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Newsletter. Issue 2009-24. November 21, 2009

 
 
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Commentary
 

The statements, opinions, or views in the articles may not necessarily reflect that of the Goan Voice Canada.

 

Youth & The Courage to Be
http://www.southasianobserver.com/editorialopd_news.php?w=editorial&id=126
By: Dr. Sehdev Kumar, Professor Emeritus at the University of Waterloo, ( Nov 12 2009 )


Every generation in all parts of the world seems to say that those who follow them, the next generation, is morally lax, physically indolent, less ambitious, less socially engaged; in short, far inferior than what they were. I don’t know the metaphysical or psychological basis of this well-entrenched myth, but I do know, having lived a few years, that this is a false myth, utterly without any truth.

In our human journey, there are hardly any times without challenges, without some mindless tragedies, and without some relief. Think of a country like Poland; for centuries it has been buffeted by winds of change that have been often brutal, unpredictable and relentless.

During the Second World War, it became a pawn in the hands of the Nazis and the Soviets, destroyed mercilessly by both, and supported by few except their own courageous underground. Some six million Poles were killed in the War, half of them Jews. As a satellite of Soviet Union until 1989, the artistic genius of its people, and its grand spirit of freedom languished, but it never died.

Recently on learning about the death of one Polish woman, Dr. Barbara Wojtowicz, I became aware how this brave woman, mother of a 9-month old baby, at the age of 25, went to fight in Warsaw Uprising in 1944. She went into the city’s labyrinth of sewers, wading through waste up to her chin, in order to courier verbal messages between pockets of resistance.

Such courage is always rare in any age. But in the face of humiliation to one’s family or nation, people do rise to the occasion, and seemingly ordinary people become heroic. For many youth living in Canada, in the comfort of suburbs, life does not very often offer challenges of heroism. Many of them feel as though the last generation, generation that grew up in the restless years in 1960s, had more to experience and explore.

Many young people at that time were exploring the other parts of the world for the first time. They went to Europe in hordes – to Rome, Paris and Venice - but also Istanbul, Calcutta and Kathmandu. They went here and there, and everywhere. And in the process they developed a different picture and view of the world. It was in early 1950s, that Pierre Trudeau had gone trotting the world on a motor cycle, and had become a citizen of the world, leading to a multicultural Canada less than two decades later.

For those who had never made such a quantum leap into other cultures – such as Joe Clarke, or John Turner – the world didn’t exist beyond the golf courses of Calgary or Willowdale. The new restless of the Canadian youth is there to be harnessed, but we have no political visionaries as leaders, only managers and accountants. A sense of the romantic and the heroic is essential to give life a zing, a lift above the clouds.

In the absence of great leaders, such vision comes from poets, writers and artists. Canada has some outstanding writers, such as Alice Munro and Carol Shields, but their writing, honed as it is by compassion and empathy, celebrates the ordinary; there are no social or political skirmishes going on, no torments by the state; there are no torture chambers as in Iran. As such characters are ordinary folks, living ordinary, often uneventful lives, trying to be decent human beings.

Youth is a time for adventure, for exploration, for romance, for something out of the ordinary, for something heroic. It is true that that the youth also yearns for security, for a certain cushion, so that if one falls, one is not completely shattered. There is thus certain ambivalence between seeking adventure and the unknown on one hand, and security and the known on the other. Out of this can emerge creativity and a new zest for life.

But without adventure, little is gained. We who are parents and teachers, who are of the last generation, must pass the torch of life to the new generation, for it to carry it forward as it sees right, in the light of its own day. We must not burden this generation with our own hackneyed dreams and expectations. That is the true meaning of freedom. We pay lip service to the idea of freedom, but how often we are so scared of it. Freedom of thought, of imagination, of dreams, of the worth and meaning of life are precious gifts to cherish and to pass on. I am always in awe of those who cherish freedom and are unbridled in their imagination and dreams by orthodoxy, or traditions, or expectations of others. To live in that freedom is a courageous act. It is what I understand by that disarming phrase: “Courage to Be’.

Dr. Sehdev Kumar, Professor Emeritus at the University of Waterloo, now lectures at the University of Toronto on Bioethics and Science/Religion Dialogue. This piece is excerpted from his forthcoming book “My Mother and the Meaning of Life”.

