Letter from Goa
FROM the third week of October, Goa has been waking up to behold bright, fresh mornings. But as the day matures the mercury too rises steadily leaving everyone uncomfortable until the late evening. The evenings, of course, throw up golden sunsets, the ruddier the glow lighting the evening skies the better the fish we find the following morning. This year's erratic monsoons have, however, left us with a shortfall in rainfall.
Tourism: The talk of the town, at least in the coastal region of Goa, meanders around the rosy prospects of the forthcoming tourist season, and people involved in the industry claim that tourism is integral to the coastal economy. Truly, a buoyant mood reflects abundantly, as it does generally at the onset of every such season, from Sinquerim to Arambol in the North as well as along the long coastline down South.
Goa today is dotted with 13 five-star and five star deluxe hotels, besides hundreds of others of assorted sizes. The number of tourists arriving here has skied by over 14 per cent despite the economic recession, border tensions with Pakistan, Gujarat riots, September 11 and December 13 events. Unmindful of the ugly or otherwise sight of the "M.V. River Princess" lying grounded at the wondrous Sinquerim beach, the tourism machine is gearing up steadily, with all sorts of hotels, restaurants and shops being spruced up to greet the European tourists. However, just about a month ago, few knew the fate of the charters. But since then, some of the charters have already arrived. The latest on the charter flights are Israeli and Russian visitors, a new component in the tourist take.
Eco tourism, water sports, etc are being added to the tourist cart. But where the authorities fail miserably is in maintaining Goa clean, pollutionless, with better roads, proper water supply and all other necessary facilities. Talk of Calangute and Baga and one wonders whether decent tourists will every step in the maze of shops and concrete. Last year's fluctuations did short circuit some of the middle-order hotels, the worst affected being the rent back type foisted by the real estate on gullible investors.
Projects Galore: The BJP coalition government propped up by the MGP, UGDP and independents, while celebrating its second year in power, gloated over what they considered a financial turnaround. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar claimed recently that the government's endeavours during its two-year tenure has ensured the beginning of a 'real growth pattern'. The government has planned 40 projects worth Rs.400 crore: bridges, markets, bus stands, etc. Parrikar projected an increase of Rs.1200 crore in the 2002-2003 revenues. But the economic indicators touted by the government do not enthuse its critics, who expect not less than a miracle to extricate the State from the red.
Pharma Hub: There is a loud talk that Goa will be turned into a hub of the pharmaceutical industries in the country. Just recently the Chief Minister declared that today 225 pharmaceutical units function in the State and that 65 of them are primary manufacturers. Parrikar perhaps thought that the pharmaceutical industrialists are ignorant of where they lay their eggs and advised them that research in the pharmaceutical industry should be oriented towards development, beneficial to the human race.
Crime: The government has been striving to improve the law and order situation because the population figures keep burgeoning consistently, crime too competes successfully to remain in step with it. Daylight dacoities and murders occur with increased frequency in developing Goa today. The only dacoits, the Goa police have in their custody today, are those who had committed a dacoity in Margao recently and were nabbed somewhere in a northern state. Ironically enough, the dacoits confessed that they paid a substantial percentage as a commission to their local collaborators, who helped survey the valued victims and provided assorted logistic support. Obviously, crimes have already been fine tuned into an established business conducted by upcountry thugs.
The most recent crime was truly gruesome. Some unknown criminal entered a flat in a very busy locality, almost opposite Marriott Hotel at Miramar, in very broad daylight. The criminal walked melted into thin air after having slit the throat of a young housewife, Maria Cynthia Rodrigues. Maria was found lying dead, in a pool of blood, when her school-going daughter returned home.
Dowry death: Crime of another type which rears its ugly head in recent years in Goa, is about suicide of young brides.
Public Interest Litigation: Goanetter and dynamic activist Advocate Aires Rodrigues has been quite busy playing a thorn in the State administration's shoe. His latest public interest petition has been against the appointment of Rajesh Singh to the post of the Director of Information, from being the Press Liaison Officer to the Chief Minister. Adv. Rodrigues alleges that the appointment is patently illegal and in contravention of the recruitment rules.
Goa's New Governor: On October 26, Kidar Nath Sahani took as the new Governor of Goa. Sahani is a linguist, speaking six languages-Hindi, English, Urdu, Persian and Sanskrit-besides his mother tongue Punjabi. He is known to be an active social worker. The guv was quick to urge the local media to be free, frank and judicious in discharging their duties, and said that they should not unnecessarily applaud the government nor criticize it unduly. Like Sunday sermons, every governor, minister, politician and academician deems it his bounden duty to advice people at every available opportunity.
Football: Goa has been faring fine in the National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy at Imphal but had the mortification of finding their crack forward Alvito D'Cunha given marching order during the match with Punjab, which Goa won 2-1. With the red card Goa cannot field Alvito, the sharpshooter who has signed for East Bengal, in the crucial qualifying match against Karnataka on October 30, the winner of which qualifies for the semifinal. At home in Goa, plenty of football is waiting for the football fans with 44 National Football League matches to be played at Fatorda beginning from November 15.
Fontainhas Heritage Festival: Not everything is so grim and disgusting. We have our regular quota of feasts and colourful festivals. So we should end on a rather cheerful note by mentioning about the Fontainhas Heritage Festival to be held some time early next year. The whole of the Latin Quarter of Panjim is supposed to be agog with music, exhibitions and pleasant entertainment.