When I heard the news of me being nominated as Governor of Goa, I was not very excited. In fact, I spoke to someone to see whether my posting can be changed. He tried to convince me by saying, “Goa is a beautiful state and we decided because of honoring your concern for nature, literature, ethnicity, traditions and care for common masses”. He added that, “We thought Goa needs you.” I got convinced, and took oath as Governor of Goa on August 31, 2014.
Now my entire focus is on development of Goa and I actively participate in functions and programs, which have helped me in my understanding of Goa’s rich heritage and culture much more deeply. Goans are so well versed in literature, language, customs, music, painting and its mix of culture makes it a unique state.
I knew that Goa is the only state where Common Civil Code is in practice. At the time of taking oath as Governor, media asked me, ‘you have been a women activist and leader, now as Governor what will be your priorities?’ to which my reply was, that being in constitutional position, I am duty bound to protect, preserve and uphold the constitution. At the same time, I recalled that when I was demanding uniform civil code in India, I came to know that Goa is practicing since long and women of all communities live happily in this society, it has brought harmony and peace. I told the media that I will study the practice and effects of Goa Civil code, the report is now published and various stakeholders of law have appreciated the endeavour.
As a social activist, I have been moving around the country for various organisational work and functions. As Chairperson of Central Social Welfare Board, I have tried to gauge various attributes of social problems in the society. I used to work on solving the problems and as writer, I started penning the pains. My experiences of family, society and nation for four decades have been stimulus and catalyst in performing the role and duties as a Governor.
As Governor I thought that I should not sit idle and count the waves of Arabian Sea and songs on Mandovi and Zuari Rivers. I continued going around country, visiting and addressing different institutions and various national and international seminars, conferences in and outside Goa.
Goa’s social harmony, the joint family culture is a blessing which is missing now from many other parts of the country. Women are educated and are well versed in their rights and duties. Some innovative ideas emerged and some of them were shared with me by our Prime Minister. He told me, “Kya chaandani raat me bina bijile ke bhaith saktey hai gaon ke log, kha, peeye, naaache or apne gaon ke samasya par vichar kare”. I liked the ideas and got it the name “Chaand ke saath saath”.
On a moonlit night, I invited people from all sections of the society and I could see their gleaming faces, smiling and enjoying. Some of the invitees were reminded of their grandparents and their memories flashed before them in Raj Bhavan in Goa. Encouraged with its success, the programme on “Chaand ke saath saath” was repeated. It had its spiral effect as navy officers and Goa University also organised such events in their campus.
Now whenever I return to Goa from any visit outside the state, I get a feel that I am returning to my mother’s house. Trees, rivers, bridges, greenery, culture, traditions and Arabian waves touch me as now they welcome me as their own.
As a psychologist and an analyst, I came to a conclusion that people of Goa started giving me respect and affection and in return they have received my attention and affection. On an average every day when I am in Goa, I meet at least four people or groups of people.
This is the practice in India that people want dignitaries to address each and every function as if they are experts on all subjects. Earlier, I thought I should not accept the invitations for subjects in which I am not well versed. But then I decided that attending programmes on such subjects will enhance my knowledge. While inaugurating a seminar organised by retired Civil Engineers, I asked them why they build only two bedroom flats for middle class families in big and middle class cities? Where is the room for grandparents, you accept that they will live in old age homes? Why? They took my point seriously. I have also shared my views and ideas with many departments of the Government and NitiAyog which can be implemented for the betterment of the society.
After I was appointed Brand Ambassador of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by Prime Minister of India on October 2, 2014, I have been working with various stakeholders and forums to drive in the message for this mission. I have come up with two books on Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan ‘Swachhata Sanskar’ in Hindi and Swachh Bharat ‘Clean India’ in English. I have also penned a pledge for children. I am working on two major verticals for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan – infrastructure development and solid waste management. A meaningful song-cum-video on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is being made which will act as mission song for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan activities. I have adopted five cities in Goa: Panaji, Mapusa, Margao, Ponda and Vasco for being made model cities on cleanliness. I have also given some suggestions to the Central Government to constitute Swachhta Shram Samman / Anukarniya Swachhta Shram Samman, which will motivate and recognise the services of municipal labourers who have done commendable work to keep the environment clean and healthy.
Goa’s Raj Bhavan balcony overlooks the Arabian Sea where I practice yoga, enhance my literary skills, have breakfast and perform official duties also. All my daily works are done within an eyeball distance of Arabian Sea. The waves not only send me melodious music but also the roar of the mighty sea power. During the monsoons, heavy rains and the roaring sea sometimes eludes me from having a sound sleep.
Being a Chancellor of Goa University, I have addressed convocations which have special reference to making of human beings and cultivating values in youth. In my various convocation addresses in other universities and institutions, I ask youths to pay respect to four vows: Old parents should not be sent to old age home; respect and protect the dignity of women; serve society and nation; and marriage should not be broken.
In past three years I have given some suggestions to Goa government and they have gracefully accepted it. Vijayani Awards, which is an annual state-level award is given to women and girl showing exemplary bravery against atrocities/violence/harassment against women gender. Rakshak Awards, is an annual state-level award for professionals like doctors, lawyers, public prosecutors, social workers, police officers, or others who have given good results in dealing with the cases of crimes against women and girls.
I have also initiated a programme “Sachchi Dosti” meant for removing inequalities between students studying in schools to promote friendship among them.
Goa is known as tourism destination and hence suggested government to come up with Goa School of Tourism which will work on research in increasing and understanding tourism much better.
From my very first year as Governor, I have humbly appealed to everyone to welcome me with basket of fruits rather than flowers. This is done in society’s interest, as I send these fruits to underprivileged children, old age homes and schools. I am happy as my request has been heard not just in Goa but in other parts of country as the society has adopted this idea.
I love Goa and will pray to see it grow as one of the best states.