power shift

Why many Goans are pleased at the fall of Portugal’s 11-day government

There is a strong chance that Antonio Costa, the son of a Goan poet, could become the prime minister of Goa's erstwhile colonial master.

As Portugal President Anibal Cavaco Silva decides on the political course of action following the collapse of the nation’s 11-day-old centre-right coalition government, there is an air of excitement in faraway Goa. Standing on the cusp of power is 54-year-old Antonio Costa, the general secretary of the Portuguese Socialist Party, its prime ministerial candidate in the October 4 election, and the son of a Goan poet.

Shortly after the elections, which returned a hung parliament, the charismatic Costa achieved the near impossible, uniting Portugal’s three main left parties, including the Communist Party and Left Bloc. Bonded around an anti-austerity programme, the left coalition brought down the minority government of Pedro Passos Coelho.

The president now has the option of either allowing Passos Coelho to continue until fresh elections are called, or invite the left coalition under Costa to head the government. This period of uncertainty is being closely followed in Goa, with newspapers headlining Costa’s possible rise to high office.

Lisbon's Gandhi

His trajectory was set, it would seem, when he was thrice elected mayor of Lisbon from 2007 to 2015. During that time, he came to be known as Lisbon’s Gandhi, for shifting his civic offices to a poorer crime and prostitution-affected district and turning around its fortunes. He then replicated the feat in similar areas and put the body’s financials on a sounder footing.

Costa stepped down from the mayorship in April to focus on the election campaign after he was elected general secretary of the Portuguese Socialist Party and was chosen to be its prime ministerial candidate. His earlier stints were as Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Justice Minister, Interior Minister, and as a lawmaker in the European Parliament.

Born in Lisbon, Antonio is the son of famous Goan writer Orlando da Costa, whose novel O Signo da Ira (Sign of Ire), set in Goa, is still considered a classic on colonial feudal systems that prevailed then. Orlando spent his boyhood and student years in Goa, but pursued higher studies in Lisbon, joining the then banned Communist Party. Though Orlando married and settled in Portugal, he visited Goa every few years, before his demise in 2006.

In the 150-year-old Costa ancestral house on Margao’s Rua Abade Faria Road, Antonio Costa’s first cousin Anna Kaarina has him in her prayers. “We are of course still hoping he makes it,” she said.

Others feel the same way. “It would bring great honour and pride if a person of Goan origin became prime minister of Portugal,” said Goa’s Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik.

Ease of assimilation

Like most second generation immigrants, the 54-year-old Costa may identify more with his Portuguese present than with his Goan roots on his father’s side (his mother is a Portuguese writer). But the fact that the grandson of a Goan is on the cusp of becoming the head of government of its erstwhile colonial master is no less significant, says historian Lourdes Bravo da Costa.

Goan historian Dr Teotonio de Souza, who now lives in Lisbon, is less enamoured. “A Costa has hardly ever shown any interest about Goans in Portugal,” he told Scoll.in. He also points out that Portugal already had its first Goan prime minister, Alfredo Nobre da Costa, who held office for a short period as a presidential nominee from August to November 1978.

This ease of assimilation and acceptance is, in fact, rooted in colonial history.

An estimated 70,000 Indians live in Portugal, according to one 2012 academic study by Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore Professor Rupa Chanda, with the number for Goans ranging from 11,000 to 30,000. The study says the descendants of Goans who emigrated to Portugal before 1961, mainly as students in professional medical, law, engineering and humanities, easily assimilated into Portuguese society of that time, forming an elite section that was distinct from the later waves of immigration.

They spoke the language, some married ethnic Portuguese, and rose to high positions in Portugal. The assimilation was more complete with Catholic emigrants, who share similar surnames, culture and religion.

Colonial footprint

Chanda also makes the point that Portugal’s longer 451-year colonial footprint in Goa (they were the first Europeans to come in 1510 and the last to leave in 1961) was markedly different from the British. “Portugal granted Goa the status of ‘vice kingdom’, which gave the same rights [for instance, citizenship rights] to the inhabitants of Goa under colonial rule as those enjoyed by the Portuguese in Europe.”

The upper castes, both Christian and Hindu, and the propertied were of course privileged in this equation and even in the power-sharing that took place in colonial Goa, not all without rivalries and revolts. “From the mid-1800s those paying property taxes were able to vote in the elections to determine who would represent Goa in the Portuguese Parliament,” writes Lisbon-based legal anthropologist Jason Fernandes.

The possible rise of Costa, though, is taking things a lot further than that.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Want to retire at 45? Make your money work for you

Common sense and some discipline are all you need.

Dreaming of writing that book or taking that cruise when you hit your 40s? Well this dream need not be unrealistic.

