It’s High Time India Preserved Goa’s Soul

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Not many realise that Goa gives India the intangible value of individual and social freedom, which keeps societies and communities bonded despite their own peculiarities. I would not be exaggerating if I said that Goa has given India the internationalism, which makes our country the melting pot of moods, colours and entities. Not that other states don’t but Goa is that beautiful spot in the map, that converses with the outside world as the ‘emissary child’ of India. Goa has one of the highest per capita incomes, highest literacy rate and the highest quality of life, which other states possess in varying degrees. But it is not about GDP or socio-economic growth. It is about the scarce life quotient called Susegad.

It is the most coveted possessions of life, which Goa shares with the rest of India and the globe. It is derived from the Portuguese word ‘sossegado’, which means “quiet”. We find ultimate meditativeness in Susegad, the divinity of submission to nature. Nearly nine in ten Indians suffer from stress. Research shows that chronic stress can become a national epidemic for all genders and ages, particularly those who are 25 to 35 years old. In India today, non-communicable diseases, mostly lifestyle induced, pose a grave danger to the future health of the country. It almost afflicts more than half of the country, the youth and endangers the demographic dividend, which we all assume to be available to us. But where is the quality of life which we guarantee them? What is the emotional quotient we help them build?

I am talking about the calmness with a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy. Without it, everything looks hollow, a mad rush. This lunacy and insecurity resulting in debilitating stress is destroying our society. It is ultra-toxic, which poisons our families, relationships, work life, productivity, our mental health and our nation. The causes and solutions of chronic stress are a complex mixture of socio-economic, environmental, genetic, physical, and spiritual factors.

Chronic stress depresses the immune system, alters our moods, and damages our professional and personal relationships. Just as, on the positive side, yoga has been shown to lengthen the protective caps at the ends of our DNA strands called telomeres and keep us more youthful, ongoing stress can actually change our DNA for the worse. It doesn’t keep us, “ourselves”. We change as persons. Stress levels seem to be high in India compared to other countries, both developed and emerging, including the United States, UK, Germany, France, China, Brazil and Indonesia.

Goa is the truly liberated bright spot in India. It has gifted the Susegad way of life, which can be the answer to the huge loss to the national economy and productivity (both in quantity and quality) because of stress, burnout and discontentment. Susegad can help save high impact on healthcare costs, on productivity, performance, and of course, attrition in the workplace. Susegad imbibed in the culture will not only prevent a lot of symptoms that decrease employee productivity but will also improve the overall performance of the economy. Eventually, it will be cheaper and much more effective for the nation’s growth.

It is a fertile land for all creative minds to huddle and work uninterrupted, undisturbed and without any social interference. Freedom is in the air. From serendipity to film and music festivals to theatre, to the studios of renowned and budding artists, Goa is that place in India, which breathes unbridled life energy. It is all about the liberated minds of Goans. People make a place, not only infrastructure or connectivity of global exchanges. World view of Goans lends India the valuable seamless cosmopolitanism. This adds unfathomable depth to India’s socio-economic growth.

Susegad is the elixir of life and the nation. With stress almost epidemic, it is a paradox that we have this treasure of Susegad and yet are constantly looking out for ‘inorganic’ solutions and quick fixes. Modern mindfulness or contemplative centring is this rare quality of life that can be sustained through Susegad and someday, the Gross Happiness Index of the country (a la Bhutan), born out of a widespread Susegad influence, would resolutely supplement the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

For the time being, let’s not overlook Susegad but on the contrary, value it as an indispensable transformational way of life. But we need to understand the true meaning of Susegad, which is essentially the fountainhead of life energy and certainly not lethargy, as many describe it. Let’s take the panacea called Susegad to the world. In a household survey in Goa, we were elated to find the pristine culture and life of Goa still intact. Susegad is very much alive and let our mission be to keep it immortal, notwithstanding the pressures of the changing times and convoluted reasonings.

Osho had once said very interestingly that “ it is very difficult for the mind to say yes because once you say yes, the mind stops, then there is no need for the mind.” When the mind stops, the fears, the insecurities, the challenges, the inner fights come to a dead stop. If this happens at an individual level, with Susegad reaching out, the entire society can be transformed. Susegad is simple and yet very powerful, as is with all simple nuances and practices.

The liberation of Goa has given us Goa and let’s learn to value the wonder that Goa is. On this day, as we salute the freedom fighters who fought for Goa’s liberation, we resolve to uphold human values and quality of life that Goa presents.

Pristine Goa, liberates but we need to preserve Goa’s soul amidst turbulent and changing times. Tourists love Goa because they find total independence and ‘true’ fun. The civil society of Goa is amazingly mature and consenting but in the same vein, the travellers should realise the worth of the social independence and reciprocate. The ecology of Goa needs to be preserved, imminently because the sea level is rising and the coastline is starting to erode. Urban planning in cities need more attention and stringent practice, because once defaced, the beautiful towns of Goa cannot be recovered. The hills need not be turned to real estate goldmines. The nine rivers and the unique biodiversity of Goa needs to be protected now like never before. They are under attack. The vibrant women’s groups need more financial support to explore alternate livelihoods and opportunities to utilise their talents. The youth of Goa want mentoring for their career growth.

We all want liberated Goa to show the way. It can do much more and let’s hold hands to make it happen.

It’s time to celebrate the liberation of Goa with more energy and serious resolutions.

(The writer is a columnist based in New Delhi. The views are personal)

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