Sunday, February 8, 2009

Obama must take tips from Goa

If the United States of America could get their hands on the detailed reports that led to the Governor’s address in the Goa Assembly last week for its first session of the year, Barack Husain Obama’s problems would be solved in a jiffy. Goa Governor Dr S S Sidhu, has proved that Goa bucks world trends. The rest of the world and yes, even the country is battling recession, but Goa shows a 12.1 growth rate projection for the State. Gadzooks, as they say in Shakespearean.

Everyone knows that a governor, especially a newbie, knows little about the workings of the state – leave alone its balance sheet. The Governor’s address is put together by a Government of Goa speech writer and he reads that out in the Assembly. Understandable that the Government of Goa which is run by educationally challenged gentlemen should put together a fairy tale, but that Dr S S Sidhu who has a Doctorate in Economic Development from Kanpur University should read it unedited is strange.

Dr Sidhu hailed the achievements of the government in maintaining law and order in 2008 given the terror threat the state was facing. Now where was the Governor when a middle-aged flower seller was raped and murdered just outside an unmanned bunker on a beach in North Goa? The robberies and daily deaths due to rash driving? Or are murderers and marauders not lawbreakers any more? Mere small fry against phantom terrorists?

He spoke of the growth of agriculture and the control of prices where 24,000 persons availed the benefits? Presuming we have a population of 15 lakh people what about the remaining 14,76000 people who had to dig deep into their pockets to pay for rice, wheat, vegetables, lentils, fruit, eggs, meat and milk whose prices went through the roof in the last one year? And what agriculture is he talking about with huge tracts of agricultural land sold to builders? Unless he meant the yield per square metre of agricultural land – when converted into gated housing projects for the rich and infamous…?

On the industrial front the address insinuated that it is a matter of celebration that exactly 191 persons will benefit from three industrial units that the government has approved for 2008-09. There are 6947 below the poverty line families that will be provided assistance for self employment and shelter. He spoke nothing of Goa’s major import – poverty, where the hopeless and helpless of the nation, come here to be accommodated in our ever-increasing, ever- expanding slums. His address does not say how many of the 6947 families are of Goan origin.

His speech highlighted the progress made in imparting quality education and vocational training. He should have spoken to the principal of a government school in North Goa under the Sarva Shiksa Abhiyan, who said that the graduates who were teaching students English could not even fill out a proper leave application. They asked for “live” and not “leave of absence.”

He has spoken of schemes for restoration and preservation of 51 archaeological monuments, even as the courts have ordered the Porvorim police to frame charges by the Shiv Sena against architect Gerard da Cunha and INTACH for “defacing” the Reis Magos fort.

He highlighted proposals in the health sector for state of the art facilities in cardiac care, but did not mention that state hospitals still cannot provide clean bed-sheets for their patients. He spoke of the screening of newborn babies to detect inborn defects, pity he did not suggest that this screening should also be introduced in the Assembly at Porvorim.

He spoke glowingly of plans to improve the power and infrastructure in the state and was confident that Goa can emerge as a model state in the country. In the country? Goodness gracious, with a 12.1 projected growth rate for Goa this little state is a model for the world.

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