Goa government tells PIO's to follow RTI act

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The government of Goa will henceforth not provide a lawyer to public information officers(PIOs) to defend their cases in the case of an appeal, if they fail to provide information within the stipulated time under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

The government of Goa has issued a circular to this effect on Monday. The governments action comes in the wake of complaints that some PIOs were not furnishing information under RTI within a time-frame or were providing unsatisfactory information. The Goa government has therefore warned officers that they would have to engage their own lawyers in cases where they fail to adhere to the RTI Act scrupulously.

According to the circular, unless the officers concerned have acted within the framework of the act while disposing of the applications with due diligence,any request for a government panel advocate to argue their case would not be entertained

Such a situation would leave the PIOs to defend the appeal personally or engage an advocate at their own expense. The government of Goa would consider appointment of an advocate from the advocate panel only in genuine cases and after the request is accompanied by a self-contained note justifying the allotment of a government pleader, the circular said.

The government cited the objective of the RTI Act which was to promote transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities, and the circular stated that "officers have been warned that failure to adhere to the RTI Act scrupulously will have to be defended by the respective officer personally".

It has been observed that applications for information were being rejected citing section 8(exemption of information from disclosure) or under section 9 ( furnishing of such information would involve infringement of copyright subsisting in a person other than the state) without recording reasons for such rejection.

It is obligatory under the RTI act to elaborate the reasons along with the applicability of the particular subsection under which such information is exempted and merely quoting the section itself would not be enough, the circular stated.

Due to the above tactics on the part of the authorities designated under the RTI act and aggrieved by their orders, the applicants were forced to appeal before the chief information commissioner against the authorities which led the defaulting officers to eek legal assistance from government advocates to defend themselves.


Goan Global convention asserts for Goa Identity

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The first day of the Global Goans convention 2011 in London saw the assertion of Goan solidarity by various Goans assembled for the gala meet after having travelled to London from various parts of the world. This fifth edition of the convention organized by the Goan association(UK) under the patronage of the Indian high commission in London was attended by Goan expatriates not limited to the United Kingdom alone but extending to delegates from rest of Europe and the continents of Australia and Africa, besides Goans from the Middle East.

Hundreds of Goans therefore braved the distances to turn out at the convention and hear the speeches from various dignitaries which included the commissioner for NRI affairs Eduardo Faleiro who was the Goa government representative, The Labour MP ( Walsall South) Ms Valerie Vaz and the Indian High commission's consular affairs minister Mr Amitabh Mathur amongst others.

Earlier Rabi Martins from Watford Borough Council (UK) and Arjan Vekaria President of the Hindu Forum Britain, inaugurated the convention by lighting the traditional lamp accompanied by a special invocation song composed by members of the Goan cultural society UK.

Mr Mathur highlighted his happiness at being part of the convention in the UK and said that the Indian high commission was keen that Goans should contribute to society and enrich culture and heritage of the land. He said that the changing face of Goa has had an impact on the UK people. NRI commissioner Mr Eduardo Faleiro gave a clarion call to Goan expatriates all over the world to reunite themselves and echoed Mathurs sentiments egging on the congregation to assert Goan solidarity and let members form associations all over the world cheer on their motherland.

Mr Faleiro said that his office is always ready and willing to solve the problems and grievances of Goan expatriates and also outlined some of the schemes that the Goa government has initiated for the benefit of Goans especially the " know Goa" programme for children of expatriate Goans who are unaware of the progress made by India since its independence and since the Liberation of Goa.

British MP Valerie Vaz said that Goans are a strong force seen worldwide and urged Goans to play their role in making Goa a bigger part of the world stage in the future.

Post lunch, the convention focus shifted on the impending golden jubilee of Goa's liberation which begins in the month of December. Dr Damodar Sardessai professor Emeritus department of history university of California praised Goans as being " eminently intelligent" throughout known history and still showing promise in the modern age of today.

Dr Teotonio R de Souza professor of History, University Lusofona de Humanidades e Technologias in Lisbon Portugal said that Goa should remember its many liberations with people from different countries making the state their homeland over the last 50 years - a habit that has been commonplace since medieval Goa.

