Towards world’s happiest State
The Goa Golden Jubilee Development Council in its final report to the government has come up with several suggestions reflecting the sentiments and aspirations of the people of Goa. The panel headed by scientist Dr Raghunath Mashelkar, in its Goa Vision 2035 report submitted to the State government on Wednesday foresees Goa as an affluent State. The 111-page document actually anticipates Goa to emerging as an affluent state. This however is well known.
It is not a matter of affluence that the people of the State are looking for. Affluence was never a Goan dream. There is little logic in talking about affluence, if the life-style of the people is dominated by situations and compulsions. Ironically, there was a time when the susegad culture of Goans attracted criticism from visitors. In retrospect however, it appears that it was the life-style which ought to have been imbibed.
The Vision document understandably predicts increasingly urbanization, with areas of Mapusa, Porvorim, Panjim, Bambolim, Verna, Dabolim, Vasco, Nuvem constituting a single contiguous area resembling a single city. Of course, the document admonishes on the need to determine the carrying capacities of the cities in order to plan proper growth. This, in fact, will play a vital role in determining our lifestyle.
Over the years, growth has admittedly been haphazard. There have been instances where even after buying a plot of land at an exorbitant rate, there’s always the risk of ending up residing in a location devoid of clean air, noise, traffic and garbage pollution. The document has identified specific areas which need planning.
Quality of water, housing, transport, food, and environment are key areas which determine people’s satisfaction quotient. The vision document has happily spelt out that material and spiritual development which ought to occur side by side, continuously complementing each other. Therefore, sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of natural environment and establishment of good governance are imperative so that these aspects are adequately attended to.
It is laudable that happiness of the people is eventually garnering attention from the right quarters. For this to be achieved there ought to be harmonious living, based on not just economic, environmental and physical wellness, but mental, work place wellness and political wellness. This is imperative in order to achieve this objective. The State must also ensure that the rule of law is upheld at all costs, without fear or favour.
Towards meeting this goal, Goa hopefully emerges as the first State to monitor and measure happiness, thereby sending a signal that the State considers this to be the most critical socio-economic development indicator. The document’s quest is for Goa emerging as the happiest state of India, even the world. This vision will hopefully be a dream reality and will re-eastablish the true Goan identity.
The critical question is how this so called happiness will be quantified and approximated in terms of a happiness index. Secondly, will this approximation be part of a discursive or plural exercise, encapsulating multicultural, multilateral and minority aspirations and viewpoints. It is only when all citizens have the space, the right and the freedom to choose the kind of life they wish to lead, can we come close to this elusive aspiration of happiness.