Thu, 19 Sep, 2019

Ills of activism & political opportunism

Anti-development mindset has led to some job-generating projects being shown the door before they could even see the light of day

11th September 2019, 03:54 Hrs

Vivian Maverick Martins

All things in life pass through an evolutionary cycle. Where the actions of humans are concerned, the evolution from a lower level of consciousness is always to a higher, more evolved plane of thought. Like all good things in life, though, there are exceptions to the rule, which is why we have the good, the bad and the ugly.   
Over the decades, activism and political opportunism in Goa seem to have traversed the above path, metamorphosing from a movement that was meant purely for the good of the people to one that has today transformed into that of vested interests. This has partly come about because development is now perceived as a four-letter word best not uttered in polite company. If mentioned during social conversations, it’s 
usually to gather the agitators and rabble-rousers.   
Consequently, there have been multiple good projects that could have generated thousands of jobs and dozens of opportunities for the livelihood of the average Goans. But the anti-development mindset has meant that some job-generating projects have been shown the door before they could even see the light of day and prove their economic worth.   
For example, take the IT revolution that was planned for Goa, where NIIT could have played a key role. There were plans to place Goa on the IT highway, with a proper roadmap being laid out for Goa’s IT revolution. 
These plans were meant to include E-education; E-governance; E-enabled IT services; E-habitats and cyber cities; and ICE (Information, Communication and Entertainment) hubs.  
Unfortunately, the project was opposed by some politicians, who ranted that traditional trades were more preferable than IT. This was political one-upmanship of the crassest kind and, sadly, it led to the entire project being scrapped. The loss to Goa in terms of jobs and a place in the global IT stratosphere was incalculable. Horrendous political machinations and misguided activism against an IT project that would have benefited Goa had clearly put the State back by a decade or more.   
The story might well have been different if these vested interests had been allowed to have their hand in the IT pie, with fat fingers and big palms being greased generously so the project could have come to fruition. But men of integrity are not known to kowtow to those of lesser worth, with Goa thereby missing out on the date with its IT destiny. The sordid saga of misguided ‘activism’ does not end there and numerous other instances have come to the fore.   
Many projects in various parts of the state have met with a similar fate of being opposed, stalled and then scrapped. Even the proposed garbage treatment plants suffer from the NIMBY (not in my backyard syndrome) which has added to the garbage woes of the state.  
On the contrary sleazy industries like the casinos are encouraged which according to statistics employ majority of non-Goans and mining is unanimously supported by all parties even after causing massive environmental degradation coupled with huge losses to the state exchequer due to corruption.  
Today, these two industries backed by the mining and casino mafias are holding Goa to ransom as though they are the only ones providing employment to Goans which to some extent is true because they buttered the 
bread of our politicians so well to make sure that no other industry blossoms in the state.  
The time has, however, come for all stakeholders to step back and ponder about how they visualise Goa’s future. Because in this age of futuristic development, when the Internet and the Internet of Things are transforming lives in dramatic fashion globally, it is not possible for a state such as Goa to cut itself off from worldwide developments in order to retain its charmed traditional way of life especially when it is being looted and plundered by power-hungry politicos.  
Goans pride themselves on their state having the highest per capita income in India. But how long will this scenario last if development of all hues is banned, blocked, stalled and suspended at every single stage? Can we keep driving away investors especially in the fields of IT, education, and hospitality year after year and expect that Goa will continue to top the charts when it comes to the highest per capita income?  
 The choice before Goa and us Goans may be equally stark: join the forward-march of modern development or remain in the time-warp of regressive minds; people who will keep rejecting every single project that promises jobs, progress and other means of modern advancement.   
On the other hand, Goa could take a more balanced view whereby some projects are allowed, subject to a system of checks and balances which ultimately should be in the hands of the citizens. This will ensure that norms of sustainable development are adhered to and the fears and concerns of ordinary citizens are allayed and addressed so that the approved projects do not stray from predetermined ecological and environmental norms.   
This is the middle path that can ensure Goa permits modern development while safeguarding some of its old-world charm – a win-win solution for Goa, Goans and modern development. Adapt or perish, after all that’s the new definition of evolution.  

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