Sunday, April 13, 2008


In this article I am not considering the presence of our Members of Legislative Assembly, their presence in our state is more focused on their survival of ministry and musical chairs. They will get their desired fate next elections. So this article is more focused on Government Employees and us, the citizens of Goa.

Once considered slow and peaceful Goans, are now showing signs of restlessness and relentless fight. Over last few months, I have met many Goans, who are restless with one question in their mind…“How can I contribute to make my state better”…it is this question that has realized into tremendous mass movements in pockets of Goa.

In the last few months, we have witnessed many mass movements in different parts of Goa,

  • the perseverant struggle of Carmona Panchayat against the real estate lobby,
  • Patient villagers in Siridao-Palem Panchayat now, expressing their voice
  • Tired villagers of Mollem panch Panchayat who have been fighting for decades for protection of their habitat are now vocal till the capital
  • Betul-Naqueri Canaguinim Citizens Action Committee (BNCCAC) and Nuem-Cola Bachao Andolan (NCBA) who are questioning the benefits of proposed Food Park.
  • Villagers in Aldona Panchayat fighting against proposed housing project at Lankdem-Panth in Carona-Aldona
  • the struggle of Cuncolim Citizens Action Committee against Delhi-based Vigneshwara Developwell Ltd
  • Awareness campaign of Save Goa in amongst buyers in Delhi at “Goa Real Estate Show”
  • the struggle of citizens in Colamb village, Sanguem Taluka led by Gawda, Kunbi, Velip & Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED) against mining company
  • closer to capital the never ending issue of Bambolim Project, (Many confused whether it’s a private villas or private hotel)
  • Lokancho Adhar – a non governmental organization, which has asked Chief Minister Digambar Kamat to immediately direct all the government departments and corporations to have a complete Citizens Charter within two months from now.
  • Uproar in social circles about the Amendment of Section 16 ,Town and Country Planning Act, enabling the government with greater powers to fast track so called development projects

Behind all these movements and struggle don’t lye political interests but lye’s the struggle of the “AAM AADMI” now battling for his survival. AAM AADMI is now JAAM AADMI, as one Journalist confided. The AAM AADMI is becoming tired and angry from exploitation of his silence.

There are many citizen protests which never make it to the newspapers, they go on, without our support and notice, many fighting for their survival in this materialistic world. Editors of many newspapers are compelled not to publish some of these stories due to stakeholder interests.

This article might sound anti-development. But the word development is double edged sword, as it depends on the beneficiary of this development.The bigger Question that should be asked on every table in the Government, Panchayat, architects, Collectors, Town and Country Planning, GCZMA, Citizens Committee and homes of all citizens is “DEVELOPMENT FOR WHOM?” Does it make the rich richer, and make the poor poorer? Does it increase the gap of have’s and have not’s? Does it increase migration? Does it make us self sufficient? Why are there protests?

Somehow, many policies and actions of Government occur without prior intimation and taking citizen’s confidence. There is greater disconnect between the planned benefits and ground reality level benefits. It’s apt for Government agencies to grumble that if they start asking Citizens for before every project, then there will be no implementation but only discussions. But there are ways to make discussions time oriented and mechanisms to make policies citizen friendly.

Government Officers, I have interacted say bring me 2 NGOs who can come on consensus. From their lens NGOs / Environmentalists are their enemies, as they seem to oppose everything that has come from their table. Some of the Government Officers feel that job creation should help Indians and not specifically Goans. So now lies the blame game. The Government Offices on one side and NGOs/ Citizen Movements on the other. And in between this animosity is GOA ON SALE. There is no platform were collectively policy making, policy management and execution is done mutually. A project is planned not by interviewing the demands and skills of the citizens but assumed benefits by the bureaucrats based on their experience.

For last 3 years, there has been rampant real estate housing construction. Have the bureaucrats identified number of locals who are staying in rented homes and their per capita incomes. Then what economic sense is it making by clearing residential projects which are not affordable to them.

Many Bureaucrats might disagree with my suggestion of working together with NGOs and Citizen Committee as they create never ending discussions. But, if these discussions don’t happen, then protests which are so far non violent might become violent, and one of the causes would definitely be overlooking proactive involvement of citizens. The fire of mass movement is spreading, and spreading fast, if the government doesn’t listen to these protests, its just a matter of time to see Goa erupt as another Nandigram. With villagers, students and AAM AADMI blocking the roads, burning the state machinery, kidnapping project developers and more anarchy which this state doesn’t need.

