Some Outstanding Goans, Past and Present
- Goans are all over the world, doing all kind of things.
By Frederick Noronha
Some helped build the steel frame of British colonialism. Others
spent their lives fighting alongside their Black brethren against
British and other foreign rule in East Africa. Some were cardinals,
while others were Free Masons. From the tiny region of Goa came forth
world-class men (and women) of medicine, super- cops, scientists and
sculptors. And more.
If you thought Goan achievers were just in a field or two, then check
up their impressive list of achievements. There are names that pop
out from the world of music, the military, economists, educationists,
engineers, and even governors and ambassadors.
This becomes clear in a recently-published book by octogenarian Dr.
J.Clement Vaz. At 82, and despite living outside Goa for long, Vaz
remains a Goaphile at heart, and tackles the task with keenness.
Fortunately, author Vaz has undertaken this labour of love -- most
books on Goa hardly rake in profits -- at a suitable point of time.
Vaz's life spans colonial and post-colonial Goa. Had he not written
it, many of these personalities would have been unknown to or
forgotten by the generation of youngsters which don't have much
contact with the past and can't read Portuguese either.
Vaz has come up with an impressive listing.
Early on, Goa gained a plethora of big names amidst the Catholic
religious. There were two Cardinals -- Valerian Gracias in Bombay and
Joseph Cordeiro of Pakistan -- and two Apolostic Nuncios. Eight
archbishops of Goan origin have served in Bhopal, Delhi, Calcutta,
Nagpur, and Agra, besides Goa itself. Vaz lists over three dozen
bishops too, the latest being Filipe Nery Ferrao, who was consecrated
auxiliary bishop of Goa in 1994. Later, people from this region went
to excel in many other fields.
Great men of science also have the made-in-Goa stamp on them.
One of India's pioneer of the food-irradiation programme was Dr
Norman Lewis of Goa. Other prominent men of science included medical
practitioner Emidio Afonso, who was also a mini-sculptor, a violinist
or an ingenious mechanic. Just out of his teens, he reconstructed
with the simplest available material a simplified version of Sir J C
Bose's crescograph, an instrument for measuring the sensitivity of
It was a Goan who discovered protozoa, parasites, microbes and
viruses many of which bear the Latin name given by him followed by
the name "de Mello" as the discoverer. Dr Froilano de Mello (1877-
1955) was a research scientist of high caliber, a successful
professor, a literary man, and an eloquent impromptu speaker. He did
remarkable work for improving the health of the malaria-endemic city
of Old Goa by mapping the entire area so as to discover the source of
malaria. By 1927, this work was completed and over 18,000 wells with
stagnant water were uncovered in the jungle that had grown where Old
Goa existed two centuries earlier. He fought valiant battles against
TB and leprosy. He was hailed as one of the foremost leprologists.
Datta V. Naik (50), known as Kumar to his friends, is a product of
St. Xavier's Mapusa who showed that youngsters given the
opportunities in Goa can even receive a Certificate of Recognition
from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Remember the Bunsen burner from your chemistry lab? It was Goan
scientist Agostinho Vincente Lourence (b.1862) who went to Germany to
work under the famous chemist Bunsen. There's a bust of Lourence in
the Lisbon Academy of Science, which stands besides Lavoisier and
others. There's also a bust at the Municipal Garden in Margao.
Abbe Faria's achievements in hypnotism are also too well known.
Goa threw up renowned Indologists and were experts in studying coins.
one such illustrious figure was Damodar Dharmanand Kossambi (1907-
Goa's supercops include the well-known Julio Francis Ribeiro, later
ambassador to Romania. John Lobo (b.1921) was the Director of India's
Central Bureau of Investigation. He introduced innovative features in
the Bombay police, including its data processing unit, dog-squad,
conviction index bureau and the like. He was Chief Security Liaison
Officer to two prime ministers.
Caejetan Joseph Vincent Miranda of Loutolim was director of the Anti-
Corruption Bureau. "During his scintillating tenure of three years,
the ACB struck terror into the hearts of smugglers, and as a result
of his successful anti-smuggling drive, the government exchequer was
substantially enriched," says Vaz.
Big names from Goa in the military include Air Marshal Terence Joseph
de Sa (b.1928) of Sangolda, Major General Antonio Caetano da Silva
(b.1930), Major Gen. Eustace D'Souza, Lt. Gen. F.T.Dias of Velcao,
Lt. Gen.S.L.Menezes of Sangolda, Lt.Gen Eric Alexander Vas of
Saligao, Gen Sunit Francis Rodrigues of Curtorim, who rose to the
highest post in the Indian army.
