ROOFS: Most Goans would not have a roof over their head but for the construction labour from Karnataka who take up jobs in which Goans are not interested
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
At the Goenkarponn awards ceremony on Saturday, June 23, organised by TransformGoa convenor John Desa, there was a lot of anger expressed over the flood of migrants threatening to drown Goa
On Saturday, at a function organised not by Vijai Sardesai but a non-resident Goan, John Desa, there was an out-burst against the growing flood of migrants from Reginald Lourenco, the Curtorim MLA. Reginald cited the example of how last week when the transmission line near his house had broken due to heavy rains, the linesman who came to attend to it was from Karnataka. Reginald was so upset about the flood of migrants threatening to take over Goa that he even wanted an extension of the domicile period. He lamented that more and more second and third generation migrants had permanently settled in Goa and qualified for all benefits because they have domicile certificates.On Saturday, at a function organised not by Vijai Sardesai but a non-resident Goan, John Desa, there was an out-burst against the growing flood of migrants from Reginald Lourenco, the Curtorim MLA. Reginald cited the example of how last week when the transmission line near his house had broken due to heavy rains, the linesman who came to attend to it was from Karnataka. Reginald was so upset about the flood of migrants threatening to take over Goa that he even wanted an extension of the domicile period. He lamented that more and more second and third generation migrants had permanently settled in Goa and qualified for all benefits because they have domicile certificates.
The requirement for jobs in the government is 15 years domicile in Goa and knowledge of Konkani. Most second generation and third generation migrants speak better Konkani then locals. Reginald also drew attention to the fact that a Nepali who is not even an Indian citizen managed to get an LDC job claiming he was domiciled in Goa. It is not only Reginald D’Souza who is angry over the fact that Goans finds it difficult if not impossible to get jobs in Goa. Rohan lashed out against Central
government organisations and even business houses based in Goa who held recruitment camps in neighbouring Belgavi and Sindudurga. Minister of Revenue, Information Technology and Labour & Employment, Rohan Khaunte, would like local businesses to give priority to Goans in jobs. He also wants new industries such as the Mopa airport to provide training to Goans instead of providing the excuse that there are no competent Goans to fill the vacancies. It is true that the flood of migrants is increasing by the day. I would not be surprised if at least 500 new migrants come to Goa everyday. When I was recovering from a heart attack at the GMC I needed an attendant urgently since my better three quarters had to take care of the paper. An agency based in Aldona, which has a branch in Panjim, sent me a young 20-year-old ‘hep’ Naga. He had just arrived by train or bus the same day and had no experience of being an attendant or any other job. I was naturally horrified at the prospect of someone who did not know even English or Hindi, leave alone Konkani, being an attendant. Whenever I go to any five star hotel or grade one restaurant these days I find the waiters staring at me if I speak to them in Konkani. Earlier most of the waiters used to be from Rajasthan and UP. But increasingly the tendency is to employ people from the Northeast. The old Nepali who used to work as watchmen in the houses of the sahebs have all become Chinese cooks. Even the trainees or interns in the 5-star and 7-star hotels are from outside Goa. On one occasion when I ordered some breakfast in my room it took a long time reaching. When I inquired I was told that the intern has joined only two days ago and did not know his way around the hotel!
MIGRANTS IN CATERING
Everyone complains about lack of skilled labour in Goa. This of course is true to a large extent. But this does not apply to the hospitality industry where there are literally hundreds of catering institutes. Most of the students in the catering institutes are from outside the State. There are even catering institutes which specialised in supplying labour to cruise liners. On my last trip to a 5-star hotel at Panjim I found an intern who has studied in an institute in Kolkata. So the question that comes to my mind is why do Goans not enrol in these catering institutes. Is it because of the price and the fact that many of them charge very high fees? Whether in shacks on the beaches or the standalone restaurants or 5-star hotels, why can’t we find any Goans even as waiters or in the house keeping department which does not require much skill. Is perhaps the fact that interns are paid so badly — as little as `2,000 per month — the reason that no Goan wants the jobs? Even Goans who enrol as interns spend the minimum time possible to get a certificate and then pay agents a few lakhs to get jobs on cruise liners. The bitter reality as far as the hospitality industry is concerned is that they exploit interns and do not pay them living wages. It is only 5% of the staff of 5-star hotels who get handsome salaries commensurate with the foreign brands like Hyaat and Meridian that they represent. All the rest get Goan salaries which, according to one of the speakers at the seminar on Goekarponn, are not enough to meet the life style expectations of Goans.
This is a little unfair, although it is true that most Goans will not work for low wages. You will not find Goans working as mechanic for `8,000 even after five years without much increase in salaries. You will not find Goans doing manual jobs in the construction industry, even though Goa is the state where construction labour gets the highest salary. The minimum wage for unskilled labour is `500 and could be much higher for skilled labour like masons and even carpenters. It has been my experience that the majority of electricians plumbers and Ac mechanics are outsiders, even though I suspect that they must be making at least `20,000 a month. Even the fishermen working on the trawlers during the fishing season are from Orissa and Karnataka. Contrary to the general impression, many of the taxi drivers whom everyone likes to hate are not Goans, but outsiders, although the owners of the taxis are Goans. The Goans who went to the Gulf and made some money came back and invested in taxis and then hired drivers to run them. The same is true of the trucks driven to transport iron ore. Of the 20,000 or more drivers, the majority were migrants. So when we talk about mining-dependent Goans we are taking about the owners of the trucks and not the drivers. Talking of the lifestyle of the Goans it is true that unlike migrants, Goans will not do manual jobs for the salary offered at least in Goa. Which is not so surprising as most people in the country would not like to do menial jobs in their own villages or towns because of the social stigma. You might clean toilets in the Dubai airport, but cannot tell your neighbours that you are cleaning toilets at the Dabolim Airport. Also unlike migrants who will eat ragi rotis and live in small little slum-like rooms which are 10×2 owned by Goans, niz goenkars will not live in such accommodations in India. Though they may live in dormitories and cook their own food as it is very expensive to eat out. Goans cannot live without their fish curry and their caju feni. So in that sense the Goans are thoroughly spoiled by the Portuguese who kept the price of liquor low to keep Goans under control. A policy which is been followed by post Liberation governments. But if you want a good life style, live in a large house, eat fish-curry day and night, and have your drink every evening, you have to work for it. There is nothing like a free lunch. And as both bhatkars and mundkars keep selling their lands to builders for houses for people from Delhi and Bombay costing crores of rupees, they have no choice but to start working. So if they want to continue to live the Goan lifestyle they have to equip themselves with the skills needed for earning salaries which can give them enough resources to maintain their Goan lifestyles.
This is not impossible. On the contrary Goans outside Goa have reached the highest positions in their careers. The head of one
of the largest IT companies in the world, Cognizant, is a Goan — Frank DSouza. A Goan, Gracias Saldanha, is the founder of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals — now in the news for promoting a feminine hygiene product through Vidya Balan. His son, Glenn Saldanha, now runs the company and is responsible for its growth and expansion. The area director of the Taj group of hotels, Vincent Ramos, is a Goan. The HR director of Hoechst Pharma for many years was George Menezes, a Goan and a renowned author, columnist and diplomat. The heads of most advertising agencies in Mumbai, like Gerson Da Cunha and the late Frank Simoes, are Goans. The countries best editor was Frank Moraes, who was editor of both TOI and Indian Express. General Rodrigues was the Chief of the Army for several years. The most reputed police officer in the country is Julio Ribeiro. Goans have done outstandingly well outside Goa and India. The owner of Air Asia is a Goan, Tony Fernandes. So the question is why has the Goan failed to do well in Goa. One reason perhaps could be the fact that Goans will not starve if they won’t work unlike the migrants. There is always the family home and fish in the river and they can make their own feni or maad from the trees growing in the backyard. They have a reserve income because there is a relative in the Gulf or in London or Paris who will send them some money. Prioritising social ties when in Goa is perhaps another factor. Employers are often unwilling to employ Goans because rate of absenteeism is very high. The Goan will want a holiday for the village feast. He will want a holiday for every zatra. He will want a holiday for all the weddings, funerals, first-birthdays in the family. He will want a holiday to attend the Carnival. When I first started the Herald I had to lock the office doors from outside so as to prevent my staff running away to the ‘Red & Black’ dance.I am convinced that if Goans work hard and sincerely they can reach the top anywhere. I have trained hundreds of journalist during my 20 years at Herald. Most of them are in the Gulf and can buy the Goan Observer if they want to. Some of them are even in Singapore and China. Most of the senior employees of TOI in Goa itself including their city editor and senior correspondent Gauree Malkarnekarare products of the Rajan Narayan school of journalism who cut their teeth at the Herald and Goan Observer.One problem is with the educational system in Goa and the laziness of Goans. I had two interns from a BBA course in Margao. They spent a month without doing any work and still wanted a certificate. This is like a young man asking for a certificate that he had worked in kitchen owned by a friend. My friend I recall told him at least learn how to cut potatoes before asking for a certificate!