At just over 3,702 sq km (1,450 sq miles), Goa is India’s smallest state, with less than 1 per cent of its land mass and a population of around 1.5 million. Tourism is the mainstay of its economy. Recent statistics indicate an annual increase of almost 12 per cent in the number of tourist arrivals with almost 2.6 million Indian tourists and around 5 lakh foreign tourists visiting Goa in 2012-13. Almost 15 per cent of India’s annual foreign exchange earnings from tourism come from Goa.
Tourism in Goa used to be seasonal, from October to March, but has rapidly become perennial. This has had serious consequences. Goa’s population is around 1.5 million. The rapidly growing tourism industry is a source of employment for people from all over India (even Nepal and Bangladesh), who come to Goa to escape grinding poverty.
Impact of tourism
The effects of tourism on local children are a matter of concern. Every year, teachers complain that during the peak tourist season they find increasing numbers of children missing school. When they do come to school, they are often sleepy. Sometimes, young children are affected by their parents’ involvement in the tourism industry. At times they are affected by the general environment – the loud music, the availability of cheap liquor and easy access to avenues to make money quickly.
Children on the street
The National Population Commission ranked Goa first among Indian states in terms of 12 indicators on quality of life in 2001-2002. But this rosy image does not reflect the reality. The number of migrants in Goa is estimated at nearly one third of the population. Education and health indices among a large section of this significant sub-population are extremely poor, seen in poor living conditions, the large number of children who drop out from schools, early marriages, wide prevalence of malaria and communicable diseases, and high incidence of child labour.
Many of these children who drop out of school and are mostly unsupervised as often both their parents work as manual labourers, fit into UNICEF’s definition of ‘Children on the Street’*. They roam the beaches or do casual work in city markets, and are highly vulnerable to trafficking for child prostitution, paedophilia and child labour.
This is the other reality; of child workers and sexual exploitation, of illiteracy and poor health, of the number of convictions not being commensurate with the number of crimes against children. This is the Goa that CRG is concerned with.
Status of the Migrant Community
- 70 per cent of migrants are on daily wages; of the remaining 29 per cent on monthly wages, very few have tenure. (Talpankar, Prashanti. Shadows in the Dark – The status of the migrant community in Goa. Vikas Adhyayan Kendra-Children’s Rights in Goa, Goa, 2006, Pg 27)
- Owing to ill health, only 15 per cent of migrants [in Goa] are in a position to do heavy manual labor after the age of 40. Just 4 per cent over 50 can work. (Talpankar:2006, Pg 30)
- 38 per cent of migrants are illiterate, compared with Goa’s overall illiteracy rate of 12 per cent. Seven per cent of children are not sent to school at all; 42 per cent drop out of school at some stage. (Talpankar:2006, Pgs 45 and 60)
- While the mean age of marriage for women in Goa is 25, migrant girls are often married at 15 to 17. There is no data for these marriages as they are unregistered, and therefore illegal. (Goa Initiative for the Mainstreaming of Child Rights [GIMCR], Status of Children in Goa – An Assessment Report, 2007, Goa, 2007, Pg 15)
- 45 per cent of migrants say that they fall sick ‘often’ and lose wages. (Talpankar:2006, Pg 36)
- 40 per cent of migrant children are involved in some kind of child labour. (GIMCR:2007, Pg 63*UNICEF defines ‘Children on the street’ as ‘Children who have homes, to which most return at the end of the day’.