Not too very long ago, I sat in an animated discussion with a friend. The topic that had caught our fancy was the proxy war in the Middle East. For the uninitiated, the crises looked like a power struggle between warring factions. But at the base of it, was the economic power struggle of various first world nations – to control oil. After a few rounds of coffee, and useless banter, we surmised that all the world’s problems could find its root cause in economics. I understand that making the above statement is at the risk of sounding very one-dimensional. But one cannot brush away the truth of the matter.

Let us also understand that the politics in our country is largely to control economic affairs – be it at the state level or as a nation at large. Everyone talks of elections as an exercise of money power.

India is pipped to be the youngest nation soon, with the highest percentage of young people in the world living here. At a recent conference that I attended, speakers were quick to caution the audience from breaking into a victory lap and imploring their attention that the ‘demographic dividend’ that we all are waiting to rejoice could well turn out to be a demographic disaster. What with a huge population of the country waiting to be gainfully employed; and India being unable to provide those many jobs or opportunities to the young hopefuls. And mind you, the date is barely a few years away.

What is even more alarming, is the fact that the India Success Story has spawned a huge number of entrepreneurs who have cashed in on the wave. But conversely, the situation gets grim with the fact that the gap between the haves and have-nots is perhaps even more wider than it ever was. History has been witness to such socio-economic impasses, which have been resolved only through revolutions. And boy, I wish that we do not come to such a pass.

But that would be wishful thinking. Look at the increase in the number of economic offences that you read about. The Ponzi schemes of the past have been replaced with newer, technology driven con jobs. This is not only the Nigerian variety that we are talking about. I am sure most of us have been targeted by someone who wants to offer loans at throwaway interest rates… or makes us reveal our credit card details posing to be from some bank, and the like. This is a societal reaction to having wants and needs that your regular income cannot satisfy. Add to it, peer pressure and consumerism. And you have a deadly concoction of social strife.

Goa is looking at a new elected government soon. The mandate before the new government is to put the ailing economy back on track. It would be foolhardy to expect a government to provide jobs to all – but asking to provide opportunities to our youth would not be asking for too much.

Various ‘development’ corporations in the state have to get their act together and go beyond being machines of crony capitalism.

The socio-economic tension in Goa’s air is palpable. There are one too many engines of economic activity either paralysed or not operating at its optimum level. Be it the resumption of mining, lull of tourism, drop in the number of industries willing to set up their plants in Goa, and now the ban on vending liquor abutting highways.

There are sectors like tourism that are heavily invested into. And one bad season can spell doom to many other dependent industries. Like what happened during the mining ban. The fallout of such doom, unfortunately, is more social than economic.

Goa’s government should work tirelessly to restructure and kickstart the economy. Let us all hope that this happens soon

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