- By Sehdev Kumar

 

Elders as 'Role models'
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5231803,prtpage-1.cms
TNN 15 November 2009, 05:32am IST


Although we boast of development in all fields and state that we belong to a modern society, I fail to understand how we measure development and what exactly we mean by "modern". One of the many examples that come to my mind at this point of time is the treatment given by today's generation to their elders. Can we claim to be modern when we despise, disrespect and ill-treat our parents and grandparents? Are our parents and grand-parents not responsible for what we are today? If they sacrificed their time, energy and money for our well-being, is it right for us to abandon them in the evening of their lives? Can such a cruel act be considered "modern"? If despising, disrespecting and ill-treating our elders is part of modern culture, I regret to state that the so-called modern society is destined to be doomed.

Let us look at the Goan family in the past. When I say past, I look at the period just prior to the 1970s. Elders were respected in their families. They were the pillars guiding each and every family member. The "joint family system" was prominent. particularly among the Hindu families. The entire family used to live, cook and eat and pray together. Due to the presence of the elders, discipline was the backbone of family life. Members shared their works and income too.

Each member was given due respect and honour as per his/her contribution towards the well-being of the family. There prevailed an atmosphere of cooperation, sharing, love and sacrifice in the family. It strengthened the family value system. Hence there were practically no or very few incidents of crime such as thefts, assaults, rapes, murders, etc. Everyone lived a contended and peaceful life, first and foremost because there was complete security to human life.

However, in this so-called modern society, everything has reversed. The actions of the younger generation towards the family elders are proof to this:

We show hate to our elders by calling them names. We do not hesitate to express this hatred towards our elders in the presence of our children. We forget to realize that insults by words are more hurtful than physical assaults. We deny the elders of some of simple but important needs. They may feel the need of a cigarette or two during the day and a sip of a drink in the evening. We do not fulfill these simple requirements, which at times may have an adverse effect on them.

When we treat our elders disrespectfully, there is bound to be a disastrous impact on their emotions, which has many a time compelled them to even commit suicide. What a dilemma! The persons who sacrificed to brighten our lives are in their old age compelled by us to end their lives. Our elders, literates as well as illiterates, are a rich source of knowledge fully backed by vast experience. We could benefit from them, but unfortunately we dub them as "old fashioned" and out rightly reject their views and opinion. By behaving in such a manner we crush our elders' emotions, feelings and sentiments and destroy their respect, honour and dignity. We murder them mentally and emotionally. What a reward for their providing us everything for our own mental and emotional growth.

The elders living in our families today were children and youth once upon a time. They grew up with love, financial assistance and guidance from their parents, received the required education, started working and earning, got married, became parents and grand-parents, and should now be enjoying the twilight of their lives. They deserve to enjoy it. Regrettably there are many parents and grand-parents who are subjected to humiliation and hatred in their old age. The present "modern" generation must realize that they too will become parents and grand-parents some day. Will it not be divine justice if their sons, daughters and daughters-in-law treat them the way they have treated their elders?

This trend must end. We must recognize the value of the treasure of experience our elders possess. We must try to make positive use of that vast experience that can definitely give a proper direction to the future of our youth. Unfortunately in today's times we transfer that wealth of experience to "homes for the aged", little realizing that we have displaced from our homes valuable "role models" for our children to be better humans.

Powered by Indiatimes

 

The Gulf Goans
Published on: Tue, 10/11/2009 - 10:32am
http://www.villagetinto.in/article/gulf-goans-571

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

Simon D'Silva addresses the gathering at the Global Goan Convention 2009 5-6 November 2009, Muscat. We are the world wanderers, coming home to rebuild, the promised dream in the heart of peace, under the coconut tree, wrote Goa’s renowned poet Dr. Manohar Rai SarDessai.

His Excellency Mr. Anil Wadhwa, Indian Ambassador to Oman, Honourable NRI Commissioner Mr. Eduardo Faleiro, MLA Agnelo Fernandes, distinguished guests, dignitaries on and off the dias, ladies and gentlemen. We observe today a celebration of liberation. We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that liberation. A new generation - disciplined by hard work, proud of our ancient heritage and committed today at home and around the world.

That takes me down the memory lane. Golden Goa abounds in diamonds and minerals that was a song which we regularly used to hear during our childhood days on All India Radio. Yes, Goa is full of minerals but surprisingly we did not come across any mining companies striking it rich with Diamonds. After a closer introspection what I discovered was stunning. The diamonds had long being found in Goa and had been exported to different parts of the world for many generations.