It is not right to just discard revolt in today’s India as just something that is creation of political benefits or environmentalist’s ideology. Many of us make love to make candid statements that this protest is done by that political rivalry or branding an NGO as Anti-Development. But in most cases the protests that are sustained with mass participation are genuine.

I have met many Goans, who sit comfortably in their home and love labeling certain social citizens who are fighting in these protests, as “Church or RSS lobbied” or “anti-development” or “BJP man” or “Communist”, and this habit has made all of them a nice seasonal patriot. Who based on the season and mood of the society would choose to show patriotic feelings. But when it comes to doing something for his land, he would choose get back to his excuses and labeling the doers.

Then there is a second kind of Citizens, the traitor who rests in the comforts of struggle fought by fellow citizens, with mind filled with cynism and hopelessness, with stereotype statements “Kai zavuche na” or “kuch nahi hoga is desh mein”. I hate this kind of traitor, because all they can do while their motherland is being sold is discourage others.

There lies another problem that I have observed many of the organizations or citizen committees, though fighting for the same objective are divided. They have non-visible differences, which comes out in private personal talk, a difference based of community, religion or political alliance. Net result many Politicians; Real Estate Developers and Unethical Corporate use them against each other. Something similar to the failure of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

There is some point that these protests are trying to make, many of them have hope that things will change for better. Its highlight of this state, that these protests have not become violent yet. Citizens still trust the government, judiciary, and their fellow citizens understand their struggle. They go to sleep, thinking someday this struggle might pay dividends. It is this hope that makes society change and evolves. Soon this society will evolve to extent that it will vote out any non performing government, Panchayat or MLA.

If this hope fades, it would become another Bihar, where mob justice is accepted. Where citizens collectively under rage and insanity triggered by frustration, income inequality and helplessness resort to violent means to punish.

A time has come, when we cannot just sit in with newspapers and reflect to our family that politicians have put this state on sale. No, time has changed, we as a society must adapt, we must as a family take some time off from our favorite TV programs and Sunday siesta to network with families and people fighting for a cause. We must spare some talk time of our mobile for not cricket & TV serials chatter, but something more meaningful. If we are aligned to political party, we must question our party workers, about what role can we play.

The politician sitting on opposition, must not wait for his chance to be in power. He must be out there without any political ideology supporting citizens in his area, giving them crucial information, inspiring them, not as a politician but just as another citizen or common man. But somehow, many citizens don’t trust any politician these days, they prefer them to be out of the frame. Especially after a South Goa based MLA hijacked the SAVE GOA purpose for political benefits.

Citizens I have met in Goa, make me realize that, they are now well aware, that this is their home, their country and they only must fix it.

In political theory, there are different forms of ideology, somehow the policies for the last 10 years, represent what happened in US. A free economy, making the rich, richer and poorer homeless; encouragement for companies to drift away from social obligation but profit motive.

Dear Bureaucrats, Civil Servants and Panchyats, and sensible MLAs:

I admire leadership style of personally visiting the problem area and interacting with masses as a common man, to get real ground situation. I am not aware whether the Judiciary or Administration is able to do this. If all decisions are based on just documents provided in the closed room, then many of these documents could mean something far away from the ground reality. I hope that the decision makers do visit the controversial sites just as ordinary citizens to witness the reality. I recollect a dialogue from the Movie Superman, “with greater powers come greater responsibilities”. In the corporate organization I work, I see more and more senior leaders defying their sleep limits to 4 / 5 hours, not for a higher pay but to beat the foreign competitor. I am aware of very few people in Government and Judiciary who practice selflessness. And I wonder, that perhaps it’s an individual choice.

To end, I would reiterate that we must find answers to, “How can I contribute to make my state better”… The initiative taken by every citizen can make a slow and strong mass movement, there is hope because the power is residing in every individual,
if one priest in church or temple discourses and guides the worshippers to take initiative, if one teacher guides students not only to be exam oriented but socially sensitive, if one journalist does investigative journalism exposing corruption, if one parent spends more time educating his family about the mass reality, if one citizen chooses not to bribe and be honest, if one of us stand up against injustice and illegality, then we can make a difference.
All we need to do is to introspect, on "how can I contribute".

I read this line from Frank Buchman,
"When man listens, God speaks,
When man obeys, God Acts,
When men change, nation change"

My message to the youth is from the movie Range de Basanti,

“Ab joh khun, na khola who paani hai,

Joh desh ke kaam na aye woh bekaar jawani hai….”

Choice is ours, to be a seasonal patriot, a traitor or take to initiative,

Jai Hind,

Navendu Shirali,


(Consultant based in Bangalore, and Youth Coordinator of Initiatives of Change)

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