He also urged Goans to remain true to their identity with special focus of the language of Our ancestors - Konkani and all that which is associated with it like the food and culture of Goa. Dr Stella Mascarenhas- keyes, senior research officer in the UK government rounded off the day with a presentation, showcasing a study she has undertaken on the development and maintenance of the global Goan community.She enlightened the congregation about Goans who have proven themselves over the years and mused over whether future generations will look to migrate overseas in the same way as so many Goans have done till date.

Vakaria who migrated from Uganda to the UK gave an example of how the Gujarati community sought to preserve the Gujarati language and appealed to expatriate Goans to emulate their example by starting classes in the konkani language in the United Kingdom in a bid to preserve the Goan culture and identity. The function was compered By Mr Ravi Vaz vice President of the association (UK)

The celebration for the day was complete after a cultural programme of traditional Goan folk art and music by "Mandd Sammel" a group from Canacona.


Goa tourism to keep watch on beaches at night

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Night vision cameras are rolling out on Goan beaches as the Goa tourism department puts into place its plans to install such devices at 32 beach locations in Goa in a bid to keep tabs on suspicious movements of miscreants on the beach and keep a close watch on such characters.

The tourism department of Goa has a proposal to install such night vision cameras at 32 beach locations, which include 13 locations in norht Goa covering the beaches in Pernem, Bardez, Tiswadi. In south Goa over 19 beach locations identified which include the talukas of, Salcete and Canacona.

The main purpose of the security CCTVs proposal is to ensure security on Goa's beaches and the night vision cameras are proposed to be installed on watch towers used by the beach lifeguards. The tourism department of Goa has already invited tenders for the supply, installation, commissioning and the maintenance of night vision cameras for three years. These cameras are expected to have remote viewing and recording facilities at the beaches,"

Upon the successful installation at the beaches there is a future plan to shift the existing CCTVs (day cameras) to other areas like parking lots in the cities.

The interested parties will have to hold a demonstration of the equipment considering the importance of the equipment from the point of view of security.


Goan Food delights

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Goan food is famous all over the world owing to its assimilation of the east with the west. When the Portuguese came to Goa they brought not only their cultural traditions and religion to Goa but also their food habits, their ingredients and their finesse to the Goan table. Goan food has therefore gone through a series of updates from whatever ethnic Goan food might have been before the Portuguese set foot in the state and some of Goa’s original food recipes may have been lost due to the lapse of time and the loss of transmission to the next generation. However Goan food today, remains a very tasty and mouth watering proposition for anyone who wishes to indulge.

For one thing, Goans use natural resources more than anyone else in the country. Goans have an enslaved fondness for something Goan in terms of ingredients for their cooking. So while the rest of India happily relies on acetic acid to give the contribution of vinegar to their kitchens, Goans will only swear by Goan vinegar traditionally made from toddy which is extracted from the Goan palm tree. Coconut for the Goan fish curry has to be from Goa as its taste is distinctly richer compared to other varieties from Kerala or elsewhere invading in Goa. At one point of time even cooking oil was essentially Goan palm oil. However with the health factor intervening in recent times, Goans have reluctantly allowed all kinds of healthier packaged vegetable oils in preference to a happy heart instead of happy tastebuds.

The Goan brew “Feni”, is the source of many ballads, stories and some even some sort of fame for the Goan brand. Goan Feni can also be blended in a potent concoction as a treatment for common ailments such as common cold, stomach pains etc . Its close cousin is the Goan palm fenny also known as “Maddanchi Feni” in Goa which is a distilled produce of Goan toddy and which is also widely available in Goa.

For vegetable, be it the Goan tambddi bhaji, ladyfingers,gourd, pumpkin, or any common vegetable, the  bias is always for home grown fruit which is considered to be more richer in taste and unadulterated in terms of pesticides etc. Goa is also known to have several varieties of rice which have been considered far superior to other hybrid varieties which have found their place in Goa thanks to their commercial compulsions. However Goan varieties of paddy including the nostalgic variety of “azgo” has been considered as a great nutritional produce and was always a must for the traditional preparation of Goan “kanji”.Goan Rice

The cooking style of Portuguese has shaped the repertoire of Goan dishes over the years of colonial rule spanning over 450 years. The Portuguese influences on Goan food was complete with the introduction of its natural produce in Goa and you had vegetables and fruits coming all the way from Portugal to be sown in Goa. So you have the potatoes, tomatoes, aubergine (brinjals) , chillies, papaya, pineapple, guava, passion fruit etc being a direct influence of Portugal on Goa. Also in company are various herbal and spice introductions such as coriander, dried varieties of chillies, garlic and turmeric with the essential Goan vinegar which could round off the Portuguese influence on the ingredients in Goan cuisine.

