Parivartan is possible

By Prabhakar Timble
09 October 2012 00:12 IST

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar completes seven months in office today. Not a single day has gone without bashing the Congress and their elected legislators or defeated leaders. Maybe, it was unavoidable in the first thirty days of honeymoon with office. The attack on the skeleton army of the Congress should have died after the first session of the new Assembly. But, the Chief Minister and his ministers somehow do not relish the daily food without the Congress pickle.  The Congress is out of power for seven months now. It is not in power even as a worthwhile opposition. The daily dose of attention the Congress receives from the Chief Minister gives them more power and recognition than they deserve. From being the subjects of ridicule, the BJP may convert the lost Congressmen into victims and if public perceives them to be sufferers; the game could prove to be counterproductive for the present ruling party.

From faith crisis to confidence

The people of Goa brought the political ‘parivartan’. So, when somebody asks me whether ‘parivartan’ is a farce or reality, I say it has already happened. More than the change in the government, the incumbent Chief Minister is riding on a high popularity wave. To his credit I should say that he has bailed the Goan people out of a faith crisis. People have derived confidence from his commitment, image and work style. Definitely, he draws more power than what is permissible by law as a chief minister. His words and announcements are taken very seriously by people and the promises are taken as infallible. Mr. Digambar Kamat and his team could afford to fail or underperform. Hence, the position of Mr. Manohar Parrikar hardly invites envy or jealousy. Further, as his government enters the month of Dussehra and Diwali which normally coincide with a kick start to the economy after the monsoons, Goa’s mining industry, which presently provides the mainstay in terms of employment and income is under a cloud. Singling out the Congress or the environmentalists as devils is a politically attractive proposition but the most unwise to address the issue. The Head of the present government should realise this looking at the minute to minute pressure from his own party MLAs and the people dependent on mining.

As this new government enters yet another fresh month, it is needless to say that the novelty of the change in guard is no more. The eyes of the people are longing for change and they are not just happy viewing the clouds of ‘parivartan’ hovering above them. They want the clouds to fertilise into at least a drizzle if not a shower.  Reduction of the VAT on petrol, or schemes like the Laadli Laximi or doles to housewives cannot herald the change that the people expect from the present Chief Minister. Such schemes are populist and without a social and economic agenda. If at all there is one, it’s a purely political agenda. This is aimless disbursement of public money without any returns. Such schemes bind the present government and future governments to non-productive expenditure. No future government would show the courage of rescinding such schemes. When the earlier Congress government announced salary grants for primary schools in English-medium, the present BJP government vehemently criticised while in the opposition, but once in power had no alternative except to tread on the path of the Congress government. Of course, the Chief Minister would argue that their policy is different, though it has made no difference on the ground. Knowing the realities, I expected the new government to toe the line of the earlier government. I also expect the present government to beat the same paths in respect of the Regional Plan.

Focus on priorities

The ‘parivartan’ can come only from big ticket events and it is on this that the Chief Minister and his cabinet should get focussed. Prime importance should shift to agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and allied activity with necessary infrastructure and incentives. A new land acquisition law providing for adequate and just compensation should be accorded priority. Tourism industry is another commanding sector of the Goan economy demanding attention so that it does not become slippery like mining. If anything that our beach tourism has taught us today, it is how it should not be done. Our coastal land resources are locked for what is perceived as tourism powering a few owners of land and non-local investors in real estate. There is no essence of Goa in Goa’s beach tourism. There is better sun, sea and sand at other locations in the neighbourhood of Goa and our beaches have almost lost the magic. Drugs, crime, child abuse and women trafficking are engulfing our State since we are looking at tourist as a voracious consumer with insatiable thirst. As we move to the hinterlands we need to protect and exploit natural gifts, occupations and lifestyles for sustainable tourism. Tourism has a big potential for sustainable employment and self-employment of locals provided we conduct it maintaining our natural, historical and human ambience. Clean and transparent administration can be only through laws and authorities for redress of citizen grievances in respect of public administration, ensuring accountability by public men through legislation and setting up of the Lokayukta machinery to deal with issues of corruption and graft.

For the people, ‘parivartan’ would mean increased investments in the industrial and service sector enabling employment opportunities for local youth. Goa is not considered as a investment friendly destination not just by outsiders but in equal measure by local investors and entrepreneurs. The people also expect a big push to education and knowledge industry from the present government.

Chief Minister Parrikar’s battalion definitely needs more time to usher in ‘parivartan’. But, the first seven months are more than enough to understand what they should not do.   The Chief Minister is also facing a dearth of colleagues with required talent and commitment for the desired change. They are otherwise fine for running the government.  I know these words may not be taken kindly and particularly when the Chief Minister is riding on a popular wave. The loyal brigade will definitely say “bure nazarwale; tera munha kaala”. (You man of bad mouth; your face is black)

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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