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Goa........By Eduardo Faleiro,

Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961. It has achieved remarkable progress since Independence particularly in the core sectors such as Education. The literacy rate in Goa then was 30 percent and it has now expanded to 85 percent.

In 1961, in my own village, there was just one primary school with about 100 students. Today, we have in the village, several primary schools and high schools with thousands of students in their rolls. Great strides have been made in the field of education but this has been mainly due to private institutions.

Government school themselves are in an appalling condition. As a result, only those who cannot afford to enroll their children in private schools send them to Government schools. The Fundamental Right to Education for all children upto the age of 14 years is enshrined in our Constitution. “Free Education” should mean not merely free from tuition fees but quality education in Government schools, adequate classrooms and teachers, free uniforms, text books and other educational material for the children of the poor and needy. Inequalities in education will be accentuated in the Computer Age. The dangerous “Digital divide” can only be prevented if necessary steps are taken right now.

The Goa University was established in 1985. It offers both graduate and post graduate studies and research programmes. The University ought to be a centre of academic excellence. It should enable the youth of Goa and of the country at large to deal with and thrive in today’s increasingly competitive world, the global “knowledge society” where education is the key to success. I have requested the Union Minister for Human Resources Development to establish a Centre for Diaspora Studies at the Goa University. The Minister responded enthusiastically and in a very positive manner. Indeed, the study of migration in all its diverse aspects in one of the most fascinating areas of research in present times. Several Universities in major countries study this subject.

However, though the Indian Diaspora has significant communities worldwide none of our academic institutions has facilities for focussed research and teaching in this discipline. The Goa University authorities should pursue the matter with the Ministry of Human Resources Development so that we do not miss this opportunity to upgrade our University.

Significant headway has been made in the fields of healthcare and development of infrastructure such as electricity and water supply, roads and other forms of communication. There are obvious deficiencies in all these sectors but the progress is unmistakable. The greatest gain of Independence has been the feeling of self respect regained, of Liberation, the opening of the portals of opportunity to the vast mass of people who were denied upward mobility over the centuries and perhaps the millennia.

In the Sixties, Tourism was identified as a key sector for Goa’s development primarily because of its potential to generate employment in a State with an increasingly educated work force and limited industrial growth. The objective of employment has been achieved to a large extent inasmuch as about 30 percent of Goa’s population is employed in tourism related activities, directly or indirectly. However, Goa being a small State its carrying capacity in terms of its size, facilities available and ecological fragility need to be considered.

Large influx of foreigners may pose serious problems. Recently, the Philosophy Department of the Rachol Seminary published a Report under the caption “Claiming the Right to say No”. It is a comprehensive study of Israeli tourist behavior in Goa. It speaks of the growing tensions between tourists and local people. It observes that “many other tourist groups defined by nationality, such as Russians, are also making headlines because of a situation of conflict and tension with the local communities”. Tourism ought to be managed in a manner that benefits our people not just in the short term also in the long run. The economic benefits as well as the social costs need to be evaluated. It is also necessary to formulate a development strategy which provides employment to the local people whilst being less dependent on tourism.

Over the last few decades there has been influx of people from other States who come here mostly for employment. Replacement migration happens when it meets the requirements of the local community, the locals not being available in sufficient number either because they themselves migrate to other parts of India or abroad or because they do not possess the required skills. Several laws, both Central and State legislation, enjoin builders and labour contractors to provide residential accommodation, sanitation and other facilities to migrant workers engaged by them. The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1971, the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 and the Goa Daman and Diu Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 1982 are some such laws. This legislation however, does not appear to prevent effectively the various malpractices indulged in by labour contractors and migrant workers. Much of migrant labour lives in slums under the most unhygienic conditions and this poses major health hazards to the migrant as well as to the local population.

Our system of Public Administration is not geared to deal promptly and efficiently with the multifarious tasks before it. Immediate measures need be taken to impose discipline and create a work culture in Government offices. The Chief Minister in his Budget speech, last March, proposed to establish an Institute for Administrative Careers. This is an excellent initiative and it should contribute significantly to improve our Administration. Whilst the Institute is being setup and as a first step, rules may be prescribed on how to deal with files, time limit at various stages and a system of accountability.

Periodical Refresher courses should be conducted for all staff on behaviour, motivation, and other aspects of Public Administration.

At this point of time, the Government and the people of Goa face several challenges. We ought to confront them with courage and determination, with a rational outlook and commitment to a value system anchored on work ethics and the quest for excellence.

Shri Eduardo Faleiro, A former Union Minister and former Commissioner for NRI Affairs with a Cabinet Minister rank in the Government of Goa.