Post by Elisabeth Carvalho
I'm glad you've responded because now at last I will
find some informed answers (from an intelligent
person) to questions that plague me. First of all, let
me say that I understand your viewpoint and I am open
to it. Let me put forward my "issues" (for want of a
neutral word) with the matter of unchecked migration
Thank you for massaging my ego! The first rule of Goanet should be:
say something nice to someone with the opposite views as you. He won't
then be able to be harsh anymore ;-)
Let me try and answer with some pop-sociology, or roadside knowledge.
On a more serious note, I think Mervyn hit the nail on the head by
saying "Immigrants will always enrich a population." History tells us
the Dutch realised this early on. So while, centuries back, the
southern Europeans (and others too) persecuted the Jews, the
Netherlands welcomed them. Guess who gained? There are mentions of how
this helped Holland to boost its global position, and probably gain in
other fields like science and learning too.
Political scientists define a consociational state as "a state which
has major internal divisions along ethnic, religious, or linguistic
lines, yet nonetheless manages to remain stable, due to consultation
among the elites of each of its major social groups." My question is:
can India, the Netherlands, Lebanon, Switzerland, Belgium... and Goa
too, think of being anything but this? See the debate here
"Migrants" and the "outsider" problem, as I've argued earlier, is one
of the biggest red-herring that the simple-minded Goa has thrust upon
him over the past two decades and more. We were in college when the
1983 Vasco riots broke out.
The targets, as usual, were the poor. If we're talking about Goa's
resources and loss of access to them, then probably one needs to
target the resource-guzzling rich migrant, and the dollar/euro-buouyed
foreign tourist. But will anyone take on them? Definitely not! So,
isn't this another class battle, against the poor, being fought the
pretence of taking on 'outsiders'?
Secondly, when we talk of 'outsiders', isn't that a racial argument
where we assume someone is diluting our gene-pool? But even such an
assumption is far from true.
Goa is itself a melting pot. It has been, for 2000 years and more.
Look at your caste system in place. Even a glance to anyone but the
completely naive would suggest that these are diverse populations,
living with each other. Or tolerating each other.
We are causing panic reactions by talking about "dilution" of the Goan
population. Somebody on Goanet is building doomsday scenario of the
ethnic Goan population going down to 5%. Anyway, please keep in mind
that the definition of "Goan" is nothing but a reality shaped by
accidents of Portuguese conquest (and annexation of territory under
In such a case, do we have anything to fear, other than the extremely
likely reality that we might not adjust at the required pace... and
simply become extinct? Like the dodo? Or that, the walls we build
against the 'outsider' might block them from becoming a part of Goan
society speedily enough, to ensure that we all share a common
interest, and don't end up getting used against each other.
[Incidentally, when I was doing some interviews in the red-light area
of Baina, when it existed, I was shocked to find a Kannadiga male, who
worked on board a trawler, speak fluent Konkani... and that too with a
Salcete Catholic accent! Sometimes, these experiences change your
worldview! No, don't call it the Stockholm syndrome. I do think that
when the reality doesn't match the stereotype, one often throws away
all the biases one had.]
Incidentally, some realities:
* Goa's GDP has been high, in significant part, because of the age-old
'money order economy', based on out-migration. Out-migration in turn
fuelled the demand for in-migration. That's why Bardez has been such a
magnet for people from Pernem, long before the 'outsiders' came in.
Every dollar of remittances would pull in more 'outsiders'. But would
a migrant stop sending in money, which s/he went abroad to be able to
do in the first place? You could call this the dollar-remittance trap!
* 'Outsiders' could, and are, contributing to the productive forces in
Goa. Churchill Alemao, who riles against them, recognises this reality
when he employes them in large numbers in his trawlers. Or, more
visibly, in his football team ;-)
* The 'cultural shift' needs to be addressed by ensuring that
so-called 'outsiders' become part of the Goan melting pot fast enough.
