The India Today State of the State Conclave, Goa, at the ongoing Vibrant Goa Global Expo and Summit 2019, observed that the traditional revenue-generating industries in Goa such as mining and tourism are already downhill, and environment-friendly sectors namely education and entertainment could replace them effectively.
A panel discussion on the topic, ‘Destination Goa: How to make Goa an entertainment, education and knowledge-economy hub’ discussed Goa’s future vis-à-vis its strengths and weaknesses.
The panel included Shakti Sinha, the director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library; Varun Sahni, the vice-chancellor of Goa University; Radhika Nayak, economist and principal of S S Dempo College of Commerce and Economics; and Ashish Kulkarni, chairman (Animation, visual effects, gaming and comics) of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Varun Sahani stated that the public education sector in Goa, including the Goa University is extremely well funded, which is a massive exception in the context of state universities in the country, in general. “The higher education space in Goa is already much more than Goa University and its affiliated colleges,” he added, pointing out that, however, concrete strategies are needed in the state education sector, with diversification being the need of the day.
Speaking further, Sahni maintained that the higher education system of Goa is already optimally-sized for the learner base of Goa. “And then apart from mining and tourism, Goa has a vibrant shipbuilding industry,” he said, pointing out, “What is, however, important is how many creative people of a particular generation are now moving to Goa.
The GU vice-chancellor also revealed that many design studios are being built in Goa, as also some established small boutique software companies from places like Pune and Bengaluru are moving here, so there are plenty of sources for economic dynamism. “Today, the film studios no more exist and hence industrial form of film production has stopped, just as lot of production is happening on much smaller scale, which can benefit Goa,” he added, opining that if smallness (of size) is a virtue for Goa, then it is also a problem.
Shakti Sinha, participating in the deliberation said that instead of cashing in on the now-defunct Portuguese culture in Goa, or trying to mould Goa on the lines of Dubai, Goa should follow Bali as a model. “That’s because Bali like Goa has narrow roads, is heavily populated and densely forested, besides no widening of roads is possible there,” he noted.
Sinha, who was a Collector in Goa during the 1980s, revealed that a Draft Tourism Plan was prepared for Goa in 1987, but was sabotaged by the real estate lobby. “Don’t go for a standard model for Goa, but go for a model, which suits the climatic condition here,” he advised, mentioning that today, in the era of advanced technology, we don’t need large-scale plans to do something creative.
“In a very small economy like Goa with smaller land, there are certain limitations in terms of developmental strategies, and therefore, innovation is the solution for the same,” the former bureaucrat observed, noting that people moving out of Goa is not an issue as migration has been always India’s strength and not weakness.
Radhika Nayak said that beach tourism in Goa is already facing tough competition internationally as well as at the domestic level, and it is high time Goa diversified into education, medical, hinterland and eco-tourism, if tourism is to be Goa’s main stake. She also pointed out that even though parents all over India want their children to find jobs in foreign countries, they want their children to get educated in a safe and sound place like Goa.
Ashish Kulkarni lamented that when he tried to set up an Art Village in Goa, it was difficult for him to purchase land here, due to existing Portuguese laws, and the project had to be shifted to Lonavla.
“Even events like Sunburn had to move out on the permission issue,” Kulkarni stated, pointing out that many people like photographer Shantanu Sheorey are, however, shifting their creative work to Goa. “Unless Goa has a skill eco-system, the education and entertainment industries will find it difficult to shift to Goa,” he noted.