The Goan chilli is essentially a straight import form Portugal and before its introduction to India, Goans were used to homegrown spices such as pepper and cloves to derive the requisite taste. However the chilli gave the much needed breadth in the dimension of Goan cooking and remained to define Goan food tastes forever.

Portuguese influences on Goan food also reflect strongly in Goan sweets which are a direct import from Portugal and still bear those distinct names.So you have the dedos da dama, petas de freiras, pasteis de natas, pasteis de Santa Clara decorating the Goan table at Christmas time along with the Dodol and the Bebinca which is inseparable from many Goan hearts.

In addition to the  popular sweets in Goa, the Portuguese brought to Goa their delight of guisados, caldei-radas and assados prepared with both fish and meats. The tangy and spicy delicacies of Prawn Balchao and the Pork vindaloo are delights which you wont miss anywhere in Goa during the traditional Goan feast with the Goan table also hosting the pork sorpotel and the traditional Goan sannas to compliment all the gravies on the table.

Some believe that Goan cuisine clearly reflects a rare combination of Arabian, Portuguese and Goa’s own native cultures to blend into a wholesome new cuisine in Goa which is a blend of rich yet simple cooking. Goa’s peaceful lifestyle and laid back moorings easily compliments its cuisine and endears its followers to be lured by the taste of its very infectious delights which are distinctly different from the rest of the country.

Seafood in Goa is a department on its own and the Goan palate is always ready for an extra bite of the sea with scores of dishes adorning the Goan menu. Shell fish and prawns are a sub category which have their own following in Goa and you can find various preparations of these two oceanic delights in Goa. The prawn curry rice is slurped up with as much voracity as is the crabs xec xec which is a craze at many restaurants Goa. Among other shell fish, the mussels and oysters are also a big draw.

Goan Prawns

Goan shacks stacked up by the beach have traditionally served Goan food to the various tourists coming to Goa for the Goan bite. However most of these outlets have turned commercial and have unfortunately lost their Goanness. Much of this is due to the reluctance of some shacks in welcoming Goan customers to their restaurants which is actually a negative sign for them as they do not get to know the level of deviation in food as the true critics can only be from Goa and anybody else will  only pamper their bad food.

Having said that I must say there are some very good restaurants all over Goa who serve real good authentic Goan food which can match upto the best. A close look at these restaurants reveals that they are more comfortable with Goan customers and Goan families which patronize these restaurants helping them to keep up to the taste of Goan cuisine.


Goan organisations across the globe are expected to converge in London on Friday 22nd July 2011 for the Global Goans convention where the topic of mining in Goa is expected to take centrestage in the discussions. The organisation holding the convention, the Goan Association (UK) is expecting over 300 delegates over a period of two days with about 30 such representatives non resident in the United Kingdom or India .

The year 2011 being the 50th year of Goa's liberation, the event is expected to herald the golden jubilee of Goa's liberation on the opening day of the session which will stress on this event. Two of Goa's better known historians Professor Damodar K Sardessai - Professor Emeritus University of California, Los Angeles and Professor Teotonio R de Souza, Universidade Lusofonia de Humanidades e Tecnologias Lisbon, will make presentations on the subject of Goa's liberation.

The organisers of the event the Goan association (UK) are expecting the convention to be a booster for the interaction amongst Goans from the UK, Europe and Goa. The problems facing Goa in the modern age are expected to be deliberated a the convention with many speakers speaking on the impact of mining industry in Goa.

Goans abroad are consistently feeling the angst about the degradation of Goa and believe that they should not sit back regarding issues affecting Goa. NRI's from Goa express grave concern at the corruption in Goa, the garbage menace, sewage problems, degradation of resources due to mining , power shortages, safety standards, bureaucracy and other such related issues plaguing Goa.

