On Anti-CAA Meet

THIS is with reference to the news report ‘Church-backed anti-CAA meet on Jan 24 likely to witness huge crowd’ (NT, Jan 21). The contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which was initially made out to be an innocuous piece of legislation by Parliament has caught the BJP government at the Centre on the wrong foot. Its efforts to downplay the ramifications inherent in the Act through its damage control exercise and state-wise door-to- door campaigning are proving to be fruitless as the entire country is engulfed in a spate of relentless non-stop protests, violence and arson for over a month. Everyone has the right to protest peacefully in a democratic country. This is the hallmark of democracy as no one can suppress the voices of dissent. Therefore, the decision of the Church in Goa to join the national bandwagon of protests to condemn the CAA as divisive and un-constitutional, on the grounds that citizenship cannot be granted or taken away on the basis of religion in our secular and democratic republic, seems justifiable. The Church cannot remain a silent spectator and unconcerned about our affected brethren just because Christians will not be affected by the CAA. We need to show our solidarity with the suffering. Ultimately, it is the Supreme Court which will decide whether the CAA meets the constitutional requirements or not.  


Move To Benefit Pensioners 

THE recent move by Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare to enable SMS/email-based alerts to its pensioners to submit life certificates is welcome. The very late move by the department is highly necessary at a time when the entire financial transactions ecosystem otherwise is completely dependent on KYC-based information access as made available to its subscribers. An effort to remind the pensioners prior to November 30 deadline for life certificate submissions through SMS/email will be helpful to the needy beneficiaries. Further an effort should be made to ease the process of submission of life certificates. An initiative to link life certificates with active bank accounts online will help to authenticate and validate the beneficiary’s basic details similar to KYC process and will enable to view/download certificates. The suggested move will help the beneficiaries to get instant information, apart from the existing Jeevan Pramaan online initiative.


We Are Indians

THE general manager of South West Railway (SWR) Ajay Kumar Singh has succeeded in alienating the people of several villages by his recent remarks. While he said SWR will stand by the decision taken by the central and state governments to go ahead with the additional doubling of the railway track to Vasco station, he also referred to the people of Cortalim constituency as Portuguese including the MLA which did not go down well with Alina Saldanha, the wife of late Matanhy Saldanha, who joined the BJP and got elected as the MLA from the same constituency. The SWR general manager has cut a deep swath in the heart of the Roman Catholic community even though he later apologised for his remark. Obviously, this is not a Freudian slip but a deep dislike for the Roman Catholics which has exposed his mindset. Does he think Roman Catholics are not Indians? He says houses have been demolished in other states. Is he aware of the situation in Goa? Mining, the backbone of the Goan economy has collapsed and the BJP government is making an all-out effort to revive it. Tourism, the golden goose which people of Goa thought would live forever is ailing and may die a slow death. With tourism an ailing industry the old Indo-Portuguese architectural masterpieces which are admired by people all over the world simply cannot be allowed to be damaged any further by the SWR. They are a priceless part of India’s heritage as is the Taj Mahal. Chief Minister Sawant has shown concern for the richness of our architectural heritage and has indicated the additional railway track should not damage the old houses. It is a core part of Goan identity and a lot of damage has been done already. The general manager commented that the railways are not the Mughals, British or Portuguese invaders. I assume his reference is to brute force. While the railway may not be similar to people who came from beyond our borders, he has scored a self goal. We were asked by the SWR if we wanted the additional track and all the villagers answered in a resounding NO. However, it wants to go ahead with the project by invoking a special law. Isn’t this a brute force?