Goans, especially those who have been doing yeoman’s service to Goa by running shacks as true ambassadors of tourism, are absolutely baffled at the new age criteria in the Shack Policy 2023-26 of the government, which mandates that only those between the ages of 18 and 60 can own shacks.
Goan shack owners at 60 are at the prime of their life. They come with wisdom, experience maturity and yet have enough fuel in the tank to go miles in life to continue to do what they have done, with commitment and professionalism.
Those in their mid-sixties, seventies and above remember how Goa once was, how shacks became the gateway to tourism, how lifelong relationships with foreigners developed and the simple hospitality and joys that true Goan shacks gave.
If politicians can thrive at sixty-plus plus why not Goan shack owners?
Sixty is when these ambassadors are settled. They are the ones who will give a real slice of Goa to tourists when so much else is withering away with their experience and maturity.
An average of a seasoned politician in Goa is way above 60. So why can't Goans at 60 manage shacks? Then, America has a President who is 80. He runs, arguably the most powerful nation in the world. And Goans cannot run a shack at sixty?
Moreover, Pune’s Dr Balwant Ghatpande was one of the world's oldest practicing doctors when he passed away at the age of 104. He had been practising as a doctor since the 1940s. He worked for 10 hours daily, charging only Rs 30 from patients. He passed away in 2020 at the age of 104, moments after closing his clinic for the day.
To get back that vibe and feel of the Goan spirit, can we have anything better than the 60-plus brigade, who should be embraced by the government and told to go out and do what they love with full infrastructure support?
All they need is affection and a sense of responsibility by hearing these words “You are our tourism ambassadors, and you will as always open the doors of Goa’s tourism”.
Goans would really like to know if there’s reasoning and logic behind this. One attempted to and still waits for a response from the government on the thinking behind this move, especially when many senior shack owners feel dejected and state that this is an attempt to clear them out to pave the way for others for different reasons.
This unease and apprehension should surely be dispelled by a responsible government and one will wait for their response.