Category Archives: Features launches Support Sitara Devi Online Petition






March 24, 2014; Mumbai: The Craftsmen, Artistes & Designers Promotion Forum or CADPF – a newly-formed NGO has decided to take up the cause of octogenarian and Padmashree Sitara Devi’s demand for a Dance Academy in Mumbai.

Kathak exponent and and a student of Sitara Devi’s daughter Jayantimala – Ranjana Bhattacharya of the CADPF said, “For decades since the late 1970s, 94-year-old Kathak Queen Padmashree Sitara Devi has been demanding a decent sized plot of land in or around Mumbai to start a residential dance academy to educate students both in Classical and modern styles of dance. She has met hundreds of politicians, collectors and even private individuals and corporate CEOs to support her dream but her demands have fallen on deaf years. The 94-year-old-plus Sitara Devi has been living in Mumbai for over 80 years now and while politicians and businessmen have been allocated plots over the years, this dancing legend has been sidelined and ignored.”

The CADPF has launched an online petition with a signature collection drive  located at and requested all lovers of all forms of dance and particularly Kathak to join this campaign to demand a professional and independent Dance Academy in Mumbai comparable to the best in the World.

To support this campaign and to SUPPORT SITARA DEVIs demand for an Independent Dance Academy in Mumbai go to and leave your comments. Please mention your full name, location and email id to ensure that your submission is valid. Your comment with your correct full name, location and email id will be counted as one vote.





Goa Carnival 2013: Farhan Akhtar to perform at Goa Carnival

Bollywood actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar will swing and sing to the Goa Carnival mood, when the festival week opens up on the streets here next month.

This will be the second time that the star, whose film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, a biopic on India’s greatest male athlete will be released shortly, will be in Goa for a live performance.

His first performance here was a live singing act at the Nokia India Fest 2013, a high profile inter-collegiate competition, which had educational institutions from all across the country participating.

“Farhan has confirmed his presence and will also ride on one of the carnival floats. There will also be singing by Anushka Manchanda, who also resides in Goa. Remo (Fernandes) and Wendell Rodricks will also be a part of the Goa carnival this time. They are Goa’s biggest stars,” a Goa Tourism spokesperson said.

Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar has already confirmed that Bollywood will have a significant presence at the carnival, which begins Feb 8. Among those who are expected to be present are actresses like Neha Dhupia, Isha Koppikar and Tanushree Dutta, he said.

For the week prior to the austere Christian season of Lent, the state celebrates ‘one last shot at having fun’ before the liquor bottles and beef and pork are stacked away as part of a 40-day period of religious penitence.

The event draws tourists from all over the country and the world, and features a package among several tour operators.

Goa’s carnival is similar to the carnival parades in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and not quite unlike the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans and France. The parades involve the entire populace of the city pouring onto the streets to participate and to watch colourful parades of men and women in costumes and various whacky attires.

Goa’s colourful carnival processions, which are normally held in February before the holy season of Lent, are symbolic of the state’s colonial Portuguese legacy.


Wildlife poaching on the rise in Goa – demand for meat worsens poaching menace

PANAJI: Though the forest department has attributed the use of cable wire snares by farmers as a revenge killing of wildlife for causing damage to their crops, some are raising fears that this alone may not be the sole reason.

“Many use cables of scooters, telephones and even cycles to trap porcupines, civet cats and wild boar for meat,” a wildlife activist said. The traps are found in urban areas like Porvorim, near Panaji.

“No crops are being grown in these areas,” the source added. Agreed Arnold Noronha, president of Chameleon, a wildlife NGO, “Many villagers are trapping wildlife with cable wires for meat,” he said.

Activists also blame tourism activities for the huge demand in wildmeat and call for greater level of sensitization of people to curb the threat to wildlife. “The cable wire material costs Rs 50 but a kg of wild boar meat costs Rs 300,” a forest official said.

The official said awareness is the key to caution about the larger danger to the environment in killing wildlife for a small price.

When pointed out that a restaurant in the suburbs of Panaji is serving wild meat, the official agreed to look into the matter.


A carnival sans fish in Goa?

 Fish gets scarce in Goa over the weekend…



By Martin De Souza – Goa Newz Network

Thanks to the long, extended weekend, Goa had hordes of tourists pouring in from neighbouring states like Maharahstra and Karnataka. However, many of the tourists who wanted to taste some of the sea food which Goa is internationally famous for, were disappointed and some of them even returned home angry. Lobsters, king crabs, tiger prawns, king fish  pomfrets and other expensive fish were not available in most of the small local beach side restaurants and shacks on Sunday.

If the Goa State government does not act quickly and resolve the issue, the strike will impact the restaurant business in Goa during the Carnival, says Salvador De Costa convener of the SpeakGoa movement who is contemplating submitting a memo on behalf of the restaurant owners in North Goa to chief minister Manohar Parrikar and the Tourism Minister. “Goa is expecting at least 10 lakh visitors during the Carnival this year and with an acute shortage of sea food, prices of other food items are also likely to rise exponentially as wholesalers want to make maximum profit, opined De Costa.

