made itself a political laughing stock by constantly saying they are ready to form the government, and in the same breath losing MLAs. At the same it goes about taking on the Goa Forward, much more than the BJP itself. It’s a strange form of politics which is beyond commonsense political logic. It all boils to a long standing political hatred the GPCC president Girish Chodankar has with the Goa Forward President Vijai Sardesai. And shockingly, this has actually become the albatross around the neck of the party in forging any discussions with the Goa Forward party. A deep rooted personal-political rivalry, fuelled mainly by Chodankar, is defining a relationship between two political parties, which should ideally be centered around what works for both of them. Here, one is deliberately holding back, using the catchphrase “in the interest of Goa”, because the politics of today, including the manner in which governments are formed or numbers in the assembly altered, has very little to do with Goa’s interests.
The Goa Congress’ alienation with the Goa Forward party peaked when Luizinho Faleiro was the GPCC president. We all know how in the run up to the last assembly elections, there was a bloody political war on the streets of Margao, Navelim, Velim and Saligao, with the Congress and the Goa Forward focusing their energies, strategy and political tricks to outwit each other.
After the elections, the Congress realizing that government formation under Luizinho Faleiro would be impossible due to his posturing of keeping the Goa Forward at bay, replaced him with Shantaram Naik. The party, at that time, boasted that the Congress would form a government in a day. That, not surprisingly rang hollow. Under Shantaram Naik, the party went into a further tailspin, with all senior leaders actually biding time, waiting for things to happen. After Shantaram Naik’s unfortunate demise, Girish Chodankar was brought in – a relatively younger and energetic face- with the primary objective of trying to get a shot at power.
But Chodankar also got into his own mesh and false one upmanship. He attempted to be the political version of an alpha male, performing political miracles as he talked about forming the government without the Goa Forward party. He actually worked overtime to increase the divide with Goa Forward, whose support the Congress would need if it hopes to form a government, especially since it doesn’t know whether the MLAs the party had at dinner time would remain the same the next morning during breakfast time.
This reaches ridiculous proportions at times. The Congress MLA from Curtorim Alexio Reginaldo Lourenco invited people on his birthday to a restaurant in South Goa. Girish Chodankar reached there to find that Vijai Sardesai would also be dropping in. He soon left before Sardesai arrived. Sardesai then spent a part of the evening with the leader of the opposition and Congress MLA from Quepem, Babu Kavlekar at Reginaldo Lourenco’s party. A nervous Girish Chodankar, asked one of his handpicked people Amarnath Panjikar to address a press conference the next day, just to state that the Congress will not join hands with the Goa Forward Party.
At the same time Chodankar has attacked Sudin Dhavlikar on the pace of construction of the Zuari bridge and IT minister Rohan Khuante on the Serula communidade land grab case. One Congressman, as is his wont, articulated this beautifully “We are not an activist group or an NGO. We must know when to attack and when to strategise. Chodankar has no sense of this. How does he plan to form a government if all he does is, handpicks key allies of this government who can potentially be Congress’ allies, and attacks them”. He went on to add “If the Congress could not form a government with 17 MLAs, and then 16, is there any hope with 14 except get both the Goa Forward and MGP on its side, along with independents? We are actually keeping the BJP government alive, by ensuring that there is no alternative, by the way our president is antagonising BJP’s allies”. Asked if replacing Chodankar, would help, he quipped “Well, that would at least be a beginning”
At a time when the Congress should have been closing in to form a government, it finds itself hopelessly out of political ideas and buried under personal ego clashes. Girish Chodankar, a man of potential promise, has been a huge disappointment. The BJP should thank him.