Goa – The Indian Pearl of the Orient
The upcoming EuRA Global Conference in Goa is the first EuRA in India and is expected to attract a number of European delegates. IKAN hence felt it prudent to do a small article on Goa for the benefit of it’s friends from overseas giving them a birds eye view of what Goa is:
Goa, famously called by the Portuguese as “The Pearl of the Orient” lies on the 720 kms long coastline called the “KONKAN Coast” on the south western part of India. With the Arabian Sea on its west, Goa became the trade centre for the western world. Goa has attracted many Kings, sailors, merchants, traders, saints and missionaries from all around the globe, triggering a perpetual cultural transformation throughout its history which can still be witnessed in the aspects of its diverse “Konkan” culture.
The coastline of Goa has many creeks and estuaries formed by rivers. There are seven major rivers flowing across the state enabling a total navigable distance of 253 kms. The state of Goa is sub-divided into two known as the North Goa and the South Goa. Panaji ( Panjim ), is the capital of the state and is headquartered in the Northern part. Vasco da Gama is the largest city of the state and Margao is the headquarters of South Goa. Ponda and Valpoi are other major cities in the state of Goa.
The Modern Goa, apart from its magnificent beaches, is a destination for large number of international and domestic travellers for its world heritage architecture. The state of Goa is home to many famous Cathedrals, because of which it is also popularly known as “The Rome of the East”.
Recently, the government of India identified Goa as a manufacturing hub for several companies. Industries like mining, ship building, fertilizers, rubber and pharmaceuticals, etc., are well established. The government of India has implemented many initiatives to support and develop the state into an investment ground for foreign and domestic companies.
Culture and Lifestyle of Goans
The culture of Goa originates from the Hindu roots and is also influenced by the 450 years of Portuguese reign and a century of Mughal invasions that preceded the Portuguese. The culture of Goa is a blend of Western and Eastern styles. During festivals and events, the Goans illustrate the unity of their diverse culture by showcasing the Deepastambha, the Cross, and Ghode Modni dance followed by a chariot. Languages spoken are Konkani, Marathi, Portuguese, Hindi and English. The official and most spoken language in Goa is Konkani. Major festivals celebrated by the Goans are Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Christmas, Easter, Samvatsar Padvo or Sanvsar Padvo, Shigmo, Goa Carnival, Sao Jao and the biggest feast called the Feast of St. Francis Xavier. Goa is also known for its New Year celebrations. The Goan Carnival is popular and attracts a large number of travellers.
Goans live a distinctive lifestyle which is the perfect blend of the cultural influences that has impacted their culture over centuries. Naturally the native people are warm and friendly. They are excited about dance, music and art which is mostly a Goan trait. Their attitude towards others is best related by the word “Susegad” originated from the Portuguese word “Socegado” which means taking life at a relaxed pace and enjoy it to the full. The Goans love to take a nap around the afternoon, another colonial era practice influenced by the Portugese, they call this the “Siesta”. They are very much aware of the latest fashion trends and are likely to be seen with the latest designer wear. Accounting to the countless festivals and social occasions the Goan lifestyle makes it essential to dress well during these events.
The staple food of Goa is rice and fish. The Goan cuisine is highly influenced by the Portuguese. “Vison or Visvan” known as King fish is a common delicacy. The tropical climate makes the spices and flavours used in the Goan cuisine a bit intense.
Climate in Goa
The best time to visit this land of enchanting beaches is November to February. Monsoon is not a good time to visit Goa as high tide prevails and Beach shacks remain closed. Although monsoon season can be quite a treat for those who enjoy peace and rain. The Goans experience in the months of November to January, temperatures ranging between 17 to 32 degree Celsius. Summers are from March to May with temperatures ranging from 25 to 35 degree Celsius. The monsoon turns the countryside lush and green almost overnight. June to September is the monsoon season for the Goans.
The popular architectural landmarks in Goa are, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral, Church of St Francis of Assisi, Fort Tiracol, Mahalasa Narayani Temple, Burnzam Ghor, Shri Shantadurga Temple, Shri Mahalaxmi Temple, Safa Masjid, Tambdi Surla, etc., All the buildings, temples, churches are an amalgamation of major three cultures of Portuguese, Hindu and Mughals.
The state of Goa has two unique real estate markets. The northern district is an investment ground for business while the southern district is ideally suited for residential and hotel properties. The north is most attracted by the tourists and people who want to invest prefer North Goa due to its better re-sale and rental values. Consequently, the cities in the northern districts are busy compared to the south.
The state of Goa has a well-designed and maintained roadway system. National Highway – 17, runs along the coast across the north and south districts. The state has a total of 293 km of national highways. Major roadworks from both rural and central parts of the districts are completed giving a smooth travel access to its people.
