This is the story of a small town boy, hailing from Sanquelim, Goa. Right from the inception he was an active participant in the social work, the leadership qualities were inherent in him and he had a dream to do something specific for the fellow villagers. After completing his high school studies he left the village in a search of his career, because according to him, one thing he was sure that, if he wants to fulfill his dream of changing the system then it cannot be done without the strong financial support. “I did my preliminary studies at St. John’s School in Sanuelim and right from my school days I was always the class leader, I was the first to start the flood light tournament at the school level and when I reached in 12th grade at the Shantadurga Higher Secondary School in Bicholim, I became GS (General Secretary). I also represented the National Students Union of India which was just before my drop from the educational line to enter into the business world”
His journey was not easy and he knew it well, after dropping from the college in his second year, he joined one of the well-known timeshare resorts in Goa as Sales Executive, where he used to sell the timeshare to the tourist coming to Goa, but his growth was very swift, selling the timeshare was not his cup of tea and that made him take up the bigger challenges. He got hold of the hotels in Goa which were looking for the selling of their room nights. This was way back in the year 1997 when there were the bunch of people in Goa who used take up such kind of initiatives. Sensing the need of the market and providing the solution is the best business of all time. He sensed the need of time and started working towards it. He started getting the rooms for the people who land in Goa without the prior booking and this really worked with him. This was the pure example of making the money without any investment. He developed the good rapport with hoteliers as well as the taxi drivers making it win – win situation for all. “I used to distribute the party flyers for the Tittos in the evening time and I was also instrumental in starting of commissioning business with various showrooms and taxi operators in Goa”, He narrated.
According to him “I use to provide what tourist wants such as sightseeing, bikes, shopping, Restaurants. I used to provide the full information of Goa “just like guide” and always made sure that they had a memorable stay in Goa”. According to him, that was the secret of his success, “people used to recommend me and that’s how I made my money”. He said with the shine in his eyes.
Here I am telling you the real life story of none other than the present Sanquelim Municipal Council Chairperson Shri. Dharmesh Saglani. This story is not just restricted to his success in the business but his journey to the chair of the sanquelim municipality. And let me tell you the story is very interesting and inspiring. Dharmesh has set the trend in the business and politics by doing the work which others have not thought of.
Now, coming back to our story, as the time passed Dharmesh sensed the change in tourism trend, he saw that good tourist crowd started moving to Palolem beach due to huge saturation in North Goa beach belt and him turned his attention to Palolem, first thing he did was, filling up of an application for the Shack in Palolem, during those days getting the shack was not that difficult as there were limited stakeholders. Dharmesh did not lose this opportunity and he grabbed the first shack on a private property at Palolem beach in the year 1999 and named it as Cuba. After this first success, there was no looking back for him, he worked hard and opened total 12 places across the Goa in 18 years time. That was indeed the tremendous achievement. Today Dharmesh is the president of the Private Property Shack Owners association in Goa. In fact, the Private property Shack owners association, was the brainchild of Dharmesh, to take up the grievances of the Private Shack owners to the government level and also to encourage the local youth to earn money, today the Snacks / Huts owners association having more than 500 shacks under the association
Till here Dharmesh apparently achieved what he wanted into the business to a major extent and now it was time for him to turn his focus into the social work. Though Sanquelim is not his “Janmabhoomi” (A birth place) but it surely became his “Karmabhoomi” (a workplace), now it was the time to give back what he took from this society. It was the time to give back to the people of his village and Dharmesh did exactly the same. “Though I was not born in Goa, but my forefathers are here for the four generations,” he said.
“I left Sanquelim in the year 1997, to take up the challenge into the business world and as you know by now, I attained the success to quite an extent so that I could now go back to my village and do something for the people of sanuqelim, which I had decided before leaving the place”. While he was talking, I could see that he got very nostalgic about the entire thing. He continued after a small pause “Although I left Sanquelim way back in 1997 for the business, but I used to go there in off season time for couple of weeks, I used to help people in whatever way I could, I also used to meet some of my friends who were the elected ward members of municipal council, Looking at my work they started perusing me to contest the election from my ward which I refused as I was always more interested in doing the social work rather than entering into the active politics, and I continued my good work”.
Dharmesh kept doing his work without any expectations and his friends kept perusing him to join the game of politics. “At the end I decided to listen to them and contest the election from my ward, where I knew people, but to my bad luck it was reserved for the OBC candidate, I had no option then to select another ward, where I had 10 opponents contesting against me, one of them was supported by ruling party while other was from opposition, everybody was in Fray, some of them had campaigned for almost a month”. He took a small pause before going ahead, “I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, but they had put everything at stake, they may have the fear of losing unlike me and their fear became their reality that election was won by me”. He said with confidence.
After winning the ward seat with so much of stiff competition only post he deserved was the Chairperson of Sanquelim Municipal Council and that he earned with a full support of all the councilors. “They promised to make me vice chairperson but at the end they made me Chairperson and since then I am holding this position for past two years,” he said.
