In the last column I had discussed the advantages of having Special Status under Article 371 of the Constitution. Today let me address some of questions asked about this demand
True there are a few questions like how do you define a Goan. Would those who left Goa during the Inquisition qualify to be a Goan? Would those who have made Goa their land for the last many years qualify to be a Goan? These questions can be sorted out provided we first agree that Special Status under Article 371 is the need of the hour.
It would be relevant to point out a Presidential Order issued on 19th February 1968 decreed that people belonging to Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes of other states who were in Goa prior to the date of the notification would be considered as Goans. Something similar can be done to answer the questioned posed in the previous paragraph.
The demand for Special Status under Article 371 has very sound and reasonable grounds. In the first place, Goa lost out on two Plan periods that the rest of the country benefitted from and has to be compensated for these long period of over a decade.
Secondly, 60 per cent of Goan population comprises of Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Communities and we are entitled to special provision as enshrined in Article 371 to improve the socio-economic status of over 50 per cent of our population.
Let us be clear of our stand so that we are not deceived by offers of so called financial package which as mentioned earlier is a pittance compared to what we can get. Similarly, let us not be fooled by legislations like prohibiting sale of agricultural land to non-agriculturists as this has proved to be a failure in some of the State including neighbouring Maharashtra and such a legislation will in no way protect our land from being transferred to non-Goans including foreigners.
It is important to take cognizance of the shenanigans of our politicians who make a drama to only withdraw without even a whimper as seen in the manner in which the resolution tabled by Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco and Francis D’Souza demanding Special Status under Article 371 was withdrawn following the Chief Minister Digambar Kamat’s promise to bring about a legislation to bar sale of agricultural land to non-agriculturists. Not only was the assurance skirting the core of the resolution, but the same has not been kept despite months and years passing.
At this juncture, it would be pertinent to point out that the argument that North Eastern states have been given Special Status under Article 371 because of the hilly terrain and because they form the international border of the country. These states have been given Special Status primarily to protect their unique culture, identity, land and ethos as they are populated by tribals. It must also be noted that Sikkim that has now become a part of India and enjoys special status, is very similar to Goa and therefore Goa too can demand Special Status.
Similarly, Goa has an unique culture, identity and ethos, evolved due to historical reasons and given its small size, the demographic balance has to be maintained which has already reached the critical mark as nearly 40 per cent of the present day population of Goa comprises of migrants.
The largely illiterate migrant for whom Goa is the El Dorado is easily lured by the goodies offered at the time of elections. After all, for him Goa and its future are of no importance as his only drive is to make money for his family. The danger therefore lies in such people, who have no stake in the State, deciding who the political rulers will be.
It is no secret that the migrants are used for vote bank politics and that is why the ruling dispensation will not want to do something to disturb their apple cart and probably that is why they are distracting people from the essence of Special Status by putting up smokescreens of promised legislations and financial packages.
Goa’s Movement for Special Status has already submitted a memorandum demanding Special Status for Goa under Article 3171 of the Constitution of India, to the Hon’ble President of India and copies of the same have been delivered to all the 750 members of the Parliament including the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Considering the above facts all the Goans and those others who love Goa and want to protect its identity, its land, its culture, its laws, its environment and demographic balance should unite irrespective of religion caste or language and demand Special Provision under article 371 of the Constitution of India.