Manoel Antonio de Souza of Mapusa who went to Mozambique and
consolidated "his little kingdom" by "driving back the attacks of
natives". He played a role in pushing ahead the frontiers for the
Portuguese, and organised a little kingdom and a "perfect little
state" with an army of 30,000 men and its own guns, fortresses and
Goans -- despite coming from a tiny portion of Planet Earth -- are
everywhere, it would seem. In a plane crash, when a VVIP plane
crashed while accompanying ex-PM Morarji Dessai at Jorhat in Assam,
the pilot who died was a Goan, Clarence de Lima.
Both in propping up a colonial order, and trying to destroy it, Goans
had a role.
Pio Gama Pinto boldly took the side of Africa in colonial times, and
rose to become director of the Pan African Press. He worked to set up
the Lumumba Institute, designed to train party officials of the KANU.
Aden-born Keith Vaz of the House of Commons, and Canon Castilho Serpa
do Rosario Noronha (elected for three successive terms as
representative of Portuguese India) are other prominent members of
Rama Krishna Hegde played the role of peace-maker between opposing
factions of Goan patriots. Patriot Telo Mascarenhas did a Portuguese
translation of the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi. Laxmikant
Bhembre, in forced exile in Portugal, conducted classes on the
Bhagvadgita for Portuguese enthusiasts.
Peter Alvares, from Parra, was a seasoned activist, socialist and
founder of many unions for railways employees.
Others from here have earned fame by wielding the pen.
Journalists like Dom Moraes (b.1938) has won the American Press Club
Citation for Excellence in Reporting, for some 20 articles he wrote
for the "New York Times Sunday Magazine".
People like humourist and management expert George Menezes speak as
many as nine languages -- French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi,
Marathi, Konkani, Kannada and English!
Jawaharlal Francis "Joe" Rodrigues was an editor in Nairobi, and an
executive board member of the International Press Institute. Frank
Moraes is, of course, a big name.
Writer Ladis da Silva has written on the Inuit and the North American
Indians. Joseph Furtado (1872-1947) of Pilerne was one of the early
Goans who attempted to write poetry in English.
Books by Goan authors -- like Lambert Mascarenhas' "Sorrowing Lies My
Land" -- has been translated even into languages like Telugu, points
out this new book.
Goa has also thrown up multi-faceted scholars like Jose Pereira
(b.1931) who is -- all at once -- a writer, orator, historian,
musicologist, theologist and a naturalist of a high order.
Mariano Jose Saldanha (1878-1975) was involved in organising Konkani
programmes to be broadcast to Goans in British East Africa and the
Gulf region. Fr Antonio Pereira (b.1919) has scores of books and
publications to his credit, mainly in Konkani. Francisco Luis Gomes
(1829-1869) of Navelim was hailed in Europe as the "prince of
Mons. Sebastiao Rodolfo Dalgado (1855-1922) of Assagao had a penchant
for knowing the basic structure of a language. He acquired
familiarity with Malayalam and Sinhala, with Bengali and Kannada, and
even studied Marathi and Sanskrit. In 1892, he produced a Konkani-
Portuguese dictionary and later a grammar.
Sixteenth century Quelossim genius Krishnadas Shama left behind
several stories in pure Konkani, which entitle him to be called a
brilliant writer of Konkani of the sixteenth century.
Other talent too flows from the hands of people from Goa.
Artist Francis Newton Souza (b.1924) was the subject of a book
published in London. Titled "Souza", the book with text by English
critic Edwin Mullin looks at this artist's career in the UK.
Ramchandra Pandurang Kamat of Madkai was hailed as a genius among the
sculptors of his time, during his travels in Europe.
Agnelo da Fonseca, of Santo Estevam, is noted for his talent of
presenting Christian themes in Indian setting and style. Fonseca
painted for powers both spiritual and temporal. His paintings are in
churches of Pune, while Lisbon commissioned him to do a large
painting on the death of Dom Joao de Castro in 1953. He was also
requisitioned by Lady Maharaj Singh, wife of the then Governor of
Bombay, and Viceroy of India Lord Linlithgow.
Goa has produced a number of top medicos too. Dr Sanjay Khope of
Cuncolim has a surgery technique named after him -- Khope's
Operation. Dr Sandra de Sa Souza (b.1943) has been hailed as one of
India's pioneer in cochlear implant surgery, providing new hope to
the totally deaf. Her dad, Dr Joe de Sa, was a well-known ENT
specialist in Bombay. Dr Luzito de Souza, her cousin, is an
internationally known oncologist.
