MIGRATION: Educated qualified Goans are forced to migrate to other cities or even countries because there are no jobs for them in Goa. Long queues can be seen outside the Portugese consulate since having a Portugese passport makes it easier to move to any country in the European Union
By Rajan Narayan
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when on the 70th birthday of the nation I felt the sense of the despair. For a Saturday following the week when even Goa which is relatively younger than India seems to be in a bad state. For a Saturday following the week when the Modi Government tried to force patriotism down the throat of the minority community. For a Saturday following the week when the second part of the economic survey admits that GST has affected the growth of the economy.
MIDNIGHT’S CHILDRENnd a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when on the 70th birthday of the nation I felt the sense of the despair. For a Saturday following the week when even Goa which is relatively younger than India seems to be in a bad state. For a Saturday following the week when the Modi Government tried to force patriotism down the throat of the minority community. For a Saturday following the week when the second part of the economic survey admits that GST has affected the growth of the economy.
And a few stray thoughts on the sense of despair over the state of the nation on its 70th birthday. Those who were born in the year 1947 before or after August 15, are referred to as midnight’s children — children who were born in the year of independence and grew up in independent India. I consider myself among the lucky midnight’s children, born just before India became independent in the first week of July. We were the first generation of liberated children who did not experience British dadagiri. Indeed we were the lucky ones who were born to see the blossoming of independent India.
The midnight’s children may not have been present when Nehru made his famous speech at midnight on August 14, 1947, on India’s tryst with destiny. But we all grew up in the excitement of being part of the new India. A new India where the people of India took over the responsibility for the development of India. A new India where the fruits of development were enjoyed by Indians and not by the people of UK.
For centuries the fruits of India were enjoyed by the British and nourished the British colonial empire. The British might have built a railway network in India. They did this not for the benefit of Indians but for their own advantage. It made it easier for them to move cotton and other raw materials needed by the textile mills of the UK to the ports. It also made it easier for them to move their army from one part of the country from other.
The other legacy of British rule was education. To the British goes the credit of setting up the four major universities in the country in Bombay, Kolkata, Madras and in Delhi, which was the capital of the British empire in India. No doubt they did this for their own benefit as they wanted English speaking officers to help them to govern a large country like India. This also unfortunately for the British helped unite all the forces opposed to British Colonial rule. Leaders from all over the country like the Mahatma from Gujarat, to Nehru from Allahabad, and Ambedkar from Maharashtra could not have come together without the English language. Knowledge of English also exposed young Indians to the fight for democracy all over the world.
It was not the private sector which laid the foundation of modern India. Everyone talks about Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh who started the process of liberalisation in the 90s. But when the British were forced to leave India there were no basic infrastructure for development in the country. There were no dams to enable farmers to reduce their dependence on the rains. It was under the leadership of the Nehru that huge steel plants were set up. It was under his leadership that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was set up as early as in the 50s to manufacture planes.
It was during the first decade of independence that Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT), which incidentally made watches in the country for the first time, as well as the Indian Telephone Industry (ITI) were set up. Nehru called them the temples of modern India. It was on his foundation that private industry flourished. The only exception to this was the TATAs who set-up a steel plant even before independence. And of course the first 5-star hotel. The story goes that JRD Tata was refused accommodation in a leading hotel in the country because it was reserved for the English. It was this that provoked him to set up the Taj, now considered among the greatest hotel chains in the world.
The biggest legacy of those who took part in the freedom struggle and formed the first government of independent India was the Constitution, which promised freedom of speech and expression including freedom of worship. And, of course, this included the freedom to eat what you wanted. We are filled with despair on the 70th birthday of the country because freedom of speech has been curtailed. We are filled with despair because the media which is the upholder of the freedom of expression is being choked.
Shockingly the Times Now anchor chose to focus on the Uttar Pradesh government making Vande Mataram compulsory and not the murder of innocent children in the home town of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. I am filled with despair because gau rakshaks are murdering and assaulting people merely on the suspicion that they may have transported or stored or eaten beef. I am pained because patriotism of the Hindutva kind is being forced on secular Indians.
No amount of development can compensate for the loss of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
And a few stray thoughts on Goa which is much younger than the rest of India being much worse off on the 70th birthday of India and the 55th birthday of Goa. Goa is younger because it was liberated from Portuguese colonial rule and became part of India only in December 1961, almost 16 years after India became independent. Admittedly Goa was much worse of then India, as Portugal was then ruled by a dictator. There was no freedom of speech or expression in Goa and anyone who protested against the oppression by the Portuguese was sentenced to long periods in jail, or deported to Portuguese colonies in Africa. Indeed, Ram Manohar Lohia, the Indian leader who visited Goa in 1942 on his release from jail for participating in the Quit India movement, was shocked by the amount of repression in Goa, which was far worse than in British India.
The greatest damage done to Goa by the Portuguese was to deprive Goans of the benefit of education. There were very few schools in Goa before Liberation. You could study only up to the 8th standard and that too in Portuguese. In addition there were a few Marathi schools run by bhatkars for their children and the children of their mundkars. There was not a single degree college offering art science or commerce. Forget about engineering colleges, there was not even an industrial training institute. The only professional college in Goa was a medical college, which was set up to meet the needs of the Portuguese army in Africa.
