Goa, a former Portuguese colony (along with Daman and Diu in distant Gujarat) that became a part of the Indian Union on December 19, 1961, as a Union Territory, is located on India's west coast some 250 miles south of Mumbai. In 1987 the Indian Parliament approved the status of a state for Goa, leaving Daman and Diu as a Union Territory. Goa has been ranked in several polls the best state in the country. It is the smallest in area of India's 28 states at 1,429 square miles and is the fourth-smallest in population, with nearly 1.344 million people according to the 2001 census. Goa has one of the highest literacy rates in the country at 82.30 percent. Its capital is Panaji, and its main port of Mormugao constitutes the principal iron and manganese port in the country. Despite intensive exploitation of those minerals, Goa is environmentally conscious and has retained its natural beauty thanks to its famous beaches, rivers, and verdant paddies and hills. Goa is well known in the country for its places of worship, both Hindu and Christian. The state is a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists. There are frequent chartered flights to Goa from several points abroad, notably Israel, Germany, and Russia.
Goa was acquired for the Portuguese in 1510 by Affonso de Albuquerque (1453-1515) only 12 years after Vasco da Gama (ca. 1460-1524) landed in Calicut in 1498. Goa was made the capital of the pompously called Estado da India (State of India) under a governor-general with command over Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia. Goa was dubbed the “Rome of the Orient” thanks to its cluster of Catholic religious structures and its position as the headquarters of papal activity in the East. The city is divided into 11 talukas (administrative districts) acquired by the Portuguese in two phases: the Velhas Conquistas (Old Conquests) of Tiswadi, Bardez, Salsette, and Mormugao acquired in the 16th century with the remaining 7 talukas being the Novas Conquistas (New Conquests) of Pernem, Sanguem, Quepem, Ponda, Sattari, Bicholim, and Canacona, acquired in the 18th century. By that time the infamous Inquisition that forced conversions and destroyed Hindu temples had become a thing of the past, which is why the Old Conquests held a majority of the Christian population, while the New Conquests contained a preponderant Hindu majority and the Hindu places of worship. At the time of the end of Portuguese rule, Hindus accounted for 60.8 percent of the total Goan population, while the Catholics accounted for 26.4 percent of the population. Both the Hindus and Christians speak Konkani, which was recognized as the language of the state, with Devanagari as its script. Despite their long rule, the Portuguese did not settle in Goa. When Portuguese rule ended in 1961, there were only about 750 Portuguese in Goa, all of them either military or administrative personnel.
The first elections to the Goa Legislative Assembly on an adult franchise basis, the same as in the rest of India, were held in 1963. For the next 17 years, Goan politics remained divided on the question of Goa's identity: whether it should be merged into the neighboring Maharashtra state or whether it should have a separate political status. The leading parties were the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the United Front of Goans, which was overwhelmingly supported by Christians and some upper-class Brahmans, who opposed merger with Maharashtra and advocated the adoption of Konkani as the official language. In January 1967 the central government resolved the question through an opinion poll, with the majority of respondents voting against the merger. The MGP, however, continued to hold a majority in the assembly until 1979 under the leadership of Dayanand Bandodkar (1911-1973), who served as chief minister from 1963 until his death in 1973, and his daughter Shashikala Kakodkar for the next six years. The MGP continued to win majorities in the assembly elections of 1967, 1972, and 1977. Bandodkar did not take a salary, lived in his own house, and used his own means of transport. He was known for his munificence and love of sports and for getting things done. With lavish financial assistance from New Delhi that had very few strings attached, he was able to transform Goa from a backward entity to a path of progress, meeting the interests of industry and mining as well as of the common people.
The greatest development was in building infrastructure: roads, small bridges, and culverts connecting all villages; electrification; and public transport connecting the remotest parts of Goa to its major urban centers. Educational facilities were now available to Goans, who previously had no funding at all for non-Portuguese education. The need for young people to go to Mumbai or Dharwar for college education was obviated by the opening of several colleges of the arts, the sciences, law, engineering, and technology as well as the upgrading of the Goa Medical College, built by the Portuguese in 1842 as the Escola Medico-Cirurgica de Goa. Politics after 1979 has been marked by factions, by politicians changing parties mostly for personal benefit, and by the frequent change of administrations. The three decades since have witnessed 16 governments and 4 short periods of president's rule, when the political process was suspended and the administration was carried out by New Delhi's mostly bureaucratic nominees. For most of the period, the government was led by the Indian National Congress (founded in 1885) or one of its factions except for October 2000-February 2005, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (founded in 1980) led by Manohar Parrikar (b. 1955) held the reins of government. Despite their differences, most of the governments have maintained a balance between the two principal communities of the Hindus and Christians and have supported the economic, educational, and cultural development of the territory, whose status was changed to a state of the Indian Union in 1987 soon after adopting Konkani, with the Devanagari script, as the official language. The state continues to be a tourist haven and has also attracted movie celebrities thanks to Goa becoming a permanent venue for an annual international film festival.
See also Daman and Diu
Official Portal of the Government of Goa. Accessed April 25, 2011. http://www.goa.gov.in/portalweb /login/index.jsp.
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