Dr Chicot Vaz is a leading neurologist in the country. Other
prominent medical specialists and surgeons include Dr. Eustace J. de
Souza, US-based medico-surgeon Dr Yvan J das Dores Silva, cancer-
surgeon Dr. Luis Jose de Souza, physiologist Dr Anthony Charles
Duarte-Monteiro, and late Dr Manuel Vincente Alfredo da Costa (who
has a hospital named after him in Lisbon).
Dr Arthur E de Sa of Asnora was an eminent surgeon, and accompanied
Lady Edwina Mountbatten to riot-stricken areas of West Pakistan at
the height of the communal frenzy after Partition.
Dr Vithal N. Shirodkar, of Shiroda, has the famous 'Shirodkar
Technique' for opening blocked fallopian tubes and the cervical hood.
Noted cancer surgeon Dr Ernest Borges of Ucassiam is another big
Dr Acacio Gabriel Viegas (1856-1933) is credited with the discovery
of the outbreak of bubonic plague in Bombay in 1896. He was
responsible for saving many lives and eventually controlling the
Dada Vaidya, from a family of Ayurveda physicians, and in true family
traditions never accepted any fees and on the contrary gave drugs he
prescribed free. For him the art of healing was a vocation and a
sacred duty. He also began a campaign towards preventing diseases.
Goans have also come out tops in the fields of judiciary and law.
Fitz R S de Souza, bar-at-law and PhD from London, was an important
figure in African politics. Particular Kenya's struggle for freedom.
John Maximian Nazareth (1908-1989) was president of the East African
Indian Congress, and also served as puisne judge of the Kenya Supreme
Court. Justice Vassant Krishna Tamba (b.1926) has served as a judge
of the Supreme Court of Portugal.
Goan judges have served in Angola and Mozambique, as did Aleixo
Antonio Xavier Jose Ludovico da Costa (1904-1976). Justice Kashinath
Trimbak Telang was called to the bar at the age of 22 and was an
authority on Hindu Law. He later was judge of the High Court of
Bombay, and he was the only one to be selected for special mention in
the Cambridge History of English Literature.
Luis da Cunha Gonsalves (b.1875) wrote as many as 14 volumes on his
studies of Civil Law. Late Manuel Menezes (1922-1996), recently
caught up in the Konkan Railway controversy in Goa, was a high-
caliber technocrat. Alfred Julius D'Souza (b.1923) of Saligao was an
assistant commissioner of income tax.
John Francis Ludger Gracias (1888-1969), among the first Goans to
migrate to Kenya, played a major role in the establishment of the
Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours. He was awarded with an MBE by
King Edward VIII -- one of the few honours bestowed by King Edward in
his short reign.
Brilliant Goan civil engineer Bismark Dias is remembered for
designing the town of Vasco da Gama, with its tree-lined boulevards
and gardens. In the US, he has done work on devices used in colour TV
receivers, and also ultrasound imaging devices.
Charles Correa, another Goan, has designed monuments ranging from the
Kasturba Gandhi Samadhi at Pune, to Salvacao Church in Bombay and
hotels in Andamans and Kovalam.
F Paul de Mello is a Goan engineer who has earned name and fame in
Brazil. His brother Dr Victor F B de Mello rose to professorships at
the three principal universities in Sao Paulo.
Engineering prodigy Suman Moolgaokar, born in Bombay, earned a big
name in Tata's. In his tenure, TELCO's entry into the manufacture of
passenger cars merited him being called the father of India's
Way back in 1957, Albert Vivian D'Costa of Aldona was already
investigating weak bridges. William Xavier Mascarenhas, an associate
of the legendary Sir Visheshvarayya, was involved in pre-Independence
planning of major roads, bridges and river valley projects.
Engineer A X Moraes rose to meet the crisis of floods in Gujarat in
1927. Grateful public thanked him at a public meet in Nadiad.
Despite what it might seems, Goans have skills at diplomacy too.
Placido D'Souza (b.1933) was ambassador to a large number of
countries, including in the West Indies, Panama, Zaire, New York,
Port of Spain, Hong Kong and Nairobi. Another diplomat of Goan
origin, Peter Lynn Sinai (b.1933) topped the competitive exams in
Anthony Lancelot Dias, ICS (b.1910) was praised for negotiating
India's foodgrains with "great ability and success". He was appointed
Lt. Governor of Tripura in 1970 and later Governor of West Bengal.
During the time of the Bangladesh war, a Goan was taking care of
refugees flooding into the area -- Governor A. L Dias -- while
another, Peter Lynn Sinai, was involved with the formation of the
Bangladesh Division at the Ministry of External Affairs.
