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Goa Must Learn From Kerala Deluge 

THERE are many lessons to learn from the unfortunate deluge in Kerala. The flood in its fury devoured human and animal lives, homes, belongings and even bridges.Kerala has been devastated but its people has not surrendered. They have joined hands with the armed forces and national teams putting up a spirited fight against hunger, thirst, darkness, trauma in chest-high waters in the rescue and relief operation. But for their efforts, many more lives would have been lost. Bravo Kerala. You have taught us how to face a calamity of such magnitude. Kerala has now the gigantic task of rebuilding itself and rehabilitating its people. There is also an urgent need to find out what precisely caused the deluge. There are reliable reports that the state ignored the warnings of ecology experts of the Union ministry of environment and forest, and there was a human dimension to the flood. The study should be shared with other states. Goa also needs to introspect. Quite often people in power behave as if all the wisdom in the world rests with them alone. We cannot ignore expert advice in the name of so-called economy. Look at Kerala’s economy now. If we continue to do so, we could be inviting a bigger disaster, a case of “Aiz tankam, faleam amkam” (today it was their disaster, tomorrow it could be ours).



Downsize Bureaucracy 

IT has been reported that the government is going in for drastic downsizing of Army, and will eliminate divisional headquarters and reduce officer ranks from nine to seven. It would be a good idea to likewise downsize the bloated bureaucracy filled with deadwood. There is a need to merge directorates, and duplication of departmental responsibilities must be eliminated.  The Sixth Pay Commission spoke of reducing the flab to minimise drain on exchequer whilst increasing salaries. We must get competent people to attend to citizens efficiently. A good step is government trying direct recruitment of professionals at undersecretary levels. Major administrative reforms are vital and long overdue.



Space Mission At Cost Of The Poor 

IT is really surprising that India, which stands at the 100th rank among 119 countries in the global hunger index, is planning to send a man into space by 2022! Sending satellites in the space is necessary for the purpose of communication, weather forecast, defence etc. But what is the use of sending a man into the space? Is this mission just to showcase our glaring inequality? Should the head of a family curtail expenditure on health and education to finance travel to foreign countries like Chad (read the moon) and Mongolia (read Mars) when two of his five (40 per cent) children have stunted growth as a result of malnutrition and hunger? Should 194.6 million people go hungry everyday in our country when the value of food lost in India is enough to feed 400 million poor Indians?  Human aspect must be central to any planning if it wants to obtain smart results. We need to be more people friendly in our approach to make people happy, strong and united. And to achieve it, we need to give more priority to improve our human development rank rather than on lopsided GDP growth.



Faith Conflicts With Spirit Of Inquiry

ON August 20 we commemorated the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Narendra Dhabolkar, a rationalist, social activist and author who dedicated his life to eradicate superstitious beliefs. In  the last few years a number of such freethinkers like Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh, who believed in the principle of questioning instead of blindly accepting unfounded creeds, were put  to death allegedly by religious hardliners who did not want their clout to be trampled.  After a lot of pressure from various groups and relentless efforts from investigating agencies some of the assassins have been arrested and are being interrogated. We feel terribly pained that though the fundamental duties of the citizens were added to the Constitution as early as 1976 – one of which stipulates to develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry – it is unfortunate that not only people take great solace in unfounded beliefs and superstitions but when rationalists try to awaken them through their writings and talks, dogmatists target them saying that their religious sentiments are offended. The fundamental cause of this unease is religious bigotry and over-adherence to faith which teaches us not to question but to only accept meekly. For instance science enlightens us that the universe has evolved over billions of years but religion teaches us that everything is created in just six days. Further when Darwin’s theory of evolution stresses how life has evolved we are told that man is made out of clay. Even a child knows that once a man is dead he cannot be brought back to life unless he was not dead at all, but in the Bible a man is raised from the dead. We are told of the heavenly story of angels sailing but we do not question it for science focuses only on natural phenomena; but aren’t we fed with the earthly story of monkey flying from India to Lanka? Do we not still sacrifice animals to please god? Furthermore, a woman can conceive only after a relation with some man but in the Bible Mary conceives without any such intimacy. That apart, in the Mahabharat, Kunti who falls in love with the sun god not only conceives but Karna is born not out of her womb but from her ear. These are just a handful of instances amid innumerable such episodes, which are in conflict with science. Yet there are people arguing that science and religion can coexist, but on what basis?


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