Frederick Noronha / THE PRINTED WORD
Directories help us fine our way around. Directories are useful, or even indispensable. Yet, in our cash-rich, fund-wasting but information-poor Goa, we have only a limited number of directories available to use.
BSNL recently managed to come out with its official telephone directory after years, and years. Was it six or seven or eight years? Too long to count…. Business chambers and yellow pages’ publishers manage to come out with their’s fairly regular; they understand the power (and wealth) linked to information.
Some years back — quite a long time back actually — the Panjim-based publishing firm Rajhauns Vitrans, with help of journalist Shashikant Punaji and others, also put together a cultural directory of Goa. But that was in an era (perhaps in the early 1990s) when telephone services were only just making their presence felt in Goa, leave aside email and the Internet which was completely lacking then. So, it would naturally have a rather limited impact.
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This week, let’s look at two recent directories that are currently available in Goa. One focuses on tiatr artists, while the other is a directory of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman (2009-2010).
First, more about the latter. It is published and compiled by the Diocesan Centre for Social Communication Media (based at the Archbishop’s House in Altinho, from where copies too are available, phone 2422653). Its priced at a very reasonable Rs 50. For its 139 printed pages, this is very good value for money.
Unfortunately, the flip side of this pricing coin is simply that low-priced books often get ignored in bookshops and many commercial outlets. The reason is simple: there’s too little to be earned in terms of commissions, and too much trouble involved. So, pricing a book too low is a sure road to not being able to get it visible via outlets.
But such issues apart, the ‘Archdiocese of Goa and Daman Directory 2009-2010’ is an interesting product. It is exhaustive and, from what one can see at a glance, fairly accurate too.
It has 14 chapters, listing information about the parish and diocesan committees, deaneries, parishes and long lists of “priests, brothers, sisters, pious unions and associations, and secular institutes”.
What strikes you straightaway is what a wide social network — leave aside the religious one — the Church has in a place like Goa. Maybe there’s a tinge of regret that this is not being utilised to the full.
Its listing of educational institutions is impressive, even if its higher-education (specially colleges) are few. There’s only a limited number of technical institutions, of which much more is needed specially to cater to weaker sections and drop-outs.
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It might not be irrelevant to point out here that Goa, home to the first Jesuit university in the whole of Asia, doesn’t have any Jesuit-run college today, while even places like Mangalore have institutions like the large and expanding St Aloysius College.
But there is a growing infrastructure in Goa in the field of health services, or social welfare activities.
Besides the religious networks, there are seven colleges (Xavier’s, Rosary’s, Carmel’s, Nirmala’s, Don Bosco’s, Fr Agnel’s at Pilar and Padre Conceicao’s), 18 higher secondaries, 112 high schools, and more at junior levels.
Likewise, the Church runs ten technical institutions — surely there’s scope for more. There are two ‘special schools’, including one for children afflicted by autism at Lourdes Convent, Saligao.
With so many institutions as part of this network, it’s perhaps surprising that there isn’t more coordination to make this vast machinery more efficient, more active, more linking up with one another, and operating to use its infrastructure for longer hours each day.
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In addition to this, there are a whole lot of Diocesan and other institutions. It’s a virtual alphabet soup out there: right from the DPC (Diocesan Council of Priests, or the Diocesan Pastoral Council, which shares the acronym) to Catholic associations for nurses, teachers, families, couples, medicos, and even the Young Christian Students.
One name not in the list is the liberal-progressive All India Catholic Universities Federation, currently barely active in Goa, but an organisation which created a generation of campaigners and socially conscious citizens — in different ways — specially in the 1970s and 1980s.
The other directory comes from the Tiatr Academy of Goa (Campal Trade Centre, Panjim, Ph 2230738 or 39), the recipient of some government funding. It is printing on glossy paper, and lists all individuals linked to this form of the popular Konkani stage.
Besides being a useful endeavour, it could have been printed more inexpensively (to make distribution more widespread). Alternatively, online copies could be made freely available. Someone complained that the email addresses of tiatrists didn’t seem to work; but then, you can’t complain, as their medium is the stage, not the keyboard!
All in all, useful endeavours both. Let’s hope Goa gets more of the directories it needs. This could help reduces the information inefficiencies we currently badly suffer from!
Contact the writer on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 2409490.