There’s a discussion of sorts on social media on the fact that Goa has been finding it difficult to identify land for the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), but has very quickly been able to do so for a proposed film city.
The discussion veers around the fact that Goa has said an immediate yes to the film city but is not receptive to the IIT. There was even a question of whether Goans do not have their priorities right.
Some of the arguments that have been advanced in the discussion are that while the film city will create employment, the IIT will not and that the intake of Goan students at the IIT will be marginal, with most seats going to those from other States. The reasoning, based on these, is why should Goa give up land for the IIT?
The proffered reasons may be true, but do they present the larger perspective of what an institute such as the IIT offers and what the film city would signify?
It is important to understand that not all projects can be viewed through the lens of merely employment and tangible benefits to the local population.
Projects that are proposed must be looked at dispassionately for their advantages and disadvantages before these are all weighed to arrive at an informed decision.
It is a fact that Goa already has a number of engineering institutions, including IIT, NIT, BITS, and some institutions are finding it difficult to admit students at full capacity, with seats going vacant.
But is it that there are no students interested in engineering or is it that technology is changing, and institutions would also have to introduce new courses or increase capacity in courses that have a demand, while reducing it in courses in which students show less interest?
It is always a balance between demand and supply that has to be met, even in the case of student intake in institutions.
Besides, the IIT is a prestigious institute of higher education. When the government keeps repeating its plans of creating an educational hub in Goa, wouldn’t an IIT be a valued addition to the educational hub? It could actually be the poster institution – if one may be permitted to call it that – for the educational hub.
Take on the other hand the film city. The immediate acceptance of it and the reason that it will provide employment is reminiscent of how Pernem said yes to the airport at Mopa without realising that the airport would require an entire affiliate business ecosystem to survive and it is only now that the people in the taluka are waking up to the land issues.
Similarly, can a film city be economically viable without vast ancillary units that would sprout alongside?
A business project that requires vast amounts of land and huge investment cannot be financially profitable on its own. Any first-year student of commerce would be able to attest to this.
Before the film city project is taken forward, there should be a study on how it would benefit the surroundings, and not just dangle the possibility of employment before the people, hoping that they will nod their heads in agreement.
Besides, does Goa have any film culture? Hosting the International Film Festival of India since 2004 does not make Goa a film destination, and has also not succeeded in changing the reputation of Goa.
In fact, the benefits that were expected from the IFFI have not percolated into the tourism industry. IFFI, it had been bandied two decades ago, would transform Goa into another Cannes that has an internationally recognised film festival, but this hasn’t happened and Goa will next month be hosting the 20th consecutive film festival.
For that matter, there is no sign of the convention centre that had been promised for the festival and the opening and closing ceremonies are taking place in sports stadiums for lack of a proper facility.
The difference perhaps in this could be that the IIT is a government initiative while the film city would be a private business project. The former has nobody to channel people’s interest, while the latter is being taken forward through business interests, who are willing to meet the people and convince them of the benefits or perceived benefits.