Goa to PM on Special Status

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 13 June 2013 14:39 IST

Following the full text of the memorandum submitted by the all-party delegation led by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on 12 June 2013:

1. Goa is the smallest States of the Indian Union with just a population of about 15 lakhs.  Over a period of time, unrestricted migration into this tiny State is threatening to make the Goans a minority in their own State.  We may be permitted to explain to you in some detail how this has happened and the consequences thereof.

2. When India became independent in 1947, the Portuguese ruled enclaves of Goa Daman and Diu and the French ruled Pondicherry, were the two Indian territories still under the foreign yoke.  The first Prime Minister of India, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, had made it amply clear during the discussions inside and outside the Indian Parliament that both  Goa as well as Pondicherry are integral parts of India and no compromises on its freedom and integration with India will be made.  When certain elements, both within and outside Goa, demanded its merger with the neigbouring Maharashtra State (the then Bombay province), none other than Shri Nehru gave a categorical assurance that the merger or otherwise with Maharashtra would be as per the wishes of the people of Goa.  Nehru reiterated on 4th June, 1956 in a public meeting in Bombay that “when Goa comes into Indian union, we are not going to merge Goa into some district.  Goa will remain an independent entity presumably under the Indian government”.  He perhaps meant the Union Territory status.  He had repeatedly assured this both prior to the liberation as well as after the liberation.

 3. Drawing a parallel with the French possessions in India, Nehru acknowledged that the history had given Pondicherry and Goa an identity different from the rest of India.  The Goans were assured that they shall have freedom to retain its unique identity in a manner wished by its people. The unique and distinct identity of Goa was reaffirmed by the people  of Goa themselves by rejecting the proposal to merge Goa with Maharashtra by over thirty thousand votes or 54% of the electorate in a historical opinion poll held on the 16th of June, 1967.

4. Goa remained isolated from the rest of the country because Portuguese sought to insulate it from external influence by limiting educational opportunities. The Portuguese restricted education to the school stage and that too predominantly in Portuguese language.  This effectively kept the Goans in the dark about rest of the country, let alone rest of the world.  Inspite of all efforts by the Portuguese rulers Goa still retained its Indian cultural roots albeit a distinct one.

5. During the Portuguese rule when there was State sponsored imposition of western culture and life style, on the local people, a syncretic culture developed which represented the fusion of east and west.  The dominant Indian culture influenced the colonial Goa while simultaneously, western culture influenced the indigenous Goan culture.  The unique Goan identity is born out of this cultural fusion.  It is this culture which gave birth to cosmopolitanism unique to Goa.  The common Civil Code which is put into practice in Goa without any resistance from any section of the Goan society is one of the examples of cosmopolitanism.  The way Goans welcome with open arms the tourists and of late, the retiring citizens from other parts of India are the results of this cosmopolitanism.

6. Unfortunately, our open hearted cosmopolitan character has been misunderstood to such an extent that the unrestricted immigration and whole scale transfer of land is beginning to submerge the unique Goan identity.  Though we have been noticing this in the last decade or so, it has now reached menacing proportions.  The apprehension is that by 2021 the migrant population will outnumber the local Goans.  The threat to Goan identity seems to be real as revealed by the census data.  The 2001 census data estimates that the Konkani speakers form only 51% of the total population.  The Konkani and Marathi speakers put together form 2/3rd of the population.  In other words, 1/3rd of the population are immigrants.  This becomes a huge proportion to the total population given the small size of Goa.

7. The above data confirms that migration is diluting the ethnic character of Goa.  In the first decade after liberation, the growth of population was 34.77%.  This trend of migration contributing to population growth continues even today.  The latest growth of population for the last decade is 8.17%.

8. The increase in population of the State from around 5.8 lakhs at the time of liberation to 15 lakhs in 2012 is primarily attributable to migration.  The average growth rate of population prior to liberation was only 5% in the first five decades of the last century.  In fact, it was as low as 1.2 % in the decade 1950 – 1960.  The rate of growth of population remained high after 1961 despite the fertility remaining comparatively very low.  Today the fertility rate of Goa is 1.8  whereas the ideal is 2.1.  The above statistics reinforces the perception that huge increase in Goan population is as a result of migration and not due to natural rate of reproduction among the ethnic population.

9. The latest threat to the identity of the State has come from the growing attractiveness of Goa as a retirement destination and a holiday home for people from the rest of the country and the world. This has led to a huge boom in building activities in the State in the last ten years or so.  This is borne out by the 2011 census data which shows that there are 5,76,582 census houses. Out of this, 1,25,503 census houses are  vacant; all probably belonging to migrants who treat this as a second home.  This is 21.8% of the total number of houses. It is a well known fact that the demand for mega premium gated housing complexes in the State is driven not by local demand, but from the demand generated by those who wish to relocate to Goa or desire a second holiday home in Goa.  Needless to point out, the voracious hunger for land for mega housing complexes catapulted the land prices to sky high levels. Similarly, we are witnessing the strange phenomenon of Goa becoming a hotspot for money laundering through real estate transactions.  Today, the poor Goan cannot afford a piece of land to put a roof over his head.  He is priced out from the land market.  No doubt, it is the Goans who are selling land to the outsiders.  This is due to greed as well as necessity.  Necessity because some  of them may be poor.  Greed is induced by high prices offered for the land coupled with decline in primary agricultural activities and thereby assets remaining idle.  Whatever may be the reason, this is leading to large scale transfer of land from Goans to non Goans threatening the very existence of Goans within Goa . The apprehension is that Goans will become an alienated microscopic minority within their own State.

10. The total land mass of Goa is about 3700 sq. kms.  If the forest areas, land within the coastal zone regulations and those devastated by illegal mining is excluded, what is left for human habitation and other economic activities is less than 8 % of the area.  Huge influx of population cannot be sustained on such a small portion of territory available for habitation.  Besides causing environmental and ecological damage, it also results in economic misery, cultural shocks as well as social tensions among the local population.

 11. As Indians, we have to abide by the Constitution of India. Our constitution guarantees certain freedoms  and one among them being the freedom to reside and settle anywhere in India.  Goans are also guaranteed this right to freedom by our constitution. Therefore, while we welcome every Indian to come and live with us; it cannot be at the cost of our existence, culture and unique identity, the protection for which was promised to us by the then Prime Minister of India Shri Jawaharlal Nehru. There is a necessity to put in place reasonable restrictions on land transactions which are not violative of the basic principles of the constitution of India but protective of the legitimate aspirations and interests of the tiny Goan community. 


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