Next month we will celebrate forty-three years since Indian forces moved into Goa and took it over as "acquisition by conquest". Those are not my words but those of the Supreme Court of India. That Goa, since its "liberation" from Lisbon, has progressed in large strides since 1961,is unquestionable. In a span of a decade, villages moved from candlelight and pontis to electricity and fluorescent tubes. Villagers who slept at 9.00 p.m. each night now sleep at 11.00 p.m. or later. Cable television ensures that they rise even later in the morning. In 1993, I recall how the entire of Colvale was up and about at 5.00 am. Now, even the ladies who the wood fires slumber past 6.30 am. On Sundays, when the villages were socially active from 5;00pm to 7.00 p.m., it was a joy to meet friends and relations. Oil lamps still went out at 9.00 p.m. Now, between the village church and temple, loudspeakers ensure that Sundays are ruined. Sleepy villages with dusty roads now have thundering national highways that cut through the heart of villages. Let us not forget the good that came with being part of India. Most importantly we became equal citizens. Electricity, tarred roads and telephones everywhere. Also, piped water, cable telev sion, better transport and trade, more jobs. Never mind that all these go on the blink with alarming regularity. Such alarming regularity that one wonders if it is a good thing to have them at all. There is much to be done in Goa though. Due to governments that fall quicker than stock exchanges and the musical chairs of the CM's, we have lost out on progress. By, progress, I mean real, concrete progress. Not the stuff that gets done just because there is a CHOGM or IFFI. I recall as early as 1987 the plan for a united Europe had begun. Poorer countries like Greece and Portugal went under the microscope. Problems and assets were identified by the central U committee. Cities and villages followed a central plan. Work begun to provide health, finance, public areas, education, infrastructure for trade, etc. And most amazingly, rather spectacularly, the plans because a reality by the time the Euro was introduced in the European economy. Look at Goa. Everyone said the CHOGM road would not be ready on time. It was! Which goes to prove that if we set a time and date, we can get things done. So, why doesn't Goa come up with a plan for the next ten years ? A plan that allows every village to have water, parks for the young and old, sports facilities for the young, industry for the villa e, parking areas, shopping areas, schools. We need these facilities in each village. Instead, we have more ugly houses and factories and no plans for these vital necessities. When a village or housing plan is set up for land in Canada, there are plans first for infrastructure: pavements, clinics, parks, walkways, etc. Here in Goa a housing board plan means taking prime hill land and making eight to ten 70's style buildings. No plans for the people who live in nor respect for the village below. The Goa Government has become a castrated eunuch by Delhi. Politicians play to the tune of Delhi bureaucrats. Budgets are a mess. Our hills are planned by Indians who do not care if Goa died or not. Our foreign exchange from mining does not even come to Goa. Jawaharlal Nehru said that Goans should rule and decide the future of Goa Unfortunately his power crazy and politically incompetent daughter set the country on a backward track into crazy Communist-inspired themes that did not work. After Mrs. Gandhi, it went further downhill in terms of how power in Delhi can corrupt, destroy and eventually annihilate Goa. Sometimes I wonder if we should secede from India. First we had the noose from Lisbon. Now we have it from Delhi. Is it time to call for a new liberation ? Can we make Goa a principality like Monaco is to France ? Can we have back our communidade land that was tended so lovingly by our ancestor but now sold to factories ? Can't we run our own State in true democratic style: For, of and by Goans ? Can we please set a plan in motion that can save Goa and save Goa and keep our Goan identity before bungling fools in Delhi overrun us completely ?! I have spent sleepless nights, discussed endlessly with friends whether we should form an army like the Shiv Sena did in Maharashtra and give Goa back to the Goans. When I expressed my views to other Goans, they (not surprisingly) agreed. If New Delhi and our wonderful Goan politicians want to maintain the status quo, I demand a ten-year plan that addresses the following :
1. Education - In ten years we will be stuck in the same education rut. Some schools are still in village homes with badly lit rooms, no computers, no power and no facility nor space for sport. The Goa University needs to be upgraded and stand alongside the best in the world (Forget about the best in India. We mus look internationally). 2. Finance - There is so much to be done here that I leave the CM to do the planning. But yes ! Our foreign income from mines must come to Goa; not Delhi. 3. Health - The trend is thus : If you fall sick, rush to Bangalore or Mumbai(Bombay) Mumbai. Considering we had Asia's first medical college set up, this is a scandal. The villages need 24 hours pharmacies and items such as anti-venom. The rural health needs should to be addressed; not some urban plans that work in Indian cities
4. Power - What power ? It fails Goa everytime. Need we say more ? And we expect industry to work ?
5. Labour - A plan to educate Goans in a manner that provides jobs, security and awareness. The migrant labour situation needs to be controlled and monitored. And while we speak of that, hrow out those lazy central beaurocrats who treat Goa as a difficult posting and don't care for Goa. 6. Communidades - Stop the stealing of commune lands. The centre has no right to destroy our hills in the name of so called progress. 7. Law - A law plan that works for the common man and settles disputes. A law that empowers the wronged and not pamper criminals. A law that keeps Ministers, MLA's and administrators in check. 8. Transport, Town planning, PWD - Systems for Goans, by Goans and of Goans. No plans by people in Delhi who don't know or care about basic problems that affect Goans. What works in other states cannot apply here. 9. Water Resources - Plans to harvest and provide water. Control and maintain the ground water levels in every village. 10. Culture and Art - This portfolio should not be planned and managed by SSC pass asses who become culture Ministers. It should be in the hands of the artists and people who hold up our Goan culture. 11. Sports - Quite simply, sportspeople get the worst deals. They are controlled by manipulating people who look at the money in sports. And how can we expect star athletes unless we start young in school (like in China)? 12. Tourism - This is our lifesaver. It cannot run alongside other industries. How can we expect tourists to come and sit on a beach or balcao and admire the polluting chimneys of factories. T ere are so many countries that make a successful economy work based only on tourism. With the famed Goan hospitality, culinary skills, warmth and cultural reservoir, we can do better......... if we did a plan. So Delhi and Goa, are you listening ? One day soon, if a plan is not put in place, expect a second liberation to free Goa.
The column above appeared in the Nov. 2004 issue of Goa Today