BY MAYA ROSE FERNANDES
Is it just me, or have you noticed that, post-pandemic, a lot more Goans seem to be migrating out of Goa? Canada, New Zealand, the UK and parts of Europe seem to be the most popular benefactors of this large-scale migration. Every week I hear of one more person or family that has got their papers and is busy packing to leave.
Goa was already struggling from ‘brain-drain’ when post-Pandemic, the world economy took a hit and governments struggled to provide opportunities for their citizens. The lockdown made everyone aware of the limits to their resources, their freedoms and their quality of life. I can understand why Goans want to migrate more than ever before. Economic conditions aren’t improving, while competition for jobs is increasing.
People still have this image of a better quality of life abroad and when you can see your taxes being put into the infrastructure of the place you’re living in and see that there are accountability mechanisms in place for redress to injustice, I can imagine that those temptations are enough to entice people with an employable skillset and a penchant for hard work to board a one-way flight out of Goa.
It takes courage and confidence to drive this kind of migration. Leaving the safety of familiarity and diving neck-deep into discomfort isn’t easy. Most human beings hate change, although it’s the most certain thing in life, after death and taxes.
New Zealand is almost a day away, by airplane – that’s quite a distance separating you from all that you’ve known. Right-wing conservatism is on the rise in Europe. In addition, the continent is in the midst of a short-term energy crisis at the moment, which means cold winters and increasing energy bills.
Most of Canada is below zero and under snow for months at a time. That’s quite an acclimation that’s demanded of migrants used to sub-tropical climes.
Then, there’s post-Brexit, post-pandemic England. Their health service has never struggled more and other public services like transport and education are dealing with constant strikes because staff salaries are still low while the cost of living has spiked in recent years. Companies have been hit by the unplanned shortage of labour and can’t afford the wages to hire anew. Huge retail outlets and media houses are declaring bankruptcy.
The sheen of success is there in all of these places, but the indicators of poverty and the widening gap between the have and the have-nots is a felt presence.
In spite of these challenges, there’s still the promise of a better life than the one to be had in Goa. Unless you have stuck your head in the sand like a proverbial ostrich, you can’t ignore the shape-shifting happening around you. Everyday I meet Goans decrying the changes afoot. It’s a small state, so a ripple in one corner is deeply felt everywhere else. Everyone is mourning the erosion of a life they once knew that is fast disappearing under the burdening cache of ‘development’ and the rife corruption that accompanies it.
It seems to me that the only choices left to them are to stay behind and watch the inevitable morphing into a world different to the one they have known, to resist for as long as they can, or to move with the flow and welcome change in a different way, by mourning their loss while they set up in a new country.