The Portuguese passport has certainly opened a door of great opportunity for Goans who have been queuing up since the last couple of decades to secure for themselves, not just a Portuguese passport, but a ticket to Portugal and thereby to Europe in pursuit of a better standard of living.
Goa, the tiniest state of independent India was ruled not by the British as was the case with the rest of India, but by the Portuguese who held sway over this land from the year 1510 till 19th December 1961. During this time the Portuguese brought to Goa not only their colonial hegemony but also their religion, their culture, their language, their cuisine, their lifestyle and essentially made Goa an extension of Portugal.
When Goans attained liberation in 1961 there were many Goans who were desirous of holding back their Portuguese citizenship which became redundant after the acquisition of Goa by the Indian army. All Goans automatically were deemed to be Indians and those Goans who sought Portuguese citizenship had to flee to Portugal and reside there thereby forsaking their properties and other attachments in Goa.
In the meantime Portugal also resisted India’s forceful liberation of Goa in the United Nations and opposed it in those forums until the year 1975 when Portugal acceded and accepted that Goa was an integral part of India. However since Goa was liberated by India, it was thought fit by Portugal to extend its citizenship rights to those citizens from Indian Goa, Daman and Diu which were under their occupation and to whosoever sought such citizenship.
As such, the Portugal parliament passed a legislation to grant citizenship to Goans who would seek such status and formulated an application process for Goan Indians to acquire such citizenship if they desired. Initially the response to this was subtle from Goans and there was a trickle of applicants. However after Portugal became a part of the European union suddenly Goan eyes and hopes brightened up. Thus the queues at the Portugal embassy in New Delhi began in the nineties. Soon Portugal opened up its consulate in Goa and the queues simply increased and shifted to the Goan capital of Panjim at the Portuguese consulate where people from Goa Daman and Diu flocked in large numbers with certificates and documents to fulfill the requirements in pursuit of a Portuguese passport and a ticket to Europe.
The essence of this whole desire by Goans to seek a Portuguese passport is the fact that Portugal which is a relatively poor country in European terms became a part of the European union and entitled itself to enjoy the benefits which the Europeans in that union are entitled for. This includes moving into each others’ country without a visa and being allowed to work in countries like UK, France and Switzerland without a visa. The opportunities in these countries are known to be far bigger than those in Portugal and the prime reason for Goans to apply for the citizenship is to eventually stay and work in the more affluent countries of the European union by virtue of being Portuguese citizens.
Goa, which is a laid back tourist destination in India has its economic sustenance mainly from tourism and mining. Goans therefore do not have other business resources besides tourism and mining to take advantage of in minuscule Goa. As such Goans have over the years preferred to travel abroad in search of greener pastures and countries in the Gulf, Europe and Canada have therefore been of active interest. Also cruise lines have a special nostalgic place in Goan hearts.. There are entire villages and towns in Goa whose inhabitants are in cruise lines and it is almost a faithful dynastic continuance by the generations to trail in the footsteps of their forefathers in the shipping industry.
In this scenario, the Portuguese passport was like a breath of fresh air. One need not possess any other qualification other than being Goan and it opened up great opportunities for Goans who others is had restricted themselves to menial jobs. However it must be noted that in the United Kingdom, proficiency in the English language is an important ingredient for success. Without being fluent in English, life can be quite challenging to survive in UK. A few Goans who have not been upto the mark have found it difficult and have upgraded themselves to match those standards to carve a niche in the United kingdom. There is also a fair presence of Goans in countries such as France, Germany and Denmark
For Goans, the Portuguese passport has therefore opened up a world of opportunity for economic improvement and has therefore infused the pounds and the Euros in Goan homes to enrich their standard of living back in Goa. In the meantime the queues and the endeavor of new Goans to acquire Portuguese passport continue with enthusiasm till this day.