Saturday, 8 May 2010

Migration: towards meeting disturbing situation to Goan topography & identity

Migration: towards meeting disturbing situation to Goan topography and identity
Migration: towards meeting disturbing situation to Goan topography and identityBY JUINO DE SOUZAGoa is the most beautiful State in the whole planet and for hundreds of years migration has been taking place. Earlier, during the Portuguese regime because of poor economic development, there was outward migration where sons and daughters of Goa were moving outside mainly and venturing to all places in the world. Today Goans can be found almost everywhere contributing in countless ways to the societies of which they are now an integral part.Meanwhile, back home currently a reverse inward migration is taking place mainly because of the economic success and peaceful environment as well as the beauty of Goa which has been transformed into a magnet attracting migrants. All types of people from India and abroad including the rich, middle class, business class, labour class and others are flocking to Goa in large numbers and are becoming an essential part of our State.All theories of migration concede that migration occurs when the region of origin lacks the opportunities which the destination promises. It is inherently a combination of pull and push factors. Variation in economic development, better facilities and environment is a primary motive and reason for migration to greener pastures.Immigration is a complex psychosocial phenomenon; it mobilises a multifaceted process of destabilisation/restabilisation, besides increase in migrant population also causes pressure on land and inequality of infrastructure.The question is: How do we address the issue of migration with respect to limited carrying capacity of a small state such as Goa? What if hordes of outside population keep converging in our small State of Goa with a view to settle down permanently? Can our limited resources and inadequate infrastructure hold such huge influx? How can such kind of population growth be sustained over the long term unless government programs a priority on instituting reforms?We don’t have a proper garbage disposal system nor do we have any worthwhile sewerage system, our public transport is in shambles and housing cost is unaffordable. Although many towns have been declared urban as per past census, yet vested interests do not allow urbanisation and which is why most of Goa falls under panchayat administration.Can we afford to convert Goa into another Mumbai where migrants are found sleeping, defecating and reproducing on the road? Can we allow Goa to switch into another slum such as Dharavi? It is five decades since Goa became free from Portuguese rule and achieved independence but how is this State of ours progressing sociologically?No doubt the economic rise has led to opening businesses from hardware to diamond shops which are all owned and operated by migrants, but what is the solution to the growing resentment of insiders against outsiders? How do we deal with the concern of Goan identity? What happens when non Goans who know nothing about Goan ethos and may end up winning elections and become rulers of this small state of Goa in future? It is definitely a worrying situation.Migration brings along with it many challenges and cannot be addressed unilaterally. We cannot take shelter of our constitution by saying that any Indian is free to travel and settle anywhere in India? Settling does not mean using the side of the road and footpath and encroaching private and public property and setting up slums and causing nuisance to taxpaying citizens? This our founding fathers had never imagined. There is a growing need for us to understand the opportunities and also the challenges posed by migration. We should not be fuelled by prejudice and instead our goal should be to harness the power of migration to help more people share in Goa’s prosperity. We must therefore have a stake in managing migration well and we must work together, united in purpose and united in action to expand that development potential.Migration can no longer be casually viewed by economists as the only beneficent process necessary to solve problems of growing labour demand. I would like to highlight three challenges that add to the urgency for action. One is the need to regulate migration. Take the case of labourers who migrate to Goa in search of jobs which they are denied in their native region. We make use of them to clean our gardens, build our houses, for carpentry, for odd jobs. When they don’t get jobs then for survival they take the easy route and indulge in thefts, burglary and even murders and which is why the crime graph in Goa is rising. There may be terrorist and naxalites entering Goa and which can pose a danger to the people of the state and in the absence of any control and regulations over them we don’t even know who they are? Therefore the state machinery must have a regulation in place and rules should be framed for compulsory screening and registration of all migrants entering Goa. Second we must strive to bring in some measures to control the excessive migrant influx as it is needed to ensure the welfare of Goan residents. We could even consider having a permit system. How many can we permit? Can it be done by restricting the number of industries from coming to Goa? Should the migrant be asked to go back once he has finished with his job? To obviate the fear that migrants may become future rulers can we consider disallowing migrants from voting in Goa? What if every employer is asked to take a sworn affidavit voluntarily from every migrant employee recruited that they will not enrol themselves as voters in the state of Goa? Such workers may be sanctioned leave so as to allow them to vote in their state of origin? All such measures may seem to be against the constitution yet we must find some practical remedies.Third, there are rich migrants who anyhow want to own a piece of land and are willing to pay any price for it. Almost all rich Indians and foreigners be they film stars, industrialists, traders and merchants own a second home in Goa and this is one of the reason why property prices in Goa are soaring and out of bounds for Goans. So can we stop such outsiders from buying properties through obtaining special status for Goa is what all should ponder.(The above is the text of a paper on Migration submitted at the seminar organised by the Goa Study Centre Group.)

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