Tuesday 19 March 2013

Goa & Manohar Parrikar

Goans feel he is the right man for the job. Some even say, he is a right man in the wrong party! He is the only IIT graduate Chief Minister in India. But how has he fared in the last one year – has Goa made any headway after misrule for many years? Is their hope for the state?

Goa has always seen unstable governments, with MLAs switching sides for personal gain. The BJP accused the previous Congress government, saying they had left the state in a real bad shape. Corruption was rampant at every level in government departments. The illegal iron ore mining had hit the state hard where it hurts the most and the administration is as good as none. Has anything changed?

Announcing: ‘Because Goa deserves’, Manohar Parrikar became Chief Minister of Goa a year ago and he inherited many problems as alleged by BJP bosses. Has he been able to grapple with the situation and ground realities? Has he been an effective leader and Chief Minister of Goa? Replying to a journalist, when asked, how he would rate his achievement so far? He said, ‘I am quite satisfied. When there is a lot of money involved, a lot of mudslinging takes place, several rumors are spread and wrong impressions are put out.’

Manohar Parrikar came to power a year ago on the promise of providing clean and efficient administration to India’s smallest state which is well know for its natural beauty and tourism, which generates about 22 per cent of revenue. Tourists from all over the world come to Goa to experience the place, food and culture.

Some point out, Parrikar has tried to do it all by himself. With a team of young and inexperienced cabinet colleagues, Manohar Parrikar, a two-time former Chief Minister has refused to delegate responsibility. ‘When a minister is approached with an issue or a file, he will invariably say, ‘let’s go to the Chief Minister,’ complained an entrepreneur.

No doubt, the Chief Minister has a huge workload. He loads 5 portfolios, including the important finance, home and mines. According to sources close to government, an official mentioned, ‘He even calls for meetings that department secretaries should, bulldozes his minister and gets upset if criticized.’

He has been targeted by the industry too, who claim, a year into his tenure, the promise of a policy to increase investments and generate revenue and jobs is still to happen. Goa’s industrial sector compromises less than 1 per cent of the national average. There is a genuine concern in business and industry. ‘We need to take a serious look at where the state is heading. If we loose investment opportunities to other states, it will be a great disservice to the next generation,’ feels Manguirish Pai Raikar, president, Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

It was an accepted fact when he came to power that the task was enormous and it would not be that easy to clean up things in a fixed time period. However his successful attempt to bring the International Festival of Films of India to Goa in 2004 was welcome; which suggests things have started to move.

Mining has been a boon as well as a cause for concern in Goa. Illegal mining and the losses it caused the state was the biggest hurdle. In 2011, the Public Accounts Committee led by Parrikar who had aggressively taken on the previous Congress government and used the scam as one of his main election planks – had estimated the loss at Rs 400 crore. The Parliament appointed MB Shah Commission of enquiry put the loss at Rs 35,000 crore. The Supreme Court has put an interim ban on the operation of 90 mines thereby putting a halt on revenue of the state’s total revenue of Rs 8,700 crore; about 20-25 per cent comes from mining. Blaming the previous Congress government for the mess, the Manohar Parrikar government has filed an affidavit, asking for Supreme Court’s stay order to be vacated.

Realizing this, to bring down dependency on only mining, the state government has decided to energise other sectors - agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry. Also on the anvil is a change in the image of Goa tourism. And the government is also working on a plan of transforming Goa into an education and IT hub. If this goes through, Goa would be on the right path of growth.

Goa known for its laid back attitude is bound to change sooner or later and Manohar Parrikar may be credited for making a real genuine attempt to bring about a change for the better for Goa and its people.

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