Monday, April 7, 2014

AAP raises sincere & honest hope in me

My dear family, friends, colleagues, students and well-wishers,

The Aam Aadmi Party, with its strong & forthright anti-corruption plank, has raised hope in me and all of us – sincere & honest human beings and Indians – for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Many social activists, like Medha Patkar, who have worked “against the tide” for decades in mass organisations and taken up social causes for the working poor in cities and villages, have been nominated as AAP candidates.

I share a past – “against the tide” – too with such social activists, of having taken active part in mass organisations and social work at the grass-roots, during the decade 1973-83:
·        ‘Alleviating distress’ in the drought-prone villages of Pathardi taluka, Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, during 1973-77;
·        Working to build the Centre for Education & Documentation (CED), Mumbai, during 1977-80;
·        Taking science to the working masses, with the Science Education Group, Mumbai, and Lok Vidnyan Sanghatana, Maharashtra, since 1977;
·        Working with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) at Kaju Tekdi, Bhandup, Mumbai, with the late Comrade Prabhakar Sanzgiri,
·        And many other such activities.

Having joined newspaper journalism full-time, firstly at Maharashtra Herald, Pune, during 1983-96 and then Gomantak Times, Panaji, Goa, during 2003-04; and teaching print journalism, as a regular visiting faculty at University of Pune, since 1987, and SIMC, since 1990; I have kept in regular touch with social and political causes.

Claude Alvares, one of my close & dear friends, since St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, in the late 1960s, is a founder of the Goa Foundation and Other India Bookstore in Goa.

Below Claude writes about two such AAP candidates, who are standing for the two Lok Sabha seats from Goa. His profiles of Dattaram Desai and Swati Kerkar, posted on FB on 31 March and 5 April respectively, have been slightly edited by me.


“Dr Dattaram Desai, the AAP candidate from North Goa, did something that few Goans ever thought possible: get rid of Du Pont, America’s largest chemical multinational. Even now when one looks at his frail frame, it strains the imagination how this slim individual (with his village folk) could pit himself against such unimaginable corporate power and win!

Dattaram is everything that one longs for in an election that sends people to India's highest law making body – Parliament. He is committed to social issues: I have rarely found him absent from meetings called to discuss social campaigns or problems. Like Dr Oscar Rebello, he is a medical doctor very well known in Ponda, Kerim and Savio Verem.

“He is so well respected that, when SP Gautam arrested him at the height of the anti-Du Pont campaign, took him to the Ponda police station, and stripped him of his clothes in order to humiliate him, the whole of Ponda went into a rage. After that, it was downhill all the way for Du Pont. All the King's Horses and All the King's Men could not put Humpty Duponty together again.

The villagers of Querim and Savio Verem taught us Goans courage of extraordinary quality. They crashed into the Du Pont property and demolished an entire building. In order to prevent access by the police, they dug up a one metre segment of the tarred road that led to the Du Pont plot. They prevented Du Pont's helicopter from landing thereafter. After Nilesh Naik, one of Dr Desai's close agitators was shot dead by police, Du Pont staff and security were escorted out of the town by Dr Desai's men and told to run, run, run and get out before any further harm came to them. Then the people invaded the offices of DuPont in Ponda and reduced everything to ashes, including batches of 500 rupee notes used to bribe officials.

(For details see articles in “Corporate Watch” and “Do or Die" – Voices from the Eco Resistance.)

After that, Du Pont not only dismantled its plans to set up in Goa or India, it stayed out of Asia. It is yet to return! My god, anyone will ask in awe, what sort of man is this?

That's why I like this guy: difficult to hug him because he is too thin. We got some idea of his determination when Du Pont came calling, despite being told to stay away. 

"I think, if I want this place called Goa to be protected from corporates and other thieves of the public spaces and resources that are ours; if I want a decent, honest bloke to represent me and my family and neighbours with consummate intelligence, from all sorts of public perfidy, manipulation, self-interest and greed; if I want to make one decision that I will not regret even in the next generation, then I can only think of Dr Dattaram Desai.


"Do you know that there was one single person – and that too a very young Goan woman – who played key roles in the popular Goan agitations that got rid of 18 Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in a single day; the agitation against the white elephant airport at Mopa; the Goa Bachao Andolan which revolutionized village level land use planning through the Regional Plan 2021; India Against Corruption, the Goenchea Xetcarancho Ekvott (Goan Farmer’s Union) and the Goenchea Ostoreacho Awaaz (Goan Women’s Voice)?

"Do you know that the same woman was also with the Vasco Khariawada protest against the attempt to displace fisher-folk from their traditional locations, and that she also helped organize the women vegetable vendors of Panaji market to form an association and secure their rightful space there?

"In your mind, you’re going to say, Wow! That’s the effect of Swati Kerkar on people. Swati is AAP's candidate for the south Goa Lok Sabha seat. I am doing the honours because I am convinced she is the country's political future.

"Swati sometimes shadows, sometimes over-shadows Dr Dattaram Desai’s activism in many ways. Both are jewels in the Goan crown. We Goans can be well and truly proud that we have come up with these two amazing, blemish-free, activist-candidates for Parliament who have shown in the past that they are capable of changing things.

"One cooked Du Pont’s goose. The other knocked the shit out of SEZ.

