06 Jun 2023  |   04:56am IST

Is everything hunky dory with Goa?

It is difficult to tell the exact rate of unemployment in the State. The government is not ready to accept the fact that the unemployment rate is truly high. Although it is made to look like there is no poverty in Goa, it is also true that the number of people in the BPL ration card holders list is not going down either. This is happening in a State where the number of vehicles are more than its population, and  the State also has the highest per capita income in the country. 

Against this backdrop, an economic survey will be conducted throughout the country as decided by the Central government. It is altogether another question whether one can hope for the government to accept the outcome of the survey. Every year a considerable number of youth pass out from the colleges with graduate degrees. Same number of students, or probably more, are less qualified and have discontinued their studies after clearing their Class 10 or 12 exams. This number keeps rising every year. To assist these students, the government can financially support and revive initiatives such as start-ups, self-employment, small scale industries, handicrafts and agri-businesses. However, one cannot expect too much from the government which helped in solidifying the equation that employment means government jobs. 

Everyone has seen the game of half-correct or misleading numbers and it is obvious that the citizens will not provide accurate information during the economic survey. Since the mentality has been to show low income which enables one to take benefits of the government schemes, it is highly likely that the economic survey will turn out to be a farce. While the authorities are gearing up to hold the survey, the large number of degree-holders and non-degree holders and unemployed youth are in a dilemma of survival. 

Has everyone got a job after 60 years of Goa’s Liberation? Has the poverty rate declined? Has the corruption and criminal offences caused due to poverty and unemployment dropped? Why are these issues not introspected? Many small businesses and traditional handicraft industries faced the adverse effects of note ban and GST-related troubles. A lot of small artists shut down their traditional occupations. Will anyone put in efforts to find out where the workers from these industries have flown to? The scene in the corporate world is not different either. The situation was not reviewed with enough seriousness. Perhaps, the people in power were busy hiding the real statistics. Take the loans scenario for instance, where students take loans which run into lakhs of rupees just to complete a degree course, and then wait for five years to get a job; a situation which persists almost everywhere. 

The government is expected to examine this situation as well. The upcoming economic survey will also include small shops, stall owners, vendors, tea stalls and other small establishments. Will the State government show enough courage to bring more clarity on this? The issue of unemployment hasn't taken birth overnight. If the natural resources in the State post-Liberation were used in a planned manner then the matter of unemployment probably wouldn't have become this intense. The issues of boom in population (owing to the wave of out-migration post-Liberation), limitation of geographical area, shortage of water, electricity and other basic necessities, decreasing cultivable land, generation which is alienating from agriculture; all of it is co-related.

Hence, an overall survey should be conducted over the state of Goa in all aspects post-Liberation till now, rather than a survey merely about unemployment, will not answer everything. The study of poverty in other parts of India which makes people migrate to Goa and eventually adds to the poverty here, should also be carried out. The migration of people to Goa from other states puts stress on available resources in Goa which gives rise to organisational and institutional problems. The issues such as traffic management, sewage treatment, stress on health services, lack of drinking water, availability of residential spaces etc should be thought of as well. The surveys should examine slum areas, illegal settlements, diseases, unemployment, poverty, criminality and issues pertaining to the environment should be undertaken too. Only then the real picture of Goa will be clear. Will the government show enough courage to conduct such honest surveys?


Iddhar Udhar