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Some Outstanding Goans, Past and Present

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  • Sandeep Heble
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2004
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      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
      automobile industry.

      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
      in Bombay.

      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.
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