The Konkan Railways, which links Mumbai, Goa & Mangalore, has been a major support to develop tourism. On May 22, 2017, state-of-the-art, high-speed, 15 coach train, the Tejas Express, with a top speed of 200 km/hour, made its debut. The train would run between Mumbai to North Goa, covering a distance of 579 km in 8.5 hours. The train has two classes — executive chair car & chair car, and is equipped with facilities like automatic doors, secured gangways, Wi-Fi, LCD screens, magazines, tea-coffee vending machines, bio-toilets, etc.
Goa has one airport at Dabolim, which functions as a domestic as well as an international airport. The state is connected to most Indian cities by air. Goa will soon have a new airport which would be at the North end of the state at the Border between Goa and Mumbai. The Mormugao harbour, a multi-purpose general cargo berth situated in the port town of Vasco-da-Gama, handles local & international maritime cargo traffic. The River Navigation Department was established to provide safe, dependable & affordable transport facilities on different ferry routes of Goa’s inland waters.
Education and Healthcare in Goa
The smallest state in India has a literacy rate of 88% which is well above the national average. The state offers a colourful spectrum of syllabus for its students. Most of the schools have incorporated state board, CBSE, IGCSE, IB syllabus. Most popular International schools are, Bloomz International School, Paradise School, The Gera School, European School, Edify School and the Sunshine Worldwide School.
Goa has a number of leading engineering, business management, medical and legal institutes. The Maritime School, under the Captain of Ports Department, Government of Goa, is among the first of its kind in the country. The state has three universities, fifty-six colleges, and eleven stand-alone institutions.
The Public health infrastructure of the state of Goa is considered the best in the country. There are two fully equipped Government hospitals, i.e. the Goa medical College in the north and Hospicio hospital in the south besides many Private hospitals. These 2 hospitals cater to majority of the over 1.5 Million residents of Goa. The affording class can reach out to the private hospitals as well. Goa has some renowned private hospitals including Apollo Victor Hospital in Margao, Manipal Hospital in Panaji & Vrundavan Shalby Hospital in Mapusa.
Industries in Goa
Goa’s economy is from these major industries, mining, tourism, fisheries and pharmaceuticals. As of September 2018, Goa had a total installed power generation capacity of 549.41 MW. Goa’s traditional Cashew processing industry’s value reached US$ 970 million in the year of 2018. The Konkan coast is full of creeks and estuaries formed by rivers, allowing the Fishing industry to export tonnes of fish around the year. Goa had seven formally approved and three notified Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The SEZs once implemented will incorporate especially IT/ITES, Bio-technology and Pharmaceutical industries.
Mining of zinc-lead-silver, oil & gas, iron ore, copper, aluminium and pig iron are the major operations done in Goa. Vedanta Limited, Codli Group, Sonshi Group are the major mining companies operating in Goa.
Tourism – The Innovative marketing strategies by the Government of Goa to project Goa as an all-time leisure destination have resulted in higher tourist inflows over the years with the continuous in-flow of Indian, Russian & European tourists.
Fisheries – Goa has a coastline of about 104 kms and inland waterways of about 250 km. Marine fish production in the state in 2017 was 120,430 tonnes while inland fish production was 5,332 tonnes. Exports of marine products from Goa reached US$ 112.69 million in 2017-18 and US$ 14.45 million in April-July 2018.
Residential rentals in Goa for a 2000 square feet apartment per month is around US$ 800-1300. For industries, office space rentals (per square feet per month) is around US$ 1-2, Five-star hotel room per night is around US$ 160-800. A contemporary traveller from the west can live in Goa at an expense of US$ 16 per day.
Vision & Objectives
The government of Goa in alliance with the Central government has notified the “Goa Start-up Policy 2017” with the following objectives, Make Goa a hub of high value start-ups, attract entrepreneurial talent to the state and build a robust start-up eco-system in Goa, aid local entrepreneurs and start-ups and create at least 100 successful start-ups in the next five years. The Government of Goa has introduced the new Goa Investment Policy 2014 in order to boost investor confidence and attract new industries to Goa. Main objectives of the new policy include: making Goa an aspirational investment destination by making business a pleasure, for best in class manufacturing, knowledge-based, tourism, entertainment and other service industries, while improving the environmental and social indicators of the state. The state Government is working on the new tourism policy with a vision of overall tourism development and to engage with private players to invest and develop infrastructure in the state, The IT Policy 2015 – To make state of Goa most preferred destination for investors there by making IT/ITES/ESDM a vibrant industry leading to employment generation and the Goa Investment Policy 2014 – Creating 50,000 jobs and investing US$ 4.2 billion in new projects in the next five years. Providing 24×7 high-quality power supply and logistics infrastructure to industries.