Goa's Identity & Development Blockade

By Prabhakar Timble
19 November 2013 06:04 IST

With “Goenkarponn” and identity being stretched to unsustainable and unreasonable levels, a long eclipse has cast a lengthy shadow on development variables such as investment, employment, output, income and infrastructure in Goa.  People and specially youth who desire to stay in Goa are worse off and going through hard days.  Those who find employment in government and government-aided sectors enjoying insulation from market forces and shocks are an exception and would always be better off.  Identity is brought centre stage in social discourses and political debates. Development seems to lose the battle to what is termed as Goa’s “unique identity” which needs to be preserved at all costs. There is no serious thought on development and what one witnesses is thoughtless contest on identity in the State legislature and village level Gram Sabhas.  Every general election is a festival to resurrect and expound on this ‘special Goan identity’   and kill the much needed debate on development.  As a result, Goa loses the developmental race as well as the identity match.

Opposition, Pessimism & NGOism

If any Indian State has to be nominated for an award for people’s opposition to any type of development or any project or any growth plan, Goa will not face any competition. The crowning instance is of Goa’s Regional Plan which is still not finalized even after the government had adopted a transparent and participative process. No arrangement of any sorts can satisfy the stakeholders.  Due to local opposition at all chosen locations, the government cannot conclude to house even a small, non-harmful higher education project like the National Institute of Technology.

 Village groups as reflectors of village voice guided by the social justice wing of the Catholic Church, NGOs and social activists are driving the maxim that the best development plan for Goa is one which maintains status quo and does not speak of any development. The bogey of mega housing projects has brought construction and housing activity in villages and hinterlands to a grinding halt. Real estate developers have stopped looking at investment options in Panchayat areas. Even an innocuous scheme of road widening finds it difficult to pass the test of those who oppose.

Solid waste management is a critical issue to be addressed as a concomitant of growth and urbanization.  We are generators of waste but we do not want any project for treatment of the same anywhere near in our neighborhood.   To earn a tour of Germany and Italy, the political leaders dump time-tested processes of garbage and waste treatment as primitive. In the government which swears by ‘swadeshi’, the ‘videshi’ tours are rocking. The Western nations are flogged and caned in public speeches. At the same time, every opportunity to tour the world is exploited to learn best practices.

It is common sense to accept that waste handling and treatment is more of a logistics issue rather than technological. The appropriate dose of technology depends on the quantum of waste generated. It is volumes which will determine the cost effectiveness, economy and effectiveness of technology.  The German technology is suitable for their systems and volumes of garbage collection. The urban governing council at Kaiserslautern (Germany) has its unique system of waste collection. The non-recyclable waste such as sanitary items to worn shoes and old pots to textiles is collected separately in separate containers. The hazardous waste collection is too handled separately. The waste generators have to pay the garbage fee and the same depends on the size of the container. There are laws in place with fines and punishments and the same are enforced.  Just because the plant in Germany generates power from waste and fuel from plastic, it does not hold good for Goa as our volumes make it impermissible.  Above all, even if the government, the urban development ministry and the State Pollution Control Board is confident that a carbon copy of the German model is the best for Goa, they should desist from utterances which run down a solid waste management project which is nearing a fruitful completion.  The apprehension is that everybody wants the one and the only project which is the reality of the present to fail  so as to justify projects which are still in the bushes.

Doles & Bridges

It is only development which can retain identity. Goans have developed an attitude of looking outside the State and overseas for opportunities. This is not an unwelcome trend. The annoying and disturbing trend is to look at Goa as a retreat destination and retirement heaven by Goans themselves and to ensure that it is maintained likewise to serve the cause of Goa’s identity.  An attitude bordering on duplicity is to glorify that a Goan is global and should enjoy unfettered migration to any part of India and the world and in the same breath demand that immigrants to Goa should be thrown out.

Social welfare schemes are mechanisms to iron out the creases of development. They are answers to the question-marks of the challenged, underprivileged and senior citizens. They cannot be looked at as drivers of growth and moving wheels of development. The present government also boasts of bridges connecting the otherwise river ways. Most of the proposed bridges are like coats which are oversized in terms of outlays for the areas and population that the bridges propose to service.  Development has still not become a serious agenda of this government.

Goa should not emerge as the negative NGO capital of India. Goans should also learn to weed out RTI activism and activists from becoming ganglands like the operations of the well known Mumbai underworld. The people should swing the debate to development from identity. The fear of loss of identity, language and culture puts the politicians, bureaucrats and planners in a comfort zone and gives power to caste and religious leaders. 

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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What is Goan Identity? In absence of definition of Goan Identity the article titled “Goa’s Identity & Development Blockade” appears to be confusing! Readers don’t get any clarity on what Goan Identity we are talking about!

- Uday, Margao | 19 th November 2013 20:28


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