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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Missing the madness

Speaking for myself, I feel wistful when I am away from Goa. More so when I am in Mumbai. Why, you ask? Because Mumbai is so sensible, practical, and it works. People make an effort to walk the talk. The government is not visible, not like in Goa, especially Panjim where the city is crawling with politicos of every hue indulging in masterly inactivity. But in Mumbai, you see Herculean efforts to not let the nightmare of running a city become a reality. It’s an on-going exercise.

They have just introduced a law which involves fining anyone carrying a plastic bag of less than 50 microns. The fine is Rs 5000. The onus is not merely on shopkeepers and establishments, the consumer will also have to take responsibility for littering the city and increasing the risk of flooding along with loss of life and property. The thin plastic bag is Mumbai’s nemesis.

Small scale industrialists are being wooed to set up their manufacturing units in jail premises. The industrialist will provide the training, the raw material and the machines. The jail will provide the labour which will be paid for their work. The convicts will receive their payment when they complete their term. They will have skills, so they can stand on their own feet when they become free citizens again. It’s a win-win situation, and it’s just one of the things that are happening in this booming megapolis.

But I am wistful, because I miss the insanity that is Goa. How we survive is a mystery. We build huge residential complexes with no proper sanitation. We talk of water harvesting with the ground water already mostly raw sewage.

We have the infrastructure for a great educational system, but we have a B grade university and a 7th class pass Education Minister. And this poor quality education shows in the way we treat our land. We have natural bounty of hills and rivers but we cut our hills and fill our rivers with ships and boats and floating casinos. We have half a dozen off-shore casinos that would have been permanently anchored in the river if people like AAAAG would turn a Digamber Eye.

We have the Supreme Court ordering a portion of the built up area of a five-star hotel to be demolished and the state government producing a rabbit from a hat in the shape of an ordinance that saves the hotel and puts the Supreme Court in its place.

We pay for Goa’s MLAs, ministers and bureaucrats going on study-tours all over the world to study waste management. And we smile indulgently as we are slowly buried under a mountain of garbage, because it is common knowledge that the MLAs & Co are educationally challenged and cannot learn anything.

The rest of the country and indeed the world is tightening internal security, but when our police do the same, they are reprimanded and humiliated and I won’t even talk about the middle-aged flower-seller raped and murdered outside an unmanned bunker on the beach.

We cannot afford to buy decent housing for ourselves, but we sell off the little land we have to the rich and aimless. Forgetting that the few lakhs we get so effortlessly by selling our children’s birthright will have no value less than ten years down the line. We’ve bought a ticket for a boat ride and we are boring holes under our seats, because we’ve paid for our seats. Yet we stay afloat and are happy. Any way you look at it, this is certifiable insanity. And this is what I miss when I am away from Goa.

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