“Now that they made me Chairperson, I decided to take up this responsibility with full dedication and starred my work from day one,” Claimed Dharmesh. Dharmesh always wanted to bring the change into that place where he was born; he always wanted to make Sanquelim, one of the model towns in Goa and to make his dreams turn into the reality he did everything possible, from providing the garbage solution to making the town wi-fi enabled. In fact, Sanquelim was not the first town in Goa which was turned into the free wi-fi zone internet facility for the people of the town, but it was surely the first place in Goa which was started by non-legislator, while the first free wi-fi facility was started in Goa by the Curchorem MLA Shri. Nilesh Cabral. “I was always had a dream of turning this place, my village into Wi-Fi enabled town. Since I have traveled around the world I had seen how important internet is, especially for the remote place like Sanquelim, where people still go to cyber café or nearby library in a search of information, that too in this cyber age made me feel that by making the free wi-fi available I will at least try to provide the access to hundreds of students, housewives, and others across the town. According to me, Sanquelim is still coming under the rural area and these types of facility surely would help the new generation kids to keep in touch with their online friends and family as well as use for the educational purpose”.
Dharmesh knew one thing that though he is starting free wi-fi for the benefits of the people of Sanquelim but it won’t be possible to provide this facility for longer period of time, as there was no support from government or no funding was available, all he was doing at the moment was putting the money from his own pockets. But since he has introduced something useful he decided to maintain it as long as possible and try to get some minimum fees from the users on monthly basis thereby he can increase the geographical area and make this faculty reach each and every corner of Sanquelim village. “I wanted people to get free wi-fi, but it was not becoming feasible for me to provide entire sanquelim free wi-fi and hence I have decided to charge minimum Rs. 500 to each connection for unlimited wi-fi access that too with high speed compared to what presently the mobile companies and BSNL is offering to the people with poor speed and much higher rates. My purpose was not making any money in this as I am anyways spending from my pocket for the benefits of the people”.
Dharmesh did all that was possible. He even tried to take this project to the municipality level “I want to serve the people of Sanquelim. Initially, my idea was to take this project as municipality project, which I tried, I also took the resolution for the same but due to having been sidelined by the ruling government for the past two years everything became difficult. The government is not supporting since we are neither from the ruling party nor from an opposition. It is a very sad situation, but we have no option but to go with it,” he said.
The story does not end here; Dharmesh was the first person to start the Garbage helpline in Goa or may be may be perhaps in India at Municipality level. “It is the India’s first Garbage helpline”, claimed Dharmesh with complete confidence. “I have never heard that anyone started the helpline for the garbage and streetlights, just text on the number and all your garbage & street lights problems be sorted out within just 24 hours”, he added. Dharmesh wants to do many things but he feels the helpless as government doesn’t support him into anything “If electricity department doesn’t provide the lineman I can’t do anything, because my labor can’t climb on the electricity polls, same way if municipality doesn’t provide me equipment I can’t do the work. This is the work of municipality and if I get the chief officer to act in the interest of people, which is not happening, I can fix most of the thing in Sanquelim”, claimed Dharmesh. According to Dharmesh, there were more than 7 chief officers had been transferred in last 2 years. “I want the work of Sanquelim people to be done within the timeframe which is not happening due to the lack of funds. No funds have been given by the ruling government to our municipality for past two years,” he added.
According to Dharmesh, the municipality is not dependent on government at all, they manage to get their own funding from the revenue collection “Government is giving money to the people of Sanquelim through the schemes like Grahalaxmi and other, to keep them happy and under control, government is also funding the mining dependant and openly threatening them if they speck against the government, their funding will stop, that is why nobody wants to come out and speak openly against the government though they are not happy from within about the entire issue” narrated Dharmesh.
Dharmesh has a vision for his village and he wants to set up an example for the others who think that they can only survive if they elect the candidates from the ruling government. He wants to make the municipality an independent entity which does not stay at the mercy of the ruling or opposition parties. He is doing everything that is possible. He is not interested in becoming the politician but yes, he wants to help people of Sanquelim and to do that he would do anything “If people want me to contest the election, will surely do”, he said. “I am not here to make money, I have my business and that is more than sufficient for me, for most of the people politics is a business but not for me”, He added.
Dharmesh has started the office to help the needy people where he provides the services like filling up of forms, the arrangement of documents, preparation of affidavit, all free of cost, he says “I have set up the office to help people; I am paying the staff from my pocket”. Dharmesh is working on the new venture in which he wants to provide all basic services, “I have left 2 and half year to complete my term in the office, but before going from here I want to make sure that, people do not need to visit the municipality to get the most basic services and that will be made available online, I don’t care if government helps me in this or not, I will do it from my own money”, he claimed.
“After the closure of mining business the free bus services provided under the CSR scheme were stopped plying but the one stared at me is still running. I have started the citizens charted of the municipality whereby one can find out the list of the documents required and within how many days you get and what the fees are. I had also stated the free computer education services in association with Vedanta foundation whereby people from all the age group can get the computer education at SMC (Sanquelim Municipal) building,” He narrated.
“I promise only what I do and I always keep my promise”, were the concluding words of Dharmesh Saglani. Dharmesh is doing more than expected and that is setting an example for the others in the state. He is the trendsetter, who has proved that one does not need the political support or godfather to bring the change in the society. People need to change their mindsets. They need to raise their voice against the injustice. Dharmesh had started his journey alone and slowly people started joining him in his journey and today he has a fleet of supporters who are ready to take up any challenge. If Dharmesh can do it, everybody else can. You only need that spark within you to change the situation around you.