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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Carving the future of Goa


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On the occasion of Goa Liberation Day. Let me while wishing my fellow Goans today, categorically state, Goa should never become a Shanghai or Hong Kong, or Macau in its rapid urbanization to drive its economics but it must certainly learn to adapt and adopt new economic modules beyond its tourism prowess to scale new heights in its economy over the next two decades.

Goa is a unique state that is loved because it blends and balances rural living with an urban mindset. People leaving cities and flocking to Goa is a clear indication that this trend is occurring because city life drains people of their energy and their creativity.

The danger Goa faces is if politicians and architects of its future in their ignorance intend to turn the state into an urban melting pot of business, tourism, leisure, and a destination seeing an unprecedented rise in migrant population from all over India.

Turning Goa into a metropolis in the years to come will kill the soul of Goa. Goa is loved because living the life of Goan is the life most people crave in India.

There is a perceived image of Goa that it is all about sex, drugs, and alcohol but it is definitely not that. Goa is not about no holds barred fun. It is about fun with responsibility. Sex, drugs, and alcohol is not the hallmark of Goa alone. Most cities in India have these vices and in some cities they are alarming.

Goa needs to upgrade its profile not only in tourism but also it’s positioning as a business destination. Goa is a state that welcomes all without bias. But sometimes, some take the welcome for granted and bring disrepute to the image of Goa. Goa needs a better class of tourists. It needs to cater to different tourists, differently. It must certainly have a party destination tag but it can also be a state that promotes high-end leisure tourism with golf courses, marinas, and leisure spas or Ayurveda centers. These ideas must become a reality in a sustainable development model. We do not need to violate our ecology to roll out such plans.

Goa of the future must be driven by technology. Being a small state, it can implement newer innovative smart ideas to enhance the standard of living of its people. Its small population is its biggest asset. It will be easy to unfold newer and ecologically sensitive ideas in sustainable development, economic development, and social development. Every constituency in Goa could easily be turned into a smart constituency encompassing inter-constituency transport systems, technologically driven ideas to better agriculture, fishing, and animal husbandry businesses, a robust healthcare system, futuristic education modules, and deliverance of social welfares programs of the government and NGOs.

Goa’s history has taught us that every village republic was thriving socially and economically. Each village republic functioned with the simple responsibility that, that village has to have a socio-economic future distinct from another village republic. Therefore, I think it is time to create a socio-economic plan for each constituency in Goa to ensure that each constituency scales new heights in its socio-economic indexes.

Goa must not be about focusing on a few constituencies only and neglecting a few constituencies based on electoral biases. Migrants from villages in Goa moving to the cities is precisely because we continue to make the mistake of not focusing on the socioeconomic development of each and every constituency.

A classic example of a poor-equitable distribution of Goa’s tourism prowess is the over-dependency of successive governments on coastal tourism revenues instead of turning the entire Goa into a potential tourism hotspot. As stated, Goa has not even started scratching the surfaces of the potential of the hinterland, village, and ecotourism.

Mining was one of Goa’s main revenue sources and then it is tourism. Stoppage of mining did impact Goa’s economy and now that it is limping back normality with stricter guidelines it will march ahead to occupy the space of Goa’s economic generator. However, I am of the opinion that as a state, Goa must go beyond mining and tourism. It has great potential in IT, Startup Incubation, Creative Jobs, Education, Healthcare, Aerospace & Defense, and Agriculture (in particular organic and natural farming). Goa also has a huge potential to be a hub for research and development.

Goa cannot aim to achieve success based on modules adopted by bigger states. It needs to create its own unique proposition. In the healthcare sector, Goa has the potential to have a robust healthcare economy coupled with rising demand for medical tourism. Goa needs to open its doors to people from outside of Goa and Internationally in healthcare by setting up more hospitals in Public Private Partnerships and also by pushing medical and Ayurveda tourism with high-end Wellness projects.

Education is one sector I believe if focused upon can change the face of Goa. But sadly, education is the last subject on the minds of successive governments in the state. Even the people have not opened their eyes to the potential of education not only for the children of Goa but also for the economic sector for students from other regions of India and internationally.

The recent agitation over IIT in Sanguem Goa is a reflection of the lack of proper planning and failure to take local Goans into confidence before embarking on such a prestigious project. Renowned universities in India and Internationally must make Goa their base in their India-focus plans and the government must develop a policy to turn Goa into an education hub.

In fact, India has to showcase Goa as an example in the EV sector. It can roll out an extensive plan across constituencies not just cities. People can be encouraged to use EV cycles, EV motorbikes and EV buses.

The opportunities for Goa’s economic progress is plentiful. Goa can put India on a global map in the burgeoning startup space by catering to its unique focus of turning Goa into a Startup Incubation Hub. Goa has the right mix of atmosphere and culture to drive creativity and ideation. Startups can innovate in Goa and then scale it up outside of Goa.

Goa needs a vision of its own and not a borrowed vision. Goa must remain Goa, it in its rural life with an urban mindset that its future lies. It is in its intellectual quotient that economic progress will steadily rise and more importantly it is in its minute focus on constituencies rather than cities or the state that the future will prosper.



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