GOA – SMALL STATE; BIG CORRUPTION by Roger D’Souza

Corruption in Goa is firmly inbuilt into our democratic structure, says ARAVIND BHATIKAR
Transparency International has ranked most countries of the world in its Perceived Corruption Index (PCI). The least corrupt is ranked the highest, and the most corrupt the lowest. In 2001, India was ranked 72nd amongst 91 countries surveyed. And in 2008, it was ranked 85th amongst 180 countries. A cursory glance at the list suggests that economic development is inversely related to the level of corruption, and that poorer countries are likely to be more corrupt.
It is not known whether there has been any survey of Indian states to compile a national PCI. Not withstanding this, the thesis that corruption is inversely related to the level of economic development may not hold good in all cases. At least, it is not true in the case of Goa, which has the highest per capita income in the country.
For its size, population and achievements, the vertical and horizontal spread of corruption in Goa is perhaps more appalling and frightening than in most other states. Like everywhere else in India, corruption in Goa is election-centric. The abnormal number of assembly constituencies (40), the narrow victory margins, the nimble footed loyalties of MLAs and the absence of credible whistleblowers are some of the main factors responsible for corruption.
A speciality of politics in Goa is the liberal distribution of cash by some ministers throughout the year, in addition, of course, to the widespread misuse of liquor and money power on the eve of polling day. Goa is perhaps the only state in the country where you can find a powerful politician liberally distributing 100-rupee notes to all those in the queue at his door on a scheduled day of the week. There may be only a few other constituencies in the country where voters are showered with liberal financial help during marriages and deaths in the family, construction/repairs of the house or celebration of village festivals.
Goan politicians were late entrants to democracy, but quick learners. Politicians of few other states can equal their expertise in building permanent vote banks, through extension of illegal patronage. There are at least seven constituencies in Goa where ministers / MLAs are heavily dependent on the votes of migrant labourers illegally settled on comunidade or government land, and provided with all civic amenities and goodies.
Goa has the highest ratio of government servants to population. One in every five families has somebody in the family working as a full-time government employee. The number of government employees has increased from 40,000 in the year 1999 to about 50,000 in the year 2009. There is one ‘dynamic’ minister who openly boasts of having “fixed” about 2,000 youth in the departments controlled by him over the last three years.
It is axiomatic that those who liberally misuse their money and official power to perpetuate their stranglehold on office, have to mobilise those resources within the same political system. Corruption in Goa is, firstly, inbuilt into our democratic structure and, secondly, a product of wily politicians’ ingenious initiatives.
As soon as Goa became a state in 1987, it set up a constitutionally mandated Public Service Commission. However, the system managers took care to ensure that the Goa Public Service Commission (GPSC) dealt with recruitment, etc, only of Class I and II government officials, accounting for hardly 10 per cent of the workforce. Government departments (Ministers?) directly recruited Class III and IV employees. In many other states, there are Staff Recruitment Boards for Class III and IV employees. Goan politicians know where their bread and butter comes from. They have never considered the setting up of such a Staff Recruitment Board.
It is widely believed that the annual budgeted expenditure on plan scheme generates about Rs1,000 crore in unaccounted wealth. The Public Works (PWD), Transport, Planning and Development Authorities (PDAs), Forests, Mining, Revenue and Home departments are widely perceived as hotbeds of corruption. Consequently, these ‘lucrative’ departments have to be equitably allotted to all the political parties forming a coalition government, or to various factions in any single-party government.
Goa is, perhaps, one of the few states where lucrative departments are publicly claimed and fought for by Ministers, and shamelessly debated by civil society through the print and electronic media.
Not inherent in the structure but rooted in the ingenious initiative of politicians are oft promoted mega-projects, which have an easy passage in a deliberately built corruption-friendly political structure. The controversial Sports City for the National Games, the so called International Cricket Stadium in an area reportedly classified as forest, and the proposed ‘Sea-Link’ between Mormugao and Dona Paula are a few example of such mega-projects, which may only be only of marginal utility to the civil society but of immense earning value to the political class.
This smallest state in India has often made national headlines for its mega scams. The now aborted Regional Plan 2011, which sought to ‘re-zone’ overnight thousands of acres of agricultural land as non-agricultural, the land-grab stampede in Goa by business houses from Mumbai and Delhi under the garb of SEZs, the perennial and well documented allegations by the Opposition in every Assembly Session about mega corruption in almost every government department, are all too well known and documented to merit any further elaboration.
In most states, corruption is synonymous with government, in spite of well designed structures and procedures for preventing / minimising / eradicating and punishing corruption. In Goa, the political class has worked overtime to prevent such a structure.
Goa was a union territory until 1987, and the guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) were applicable. When Goa became a state, these guidelines ceased to be applicable. No alternative guidelines were laid down by the government. In a rare fit of anti-corruption enthusiasm, the government set up a three member commission under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, to investigate into allegations of corruption against public functionaries, including non-officials. This commission was put to sleep in subsequent years, under the pretext that it would be replaced by the institution of Lokayukta. The not-so-well-debated Lokayukta Bill has most probably been lost in the corridors of the Assembly sometime in 2003. Now, we have neither the Anti-Corruption Commission nor the Lokayukta!
In 2006, the Supreme Court directed all states to enact a Police Act to promote transparent and fair Police administration in the country. The Apex Court in 2006 also gave a seven-point guideline for the proposed Act. The Goa Police Bill was drafted and introduced in the Assembly, but has been reportedly with the Select Committee for the last four years.
Considering the tiny area and population of the state, Goa could have been an ideal laboratory for trying out innovative experiments to ensure clean, fair and transparent administration for environment-friendly, sustainable and inclusive development. But, we have missed the bus. Will Goans ever be able to put Goa back on track?
(Arvind Bhatikar is a former IAS officer and a former Chairman of the Mormugao Port Trust)