While the entire country in fact is still trying to get rid of SEZs, imagine conking 18 SEZs in a single day!

"Swati’s the only woman candidate nominated in this Lok Sabha election. Of course, she’s with AAP. And yes, none of the other candidates can match her record in organizing those significant political battles either. Or the coherence, clarity and passion of her speeches.

I saw her ramrod straight, at the AAP meeting in Panaji. She has not an inch of extra flab. She is spartan in her ways. She doesn’t go abroad (she doesn’t have the money). Many of her supporters have pooled in funds to make it possible for her to pay the security deposit which was needed to file her nomination: typical AAM ADMI heritage. She is not seen at socializing parties or fashionable malls.

"She did not ask for the South Goa Lok Sabha ticket. She was simply asked to take the challenge by all the activists, men and women, of South Goa because she represented the best this country can offer as a woman, as a speaker, as an activist, as someone who cares about injustice and simply can’t sleep if she sees it around.

"She has taken up the cases of a number of young victims of rape and molestation, including the investigation of a rape case involving a schoolteacher in which the victim committed suicide due to harassment. Nothing appears to faze her.

"This deadliness about social injustice issues, this fearlessness against odds, she has inherited from Shridhar Kerkar, one of our better known freedom fighters. But good news, she can smile as well.


Claude concludes his two FB profiles:

I hope hundreds of you who think like me will vote for Dattaram and Swati. We want corruption-free men and women. We want elimination of corruption. We want a corruption-free society and republic.

“So why would we, from North Goa, bypass Dr Dattaram Desai -- who has never been associated with corruption all his life -- and vote for candidates and parties whose very soul is corruption? So fellow-Goans from South Goa, also be good to Swati on the 12th of April.

“If you send these two sincere & honest human beings to Delhi, they'll join Kejriwal and put this country on the right track, out of the sewer, into which the conventional parties have taken it.

“If you agree with what I am saying, send this message around to everyone who will count on April 12. If you can translate it, that would be even better.”

“Thanks!” – Claude Alvares.


Hundreds of AAP candidates, like Dattaram Desai and Swati Kerkar from Goa, deserve our precious vote in the Lok Sabha constituency to which we belong. I say, "Seek them out and vote for them!" 

Here in Pune, I vote for Subhash Ware of the AAP.

This blog-post is dedicated to all my justice-loving, sincere & honest Goan friends -- in Goa, India and across the only Earth, we share. Claude’s clarion call must move us out of our complacent chairs and into the polling booths when Goa goes to vote.

One year (2003-04) in Goa, as editor of Gomantak Times, demonstrated to me the corruption of both the Parrikar-led BJP and numerous Congress governments.

Like my favourite song by John Lennon "Give Peace a Chance", I say, "Give AAP a Chance" in Goa.

Your support is my strength.

Peace and love,
- Joe.

Pune, India; Monday, 7 April 2014.


Miss.Tejashri said...


I am too moved by the candidates profile which AAP has nominated. They all are mostly grassroot activist for a social cause. And has been doing their work in all difficulties without complaint for their self interest.

I hope and believe that these people should be part of parliamentary democracy in India, the long due justice could be balanced.

As you mentioned about Swati Kerkar and Dattaram Desai in Goa, I wish for each such activist like Medha Patkar, Soni sori, Yogendra Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal himself, Binayak Sen, Ashish Khetan to be in Parliament. So that they would work as pressure groups. And would question the wrong.

I too sincerely believe in the idea of AAP and AAP candidates.

Joe Pinto said...

Here is a gr8 example of the kind of creativity that AAP has unleashed:

"Baapu Bolta Hai" -- Song playfully describes the day-to-day situations in which we live in India. But Swaraj is here for the taking and change will come.

Composed, written and produced by 3 Taal. ( Axel D'Souza, Austin Fernandes and Sancho Menezes). Video put together by Milind Alvares.

(Some images and videos used in this compilation do not belong to us. We respect the creative intelligence of the rightful owner. Copyright Infringement is not intended.)

Here are the lyrics:

Baapu bolta hai, Yeh kya ho raha hai? — 2

Hey Ram-2
Hey ram main hairaan

Kaam, makaan, paani bijli badi baat kya hai? — 2
Under the table, haath reaching, sab such easy hain.

Hey Ram-2
Hey ram main hairaan

Politician banna hai to badi baat kya hai? — 2
Jhoot mein diploma hai to bhai sab kuch easy hain.

Hey Ram-2
Hey ram main hairaan

Baapu bolta hai, Yeh kya ho raha hai? — 2

Baapu bolta hai, Yeh kya ho raha hai? — 2

Hey Ram-2
Hey ram main hairaan

Filmo mein acting karna bhi badi baat hai? — 2
Chikni chameli, kamar dikhai, very very easy hai.

Hey Ram-2
Hey ram main hairaan

Ladki ne touch me not bola, badi baat kya hai? — 2
Dilli ke bus mein sair karao, sab kuch easy hain.

Hey Ram-2
Hey ram main hairaan.

Vande Mataram
Badalne aaye kal
Vande Mataram
Aam aadmi ka dum

Vande Mataram
Maarke Jhaadu chal
Vande Mataram
Inquilab bolo sang — 2

Joe Pinto said...

Link to the YouTube video: