SHRINK: The enrolment in primary schools has shrunk following the drop in the birth rate.

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when it was revealed that the birth rate in Goa has been sharply declining over the last few years. For a Saturday following the week when Goa and particularly capital city Panaji was flooded for more than a week. For a Saturday following the week when Goan mine owners are been evicted from Goa by outsiders. For a Saturday following the week when in the tradition of the double-engine Narendra Modi, Vishwajit Rane has built a bridge in Valpoi.
AND a few stray thoughts on the revelation that the birth rate in Goa has been sharply declining over the last few years. The birthrate which was on an average of 11 to 12% per every 1,000 adults has come down from 8% to 9%. This clearly indicates that Goans, whether locals or migrants, are having fewer children. It is primarily the niz Goenkars who are cutting down on the number of children they can bring up and nurture into adulthood.
This recent trend is linked to the cost of living as couples are finding it increasingly difficult to fund the education of their children. Goan women also marry much later than women in the north Indian states. Whereas in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar young women particularly in the villages are married off at the age of 14, the average age of marriage in Goa is 30. This is because there are no suitable boys.
Most of the eligible boys have migrated abroad. Particularly among the Hindus women don’t migrate. It is also a rigidity of caste when it comes to Hindu marriages. This makes it difficult because there are many cases where the ratio of girls to boys is negative. This means that there are not enough girls for the boys in a particular caste to get married. We recall that a very bright GSB lawyer remained unmarried because her parents couldn’t find a boy of her status in the community. The decline in the birth rate will primarily affect the niz Goenkar.
This is because migrants from the other Indian states either come to Goa already with their children or have more children than local Goans. This is in sharp contrast to an earlier generations of Goans who used to have eight to nine children in each family. As a consequence of the fall in birth rate enrollment in schools has also fall in.

AND a few stray thoughts on when Goa and particularly Panaji was flooded for more than a week. There has always been flooding in Panaji. Historically, the worst affected areas are 18 June road and the Kadamba bus stand vicinity. This year because of the mega Smart City road works undertaken almost entire Panaji sports big and small lakes everywhere.
Even the main thoroughfare of Dayanand Bandodkar road filled up with six inches depth of rain. The Minister for Revenue Babush Monserrate has admitted that the road works done by Smart City contractors is sub-standard. Many of the drainage pipes are more than 50 years old and heavily choked. Panaji and other cities in Goa do not have a clear interconnected underground drainage system anymore for it is blocked up by constructions here and there.

AND a few stray thoughts on Goan mine owners being evicted from Goa mines by outsiders. All the existing leases owned by Goans have been cancelled. This is following a decision of the Central government that mining leases can only be leased and not be allowed to be retained by the existing mine owners. There have been two rounds of leasing held over the last three months. The Goan mine owner has not been able to bid high enough to get the leases.
A leading traditional mine owner Shivanand Salgaocar told me that the amount offered by Jindal and Vedanta were so high that Goan mine owners could not match it. Both Jindal and Vedanta have a vested interest as they have steel plants in neighboring Karnataka. So much so they will be able to use the ore mined in Goa for their steel plants in Karnataka next door.
Already the transport infrastructure has been created for them by the double-engine government. The railway track between Goa and Hospet-Bellary has been doubled. The number of trucks transporting ore and coal have also increased. The MPT has set up additional jetties for downloading the increasing amount of coal imports.
Actually, the decline of the Goan mining industry started over a decade ago. The Dempos were among the biggest mine owners who sold their entire stake to Vedanta. In the split between the Salgaocar brothers, Shivananad chose to retain the mines. This proved to be a disastrous decision for him.

AND a few stray thoughts on the shocking closure of the Salgaocar Football Club. The Salgaocar Football Club was started in 1967 and was the most successful football club in India. The club won all the major trophies ranging from the Santosh Trophy to the Rover Cup to even the Asia Cup. Salgaocar was amongst the top four teams at the national level. Over 60% of the players in the national football team were from the Salgaocar club.
The closure of the Salgaocar club could also be due to the starting of the professional Goa league which is a company owned by Nita Ambani. While initially the Salgaocar and Dempos joined hands to create the Goa FC, they surrendered their franchise. This is because in the very first tournament, Bombay FC owned by Reliance played foul and beat up Dattaraj Salgaocar. Dattaraj refused to continue with the franchise and it is now with Jaydev Mody of the casino empire.

AND a few stray thoughts on the tradition of the double engine Narendra Modi, when Vishwajit Rane built a bridge in Valpoi. It has been the specialty of the Modi government to build expressways and bridges galore. It may be recalled that Modi took great pride in building an expressway in UP where heavy-duty defense transport claims could land.
In Goa, it was the late Manohar Parrikar who was fascinated with bridges. Parrikar was obsessed with the Atal Sethu bridge which offered connections through Ponda, Vasco, Margao without having to pass through Panaji. In fact Parrikar was so obsessed with Atal Sethu that on the eve of his passing away soon he insisted on driving up to the bridge in an ambulance. Holding on to the railing of the bridge, he said eloquently, “Hosh hai au josh bhi hai!”
Now imitating Modi and Parrikar, we have Vishwajit Rane who is behind the construction of the Paikul Bridge and a concrete road connecting the bridge in Sattari. In keeping with Modi tradition too we saw two front page advertisements in the newspapers publicizing the inauguration of the bridge and offering congratulations to themselves.

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