As a state Goa’s problem are unique than faced by other states. Several sections of Goan society have started showing concerns over the rising migration trends in Goa. Also on the other hand we have rising health issues and unemployment. Goa’s unemployment level can be as high as 51%. However goan mentality is to consider anything except government service as unemployment might have contributed to this large figure.
I am personally against discriminating the non-goans purely because they are non-goans. History of world has been shaped by migrations. And civilizations that tried to be closed eventually became extinct or weak. New people bring with them new challenges as well as new ideas. What we need to do is effectively manage this flow for the benefit of all.
As long as there exists strong economic differences between two regions it is likely that people will try to move from poor region to rich region. Several goan engineers including myself had to shift to other state simply because Goa did not offer me good opportunity.
The tricky part here is that while flow of migrants enters Goa which indicated presence of opportunities for job and work, the native goan population seems to be struggling with rising unemployment.
Goa’s unemployment problem can not be solved in traditional fashion. Because our land resources are limited we can not welcome industries that take a whole lot of space (expect it for a cheap price from government) and offer few opportunities. Instead the focus should be on those industries which use people as their core engine.
This leave agriculture out of question. Focusing on Cashew and Coconuts will bring only poverty to goans. Instead we need industries where people are central. This would include industries such as IT, ITES, Call Centers, Health, Travel, Hospitality and Education. Secondly, many industries in Goa, like construction industry, hospitality sector relies on labor that comes from outside goa. It is because a person in Cancona who would fit the job profile is unable to shift of Panaji but a person from Hubli or Bihar is ready. The moral here is that when a Goan labor travels from Cancon to Panaji he has to give up a lot of luxuries where as it is exactly the opposite case for Bihari or Karnataki labor.
My solution to this is, a well-connected super-fast public transportation system. Something so efficient that can help a person from Cancon reach panaji in less than an hour with very trivial amount of money. This can be a metro, BRTS or Mumbai like train system. But it should offer very good connectivity across entire Goa. If someone finds this idea too costly to be implemented he must look at the 1000 crore sea link project government is proposing.
Secondly, government must urge industries such as Education and Health besides Tourism. All these three industries are people centric. They need people of all qualification. The kind of migrant population it brings is temporary and unobtrusive for the native culture. Besides this gives massive benefit to the local people as well. E.g. A good state of art hospital may treat native goans at cheaper rates. A good MBA college might keep few seats for goans and better tourist places would mean better public life for native goans.
I am not really in favor of IT industry and Call centers because there are more cons that pros. They mostly hire engineers and more qualified people whose demand can never be met completely by the Goans themselves. They bring with them permanent migrants which will come here and settle forever. It brings with it a lot of youth with lot of newly earned money to spend with. There is absolutely nothing wrong in someone young earning a lot of money except that it increases the cost of living in area un-necessarily. Also these industries have no services to offer to the local people and industries.
Other industries I can see are those of Fashion, Entertainment, Gold, Art and Literature. 10 years back having a degree in fine arts, poetry or something like that was considered to be non-worthy of a good life. It was an era of industrialization where man who was more like machine was given preference. This scene has completely changed on a global scale. Soon i will come in India or probably it is already there. If we can catch these industries which generate lot of wealth with hardly any tangible resources.
But tapping these opportunities will need both efficient short-term planning and long-term capacity building. It is not enough to simply offer incentives to a particular sector from its power needs to the water consumption the government needs to have a long-term plan. Should we allow 13 storey buildings or 24 storey towers in next 20 year? What about the law and order situation? What sort of planning does it need? What about disaster management? Without any industries and population burst Goan rivers are already on the verge of extinction.
There is a third element to all this. We have seen it’s glimpses in Karnataka’s Mhadei project. Goa being a small state and with its insignificant representation at center there are chances that bigger states like Karnataka and Maharshtra might run over its interests. We should take a few lesson from Singapore’s PM Lee Kuan Yew. He said in his recent address to US-ASEAN business summit.
“Small countries have little influence on international trends. Singapore has always taken the world as it is. We analyze the world clinically, take advantage of opportunities that come our way or get out of harm’s way. This evening, I hope to share with you some of my views on some major international trends.”
I think Goa needs to reduce it’s dependence on just one state in terms of resources like electricity and eatables. We need to have several redundant supply chains. Besides if Goa develops an industry such a say “Book Publishing” or say “Fashion Industry”, it can always outsource some of it’s dependencies to both the neighboring states. Especially those processes that require more tangible resources. E.g. if Goa becomes the Milan of India for fashion industry actual manufacturing of clothes and related items can be out-sourced to neighboring population of Karnataka and Maharashtra. With a good part of these states being economically dependent or at mercy of Goa’s unique industries we will have a larger political influence over central stage.
Now, my ideas are not those of an economist or an expert but that of a Cynic. There are thousand bright ideas that can come up from the best of minds around us. But the basic ingredients of development are Good Governance and leaders with foresight and competence. The only thing that matters in politics is religion and dole. Our political hardly shows any competence except the example of Mr. Parrikar.
There is very little hope from my side, but then it will give me the right to say “I told you so”. May be that day I wouldn’t feel like saying it. ( But damn, I did tell you so)