Some of the restaurants which did have fish in stock were charging double the regular rates quoting the ongoing trawler strike and fish shortage in Goa.  Trawlers from the neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Karnataka have also joined the strike causing a huge shortfall of fish in the market for local consumption. Martins Corner at BetalbatimBeach in south Goa hiked their rates by about 15 to 25 per cent over the weekend for sea food items. Guests who went to Martins over the weekend were disappointed since their favourite seafood was not available, according to a regular at the famous restaurant. Café Ritz – the small eatery at Panaji known for its fish thali had only a few options to offer – on a normal day they have at least 25-30 varieties of sea food. This weekend the menu was down to 15-18 sea food options. Other smaller restaurants were serving “cold-storage fish” and even the quantity was much lesser.” Says Cajetan Britto of Brittos – the very popular sea food restaurant at BagaBeach, “We ran short of certain varieties of sea food including crabs and pomfrets over the weekend. However, since Brittos is primarily a sea food restaurant and we buy fish in huge quantities, we had options to offer our guests. But smaller restaurants were badly affected. The price of sea food also has gone up and even the bigger restaurants felt the pinch over the weekend. Many restaurants like Brittos have a fixed price menu which is applicable throughout the year. We cannot change the price and unlike other restaurants who charge on a daily basis we could not hike our rates.”

The trawler owners are angered by the diesel price hike coupled with the re-classification of fishing as an industrial activity – earlier fishing was classified as an agricultural activity and was eligible for various subsidies including a lower rate on diesel.

With the new classification in force trawler owners now have to shell out Rs 61.35 for a litre of diesel — an increase of a whopping Rs 11 per litre from the earlier subsidized price. Trawlers in Goa have announced an indefinite strike from January 29 if the price of diesel is not reduced. With the state government not taking notice of the trawler owners’ demands, fish may soon vanish from the menu of most Goans in the coming days. The shortfall in the supply of fish has had a collateral effect on vegetables and milk products which also saw a small increase in price. Many tourists from Maharashtra and north India were shocked at the price of fish and decided to go in for a vegetarian or chicken menu thus increasing the demand for vegetables and chicken over the weekend.

Says a Micheal Fernandes (name changed on request) a restaurant owner in the prime tourist area of Candolim in North Goa  “The price of seafood has gone up almost three times for some varieties of sea food. Even the normal fare has doubled. There is no fish is the market and those who venture out into the sea charge double for whatever they have got.” Fernandes owns one shack and two restaurants in North Goa and says he may have to take fish off his menu completely in a day or two.  Goa has approximately 1,200-1300 trawlers which net nearly 70-75 million tonnes of fish annually. Most trawlers at the major fishing jetties at Cutbona, Betim and Chapora were anchored and did not venture out into the sea, says Fernandes blaming the local government for inaction in the matter.

(Martin De Souza is a senior journalist based in Goa) 

Comrades in alms – Professional begging in Goa increases 200 per cent in two years, says Helping Hands Goa survey

By Jonathan Dsouza


A survey conducted by a social service network Helping Hands Goa in about 8 towns and cities in Goa including Mapusa, Panjim, Margao, Ponda and the beach areas of Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna etc has found that professional begging in Goa has increased over 200 per cent in the last two years.  The number of beggars who are not original inhabitants of Goa has increased almost 250 per cent since 2010, says the survey. The entire survey will be released as part of a book Ohh Goa !!! next month

Tempted by the generous alms offered by the foreign tourists who flock to the beaches of Goa, hundreds of beggars from other parts of India descend upon Goa just before the tourist season can start. These beggars live on the roads for about six months surviving on the alms and dole of the tourists and go back to their native towns during May-June when the monsoon season begins. Some of the beggars shift base either to Panjim or Mapusa with some of them traveling to Margao and further south.

Says Jonathan Dsouza spokesperson of Helping Hands Goa, “We have launched two projects to help rehabilitate beggars in Goa. To start with about  50 able and fit beggars will be trained in some local craft or skill which will enable them to make a living without begging. However, before we launched this project, we conducted a survey in about 8 cities and smaller towns or villages in Goa. The number of professional beggars has risen drastically. Some the beggars even own a house and some land in their native places and have ration cards, voter Id cards or other government documentation to prove their State of origin, but prefer to beg in Goa during the peak tourist season of November, December and January. The law is not a strong deterrent and as the beggars are merely booked for begging and not any other serious offences, they are let off almost immediately.

We also found some sort of a syndicate operating and supporting the beggar’s network. The police must investigate the possibility of such an organized syndicate operating in Goa. The use of children and minors has also increased manifold. About ten years ago all the beggars in Goa were elderly people. Today one sees more children in the age group of 8 to 14 begging on the roads. The children are in groups and though may be seen individually, the moment one child raises an alarm, about 5-6 other beggars appear almost out of no where to support their comrade in alms. We tried to rehabilitate a few children as part of our Helping Hands Save the Children Project, but their parents immediately came and took the kids away. The next day the kids were back on the roads begging,” explains Dsouza.