16 comments:

Saturnino said...

Well brought in by Roger, it's great to read. As I know Aravind Bhatikar have been instrumental in opening up corruption files in the past but with little success. It does not matter to him as he has hit the nail on the throne of these corrupt politicians and officers. Atleast these corrupt people know that there is someone watching them. In Goa, you can do anything through bribing and corruption. You can even get co-ownership of someone else's property through bribe and corruption. I know a case agressively fought with the corrupt Chief Officer and Mayor of Margao Municipal Council, Y. B. Tawade and Savio Coutinho respectively. These people, under their authority, allowed inclusion of names of other people as "Occupiers" by accepting a bribe of Rs. 90,000, as alleged for the whole process after the death of the actual owner. This was done without following proper documentation, guidelines or succession deed. Part of the construction itself is illegal. Municipal Junior Engineer Suhas Phaldessai along with other corrupt officials did the dirty job as proved by the documents obtained through RTI. However, this is one example of corruption in Goa where the whole adminstration is highly corrupt including the dumb CM who acts like the seller of Goans to the outsiders. With rampant corruption unchecked, Goa will never grow into a model state. Goa is moving towards the fate of Nigeria in terms of corruption, infrastructure, roads, etc. Until people keep electing the same politicians time and again, our journey to liberate Goa from corruption will cease. If anyone from MMC can read this and are interested in clarifications can contact me. The party concerned have obtained copies of all documents through RTI which copies are in my possession too. saturnino.rodrigues@gmail.com

diogofichardo said...

The reason Niz Goenkars are on this site and were on herald is because Goans can see and feel the corruption. It is tool used by the ministers to amass wealth for themselves. Any honest law officer that wants to fight them is either silenced or transferred elsewhere. It is time that we all unite through NIZ Goenker. Thanks to Roiger D'Souza for the article.

Joe Rebello said...

They have taken advantage of the state being small and have taken the Goans for granted. Just take the case of the home minister Matka Pilot Naik & His son Drugs Matka Naik. Fearing defeat they have come up with the scheme of creating a new taluka under Ponda jurisdiction. Check for Raheja constructions by the PWD minister Mr. Smuggler Biglips Alemao, Land fillings by Tailor Mouse Pacheco, these are the examples right in front of our eyes. And we have the CM Mr. Dogolbaji Boil Kamat to support them.

Sandesh Gaonkar said...

