Rajan P. Parrikar
2007-09-13 03:54:15 UTC
Dear Goan chauvinists,
UNITE ! You could be a Hindu or a Cirist?o, a BJP or a Kangress
voter, communal or secular, pro-Romi-lipi or pro-Devnagari. If
you are a Goan zealot, committed to preserving our little corner
of paradise, you're in. We know of the scourge that are the rich,
avaricious Dilliwallahs and other uncultured Indian fatcats
gobbling up our real estate, and we know of the Russian mafia
and other assorted white trash stalking our land. Here I shall
address an equally invasive cancer on the Goanscape - the
blight wrought by the ghati deluge, something that threatens
to clone Goa into another squalid district of Karnataka or Bihar.
The GBA has trained its focus on only one - albeit very
important - issue, that of dealing with the land mafia. There is
as yet no organized effort to address the other big elephant in
the room, what I term the "ghati menace." It is now a full-scale
invasion. These are not just the construction driven migrant
workers we imagine them to be (to call them "migrant" is a
mistake - they have no intention of leaving). The footprint
now extends over a much larger area, and the ghati profile
has expanded to include highly undesirable elements. They
come in droves from Karnataka, AP, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and
Orissa for Goa has for them the appeal of a Dubai. Given
the fabled laissez faireism of the Goan, we will soon
have on our land not only the 6 damning SEZs but another
100 SGZs (Special Ghati Zones). The ghatis are now
EVERYWHERE, on the prowl not just in our cities but in our
remotest villages. We must prepare for Goa's second
Liberation or risk obliteration. To achieve that the Goan
has to put on his or her chauvinistic hat, for nice people
can accomplish nothing in India.
Most Goans don't stir out of bed before 9 am, a fact
noted in Encyclopaedia Brittanica. But if a Goan should
saunter around the waterline - say, from Dona Paula and
Panjim, or from Malim jetty to Reis Magos - between 6 and 7
in the morning, you would be witness to the sight of an array
of ghatis evacuating virtually everywhere in the open. It is
a public disgrace. Where do you think they sleep at night?
In our parks, gardens, and on the footpaths. In Panjim you
have ungainly clusters of ghati men loitering along the river
sidewalk (when they are not pissing or shitting on it). From
late evenings until well into the night one now sees posse
after posse of ghatis meandering around town. This is a
sure deterrent to our women and children going about
freely. What were intended as civilized, wholesome public
spaces are now home to ghatis sitting on their haunches as
in all the towns across Karnataka or UP. Our law enforcement
apparatus is not just missing in action, they are active
catalysts in the decay, and hafta-taking is rife. This is a
complete breakdown of our civic systems.
Just the other day an unwashed UP bhaiyya plonked a
paan stall bang in the middle of the sidewalk along the
Campal road near Magsons. I asked him if he had a permit
to which he replied in the negative. I could soon see a
gaggle of ghatis congregating around the stall, squatting
and loitering, and a developing art gallery of paan spit
splotches on the pavement (the ghati contribution to Indian
culture). I called my councilor and had the fellow evicted.
But it is small comfort since this is happening all over.
Unauthorized ghati hawkers are legion in Miramar and
other places in Goa.
Acquiring a ration card is a cinch for the newly arrived
ghati but the Goan has to jump through hoops to get one.
Digambar Kamat has solidified his ghati votebank at Motidongor,
Victoria at Chimbel, Ravi Naik in Ponda, Babush in Taleigao.
Goans are destined for a miserable fate in the demographic
tidal wave that's coming (for a preview, look at Assam
and the northeast). Unless you wake up NOW. Neither BJP
nor the Kangress are in it to save us. The need of the
hour is a committed regional political party, and an army
of thoroughbred Goan chauvinists. Dispense with the niceties.
A jaunt through Karnataka is revealing. All the hoo-ha
about Bangalore and IT is a mirage. Poverty levels in rural
Karnataka remain unmitigated. As for UP or Bihar or Orissa,
the poor there are not just poor, they are wretchedly poor.
The Indian state and their own political systems have
failed the poor souls. It is no surprise why these folks
would want to escape their dreadful surroundings and
come to Goa. They bring with them their execrable habits
in matters both personal and civic. But the central point is
this: Goa cannot be a bottomless receptacle for India's
limitless indigent, its riffraff and its teeming dregs. We
shouldn't have to pay for the failures of the rest of India.
Don't let the faux Gandhians, the silly NGOs, or Marxist
rabble give you a guilt trip about compassion towards
the poor and hooey of the sort. We know what they
really want: for us to merge in the Great Indian Ghetto.
They will talk about the rights of ghatis but never mention
the responsibilities that go with rights.
The ghati menace cannot be tackled at the source, since the
supply side has no intention whatsoever of turning off the tap.
It is the demand side - that is, us Goans - that has to swing
into action. The ghati has to feel the force of an unwelcoming
environment, and it has to happen on two levels, viz., the Goa
government and the Goan citizen.
Possible proposals for the citizen include -
- 'Adopt' 10 ghatis, and encourage them to leave Goa. Buy
their return ticket if possible. Persuade your friends and
family to do likewise.
- Don't hire ghatis. Once the jobs dry up they will be
forced to move elsewhere. Don't patronize businesses that
hire ghatis. There are now ghatis not just in construction.
- Report violations by ghati hawkers, vendors, squatters,
encroachers, loiterers etc to the local authorities. Impel your
municipality/police to take action. Any fouling of public spaces
must have consequences.
On the government side, the following must happen -
- Cut off the welfare (free medical aid, ration cards etc) doled
out to ghatis and paid for by the Goan taxpayer.
- Shore up monitoring, vigilance and law-enforcement of
all our public spaces, parks, footpaths, beaches etc.
- Policy changes must include adoption of modern construction
methods. The work of 500 ghatis can be done by 5 with current
technology. The govt will have to lean on the builders - addicted
to dirt cheap human labour - to embrace state-of-the-art
techniques. This can be the one single stroke through which
the ghati menace can be reversed.
- Clear all the illegal slums, a must if Goa is to remain the
civilized place it is.
- Institute a complete overhaul of the tourism policy.
It is obvious that the government part of the deal will certainly
not come to pass under either the BJP or the Kangress. Both are
beholden to their respective builder buddies and other vested
interests. The time for a regional party of Goan chauvinists is
overdue. Will Goans stand up and be counted? Or will be have
Chief Minister Yellappa of Goa voted in in 10 years time?
ps: If - a big if - Goans get their act together there will surely
be some backlash from people and politicos from the El Paradisos
exporting ghatis to Goa. Not to worry. We will dispatch
Frederick N, our ambassador of love and compassion, on a
peace mission. He is uniquely qualified for this task, he being
the only Goan to have correctly understood what "Goan Identity"
is all about. As we all know, his Goan Identity Theorem states
that there is really no such thing as a Goan Identity and even if
there is one, it is to be found only in non-Goans. In fact, further
research on the Identity Theorem has disclosed that there is
really no such thing as Goa to begin with!
pps: Ganesh Chathurthi greetings to everyone. All are invited
to partake in nevryo at my place in Miramar. For FN we have
a carved out a special treat of sakharbhaat made with pure
ghee and a generous helping of saffron (something very dear