Educationist Rev Dr Hubert Olympus Mascarenhas (1905-1973) was an
Indologist of repute who spoke 11 European languages, in addition to
Sanskrit and several Indian languages. But his intense patriotism
brought him into conflict with the then British archbishop of Bombay.
Jose Gerson da Cunha (1844-1900) from Arpora in Bardez is one of
India's prominent historian and Orientalist. Besides Konkani and
Portuguese, French, English and Sanskrit, he could handle Pehlevi,
Italian, Persian and German. He was also conversant with Marathi.
Collector of coins, he had a collection of nearly 27,000 pieces of
gold, silver and other baser metals.
Dharmanand Kosambi (1876-1947) studied Pali and was a renowned
Buddhist scholar. Goan Victor J Menezes (b.1949) of Bardez has been
storming the corporate world as one of the heads of Citicorp. Peter
Joseph Joaquim Pinto (b.1915) of Sangolda has been appointed
alternate executive director for India on the boards of the IMF and
World Bank. Maurice Gracias (b.1923) of Carmona is an economist. In
the US foreign service, Gracias was chief auditor and was assigned to
16 African countries.
Prabhakar R Narvekar has the distinction of being appointed one of
the three deputy managing directors of the IMF. Born in Goa, he was
educated in Bombay and Columbia University. He joined the IMF in
Eric P.W.da Costa (b.1909) has been heading the Indian Institute of
Public Opinion, after a significant meet in 1952 with George Gallup,
past president of Gallup Polls Inc. He was also earlier president of
the World Association for Public Opinion Research. Earlier, da Costa
was appointed as assistant to the chief minister of Mysore State. He
was invited by noted industrialist, G.D.Birla, to direct the Textile
Machinery Corporation of India, and was editor of the 'Eastern
Economist' in the 'forties.
Musicians have also made their name for Goa. In a big way. Rev Dr
Lourdino Barreto is author of over 100 major works, and his
compositions have been performed both in India and abroad. Noel do
Carmo Flores was dean of the faculty of music at the University of
Vienna. He started piano studies at the age of five, tutored by Goan
teachers, and is an alumni of Don Bosco's in Panjim.
Kishori Amonkar, Luis Remo de Maria Bernardo Fernandes, Jitendra
Abhisheki, Lata Mangueshkar, gifted opera singer late Olegario Frank
based in the UK, Kesarbai Kerkar (1892-1977), Dinanath Mangueshkar,
and the father of the Goan tiatr Joao Agostinho Fernandes (1871-1947)
are among the other names mentioned in the music section.
Dr Owen Pinto made his name in the field of sports medicine in
Bombay. Leo Pinto was part of the flood of Goans who hit Indian
hockey at one time. In 1948, for instance, there were five Goans in
the Indian Olympic hockey team that played at Wembley.
Other Goans were also early starters in the field of sports. In 1913,
the club of Goans calling itself the Lusitanians won the prestigious
Aga Khan Hockey Tournament.
Former 'O Heraldo' editor Dr Carmo Azavedo makes some interesting
points in his article on the Goan Diaspora. Britain occupied
Portuguese Goa between 1798 and 1812. During their stay here, they
had to avail themselves of the services of Goans in various
capacities. Appreciating their qualities of "head and heart", the
British began recruiting Goans in increasing numbers. First as cooks,
butlers and stewards and then as clerks, accountants and so on, as
Azavedo puts it.
This was the beginning of migration out of Goa. We don't have a clue
as to how many emigrants there are now. But the oft quoted figure is
that at the turn of the century, out of a total population of 500,000
people in Goa, abound 100,000 lived outside the territory. Primarily
Goans have since fanned out to various pockets of the globe --
Madras, Calcutta, Delhi, Belgaum, Poona. Pakistan too. Burma, Ceylon
and Aden, all then part of British India. Then farther, into Kenya,
Uganda and Tanganiyka, as well as to Australia and New Zealand. Some
reached Macau, Timor, Mozambique, Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea and Sao
Tome e Principe. Goans have also reached Portugal, UK, Brazil,
Australia, Canada and the US.
"It is natural for any group of persons to glory in their own heroes.
That gives them a deeper understanding of their own identity. It also
affords them role models for imitation and a sense of collective
achievement and pride," comments Bishop Ferdinand J. Fonseca in the
foreword to this book.
Priced at Rs 400, Vaz's 'Profiles of Eminent Goans: Past and Present'
was published late last year by Concept in New Delhi.