There was of course no industry in Goa. Most of the population was either involved in mining or moved out of Goa for work. Shamefully, Goa was known in the rest of the country as the land of ABCD, which stood for aayas, butlers, cooks and drivers. Which is why among Goa’s greatest gifts to India and the world were world class chefs like Chef Rego and his mentor Chef Massi after whom a restaurant has been named in the Taj Exotica. Though there were no schools in Goa, the Church had priests who were experts in teaching music. The foundation of many business empires like that of the CMM group and Saliz & Co, was the money earned by the first generation as musicians in the Portuguese and Indian armies. It must be acknowledged that most of the musicians in the Hindi film industry, particularly those who played instruments, were Goans. The song “My name is Anthony Gonsalves” from the movie ‘Amar, Akbar, Anthony’ was a tribute by Laxmikant Pyarelal to the great Goan composer and conductor Anthony Gonsalves.
But on the 70th birthday of India and the 55th birthday of Goa or the Diamond jubilee of the Opinion Poll Goa is in a terrible state. Goa does not have any kind of regional plan for deciding allotment of space for settlement and industry. The RP 2011 was scrapped around 2005 by the Digambar Kamat government. The new regional plan RP 2021 was frozen by the Parrikar government when the BJP returned to power in 2012.
According to the new Town and Country Minister Vijai Sardesai the new regional plan to be called RP 2030, will be ready only by 2020. But builders have been given a big gift through the back door by permitting them transfer of development rights. Which means that if you cannot build on your land because it is within 50 metres of the high tide line you will be compensated with extra FAR in some other part of Goa. Which means that besides mass conversion of farm land and even forests, builders can construct 50 storey buildings like those in Bombay, even though Goa does not have the infrastructure to support this. We have seen what a mess has been made of Panjim by permitting buildings going up to eight floors instead of the traditional Goan rule which stipulated that a building could not go up to more than nine meters which is the height of the average coconut tree.
We are in state of despair because there are no jobs for young Goans in Goa. Unlike during the Portuguese times there are over 800 primary schools in Goa. There are more than a dozen arts and science colleges. There are over 50 industrial training institutes and polytechnics. There are as many as five full-fledged engineering colleges offering courses in IT and electronics, besides mechanical and electrical engineering. But not a single major industrial unit has come up in Goa in the last two decades. All the pharma units in the Verna industrial estate came up during the period of tax concession in early 90s when Goa had a special status.
So much so, Goans who are qualified have to look for jobs outside the state, in Maharashtra and Karnataka. They cannot even become ABCD as these jobs are now taken up by migrants. Even the fish on your table comes to you courtesy the migrant workers. Only the owners of the trawler are Goans. Similarly only the owners of the tourist taxis are Goan. The drivers are migrants. Those who lost their jobs when mining was suspended were primarily migrants. On the 70th birthday of India and the diamond jubilee of opinion poll there are no signs of achhe din promised by Modi in Goa.
And a few stray thoughts on the BJP forcing patriotism down the throats of the minorities. On the eve of Independence Day the Union Education Ministry issued an order that all madrasas should organise Independence Day functions. The madrasas were directed to ensure that all the students and teachers not only took part in the flag-hoisting ceremony but also sang the national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’. The madrasas were also required to videograph the function and send it to the local director of education. If they failed to do so they were liable to punishment.
The only major state in the country which refused to implement the orders of the Centre was West Bengal which has a significant official Muslim population and a large number of refugees from Bangladesh. Mamta Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, refused to direct the madrasas to compulsorily hold Independence Day functions and sing the national anthem. Not because she has no respect for the country or the national anthem which was composed by a Bengali Rabindranath Tagore, but because the directive by the Modi government amounted to doubting the patriotism and loyalty of the minority Muslim community.
We do not know whether the Goa government issued similar orders to the madrasas and the minority Catholic schools in Goa. It is unlikely considering the bye-elections are around the corner and the chief minister, who is also the home minister, is contesting the election. But in principle nobody should be forced to sing the national anthem. Even worse is the rule imposed forcing all cinema theatres to play the national anthem before the commencement of the film. A film show is no place to insult the national anthem. Imagine ABCD “Any Body Can Dance” following the national anthem.
Perhaps it is not unreasonable to expect the people to sing the national anthem on Independence Day provided there is freedom of choice. What is much more objectionable is forcing people to sing the Hindutva anthem Vande Mataram. Unlike the National Anthem which does not single out any caste, community or creed, Vande Mataram may be objected to by minority communities as it calls India “Mother Durga” (a Hindu goddess), equates the nation with Hinduism, and by its origin as part of Anandamatha, a book some feel has an anti-Muslim message. Vande Mataram is not the official national anthem of the country and cannot be forced on people as the UP government of Adityanath is doing.
MORE GST WOES
And a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. Getting the GST number is a nightmare. But your problems do not end when you get your GST number. Every time you raise a bill you have to quote your GST number as also the GST number of the party from whom you are receiving the payment. If the GST applicable to your industry is 5 per cent, as it is in the case of newspapers who are charged 5 per cent GST on ads that they receive, you have to break it up into two parts. On the bill you have to show 2.5 per cent as CGST and the remaining 2.5 per cent as SGST. If you calculate the total GST applicable and showing the share of the state and the centre together your bill will be rejected. However because of interstate issues we were asked to resend an invoice after including IGST of 5 per cent (instead of CGST and SGST of 2.5 per cent each).
Your headache will get worse when you have to start filing your GST returns. In the case of TDS it was simpler as you calculated the TDS, deducted the amount every month from the payment to be made and credited the TDS in the bank on the income tax account. In the case of GST you have to credit the applicable GST from the amount you have received to the government within a month. You also have to prepare a summary of all the payments under GST and file a return. It is been estimated that you may have to file a minimum of 37 returns a year. For large companies the number may even be 37,000. If industrial production has gone down and exports have followed, it is because of the confusion created by GST. The worst affected are small people as the malls and the supermarkets have stopped buying their papads and pickles and mops and brooms as those who make them do not have a GST number.