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On the evening of the 30th of November 2019, at SPCL Centre, Rumaithiya, Kuwait, a Community of GOANS IN KUWAIT group managed to pull off one of the most productive panel discussion that NRIs anywhere may have witnessed in recent times. A Panel discussion, with one of Goa’s son-of-the-soil and one of the last remaining Congress loyalist, the Honorable MLA of the Curtorim Constituency, Shri Aleixo Reginaldo from Goa, India along with 3 other NRI Goans with strong expertise and experience in their topics consisting of Raymond Pereira, Aldrin Meneses and Cajetan Barretto.
It was on a very short notice of barely over a week, when three put forth the plan of having such a discussion with an elected representative; a discussion that was woven around the challenges that a Goan NRI faces with certain pertinent issues in Goa.
Cajetan Barretto was the moderator of the discussion with his powerful persona and witty sophistication. He also happens to be on the administration team of one of the largest Goa-related social media group, namely GOA SPEAKS, and is well known for his professionalism and unbiased approach.
Aldrin Meneses, who is a “Goenkar for the Goenkar”, was one of the panelists. With over two decades of experience in the food industry in Kuwait. He touched upon the topic of how cumbersome it is for NRIs who are aspiring to delve into business in Goa. He expressed his experience of having to deal with lengthy bureaucratic processes and red-tapism when he did a small exercise in market research in establishing a small scale food business in Goa. As a response to Aldrin’s topic, Reginaldo expressed his willingness to support and drive the efforts of any individuals interested in setting up such business units in Goa. He offered to propose in the forthcoming assembly session, a single-window system for facilitating the process of an aspiring entrepreneur. He suggested that we as NRI Goans should work on a model instance and take it to its logical end, and make it an example to replicate and follow. In this way it would help in encouraging potential aspirants too.
Sebastian (Seby) Noronha, was the second panelist. A very vocal personality, especially in the social media arena, Seby is very passionate about any issues he takes up and does whatever it takes to get to the very minute details and looks for solutions that are not only beneficial but are also practical, real, and not driven merely by sentiments. Seby broached the topic related to the identity crisis that not only NRIs face but he also highlighted the need for a defining factor to be established in determining “Who is a Goan”. He was of the opinion that today if any such bill which aims to define a Goan has to be passed, it has to be drafted in such a way that it protects the interests of all Goans, NRIs and PIOs alike. And such a bill should be so robust and leak-proof that it offers no loopholes on the basis of which it may be rejected.
Reginaldo was very clear about his views on this. He touched upon the POGO bill that was proposed in the recent past and he was also categorical when he said that it is quite close to impossible to get such a bill passed in the first place, and the POGO bill in its current format is just a feeble attempt to create unnecessary unrest. He also said that he will make available to us all the top legal experts and socio-political veterans to form a panel who would put their brains together to come up with a more elaborate bill that covers everything in the minutest of details. He also mentioned that it would be advisable for the nomenclature of the bill to be changed. If we are able to put something like this together, he has assured us that he would actively push for passing it and making it a reality.
Raymond Pereira the 3rd panelists. A very resourceful and unbelievably enthusiastic Goan NRI would be the right description for him. Raymond took on the topic of sustainable solutions that can be derived from the vast pool of resources that the Goan diaspora has to offer. The quintessential Goan NRI (irrespective of where in the world he/she is) has exposure to different cultures of working or doing business, modern technology, global best practices, and overall a wider scope of thinking. Besides being experienced and qualified, the Goan diaspora is more than willing to be of assistance to the Goan administrative and political system. The Government of Goa could reach out to the NRI Platform for resourceful consultation and for expert suggestions and advice. The pool of NRI resources has a lot more to offer that one would imagine.
Reginaldo was all in for such kind of an arrangement. As a response to Raymond’s topic he gave us the green signal to form an NRI platform and to formally make a proposal with a well-defined structure of how this resource pool can be of service. He said he will do whatever it takes to propose this to the assembly session and to promote more and more collaboration between the Goan administrative system and this NRI platform.
Cajetan, as a moderator, while having done a fabulous job of steering the discussion in the most productive way, also posed his own question to Reginaldo as the 4th Panelist, who by the way was participating in this discussion with genuine vigor and jovial humor. Cajetan asked Reginaldo about his (Reginaldo’s) views on how to increase the collaboration between elected representatives and the general public on social media. To this, Reginaldo reminded us that he is one of the only MLA in Goa who actively participates in discussions on social media today. He also expressed his disappointment about how some persons lose all civility and decency when discussing any controversial topics on any social media platforms, and he also went ahead in elaborating on certain incidents that he was involved in recently as a result of his involvement on social media discussions.
Cajetan, who is known for his pragmatism, put this in a nutshell by saying that one should only say on social media what one would also dare say to the person on the face. Hiding behind the virtual curtain is only a display of hypocrisy and cowardice.
With the prepared panel discussion having come to an end, the audience was asked for any questions that they had to ask. Questions were asked by Anil Lobo, a long-time resident of Kuwait, and by Floyd Paes. Both expressed their qualms about the POGO bill and conveyed their worry about the bill’s ambiguity. Reginaldo addressed the questions again by suggesting a relook at the drafting of a new and more robust bill which adheres to the Indian Constitution.
There were questions also asked about the way politicians generally disrespecting the people’s mandate and changing parties overnight, and also a question was asked about how the casino lobby and the real-estate lobby is being dealt with currently. Reginaldo very straightforwardly and diplomatically responded by saying that he cannot speak for the politicians who have defected and also said that there must have been some circumstantial pressures that they may have faced in doing so. About the casino lobby he has expressed his forecast that this lobby will fall soon.
The audience was exclusive and very like-minded. And this gave the whole event a very positive dimension. There was a very promising after-taste and everybody was looking forward to making plans on how to execute whatever was discussed in the discussions and have hope to conduct such Panel Discussions every quarter or earlier. The plan is to now for the panelists to sit together once again and based on the content of the meeting, make short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals which would help in structuring the approach towards a better and brighter future for not only the Goan NRIs, but for every Goan who is in Goa too!