Edit Corner

Special Status Only A Dream…

Many a time I have been in the midst of discussions on the ‘Rights of Goans in Goa’. And through these conversations it seems to appear that there exists a volatile dislike for the non-Goans coming to make Goa their permanent home.
Some argue that with Goa being a part of India, any Indian is free to travel and live in any part of the country. Many opine that if Goa was granted ‘Special Status’ it would have been able to protect its land from being sold to non-Goans; this includes Indians and foreigners alike; and maybe curbed the growing migrant population in the state.

Recently during the visit of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram; Chief Minister of Goa, Digambar Kamat eloquently appealed to him to take up the issue of ‘Special Status’ at the Centre; this was done to show the media and through media the people that CM was working in the interest of the people of Goa. Considering that it would make better sense to talk about better functioning of the police department and need for stricter vigilance on the police officers in Goa, in light of current questions being raised on their integrity and functioning; the CM decides to address the ‘Special Status’ Issue with the Union Minister who will be able to do nothing on that topic; since it is not in his jurisdiction to do anything. In the end only more grants were given to the Goa Government by the Centre on account of its 50th year of liberation celebrations.

Expecting any Goan politician to impress upon the Centre to grant Goa ‘Special Status’; is like asking them to kill their own Golden Goose. If there has been rampant influx of non-Goans – other Indians and foreigners alike in Goa purchasing land; it is because at the Centre of all money-making and political racket there will be a politician.

When Raheja through its partner Dalmias in the housing project at Carmona managed to get clearance of 700 flats, it was evident that this was facilitated by PWD Minister Churchill Alemao to fuel voters in that belt for his candidate in the forthcoming assembly elections – in this case it being his own daughter Valanka. Now, however, the project is running in trouble waters. This modus-operandi is being followed by most of the politicians in Goa. So expecting them to fight for the ‘Special Status’ is in itself asking for too much.

‘Special Status’ will always remain a dream. Until and unless Goans come-out in large numbers and demand it. For the Medium of Instruction (MoI) issue throngs of people were gathering for and against in different parts of Goa. In the solidarity shown towards Anna Hazare’s ‘India Against Corruption’ you witnessed some crowd, if not as high as the MoI issue. But if we had to take to the streets to demand for a ‘Special Status for Goa’ not many will come to the fore-front because the demand or fight for ‘Special Status’ is at best lip-service.

If a state such as Himachal Pradesh can be granted special status; why then is the government at the Centre dilly-dallying over granting Goa Special Status. The answer to that question is simple. Goa is a gold mine with an international appeal (I am not referring to the recent study of gold particles being found) but to its most prime asset – its land; whose value has only rocketed skyward. So much so that today in Goa; it is easier for a non-Goan developer to put up his real estate project than a Goan developer. Its land is what has got big developers, politicians from the Centre and of course our local politicians ducking the issue, since it doesn’t serve their purpose.

Many of my discussions with various businessmen, politicians on Goa have led me to believe that as India continues to grow and cities become smaller; emerging states such as Goa are being viewed as a great alternative to the metros – a combination of business and leisure. It was the same principle that governed the decision of the SEZs in Goa before it was scrapped. It is the same principle that governs every real estate project in Goa; it is the business. Therefore to the people in higher places it makes good business to ensure that Goa does not get ‘Special Status’. To the people of Goa, we will continue to watch, sometimes complain but in most cases not come-out to demand ‘Special Status’ for our state.

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