Sunday, 1 February 2009

Saving Goa’s Prized Identity will be a lesson to world

GOA, one of India’s most beautiful states is a major tourist attraction due to its natural beauty, beaches & most importantly its prized identity; a blend of east & west. Goan Identity today has the best of both worlds’ i.e. strong values/links from the Indian Subcontinent, coupled with a distinct western flair. My plea to the Indian/Goa Government is to preserve our precious jewel, because the way things are going, Goa’s Identity will be soon eliminated and will be clear case of “killing the goose that lays the golden egg”

Recent ratings by some national bodies stating Goa as one of the India’s best states, is surprising!! Actually, Goa is India’s most corrupt states. National & Local politicians loot Goa at will i.e. rampant illegal conversion of Agricultural land to satisfy greed for huge apartment complexes, mostly for non-locals and passed even after violating laws; merciless hill cutting; destruction of forests; illegal mining; displacement of locals; pollution of fields; water contamination; destruction of sand dunes on beaches; major Coastal violations by wealthy builders; Malaria; Major Garbage issue; Scarce Water/Electricity etc. Social activists fight a difficult battle against so many illegalities & are intimidated by false police cases filed under political pressures, constant delaying tactics by Quasi-Judicial Government bodies which are influenced by Corrupt Politicians, wealthy mining & building lobbies etc. Also, the Complex Judiciary system & its timeframes are not helping Goa. Builders hold impressive real estate exhibitions in other Indian States & Overseas; Prospective buyers must understand that they are actually helping destructive elements destroy our beautiful state!! Most politicians are only interested in amassing as much wealth as possible, to secure their political future at the cost of Goa and are now making Goa’s Politics, a “family business”. The Government under pressure, is contemplating ban on agricultural land sales to outsiders; which is an eyewash, as not only agricultural land is and can be illegally converted, but also the critical issue of preserving scarce land for Goans is not met!!
The rapid rate of land sales to Wealthy Non-Goans will soon mean that many Goan future generations will not be able to get land for themselves; leave alone afford it!! Goa’s 1961 liberation is now being questioned, as whether it was liberation of Goa from the Portugeese or from the Goans. Yes, Goans are Indians but surely India is not one but a rich mosaic of so many cultures & identities, and Goans want to preserve their part of the mosaic. India is a great country based on UNITY IN DIVERSITY; as also highlighted in our National Anthem; that’s why (1) There are many states (2) Hindi is official but each state has its local language (3) Each state has its own distinct culture & identity. We need an urgent peaceful dialogue to save Goa’s identity & culture, which is being eroded today: The Goa Government is reluctant in formulating a policy, to ensure right employment opportunities for Goans vs. the educational output and hence many Goans migrate from Goa; Huge Mega Apartment Complexes coming up change local demographics, destroying landscapes & pollute the environment; Migrants Vote-Banks are encouraged by politicians and in many constituencies, democracy is clearly manipulated; Voter cards are given to migrants without nullifying their voting rights in their home states & worse, false details are put on their voter cards e.g. House No. etc.
Critics say that Identity Erosion is the result of Globalisation; to which I ask (A) Do we follow the herd mentality or we adopt a think global act local approach (B) Aren’t countries at the forefront of Globalisation enacting measures to protect local identities e.g. Western Countries continuously improvising already strict immigration norms, mandatory knowledge of local language, history, identity & culture. In India, most states can maintain their unique identities because of their big size & population. Each state has limits to sale of land sales & intake of migrants (today minimum 40% of Goa’s population). Unlike other states, Small Goa has way crossed the tolerance limits & now needs safeguards. Critics conveniently use the Indian Constitution excuse to subdue Goa’s genuine concerns; of course most of them i.e. Politicians, Builders, Bureaucrats & Wealthy Outsiders make huge monetary gains on the destruction of Goan Identity. Charity begins at home i.e. by preserving & having a world class state with a unique identity; Goans can be even better Indians. Critics also use the Capitalistic excuse to justify land sales to the highest bidders (mostly from outside Goa) but ignore the fact that Capitalism can’t take precedence over the society’s overall interests. For instance, aren’t there Government controls on basic food essentials; what if these were at the mercy of capitalism? Goans have the right of priority to live in decent clean, disease free environment with stable infrastructure, reduced contamination levels, sense of identity, maintaining livelihoods etc. Current land sales rate will make Goans irrelevant & no community will accept the same for themselves. Many with illegitimate wealth, invest in Goa’s Properties; should Goans suffer because they generally don’t have this illegitimate wealth?
Goa’s officially spoken language i.e. Konkani is gradually being by replaced by other Languages. Those quoting the Indian Constitution must appreciate key facts i.e. (1) India annexed Goa much later on a military action and as such Goa was not actually part of the constituent assembly, that framed the Constitution, (2) Goans were never given a say in the future of their state and (3) There are provisions in the Constitution i.e. Article 19(d) put in by India’s visionary founding fathers, to protect local state identities. I believe Goans, as all other Indians have a right to protect their respective local identities, culture & language. I think there the world is a very interesting place with so many cultures/identities. Why for example are many fascinated with Rome & Paris? Identity forms the Value Systems of individuals/communities. Do we prefer being “something to everybody” or “nothing to nobody”? Like Goan Identity, many identities across the world are at risk; should India succeed in safeguarding Goa & its identity, it could be a lesson to other threatened identities in India & the World. Goans are peace loving people who are proud of beings Indians but whilst preserving their identity. We are not against anyone & respect all, but at the same time request Non-Goans to respect our genuine right to Identity. I would like to end with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi “I will open the doors and windows of my house and allow the winds of different parts of the world to flow through it. But I will not be swept off my feet” Kindly spread this article as far & wide as you can

ARWIN MESQUITA – (ABU DHABI)

1 comment:

lucas said...

Arwin,
I read your articles with interest. Recently I read one letter to the editor by one Sharma accusing goans of being anti development. I sent a reply to his letter to herald but somehow it came as undelivered. I used the address editor@heraldgoa.com. Can u give me the correct address so that I can put this sharma in his place. My address is lucas_ds@yahoo.co.in. Keep up the good work.By the way I work as a Radio Operator on the Oil Rig at Offshore Qatar & I live in Verna.
Thanks & Regards
Lucas