07 Nov 2021  |   06:14am IST

When will governments and parties promise a pilgrimage of service?

When will governments and parties promise  a pilgrimage of service?

The rush to ensure that religious and spiritual journeys of Goans are state-funded, as a sop before the next elections has made the common Goan simply wonder if the priorities are right in the Assembly poll scenario in Goa.

Outbound “tirth” tourism seems to have caught the imagination of political parties. First came the promises of one that if their party came to power, the State would fund pilgrimages to Velankanni, Ajmer Sharief, Ayodhya and Shirdi. Perhaps not to be left behind the Chief Minister announced that senior citizens could go on a free ride touring all the temples of the State. He said tourists visited Goa’s temples but the locals somehow miss out and therefore free bus rides would be provided, making it obvious which section of the senior citizens of Goa was being wooed.

While any trip to any religious place comes within the personal rights of every individual and need not become a priority for a secular state, the politics around this during election time, surprises no one.

What is the State’s primary responsibility? To serve. Isn’t that something that needs to be sorted first - the pilgrimage of service

Across Goa people are either struggling or frustrated with needs that are immediate, critical, and have been ignored. So far these haven’t quite been the issues that a single party that fought the last elections is raising. People can very genuinely ask, and they have been asking, what really are the priorities of these parties? Is it to make the lives of each Goan, more meaningful, comfortable, rewarding, progressive? Or will governance continue to not deliver the basic services which force people to come out onto the streets or simply weep in sorrow, anger, and frustration?

Has any party that sought votes in 2017 given a guarantee that no Goan will go without water drinking and domestic needs?

In parts of Assagao people are without water for months. Men, women, and children and taking to the streets again, shouting at the government for the mess that they are in. They want to cut off from the entire process of elections for not providing even this basic need.

In Siolim, women came out to cry inconsolably about the water problem too. As taps go dry, the tanker mafia takes over. Goa faces a shortfall of about 77 million litres per day. But have you heard either the ruling party or those that have gone to the people in the past in Goa say just one line “No Goan will go without water drinking and domestic needs? Shouldn’t this be a basic guarantee given by anyone who plans who serve the people?

Has any party which sought votes in 2017 given a guarantee that when planning big constructions, no fields of farmers will be destroyed?

With the whole of Goa being reconstructed with flyovers and bridges and highways, construction debris has entered adjoining fields blocking off drainage systems. This has led to massive flooding. The old cement pipes which were placed at par with the fields were smoothly releasing the excess water from fields. But now these pipes have been choked and have submerged under clogged water. One simple solution would be to construct culverts to drain out excess water. But the PWD has neither done it in the fields near the Zuari bridge construction site or anywhere else. Is this a priority? Can’t small culverts be built when hundreds of crores are being spent on massive bridges with malls and restaurants? Has any party which sought votes in 2017 given a guarantee that when planning big constructions, no fields of farmers will be destroyed?

Has any party which sought votes in 2017, given a guarantee that no injustice will be done to the teaching community of Goa

The contract teachers have recently called off their long agitation after they have received a pay hike, which in effect is nothing but full payment of their twelve months salary instead of ten months. But their genuine demand for regularization of their employment is yet to be met. One of the reasons for this is the increase of jobs in the reserved category. Yet again, teachers are not just government employees. They are the backbone of Goa’s education system. Has any party which sought votes in 2017, given a guarantee that no injustice will be done to the teaching community of Goa.

Has any party which sought votes in 2017 given a guarantee that not a single fishing trawler with LED lights will come and take away fish from Goan waters

Fishing is a way of life in Goa. Livelihood from the sea was a guarantee that every fisherman’s family had. Now there is no guarantee. But there is a guarantee that big trawlers with LED lights will enter Goan waters and stun the fish. Goan waters hardly have any fish. And when the big trawlers come the coastal police do not even have functioning interceptor boars available to catch them. When such Goans cannot even depend on the most natural and easiest way of earning and leading a simple good life, can we call Goa “developed”.

Added to all this are increasing power bills and petrol bills. We have already mentioned a recent case in Arambol when a jobless person struggled to get his Rs 50,000 electricity bill checked and the amount reduced. With no response from the local power department, his tension and worry increased, and he died of a heart attack. The petrol process has just been reduced but still remains beyond the reach of the common man. Not to speak of LPG prices. Has anyone cared to talk about this domestic distress in so many Goan households?

Why are parties diverting these real serious issues?

There appears to be no effort to raise issues that matter. Governance is all about making the lives of those governed better. At the end of five or ten years of governance if there are protests and tears not by opposing parties but the common man, then there is surely an absence of priorities both by the ruling party as well as those who had contested in Goa earlier to govern and are doing so again.

Remember, governance is about promising a pilgrimage of service, above all else.




Praise for AAP’s pilgrimage scheme wasn’t a political endorsement: 
Fr Noel D’Costa

Team Herald

PANJIM: Fr Noel D'Costa, a senior priest of the Archdiocese of Goa has clarified that a video post which had him speak positively of the Aam Admi Party Convenor Arvind Kejriwal’s guarantee of a state-sponsored pilgrimage to Velankanni and other places, was not an endorsement of any party.
The video post which was circulated widely had Fr D'Costa stating that many Goans go to Velankanni and state support would enable more Goans to go. This was seen as a political endorsement to one party by the priest. There were several comments on Facebook with many of them surprised at what they felt was a political comment.
In a statement clarifying his position, to Herald, Fr D' Costa said, “It has been brought to my notice that my video which is being circulated is construed, as I am endorsing AAP. I categorically state that I am neither a propagandist nor a supporter of any political party. My opinion was limited to the proposed welfare scheme for those who cannot afford it and I stand by it.”
He said that a reporter had sought his opinion regarding the various socio-political issues concerning Goa. “One of the issues was about the pilgrimages announced by AAP. I had expressed my view, which can be seen in the video.”
He added that the whole conversation was to shift the political debate in Goa, from the politics of hate to the politics of welfare. “I had also raised a pertinent question in the interview of why the priests should not guide the people of Goa which is at present discussing politics of hate to discuss politics of welfare,”, he stated.
He concluded by saying “I hope this clarification will suffice in clearing the narrow doubts from the minds of the broad-minded.”


Idhar Udhar