It isn't tough. I've seen a Sikh, an Oriya, and innumerable others
speak Konkani in next to no time. The danger is that they would get
blocked by the walls we are building around them. Or, around
* We do have problem areas on hand, in that politicians use the
'outsider' vote to undercut the local population's interest (promoting
their own, in the bargain, or that of big business and vested lobbies,
for which they are amply compensated). Then, in turn, they fuel
chauvinism against the 'outsider', so that the people's attention gets
neatly diverted from more genuine issues. A win-win-win game as far as
the politician goes.
* Another major issue is the resentment building up across almost all
parts of India against the 'outsider'. If this is the case, who is the
'outsider'? It would seem that the resentment is against that class of
people who can migrate and grab all the benefits of 'developments'
(this includes people like you and me), while large swarms are kept
totally out in the cold!
To my mind, the biggest challenge is whether we can get our act
together, avoid taking up simplistic and emotive issues, and build up
as South India has managed with a great infrastructure in education
and health (never mind that this started initially through the
detestable capitation-college route).
Migration is a complex issue. It's probably best symbolised by the
real-estate syndrome in coastal Goa. Expats are lured, using their
love of Goa, to invest in their acre (or rooms) by the sea. Migrant
labour is brought in, to undercut higher local wages. Local lobbies,
and the businessman who's quick enough, cashes in on both sides.
Finally, we end up with Benidorms along the Calangute beach, and ugly
buildings if all occupied would cause a crash in the available
infrastructure. But who would want to sacrifice that locked flat, even
for the "love of Goa". Probably the "love of Goa" doesn't allow you
A catch-22 situation indeed. And don't we need those 'outsiders' to
take care of our elderly parents, build our flats, play the role of
domestics, trawl for our fish and play in our football teams so that
Goa's name can go places?
It's more complex than it seems to be; though at first count it's nice
to blame someone else and feel good about it! Anyway, Elisabeth, you
have an open mind on this issue, which is a good thing... hence my
attempt to debate the issue without getting personal or trivial
PS: Written at 6 am ... so am extremely sleepy. Still some more work
before I can go off to bed for the "night". Sorry for any errors that
might have crept in...
Post by Elisabeth Carvalho
1. GDP per capita is a function of GDP and the
population. One of the reasons Goa enjoys a high per
capita income is not because it has been wonderfully
industrious in managing its goods and services but
because it has managed the other part of the equation,
which is its population. Into this mix is going to
emerge a burgeoning population, which neither national
nor regional parties seem keen on addressing. Does Goa
have a plan or is it alright with the shifting
2. There is going to be a cultural shift. Into a
population that is fairly educated and relatively
prosperous, we are influxing a population that is
uneducated and poor. Do we have a plan to integrate
the two or are we building parallel societies?
3. People need space and they need accommodation. Do
we have a plan to accommodate the influx or are we
going the way of Mumbai and Delhi, where sprawling
slums spread like cancer. If we are then we might as
well bid farewell to our tourism industry.
4. Whether we like to admit it or not, migration of
people which is predominantly poor brings with it a
criminal element. Do we have resources to deal with
this or are we depending on those dogs again? :)
5. Societies transform themselves when seemingly
blue-collared jobs morph into high-end services.
Farmers become agriculturists, hair dressers become
stylists, cooks become dietitians and chefs. This
happens with concerted training, education and a
labour supply unadulterated by cheap imports of it. Do
we have any intent to transform our indigenous labour
market into a highly competitive one, or are we just
going to dilute it with cheap labour from India's
Unmitigated migration is a problem. It is here. We
cannot deal with it by giving into emotional rhetoric
from either side of the the aisle. We have to deal
with it and plan for it, with clear-headed
objectivity. Democracies are seldom seamless
organisations that serve the greater good. More often
than not they are powered by vested interests that
serve pockets of society. Let the interests of Goans
be first in Goa.
As for your last comment about Goan immigrants and
adopted homelands, I wouldn't know. I am not an
immigrant. My feet and tax money are firmly planted in
Frederick 'FN' Noronha | Yahoomessenger: fredericknoronha
http://fn.goa-india.org | +91(832)2409490 Cell 9822122436
2248 copylefted photos from Goa: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fn-goa/