In an exclusive interview to APN News, Goa’s Tourism, Information Technology, including Printing and Stationery, Minister Rohan Khaunte spoke of the future of Goa scaling new heights in tourism. Khaunte not only wants to imprint the identity of Goa on the world map as a location for beautiful beaches but also for history, tradition and heritage. Excerpts from the interview:
Question: How will tourism of Goa evolve over the next 20 years, what initiatives are you taking to further it?
Minister Khaunte: Till now, the tourism of Goa was dependent on the excellent sea here, but now we are moving forward thinking of changing this image of Goa. Tourists will come to Goa only when we make special preparations for new and different programmes for them. Every year, no one will come to see the sea of Goa. Goa will now witness many projects like Spiritual, Adventure Tourism, Eco and Hinterland Tourism, which will be a huge opportunity for tourists. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new Mopa airport in North Goa. This project will provide many possibilities in the tourism sector. Along with tourism, we have also started the facility of home stay, under which tourists will get a pleasant experience of tourism in the interior areas of Goa.
Question: What steps are being taken for the protection of the environment in Goa in the next 10 years?
Minister Khaunte: The natural environment is God’s gift to Goa. No new tourism project will come up which will harm this environment. Before bringing a new project, a complete study of its impact on the environment will be done. No project will be approved without study, which may become a threat to the environment here. We have constituted the Goa State Tourism Board, which decides on the proposal for a new project after brainstorming. Goa is the first state to constitute this board.
Question: After late Manohar Parrikar, you are representing the people of Goa in other parts of the country, how do you see the political future of Goa as a minister?
Minister Khaunte: I have been an eyewitness to many political ups and downs in Goa, I have also been a participant several times. I worked as the Minister of Revenue, Employment, Printing and Printed Materials for two-and-a-half years in the Parrikar government. In the Assembly elections of 2012 and 2017, I was elected as an independent candidate. But in the 2022 election, I contested as a BJP candidate and won. It is true that along with Parrikarji, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Minister Nitin Gadkari, former Maharashra CM and current Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have also been instrumental in my joining the party. I consider myself a public servant first. It is my earnest desire to do the work necessary for the welfare of the people of Goa along with the keeping the image of Goa.
Question: How do you see your political future?
Minister Khaunte: Politics is the only field where what you think does not happen. Your future is decided by the people who elect you. Do good work, you will get good results. If you do a wrong thing, the people can also show you the way home. The people liked the work I did as an independent MLA till now, this is the reason that voters gave me a third chance in March 2022 after joining the BJP. It is my duty to not let down the trust reposed in me by the people for the third time. I am dedicated to fulfilling my duty. I know that if one does good work, the people will support you.
Question: How can cultural and heritage tourism of Goa be handled in an era of modernization?
Minister Khaunte: The cultural and heritage tourism of Goa has progressed with tradition for many years. The cultural and traditional tourism here has been the specialty of Goa. Temples, churches and many historical sites have been highlights of Goa’s tourism. Be it the Mahadev Temple of Tambdi Surla, Saptakoteshwar Temple of Narve or other temples of Goa, thousands of years of heritage is behind it. Even after years, his specialty did not get affected in the era of modernization. Recently, the Saptakoteshwar temple in Narve was reconstructed. But during this time, care was taken that the tradition and history were maintained. This temple was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Question: What role will the Information Technology sector play in presenting the tourism industry of Goa to the world?
Minister Khaunte: The role of the Information Technology sector will be very important. In the digital age, where all the services are under the control of information technology, integration of tourism sector with it can bring a big change. Goa is the only state where we started the concept of #WorkingGoa. Under this, the IT class coming to Goa could stay connected to office along with their vacation. Work is on to bring about improvements in connectivity issues in rural areas. Tourism and information technology have an inextricable relationship. This relationship has been worked out keeping in mind that both will walk on a new path of development in the region which is just beginning.
Question: What is your opinion about the political ups and downs at the Centre in 2024 and how can Goa’s economy go ahead other than tourism?
Minister Khaunte: Not only the whole country, the world is also watching the work experience of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That’s why India has emerged as Vishwaguru. Keeping this in view, I do not think that there is a possibility of a change at the Centre in 2024. It is the good fortune of India to have a leader like Modi. The India which other countries were seeing from a different point of view till date has now changed, and everyone is now looking at India with respect. This is the charisma of Modi. This is the result of his ideology, I believe. As for 2024, this time the slogan of 400 (Lok Sabha seats) will be there.
If you talk about Goa’s economy, the mining has been its mainstay till now, but after it was stopped, the burden of the state’s economy fell on tourism industry. Over the years, tourism has contributed a lot to revenue. It will increase further with new projects and possibilities.
Many new proposals are in front to strengthen the economy of Goa, which is dependent on the tourism industry. They will be implemented only after detailed consideration. These schemes have the potential to boost tourism as well as strengthen the economy of the state.
Bihar caste census results: Greater population, greater rights is our pledge, says Rahul Gandhi
RJD president Lalu Yadav also issued a statement noting that the exercise will set the tone for nationwide caste census which will be undertaken when they form the next government at the Centre.
