By Rajan Narayan

It is a matter of concern that Goa has lost its attraction to migrants. The service industry is dependent on migrants. The fall in the growth rate of the population will put further pressure on wages at the existing labor force….

THE flood of migrants has reduced to a trickle. This is dramatized by the steep fall in the growth rate of Goa’s population. The rate of growth of Goa’s population came down to 0.4% between 2015 and 2022. The growth of the population is projected to grow at less than 0.5% till at least 2036.
The increase in the population of Goa historically has been driven by the flow of migrants into Goa. In the 1960-71 decade, the increase in population was 34%. In the next decade, it was 26.7%. In the 1981-1991 decade it fell to 16%. It further fell to 15% in the 1991-2000 decade and to a new low of 8.2% in the 2001-2011 decade. Obviously it is fallen even lower to 0.4%. Indeed, in 2021 there was a negative growth of almost 3,000 in the population of Goa.

THE ethnic Goan population has remained static for almost three decades. Unlike the pre-Liberation generation, Goans in 2020 are limiting children to two or even one. Part of the reason for the decline in the ethnic or native Goan population is the large-scale migration of Goans to the UK, Canada and other countries. A number of Goans have also gone to the Gulf countries to work for better earnings. Nobody has the numbers but the estimated Goan population which is living or working abroad is estimated at 5 lakh. This includes Goans working outside of Goa.
Though a large majority of Goans working abroad in other parts of the country are Catholics, the Hindus are also affected. This is because of the lack of employment opportunities in Goa. There are a number of engineering colleges and institutions of high learning like BITS Pilani and the IIT, also NIIT. But there are no jobs for those who pass out of these institutes. So much so qualified Goans have to go to Bengaluru or Pune for jobs. A lot of them end up in the IT industry in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. There are a number of IT firms in Pune also. Till recently the IT firms used to recruit an average of 50,000 engineers every year. Though IT has slowed down, TCS has plans to recruit 50,000 engineers this year. All these jobs in this IT industry are for fresh graduates.
The harsh ground reality is that no major industries have come up in the last two or three decades. The pharma industry has stopped growing. The only additional jobs are in pharma companies which have started the night shifts.
The service sector has been offering the largest number of jobs in Goa. This includes the hotel and tourism industry which now employs almost 25% of the workforce. The biggest employers are the smaller hotels of tourism business. In recent years casinos have started offering a large number of jobs. The number of malls and shops is growing in Goa offering and therefore there are job opportunities.
The biggest growth area is the caretaker industry. The services sector is more suitable for migrants. The salary levels are very poor. The migrant will accept jobs for Rs10,000 in shops, the Goan will not. This is because Goans can fall back on the family or relatives abroad to support them. Goans tend to wait for government jobs. Government jobs offer bigger wages and total economic and social security. The minimum salary for permanent government jobs is around Rs20,000. The benefits are very generous. They include study leave and one year’s maternity leave. Most of the employees of the service sector are working on a contract basis. So they have no social security.

TILL 2015 migrants met the growing manpower need of the service sector. Companies and shops prefer to have them as they did not take frequent leave. In any case they are paid on contract basis. There was no obligation to provide medical help or pension or any other social security benefit. Goans are not interested for working for shops are even in a hospitality sector. The owners of casinos prefer migrant employees from the north-eastern states.
They may all curse the migrants. The following growth rate of 0.4% would imply that migrants no longer look at Goa as the land of opportunity. There is a limit at the expansion of the service industry. The migrants also face the problem of accommodation. Many of the states from which migrants were coming have shown remarkable development. This makes it less necessary to seek jobs outside their home state.
The migrants who settle in Goa are limiting the number of children. Even those migrants who settle in Goa opt for a better lifestyle then having more kids. This is also true of the minority Muslim population. Hum do, hamare pachpan does not apply to Goa.
As the economic survey rightly points out there will be pressure on the workforce. There will be a shortage of labor for the mining industry. With mines all set to revive perhaps there will be an increase in employment opportunities. Goa desperately needs some large industry units. Goa has to create a climate for the IT industry and for the artificial intelligence giants.
I understand in the last two years most of the growth in the global industry has come from the AI sector. The interesting development is that Google has developed an AI app which can make one-minute videos in a few seconds. All smartphones also offer an app which can instantly translate languages.
The sharp fall in the growth of population is reflected in the declining birth rate. The birth rate has dropped from 11.6% to 9.7% in 2021. It has since fallen even further. The percentage of the population below 13 years of age is shrinking. While at the moment youth between 18 and 29 account for the majority of the population, this will decline.

AS young people grow older the number of senior citizens will increase. Like China perhaps Goa has to encourage couples to have more children. Goa also needs to open up employment opportunities. Focus on tourism will not create enough jobs for Goan youth. It is a matter of concern that the poor migrants have slowed down. Perhaps this is logical as there is no place for more migrants in the economy.
Migrants are not eligible for government jobs. They may limit the growth of the commercial sector. The service industry has reached saturation point. Even the construction industry has slowed down. The wages of the service industry are going down. The cost of living particularly rent is going up. Migrants cannot afford to stay in Goa any longer.

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