There is also a proposal from NRIs to offer moral and financial support while expressing concern for the welfare of the state. The convention will also be a window for NRIs to learn about the services provided by the Indian high commission in the UK and the NRI office in Goa.

Many Goans in the United Kingdom are concerned with issues affecting their lives within their communities which affect their daily life both socially and economically including Job security, care provision for the elderly, inflationary issues, indiscipline amongst the youth in schools etc.

The convention will also have a sammelan in Konkani which aspires to bring all Konkani speakers together on one platform.

Goans in UK have previously celebrated their own events as other such communities prevailing in UK including the Mangaloreans who also speak the Konkani language and there is a proposal to bring together people of the Konkan region and showcase their culture through their music song and dance forms.

The annual UK Goan festival is also being planned on Sunday which will draw a large number of stalls selling typical Goan sweets, Goan food, Goan books, property, travel, handicrafts and other Goan artifacts , with the tunes and the beats of Goan music, songs and folk dancing accompanying the event.

This could be the closest that you can get to Goa, for residents of UK and rest of Europe, without leaving Europe. The organizers of the event are expecting an impressive figure of over 5000 people to participate in the festival with the commissioner of NRI affairs Eduardo Faleiro and other officials from the Indian high commission UK, slated to attend the event.


Goa tourism Projects seek expression of interest

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Goa tourism appears to be headed for a major overhaul with tourists on a holiday to Goa will very soon be able to take a pick from a helicopter, a sea plane and ropeway services to get a breathtaking experience of Goa from the skies.

In a bid to introduce such services the Goa state tourism department has already sought expression of interest from bidders to set up such services in Goa and the chosen bidder is to submit to
the government a feasibility report on the same.

The helicopter services is planned to take off from Ela Goa in Old Goa and also from Sinquerim in Calangute and is later expected to be extended to other popular tourist locations of Goa such as Colva, Tiracol, Mollem and Santa Monica in the capital city Panjim.

The ambitious ropeway services is expected to operate on the route from Reis Magos to Panjim and also from Reis Magos to Aguada. A tourist locale on the south Goan coast of Salcete will also be shortly identified to set up the ropeway service in the southern belt of Goa. As far as the sea plane services go, the tourism department has decided to rely on the expertise of the chosen bidder to identify the suitable area in Goa for such a service.

The Tourism department of Goa has informed that they have received several proposals form many interested people to set up such services in Goa and so in a bid to rejuvenate Goa's tourism potential the same is being explored by issuing an expression of Interest.

The conditions stipulated for the bidder bidding for helicopter and sea plane services are that he/she has eligibly possess at least 5 years experience of in running and operating such services in the country. If not, the company can also be eligible if it ties up with a foreign company with similar years of experience in the field.Also a license from the directorate general of civil aviation in India, is also a necessity for eligibility.

Similarly the bidder for ropeway services in Goa will have to possess at least ten years of experience in setting up such facilities. After the due process, the technical feasibility report prepared by the bidders along with their respective proposals will then be forwarded to the high power state task force on tourism for its final approval. The state government of Goa is expected to play the role of a facilitator to set up the ambitious services in the state..


Goan newspaper circulation in Goa

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The media in Goa has indeed come of age in recent years. For a long time it was ruled by mainly newspapers which were the lifeline of the Goan news bringing to Goans every daily happening occurring in the state of Goa. However nowadays the television media has also taken over and Goa hagoan-newspaperss its share of news in different mediums and various languages which include English, Konkani and Marathi and has a wide readership among the masses of Goa. Here in this post, I am only detailing the Goan newspapers which have served Goa impressively since the liberation of Goa.

Goan newspapers in English
Broadly there are currently four newspapers in Goa serving the English palate. They are the Navhind Times, The Herald ,The Gomantak times and the recently launched Goa edition of the Times of India launched in Goa on 7 May 2008.

The Navhind Times is widely regarded as the newspaper with the highest circulation and is equally concentrated in north Goa as well as South Goa. As a result the Navhind times gets the major share of advertisements and its classified advertisement category is considered to be very populated compared to other English newspapers and has a wider range of subjects which helps its circulation permeate to all markets in Goa with the Goan news. The Navhind times is owned by the Dempo Group of companies, one of Goa’s major industrial houses and is one of the foremost newspapers from Goa and began its operations of covering Goa news since the year 1963.

