The Pathology of negative mind-set of Goans

By Prabhakar Timble
21 February 2012 12:18 IST

Apathy and indifference culminating in opposition to any kind of development is an eclipse that has gripped Goa in the recent years.  Goans’ first reaction is an offensive “NO” to anything and everything. We take the easy road by adopting the negative track. By this, we not only drive the investors away, we also evict our youth to search for opportunities of employment and investment outside the State. Of course, different viruses can provide understanding of the way in which this particular disease of negativism has spread amongst the natives. This negativism needs to be distinguished from the traditional lifestyle where relaxation and leisure blends and bonds with labour and work. Whereas the spontaneous Goan element of fun and pleasure invigorates, a negative mind-set would cause damage to economy and society. This is a small attempt to conduct a pathological examination of this damaging malaise.

Beneficiary argument

The general perception is that the development has given disproportionate benefits to the non-locals as opposed to the locals. It is also an obvious truth that land, which is a scarce resource in Goa, acquired by the government for economic and infrastructure development has moved in the hands of corporates and land sharks. It is also perceived that though all the benefits are provided to industry, the employment generation is tilted in favour of the non-locals. In short, the entry and expansion of industrial units has hardly touched the local population. The model of establishment of industrial estates and support services to industry has not provided desired boost to local entrepreneurship.

Minority argument

The change in the demographic profile of the population of Goa is perceived as a threat to the identity and culture of Goans. Undoubtedly, the change has happened due to the needs and requirements of infrastructure and economic development. The threat that Goans would be reduced to a microscopic minority in their own land looms large and the ‘niz goemkars’ across communities find it unpalatable to digest. Further, this trend in community-wise and religion-wise context is probably frightening to the Catholics. Apart from the north-east, Goa is the State with sizeable presence of this community with a harmonious blend of cultural traditions. The demographic change has brought a challenge to this assertion and the inter-community melodious mix and fusion.

Vote bank and migrants

Though for all wrong reasons, migrants are looked at as polluters of Goan culture and identity. Goans seem to find the affluent migrants agreeable. These are the sections to which the local landlords have sold their lands and the sections from other parts of the country that have made Goa as their post-retirement home. The pent up anger and disagreeableness is against the migrant population who add economic value to the State and work as sweated, semi-skilled and unskilled labour in hotel, real estate, mining industry and urban community services. To my mind, they are the ‘nouveau’ Goans, who have made this State as their permanent home. However, the general public perceives that they are the vote banks created by the local politicians. As a result, any infrastructure project is shot down by the people because that would mean swelling up of the number of migrants.

Dubious spill overs

The local population is bears the brunt due to supreme disrespect to laws by business enterprise as well as the government law enforcing agencies. This is visible in most of the areas. Tourism is a suitable and also a flowering industry in Goa. But, the entire coastline of the State is hijacked by what could be termed as tourism ‘terror’. Drug abuse, child abuse, and paedophile are not uncommon. If we do not add value and curb the menace, tourism will have a short shelf life in Goa.  Off shore Casinos might have generated some employment to youth but the costs are really very high. Mining is even now the mainstay of Goa’s economy but the greed of the players to make unbelievable fortunes in record time is taking an irreparable and irreversible toll on Goa’s agriculture and environment. The real estate boom has made housing beyond the reach of locals and further the crowding of concrete jungle in village and hinterlands goes without supporting solid waste management essentials. Needless to say, we need more housing. There is hunger for housing facilities and at the same time there is opposition to projects. Every passing moment in Goa is a threat to its natural and environmental beauty and a golden opportunity to bring in shades of ugliness.

Special Status argument

The fall out of growing negativism is also seen in the demand for special status for Goa. This demand flows from the hypothesis that a special status as bestowed on other states like Jammu & Kashmir or some North-eastern states will arrest the alienation of land from the locals. Though theoretically true, the special status for Goa is a too distant dream since such a status demand very special conditions to make it constitutionally permissible. Further, the individual constituents of the lobby who are today demanding special status for Goa are mainly those who have already sold their lands in the villages and hinterlands to non-locals. Nothing much can be achieved from a constitutional special status now. There are many matters which we can put in order even without such a status. Some are wedded to the belief that Goa would be gone from the hands of Goans if not accorded a special status.

Easy and in vogue

Probably, there are equal number of anti-development NGOs and village-groups as bars, taverns and places of worship in Goa. To propose the positive needs study and hence difficult. Opposition is possible without any homework and hence easy. A look at a TV channel or print media shows that negativism is glorified. Our stories at prime time on TV and on front columns of newspapers are those that adore failures, negativism and destructive criticism. Stories of success, advancements in science and technology, achievements in social, educational and business fields occupy the non-prime time and space.  Hence, negativism is the fashion of the day and the happening thing.

Political & bureaucratic criminal

The behaviour of the politicians and administrators, their greed and their temporary rise in circles of power also dispirits and makes the people to don a negative hat. The smaller the State, the greater is the visibility of such criminality and hence deeper is the depth of negativism. Their stories of reckless greed and rampant wealth are perceived as stories of success. They are held in esteem and provided the seats of honour at social interactions and all festivals including religious. The rise of these into social “heroes” brings in depression and a feeling that “nothing can ever change for the better”.

 Mind-sets can swing

The silver lining is that mind-sets do not remain fixed. If a virus sets negativism in motion, an ignited stick can set the positive mind-set on fire. We need social groups and citizen initiatives to celebrate growth and development. We need to recognise people and project leaders and young achievers in all spheres of economic, social and cultural activity.  Goa and Goans need the swing to positivism.

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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