By Nisser Dias 28th Oct 2010
Goan migration is an unhealthy trend.
Last week a local news daily carried an item about Goans acquiring Portuguese citizenship and migrating to European countries for better quality of life there. It is said that the pasture is greener on the other side of fence and some of our Goan brethren have bitten the bait and have experienced a better quality of life in the faraway land by way of better education for their children, better health facilities so on and so forth. But the question staring in our faces today, is this a healthy trend for Goa and Goans, who boast about their unique identity and culture.
Undoubtedly it is an individual decision and nobody has the right to impose one’s ideas or perception on the others. Migration has its advantages and disadvantages, but in Goa our authorities are yet to analyze and study the impact of permanent migrations of Goans to other parts of the world.
So far and some decades back, migration of Goans to Gulf or America or elsewhere in the world were purely for employment reasons and one could be sure that Goans would ultimately return to his roots. But this trend has paved the way for permanent settlement especially among the younger generations who were brought up outside the country or rather the state. This is because this particular generation have not experienced our traditions, cultures, our way of living as they were brought up in foreign land, educated and mingled with children of lot other nationalities with a few Goan families for comfort at the place of residence. Thus the love for Goa to them is alien.
Having said so, I do not wish to cast aspersions on those permanently migrating to other countries. Infact many Goans who have opted or rather forced to work abroad due to lack of opportunities here. They have surely given a boost to our economy. The demand for unskilled labour in other countries has been huge and Goans have cashed in on it and made living for their families in Goa comfortable.
But the current trend or acquiring Portuguese citizenship to settle in Europe is disturbing especially to the Catholic community. According to information provided in the House that 1200 Goans have acquired Portuguese citizenship since 2008 is frightful because a time will come in the near future when we will be struggling to maintain our identity. Firstly because of Goans migrating to some other countries and this vacuum is being filled by migrants from other parts of the country.
The scenario looks even bleak for the Christian community first because for decades now Christian families had adopted two children per family system and the trend is further changing to one child per family. This coupled with the fact that a large section of Christian community seeking employment oversees. If one assess the percentage of Christians in government departments including police department one will realize that barely 5 to 10 percent of the employees are from the Christian community.
To further add to this dwindling numbers a large section of Christian community prefer to stay single because of host of reasons like unemployment and also employment abroad which keeps them away from their families, long working hours with hardly any time for families and some simply do not want the shoulder the burden of marriage and family. To add to this number is the high rate of divorce cases which scuttle family ties.
In contrast to this Hindu communities are more conservative in nature even today, they marry among their own communities, still seek employment closer to home and family, though the trend in Hindu families is also changing to two children system the Hindu community is on a stronger wicket.
Then there is another angle to this Portuguese citizenship. Even after Goans acquire foreign citizenship, it is not mandatory for them to give up their rights in Goa. Infact the government protects their property rights here causing a lot of heartburn to relatives living here. For example one Goan family had migrated to Portugal almost five decades back. Their children were also born and brought there and they have not once bothered to visit Goa. But as of today this same family is demanding share of ancestral property here.
The government has the details of migration with it, it should study the intricacies, complexities and legality of the matter and come out with legislation that allows Goans to acquire Portugal citizenship but at the same time, government should also safeguard the interests of Goans staying behind. If at all Goans have not acquired Gulf citizenship, it is because Gulf countries do not have the policy of granting citizenship to any foreigner. This have proved to be a boon to the state otherwise thousands of Goans would have preferred to acquire citizenship there. Of course in some case some Goan families after working for some years in Gulf have migrated to Canada, Australia, America and even New Zealand.
However whatever said and done migration of Goans in huge numbers is not very healthy for our state and the government should evolve ways and means to discourage the trend. The government should seriously think of creating opportunities for the younger generations to stay back, it should revamp its policies regarding education and health. This would also infuse fresh blood in the functioning and administration of the state and also help in building our economy.
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