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Monday, August 2, 2010

This is what I want Mr Developer

Developers complain that it has become standard practice for activists to protest against every project that is introduced. Even at one of those talks shows on one of Goa’s news channels, an environmental activist was at a loss for words when a developer asked him what he and his movement actually wanted. They keep saying what they don’t want, the developer complained to the anchor, but they never say what they do want. And taking a cue from that, the anchor asked the activist what it was that he and his people wanted. I waited with bated breath, but nothing clear-cut came through in a jumble of half sentences.

And I thought if I was asked the question I would say that I would like the Goa of the seventies back again. When the roads were clean, the gardens beautiful with bougainvilla and abolim and the houses large … Where we had a clean beaches and quiet fishing villages to the West and lush green hills to the east ... Where everyone had enough and was satisfied with what they had ... Where a woman could wear all her jewellery to the village feast with no fear of it being snatched from her ... Where doors and windows of houses were kept wide open during the day and on hot summer nights too…

But that is not possible so here’s my second choice.

I want a plan. Houses should be built in settlement land and not anywhere else. Goans were self sufficient when it came to food. We had fish, we grew paddy, fruit and vegetables. We had coconuts and cashews which gave us some of the tastiest cuisine in the world and the most potent brews ever. It was scary that when India needed to import sugar, there was a shortage abroad too.

We need to rejuvenate the communidades and plant the fields and tend to the orchards again and throw the Land to the Tiller Act into the dustbin of history. We can have clusters of industrial estates in each taluka on barren land and give them piped water. The main cities can have business districts where corporates set up offices to provide jobs for our urban people.

In order to get good jobs we have to have well qualified and skilled people, so our educational institutions have to be given a major revamp. From nursery levels, teach children to be unafraid of the unknown and give them the tools to learn. Change our syllabus to include subject matter that is relevant today and for the future. Select only the best people for the teaching profession, because they play a crucial part in forming the ethics of the people who will run this state in the next decade.

Government jobs should be reserved only for 50-year-olds who can work till they are 60. The burden will be less on the taxpayer and we’ll have more money for sensible infrastructure.

I want youngsters to avoid government jobs; I want them to start small businesses, which can grow into big ones. I want our engineering, medical and other professional colleges to actively encourage research and enterprise. If we have a River Princess sitting on a sandbank, we should have alert young minds finding solutions to remove her before she does any damage. We should have such seats of learning that the products and services we offer should be the best in the world.

I want an end to corruption. I want every corrupt person to stop cold turkey and do the right thing. I want people to get jobs based on merit, not on how much they can pay or how much influence they have. For that I want a group of 40 wise men and women who take on the business of governance as a challenge and clean out the rot from within. I don’t mind a few gated communities, but I want a proper sewerage system all over settlement areas.

I want the rivers to be desilted regularly so that our rivers live long and healthy. For that to happen I want the mining to be controlled and the forests to be allowed to make large amounts of oxygen for us.

I want the outsiders who have already come to settle here to respect the land and the people. I do not want more outsiders, because we have to think of space for our own children. We have enough migrant labour and if we need more let our engineering students build machines to do those jobs.

I want the police to serve, protect and enforce the law. I want a happy healthy society which is unafraid and ready for a good laugh anytime. And one thing I would not change is our food, music, drama and wit. That has come through undisturbed through the centuries. If our music and arts can do it why can’t the rest of the essence of Goa? Like the ad says: let’s just do it!

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