Nitish Kumar led Bihar government revealed caste survey results on Monday. The opposition including the Congress welcomed the results and urged the central government to conduct a similar exercise at the national level.
Speaking on the matter, Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is also a vocal supporter of nationwide caste census, stated that Bihar’s survey revealed that 84 percent of the people in the state are Other Backward Classes (OBC’s), Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribe (STs). He added that their rights should be provided based on their population.
Taking to Twitter, he wrote that out of 90 secretaries of the central government, only three are OBCs, who handle only 5 per cent of India’s budget. Therefore, it is important to know the caste statistics of India. He further mentioned that greater the population, the greater the rights and that it is their pledge.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the caste census results revealed the economic situation of the people belonging to different groups. He added that the census will help the government to take action in order to ascertain social justice and upliftment of all sections.
The Janata Dal (United) leader also called for an all-party meeting on Tuesday to share the details of Bihar caste census report and deliberate what further steps needed to be taken. Reports stated that nine parties are expected to participate in the meeting.
RJD president Lalu Yadav, who is Kumar’s ally also issued a statement noting that the exercise will set the tone for nationwide caste census which will be undertaken when they form the next government at the Centre.
Meanwhile, Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh urged the centre to release the results of caste census. He added that holding caste-census has become essential for providing a firmer foundation for social empowerment programmes and for deepening social justice.
Madhya Pradesh: PM Modi lays foundation stone for projects worth Rs 19,000 crore in Gwalior
PM Modi underscored that the double engine government brought Madhya Pradesh among the top 10 states in terms of development.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid foundation stones for projects worth more than Rs 19,000 crore in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh on Monday. Addressing a gathering in Gwalior, PM Modi said that their target is to ensure Madhya Pradesh emerges as one of the top three states, adding that the vote of the people of the state will help them achieve this goal.
He claimed that people who had 60 years could not bring development and always played with the sentiments of the poor and divided the society on the basis of caste. Asserting that the opposition have hatred towards growth because of their politics, PM Modi underlined that Madhya Pradesh has faith in the double engine government which means double development of the state.
He further noted that the next five years would be crucial for Madhya Pradesh’s development and that the double engine government is necessary in the state. He mentioned that nearly 2.25 lakh families will enter into their new homes before Dussehra, Dhanteras and Diwali this year in Madhya Pradesh.
The Prime Minister stated that under the government of vikas-virodhi (apparently referring to opposition), law and order collapses. He noted that beheading took place openly in Rajasthan. He asserted that in states ruled by the opposition, crime and corruption have increased.
PM Modi underscored that the double engine government brought Madhya Pradesh among the top 10 states in terms of development. In addition, he hailed that Gwalior-Chambal has given bravehearts for the security of the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi further guaranteed that India will be one of the top three economies in the world in the next few years. The Legislative Assembly election is scheduled to be carried out in Madhya Pradesh in or before November 2023. Earlier in the day, PM Modi addressed a rally in poll bound Rajasthan.
Congress left no stone unturned to loot Rajasthan: PM Modi in Chittorgarh rally
PM Modi asserted that the paper leak mafia will be held accountable and will be given harshest punishment.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched a scathing attack on Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot over the infighting of Congress in the state. He slammed the state government over multiple issues, including crime against women. He claimed that the Congress government in the state has left no stone unturned to loot Rajasthan.
Addressing a public rally in Chittorgarh in poll-bound Rajasthan, PM Narendra Modi stated that the state has decided to save themselves by bringing back the BJP government. He asserted that the Congress formed the government by misleading people but could not run it, adding that CM Gehlot was busy saving his chair, whereas half of the Congress leaders were actively trying to unseat him.
The Prime Minister further claimed that CM Ashok Gehlot has accepted defeat and is requesting BJP to not stop schemes. He assured that on coming to power in Rajasthan, BJP will not stop any public scheme but will try to improve it. He also accused the Ashok Gehlot led Congress government of destroying the state in the last five years by not taking adequate steps to combat crime against women.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed that it pains him that the state tops in the crime list. He continued that he is pained when atrocities take place against daughters anywhere in the country but Congress has made this a tradition in Rajasthan. He added that the message of people of Rajasthan has reached Congress leaders and that the Chief Minister is also aware that the countdown of Congress government’s farewell has begun.
Speaking on the alleged paper leak issue, PM Modi asserted that the paper leak mafia will be held accountable and will be given harshest punishment. He noted that they will go to the bottom of the paper leak matter and actions will be taken against those who have committed corruption and looted money of the poor.
While addressing the gathering in the poll bound Rajasthan, PM Modi underlined that they are witnessing how leaders of Congress alliance are issuing derogatory remarks about women. He claimed that the alliance is very angry with the Women’s Reservation Act and that they don’t want women to get their rights.
He remarked that there is only one face in elections and that is (Kamal) lotus. The 2023 Rajasthan Legislative Assembly election is scheduled to be held in or before November.