Fr Carlos Luis SAC
Finally, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant unveiled the free pilgrimage scheme Mukhyamantri Devdarshan Yatra Yojana (MDDYY) which was actually promised during the last February Assembly polls. When the scheme was announced, it was ridiculed as a stunt to garner votes. On Monday, November 7, 2022, the scheme was launched with the flagging off of the pilgrim train to Tirupati shrine in Andhra Pradesh. For many senior citizens who wanted to make this trip, the moment was like a dream come true.
Two other pilgrimage sites covered under the scheme are Vailankani shrine in Tamil Nadu and Shirdi in Maharashtra. The state-sponsored scheme will benefit pilgrims above the age of 50 years and residing in Goa for at least 15 years and will be dispensed on first-cum-first-serve basis.
Going on a pilgrimage is a common feature of different religions and predates history. We cannot pinpoint the exact date when the concept of pilgrimage started. A pilgrimage is supposed to be a long journey undertaken by an individual who removes oneself from one's usual environment to move to a prominent destination to experience peace and divinity. It does also raise the happiness index of citizens.
But whether this act is undertaken to garner or not to garner votes will depend on the deep-seated intent of the government. Should we consider every move of the government to be intended to garner votes? Well, perhaps when there are so many other things that the government can look into to raise the happiness index of its citizens, and if it's shying away from those, then there is something fishy.
The registration of over 14,000 job seekers for just 5,500 vacancies shows how unemployment is craning its ugly neck. The power scam, the SEZ land scam, the police station stoning case, the IDC disproportionate assets case, the Meta strips land sale, the Louis Berger case, the Silly Souls bar case, Old Goa illegal construction, excise scam, High-Security Registration Plates on vehicles scam, Phogat murder case, and Goa as a drug hub are reasons enough to give one a glimpse of the happiness index quotient of the State.
I am not trying to negate the immense development work that the government is doing, but the pompous attitude and the arrogance displayed in reasoning out one's acts as right is what renders one's actions motivated negatively.
Garbage has since yesteryears been a problem in Goa. And none of the governments has ever been able to resolve the issue. There are fake promises made but no concrete actions. The locals have innumerable times cried out seeing the deteriorating state of River Sal for instance, which for 15 years to be more specific, has been neglected.
An authentic act doesn't need advertisement. If you intended well then you have met the result you were hoping for. And the result will make you happy. The free pilgrimage scheme is a welcome move that will make our senior citizens happy but will the happiness last? This is a question that the government has to ponder. Happiness should last and for that, all of the above issues need to be carefully checked and resolved to provide everyone with a safe and comfortable environment.
The happiness index is boosted when one truly believes in oneself and one's abilities and experiences contentment in life, not regret.
(The writer is a priest belonging to the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine) and currently the mission secretary of the ABVM Province, Bangalore. He comments on literature and films that mirror life.)