And for a Friday, just returning home from a holiday in Lisbon….. some thoughts…..

Selfie at the BELEM Tower facing the Atlantic Ocean….. memorial to the successful expedition of Vasco da Gama to India…..

Most of India, but definitely all Goans and Keralites know Vasco da Gama the first European to sail to India, land in Cochin, establish the Spice Trade and set up an Empire. Goa was liberated only in 1961 much after rest of India’s Independence from the British. Vasco da Gama died in Cochin. Many Goans migrated to Portugal. Fernandes, D’cruz, D’Souza, Santa Cruz, Braganza – all sound very familiar in Lisbon too, links which Portugal savours even today. There are major Roads and Monuments named after India. Locals are very fond of Indians. After all, their current Prime Minister Antonio Costa was born in Goa and has excellent relations with our PM. Portugal is of course a Developed nation within the European Union, but amongst the poorest of them. So the Country is best suited for Middle class Indian tourists who want to avoid the high cost Europe holiday destinations in France or Germany. Food, public Transport and stay outside of Lisbon are all “Value for Money”.

There are many lessons in Sustainable living for India to learn from today’s Portugal. The biggest revenue earners are Tourism and the Cork Industry. More than 80% of the world Cork comes from Portugal and how well they have preserved this agricultural marvel. Cork comes from a particular variety of Oak Tree growing wild and requires almost no inputs. Average Tree life is 275 years. Harvesting of the cork is a skillful exercise by Cork farmers. Cork is shaved off the side of the Tree, much like Wool is shorn from the skin of live sheep. First Shave only after tree is 27 years old. These shavings are called Male Corks or Virgin corks and are for specialised use. Thereafter only once in 9 years. Cork has unique advantages – its elastic, resilient, impermeable, buoyant and 100% natural – can withstand heat, vibrations and sound – is the perfect sealing for Wines and guess what? Cork is imported by NASA for its Rocket technologies.

Sustainable Agriculture and Tourism Development are great job creating Sectors for India. Let’s learn from Portugal to respect our Trees and natural resources. Let’s develop the Sustainable way, the Ethical way, the SEEGOS way.