All it takes is simple math and the foresight to do some smart financial planning when you are still young. If you start early and get into the discipline of cutting down on unnecessary expenditure, using that money to invest systematically, you can build wealth that sets you free to tick those items off your bucket list sooner than later.

A quick look at how much you spend on indulgences will give you an idea of how much you can save and invest. For example, if you spend, say Rs. 1,000 on movie watching per week, this amount compounded over 10 years means you would have spent around Rs 7,52,000 on just movies! You can try this calculation for yourself. Think of any weekly or monthly expense you regularly make. Now use this calculator to understand how much these expenses will pile up overtime with the current rate of inflation.

Now imagine how this money could have grown at the end of 10 years and overcome the inflation effect if you had instead taken a part invested it somewhere!

It is no rocket science

The fact is that financial planning is simpler than we imagine it to be. Some simple common sense and a clear prioritization of life’s goals is all you need:

  1. Set goals and work backwards: Everything starts with what you want. So, what are your goals? Are they short-term (like buying a car), medium-term (buying a house) or long-term (comfortable living post-retirement). Most of us have goals that come under all the three categories. So, our financial plans should reflect that. Buying a house, for example, would mean saving up enough money for up-front payment and ensuring you have a regular source of income for EMI payment for a period of at least 15-20 years. Buying a car on the other hand might just involve having a steady stream of income to pay off the car loan.
  2. Save first, spend later: Many of us make the mistake of putting what is left, after all our expenses have been met, in the savings kitty. But the reverse will have more benefits in the long run. This means, putting aside a little savings, right at the beginning of the month in the investment option that works best for you. You can then use the balance to spend on your expenditures. This discipline ensures that come what may, you remain on track with your saving goals.
  3. Don’t flaunt money, but use it to create more: When you are young and get your first jobit is tempting to spend on a great lifestyle. But as we’ve discussed, even the small indulgences add up to a serious amount of cash over time. Instead, by regulating indulgences now and investing the rest of your money, you can actually become wealthy instead of just seeming to be so.
  4. Set aside emergency funds: When an emergency arises, like sudden hospitalisation or an accident, quick access to money is needed. This means keeping aside some of your money in liquid assets (accessible whenever you want it). It thus makes sense to regularly save a little towards creating this emergency fund in an investment that can be easily liquidated.
  5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: This is something any investment adviser will tell you, simply because different investment options come with different benefits and risks and suit different investment horizons. By investing in a variety of instruments or options, you can hedge against possible risks and also meet different goals.

How and Why Mutual Funds work

A mutual fund is a professionally managed investment scheme that pools money collected from investors like you and invests this into a diversified portfolio (an optimal mix) of stocks, bonds and other securities.

As an investor, you buy ‘units’, under a mutual fund scheme. The value of these units (Net Asset Value) fluctuates depending on the market value of the mutual fund’s investments. So, the units can be bought or redeemed as per your needs and based on the value.

As mentioned, the fund is managed by professionals who follow the market closely the make calls on where to invest money. This makes these funds a great option for someone who isn’t financially very savvy but is interested in saving up for the future.

So how is a mutual fund going to help to meet your savings goals? Here’s a quick Q&A helps you understand just that:

  1. How do mutual funds meet my investment needs?Mutual Funds come with a variety of schemes that suit different goals depending on whether they are short-term, medium-term or long-term.
  2. Can I withdraw money whenever I want to?There are several mutual funds that offer liquidity – quick and easy access to your money when you want it. For example, there are liquid mutual funds which do not have any lock in period and you can invest your surplus money even for one day. Based on your goals, you can divide your money between funds with longer term or shorter term benefits.
  3. Does it help save on taxes?Investing in certain types of mutual funds also offers you tax benefits. More specifically, investing in Equity Linked Saving Schemes, which are funds that invest in a diverse portfolio of equities, offers you tax deductions up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.
  4. Don’t I need a lot of money to invest in MFs?No, you can start small. The returns in terms of percentage is the same irrespective of the amount you invest in. Additionally, the Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) allows you to invest a small amount weekly, monthly or quarterly in a mutual fund. So, you get to control the size and frequency of your investment and make sure you save before you spend.
  5. But aren’t MFs risky?Well many things in life are risky! Mutual funds try to mitigate your risk by investing your money across a variety of securities. You can further hedge risk by investing in 2 to 3 mutual offers that offer different growth stories i.e. a blue-chip fund and a mid-cap fund. Also remember in a mutual fund, your money is being managed by professionals who are constantly following the market.
  6. Don’t I have to wait too long to get back my returns?No! Mutual Funds, because of the variety of options they offer, can give you gains in the short or medium term too.

The essence of MF is that your money is not lying idle, but is dynamically invested and working for you. To know more about how investing in mutual funds really works for you, see here.

Disclaimer: Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mutual Funds Sahi Hai and not by the Scroll editorial team.