Vision 2035---One more sermon

By Prabhakar Timble
05 February 2011 19:15 IST

Developed Goa is the vision of over 13 lakh Goans. This is not to say that this tiny State with a unique identity is less developed. Going by the economic indices of investment, per capita income, and basic infrastructure, this small territory is far above the national average. The human index of development in terms of   literacy, primary health care, social harmony, women empowerment and agreeable environment is anybody’s envy.  And added to this is the tradition of Goan hospitality, a lifestyle where work and zest of living naturally blends, a culture of concern, love and warmth without expectation. Putting a limit and saying enough to need as well as to greed comes spontaneously to a Goan.

In the words of poet B. B. Borkar:

In this my land of Goa, pain is sweeter than pleasure,

To this, my Land of Goa,

My whole life is attached,

The fragrance of my poems fan

Out completely only from there*

 (*In This My Land Of Goa: Transformed in English from the original in Marathi by D. S. Vajram)

These are the same reasons why Goans are tied to Goa, why Indians crave for shelter and neighbourhood   in Goa and also why foreigners find this damsel attractive.

Having completed 50 years of liberation, the Government of Goa has rightly constituted a high profile committee with nearly 14 sub-groups to document a vision and roadmap for the next 25 years. Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar, Chairperson of the Committee in a recent interaction with the youth has asserted that the roadmap should ensure that “Goa should remain as Goa, Goans should remain as Goans”. This takes me to a brief review.

Looking back I would say that the first 25 years saw clean efforts to develop Goa. The subsequent silver period saw economic growth with political decline, social regress, environmental negligence, cultural negativism and identity threats. This has made all Goans to question all projects which are thrust in the name of development and to raise the banner of opposition. A burnt child dreads the fire. And Goans are in the similar dilemma.

The vision and roadmap for Goa should seriously consider these aspects. Development should respect the core values. They need to be classed as non-negotiable. To my mind, they are the following:

    Identity as reflected in social harmony, language and lifestyle.

    Natural endowments----coastline, forests, rivers.

    Scarce land resource including agricultural/horticulture & ‘communidade’ lands

    Threats being a minority cultural-linguistic group

Recognition of the above in the vision document and roadmap would lubricate people’s involvement, participation and ownership. Otherwise, it would meet the same fate as the grandiose projects of the government.

A vision document should answer the aspirations of the stakeholders. The stakeholder here is the local population who are tied to the soil permanently. They are neither NRGs or NRIs or Overseas Goans descending for year-end breaks or tourists   nor retired bureaucrats of all India services for whom Goa is merely an old age or holiday destination.

In recent years, the vision has become more of a motivational tool, too often including highly idealistic phrasing and activities which we cannot realistically aspire. Considering the non-negotiable and core values to be preserved and strengthened, I would accord priority to the following in the roadmap for the next 25 years.

  1. Knowledge Industry: The State should be known as a premier destination for higher education in all sunrise areas, research and pursuit of science. The objective to be achieved through private investment.
  2. Agriculture, Horticulture & allied activity: Despite present alienation, this primary sector can be the employment and occupation generator of the State’s economy and provide gainful livelihood in rural sector if appropriate policies are put in motion including  agriculture/horticulture/floriculture estates”.
  3. Media, Art, Communication  & Entertainment: The State has the human potential and rich cultural trappings.  Need for initial government support to provide the big-push including integration with tourism.
  4. Tourism development: A complete re-look at the damage done due to reckless beach tourism, plan for reversal and sustainable development of hinterland tourism including inland waterways.
  5. Transparency, accountability & e-governance: This can be enabled through appropriate laws, citizen-friendly administration and rigorous implementation.
  6. Land acquisition holiday: No land acquisitions by the Government (except for roads)   till all the land area acquired so far and under the control of the Government is completely utilised. A performance and utilisation scrutiny of lands under control of Central Government instrumentalities including Navy and MPT a must.

A vision ignites the State and motivates the stakeholders. A vision does not prescribe the map only for the government but for the entire civil society. A vision has to be owned by the designers. Hence, it has to be designed by the owners. The vision of Reliance is of Ambanis and so is of Tatas. Mahatma Gandhi carved his vision when he was thrown out of the railway compartment due to racial prejudice and so did Martin Luther King. Dayanand Bandodkar, fondly remembered as ‘Bhausaheb’ was a visionary.

The crying need in Goa is for a group leadership in social and political field as we are pledged to a democratic way of life. Even assuming corruption as the price of development, limitless greed of the few whom we have thrown up in our legislature and local bodies should not remain as an unanswered question. I am reminded of the ship-wrecked thirsty mariner caught up in the middle of the ocean………S. T. Coleridge in ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’

“Water, Water everywhere

But not a drop to drink”

A developed Goa by these chosen few!! The Goan relegated to a residue---- faceless, nameless, rootless, unknown and unidentified in his own land. Or A Happy Goa 2035? We need to be alert, vigilant and act. We can ill afford to choose the luxury of silence.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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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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