The Herald goa,  the voice of Goa since the year 1900 and is a fierce traditional competitor to the Navhind times. It has a wide readership which is more prominent in South Goa where the Herald is a leader in circulation with almost every Goan household opting for the Herald Goan newspaper to make up their day. Herald has an edge over its competitors in terms of obituary advertisements and can be easily considered as a leader in this segment. Its classifieds segment is also fast catching up with some innovative schemes being launched to woo advertisers to the table. The Herald also specializes in compiling a lot of detailed local news from Goa which makes it endearing to Goans as the newspaper to look forward to every morning to get a bite of what’s happening in Goa on a daily basis to get the much awaited Goan news. The Herald is arguably the oldest newspaper to originate from Goa and was originally known as oHeraldo Goan newspaper in Goaduring the Portuguese rule , having established itself in the year 1900. It is owned by Mr R.F Fernandes and was made exceptionally famous during the stint of its former editor Mr Rajan Narayan who is known to have had a penchant for sensational news, humour and the “tehelka” factor. Mr Rajan Narayan has since left the newspaper to launch his own publication. The Goan herald newspaper has a nostalgic following among Goans worldwide to herald Goan news to them wherever they are

The Gomantak times is the English cousin of its Marathi sibling and was introduced in the last decade. It has much lower readership in compartison to the navhind Times and the Herald and its circulation is considered to be low. However it attracts a lot of public service advertsiemnts as well as personal advertiosemtns, court notices, legal notices, etc. Its classified section is almost non-existent but it has its own readership base and continues to serve Goan readers. Its weekend edition is known as “weekender” and has had a catchy readership due to its sensational headlines.

The Times Of India launched its Goa edition on May 7 2008 with a catchy Mario Miranda cartoon on its Times Of  Indiamain page. It was marketed in goa under a very innovative marketing concept which was first credited to some major newspaper in southern India. It offered readers an option to subscribe to their newspaper by paying an annual fee of Rs 350/- odd for a 12 month subscription. Added to this was a token gift of a shoulder bag. the delivery was initially believed to be free at the doorstep but later was mired in controversies with local paper distributors. However the newspaper continued to offer such schemes every year offering gifts of clocks and umbrella in 2009 ad 2010.

The Times of India on the whole is a country specific newspaper but has adapted well to the Goan psyche.It focusses on pan-India news but ensures that Goa has its major share on its first few pages. It has a magazine called Goa times which often features various happenings in Goa with photographs of many prominent faces of Goa being splashed across its party pages. Its classified segment is slowly but surely catching up and advertising costs are a fraction of similar advertisements in its metro editions. Its quality of the English language is incomparable to any other newspaper in Goa and it has set a trend in Goan newspaper photography which is being quickly lapped up by its competitors. Its print quality and newsprint feel is absolutely outstanding and justifies its position as India’s premier news paper. The Times of India is a paper owned by Bennett, Coleman & co. ltd and its Goa edition is printed at Thivim in Goa

The other English publications include the weekly Observer, a news edition published by the former editor of Herald Mr. Rajan Narayan and strives to give Goans an insight into various notorious happenings in Goa. It is ably supported by many prominent Goans who contribute to its columns on a regular basis.

Marathi and Konkani Newspapers in Goa include the Devnagrai Konknni newspaper “Sunaparant” which is Goa’s only daily konkani edition to hit the stands. The Tarun Bharat, Gomantak, Sanatan Prabhat, Govadoot and the Navprabha are Goas’ marathi editions catering to the marathi speaking population of Goa

Other Goan publications in the state include the monthly English magazine “Goa Today” , Vavraddeancho Ixtt which is the oldest Roman script Konkani weekly newspaper, the Goa Messenger, Gulab – a konkani magazine and Bimb (Devanagari-script Konkani) .

Besides these newpapers, Goa also receives the editions of “The economic times Mumbai, The Business Line, the Financial times, The Indian Express and many other vernacular editions catering to the Gujarati, tamil, malayalam and kannada communities.