The diamonds are you and me, exported as human resources to different parts of the world. Some have become permanent residents of different countries contributing to the economic growth for their adopted countries and continue to maintain their links with their homeland.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

The topic of the current convention is the Gulf Goan and I wish to dwell, on Goans in the Gulf, yet another diamond exported to GCC countries. He or she cannot become a permanent resident of any of the GCC countries on account of the laws of the land. Like in Goa, where mining resources will diminish one day, the same fate has in store for GCC countries, whose economical boom is centered on the Oil Industry.

The economic doom that the world is witnessing now has affected many a Gulf Goan in this part of the world. The worst hit accordingly are the Goans in Dubai. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do. And to quote John F. Kennedy - ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.

Here, my fellow Goans are saying to the government, I contributed to your growth by contributing my share to the foreign resources by toiling hard in this region and now it is time for the country to help me.

We read that on August 4 Labour Minister Joaquim Alemao while replying to a discussion on demands for grants to the Labour & employment Department and Employee State Insurance (ESI), in the Goa assembly, had proposed to set up a cell for monitoring workers of Goan origin who have returned to the State from overseas countries due to global economic meltdown, in coordination with the Commissioner of NRI Affairs. We welcome the measure, and wish to know more about the path setting proposal, with Goa being the only state to take the issue of retrenchment of workers with all its seriousness. If any welfare schemes are introduced by the Goa government for retrenched NRI workers then it is just a short-term solution to keep the Goans tied up to their homeland. We need long term solutions, to provide employment to our educated unemployed of the state.

We also welcome the government’s move to establish model overseas workers resource centres in Panjim and Margao to facilitate employment opportunities for Goans in Gulf countries and rest of the world, going by the statement made by our Honorable minister Joaquim Alemao in the assembly.

So let us begin a new. Let’s explore what problems unite us instead of belabouring those problems which divide us. It has been noticed that the state is struggling to raise its resources during the current financial year, with a fall in revenue from Tourism and mining. Migration is always a difficult task for the first generation migrants, say many of my Europe-based Goa born friends. The question that immediately springs up is why successive governments in Goa have not been able to keep the large number of young migrating population tied up to the land. Goa’s strength lies in its human resources and government should formulate a policy to tap the talent. Let all know every other power that Goa intends to remain the master of its own house to begin a new quest for a new vibrant Goa, before the dark powers of destruction engulf us all in planned or accidental self-destruction.

Coming to the educational field in Goa we owe our gratitude to our teachers and the educational system for what we are. But, we were not ready to take up the challenges of the corporate world with the education we got back home in Goa. Some links were missing and we are proud to say we found them here. So, please remodel our education system to the tune of the times. So that the new generation want a perfect balance to be struck in education too. It is a fact that many Gulf Goans have migrated to UK, US and Canada. What are the reasons for the migration to the Western countries and why not return back to Goa needs to be investigated. I am not sure if the recent migration study conducted by the NRI Cell did take this group into account when they came up with their findings.

After many generations having made a dash to the Gulf region, we ought to send a message especially to the youngsters not to cherish high hopes in the region, as just like mining, the petrol wells are soon to run dry, well, not so soon but in the near future. Now the trumpet summons us again - a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation” - a struggle against the common enemies of Goa and its land. So we should press upon the bureaucrats and our elected representatives to make policy decision taking into account the return of thousands of Gulf Goans who one day or the other will be forced to return back to Goa, just like African Ruler Idi Amin turned away many Goans from the land.

With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessings and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own. So it is time to join hands in creating a new endeavour, to prepare for any eventuality. Goans have expertise in various fields working in different industries in multicultural environments and this expertise should be used for the continuous development and economic growth of Goa. A slew of measures which I suggest should be done to use the vast pool of talent for the sustained and environmental friendly growth of Goa.

We the NRI Goans should have different core groups under the auspices of the NRI Cell for Culture, Tourism, Information Technology, Planning & Development, Education, Sports and Health. Each of the core groups can formulate its own master plan for the implementation in the best interest of Goa. With networking not a problem, we need to act fast. Then, we would be able to say, yes we have diamonds in abundant numbers, but they are not been exported, they are to adore our land adding to its glamour and glitter. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

We have plodded through the forests of Angola And dipped our hands in the oil of Arabian Gulf We have sung mandos in Oxford and dekhnis in Picadilly

"Kitle aile, kitle gele, paus azun
Ambea mullant koddkoddttat
Goencho put azun!
Bhangarachem Goem amchem
Kitlem assa pois azun”.


Dev Borem Korum.

(Speech made at the Global Goan Convention 2009 5-6 November 2009, Muscat)


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