Russian downshifters conquer India's Goa

The Government of the Indian state of Goa has decided to eliminate the enclaves on the coast illegally controlled by the Russians. Chief Minister of the state Manohar Parrikar said that he will revoke trade licenses of the hotels and bungalows if the Russians continue to discriminate against local residents. This way Parrikar in a very commendable way fulfills his campaign promises.

The enclaves are located in the villages of Morjim, Arambol, Calangute and Anjuna in North Goa - the most developed region of India in terms of tourism. The villages is the place of residents of many Russians who arrived on tourist or business visas and settled here, becoming downshifters. Downshifting is a deliberate quitting of one's career and movement up the social ladder for the sake of own development and families. "It may be accompanied by a decrease in salary and position, abandonment of the traditional career and the "rat race". It can lead to creation of own business with even larger income," explains the site of Russia's first community of downshifters.

Dissatisfaction of the leadership of Goa with the Russians is allegedly caused by complaints from local residents who cannot freely move around the territory seized by the "invaders." Incidentally, the Minister thinks Israelis to be the invaders as well. When the Indians try to stand up for their rights, they are often met with resistance and fights. The Russians, according to the Minister, create artificial barriers for the Indians who want to stay at a hotel or dine in a restaurant in the area. Store signs and menus are often available only in Russian and Hebrew, the newspaper India Today reported.

Parrikar spoke at a meeting of the local parliament and said that the state government would not tolerate such "colonies". He promised to take harsh measures. All licenses issued to the owners of hotels and cabins will be revoked if they continue to discriminate against local residents. At a first glance, this is a very strange position for an official whose state lives on the income from tourism. In Turkey, Spain and Greece the situation is the opposite. Hotel and catering workers are taught to speak Russian, and menus and signs are translated into Russian as well. However, in these countries, the tourist businesses are owned by local entrepreneurs.

A saying goes "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Parrikar belongs to the Indian People's Party ("the Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP) adhering to nationalist views. He came to power recently, therefore, protection of the rights of local people is one of the cornerstones of his political program. Naturally, he will fight for the interests of local business and Indian tourists.

In addition to the initiative widely discussed in Russia, Parrikar checked coastal casinos for legality of their activities. He found numerous illegal casinos on the river Mandovi, although this business in the state is strictly limited. He told the Legislative Assembly that four police officers were held responsible for the protection of pimps and 15 - for drug-related issues. Thus, Parrikar took to restore basic order in the state.

This is not the first time for the Indian authorities to complain about the Russians. In February, an official statement was made by a deputy of the upper house of Indian Parliament Shantaram Naik, who demanded to protect Goa from the Russian invasion. According to him, they bought the property in the state and opened their own businesses, displacing the Indians and violating the laws of the country. In short, the situation should be taken responsibly before it develops into a diplomatic row.

Russian Consul General in Mumbai Alexei Novikov, according to media reports, has no doubt that the Government of Goa has a positive attitude towards the guests from Russia. According to Novikov, the fact that the state government was in favor of the agreement on establishing twin-town relations between Goa and the Krasnodar Territory confirms this assumption.

This is great, but the Goa officials have to work with the Russians. According to forecasts of the Russian diplomatic mission, this year a record number of Russian citizens - 150, 000 - may be travelling to Goa. Back in the 2010-2011 travel season there were only 40,000 Russian tourists in Goa, but last year the number of Russian tourists travelling to the area increased two-fold. The increasing popularity of the Indian resorts among the Russians is caused by tensions in the Middle East and North Africa that resulted in a loss of the usual vacation spots in the cold season.

Lyuba Lulko


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov