Saturday, October 10, 2015
Unhappy And Jobless, Goans Were Forced To Migrate by Jose Maria Miranda
I am returning to this, my fortnightly column, after a gap of nearly two months. A tour of Europe kept me away from Goa, which I cannot really keep out of sight for long and surely never out of mind. The eagerness in meeting old friends and seeing how much some cities had developed since I last saw them, around 30 years back, during my stint in Paris, did not permit me to keep fully in touch with happenings in Goa. In a way this helped me in making my trip a little more enjoyable, far from the disturbing news that newspapers are constrained to bring out because there is hardly anything good happening in Goa.
Among the countries I visited, Switzerland was surely the most beautiful, a real tourist paradise, in contrast with Goa, also considered as one, at one time. Portugal has progressed immensely, particularly in communications, roads and highways – a clear benefit of its membership of the European Union. What attracts thousands of tourists to Portugal is the warmth, affability and friendly disposition of its people. One would have hoped that some of the staff at the Portuguese Consulate in Goa would have displayed the same qualities towards the Goan tourists visiting Portugal. In contrast, people born in Goa, Daman or Diu before December 1961 can easily obtain Portuguese passports when due circumspection needed to be exercised since Portugal itself is not in a position to offer jobs to them.
Incidentally, Goans I met in Portugal were not in favour of their Goan compatriot, Antonio Costa, some of them emphatically saying “We hope he loses”. Eventually he did. No personal animosity, only the feeling that the Socialists could further damage the economy of the country. Antonio Costa belongs to the same Party as Mario Soares, whom Goans, in general, consider the grave digger of Goa having signed a treaty with India surrendering Goa on a platter, without any consultations with Goans or ensuring any safeguards against the onslaught that this State is facing at present.
Though I rarely go out of the country, every time I do and watch the progress that the countries I visit have made, my thoughts go back to my country, to my Goa, where corruption, indiscipline and lack of respect for human life reign supreme. In fact, these are the factors that have taken the country backwards and continue to prove disastrous for our development. If these were my thoughts, they were corroborated by fellow Goans and even other Indian friends I met, all of whom expressed that while they love their motherland, they could not or will not return until things improve, which they themselves felt was only a distant dream, as they did not see much hope for India the way it is going. India surely has the brains that few countries can boast of. But look at the brain drain, the exodus of talented people! Prime Minister Modi, who has the gift of the gab and is able to attract thousands on his unending trips abroad, has coined the slogan “Make in India” Why not accompany it with “Return to India”.
Can he do it or will anyone even care to listen? Goans, in particular, did not have a good word about India and blamed the Centre for the situation Goa is in today. Where is the promise of maintaining our identity made by Nehru and of Special Status by Prime Minister Modi? Can we trust them? – was their refrain. They hold Indian and Goan leaders responsible for the exodus of thousands from Goa and were thankful to Portugal for issuing them passports which enabled them to have a better future abroad. “Why should we have left our Goa, our homes and some of us, our families if we had good jobs there?” they asked. One of them said that he had come to Britain ten years back with Pds. 400 and now owned two houses. Would I ever be able to do that in Goa even in my lifetime? – was his question.
I visited the Portuguese city of Oporto and was pained to see a number of houses and buildings in dilapidated condition and many on sale. The thought came to me whether Goa will meet the same fate in the near future. Unlike the previous generations, our families are small today. Children are migrating for better prospects with little hope of their return for good. The crooked minds in Delhi and Goa are already working on regularization of illegal houses giving an edge to non-Goans. Eventually they will also make tenants and caretakers legal occupants. After all, this is India
I have always felt that each one is a king in one’s own place. We will always be considered strangers or foreigners elsewhere. Yet, the clear impression I gathered is that despite the love of our people for the land of their birth or origin, they would never wish to exchange it for the comforts, rights and privileges they enjoy in the countries where they have settled.