Let me very frankly say that our Hindus are not talking anything against these crooks except a few hindus on this blog. Why? I as a hindu can say that the Portuguese rule was miles better and happy moments of our lives. The never harassed anybody as claimed by some of our hindus. This is a false propaganda. Yes but during the regime of Salazar, there were suppressions but the real Portuguese suffered more under salazar than the Portuguese Goans. I know some of our hindus will not like me writing this. But truth is truth.

aggybaba said...

I ask Mr. Gaonkar and all my fellow Goans: Why did we force out the Portuguese and hand our Goa to the bloody Indians on a silver platter? We don't miss it till we no longer have it. It's not too late, we can still get separated from India and be an independent state. Then the ghanttis would need passports and visas to enter Goa. No more vote banks. like it? We can do it.

dlp said...

Aggybaba... Once upon a time we knew our Goa as a place of "Peace". Now it has become a "Piece" of cake, baked by our corrupt politicians, for all these ghanttis and our Peace will no longer exist if we keep on sleeping peacefully.

franco said...

@ Aggybaba, I truly agree with you. But Goa will be bleeding. If at all there are any revolts, they will immediately bring the Army to fire discriminately whereas the 40 chors will be sleeping in their A/c bungalows enjoying watching our youths dying. This will be the outcome of any aggression. Do we need this type of bloody outcome? Is there anyone to face it. Is it worth trying?

Da Silva said...

The above article was very informative. However,
the problem of Goa is that the present ministers of today, the 40 chors who govern Goa, never dreamt that one day they will rule it. So, one fine day, they got up from their sleep and realised that Goa was really in their hands. Unfortunately from that day onwards the decline of Goa started.

Bebdo said...

@fraco... There is no need for a violent agitation in Goa. We have the greatest weapon in our hand that is the goan unity and democracy. To achieve our goal, we must first educate our people on the value of our vote. We should not sell our vote. We can form a political party of the Goan, for the Goans and by the goans. For this we need the support of all niz goenkars.
viva goa, long live goan unity

Tanya Correia said...

Arvind Bhatikar has exposed the Corruption that is rampant in Goa and echoes the voice of all true Goans! A phenomenal article and we need to all stand up and voice our opinions to condemn the corruption which is resulting in the destruction of Goa.

The Government of Goa is doing all in it's power to suppress the voice of the Goan people. Corruption is promoted by our Goa Government and the politicians - that must end. Everything in Goa today whether it's the TCP, Directorate of Panchayats, Civil Services, Police Force, Forest Department are all working in tandem with the Government to gain wealth. A rich state like ours is being exploited by the Government of Goa.

Within 50 years we see the ruin and destruction of our beloved Goa, The Goa Government has all sorts of con-schemes up it's sleeves!

Manuel Gomes said...

We should expose all the corrupt Ministers, Government officials, Panchayat Members and not allow them to get away with their Corruption and colossal greed.

How can they destroy Goa because of their greed?

aggybaba said...

franco, we can do it, like Bebdo said. No doubt, it will be a long journey, uphill and against the wind. All we need is, love and devotion for our motherland. Viva Goa...........

Rolito Fernandes said...

Thank you Niz Goenkar for being so bold. I can surely say that this is a bold site as it allows the commentators to bring in their heart out in the open with names of corrupt officials mentioned. Now it is up to the corrupt officials those mentioned by names to come out clean but they wouldn't as they know what people write on this site is truth and absolute truth. Long live Niz Goenkar, Long Live Menino, Long Live our voice against the corrupt system of goa and may God help Goans.

dlp said...

To all my Niz Goenkars! Let us all support Mr. Menino and express our feelings openly. Let's show that we have guts and not like Herald Editor who tried to show that he was doing service for Niz Goenkars but crumbled under the pressure of these corrupt politicians. Long live Niz Goenkar and God Bless Menino.

dlp said...

I am in the office, but it's lunch time now and just thought.... "Viva Re Viva!! Viva! Viva!! Viva Re Viva! Viva! Viva!! Viva...... Viva Maruiea.... Ani Amchea Niz Goenkarachi Savud Koruiea!!!!! VIVA!!!!

Anonymous said...

dip, Mr. Menino Fernandes is Niz Goenkar, your Herald Editor, what is his name? Any Goenkar by that name? Maybe from "Chimbel Nagar' who also has a voting card?

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