We are on the last day of Carnival, and for the first time, the feeling 'it better get over soon' creeps in because this could be billed as the worst-ever Carnival organised by the Department of Tourism.
The feeling began to manifest in Panjim, and by the time the floats reached Margao, the writing was on the wall – there was no thought process. Carnival has always been about fun, despite small organisational niggles; but this year, people seemed to have been made fun of.
The Carnival parade started late in Panjim so much so that King Momo reached the Directorate of Health Services only at 6.05 pm.
When the Health Department float, which was following him, reached there, a large number of those taking part in the float walked out of the parade and disappeared towards the department building.
Even they appeared fed up of the delay.
And then, there were never-ending gaps between the floats. After the first few floats, the next that appeared came after a gap of around 35 minutes, and no, there were no organisers to be seen coaxing the participants to hurry up or pick up their pace along the route. Déjà vu!
As we are approach the close of the festivities, it can be safely said that there was some reason to be happy at Samba Square or the arena in Mapusa -- not because it brought memories of the past, but because it made good evenings.
The Sea Food Festival has been deferred, and instead people were offered the spirit of a festival sans the sea giving Carnival the manifestation of a festival which it definitely isn’t.
As we reach the end of Carnival, thoughts hit the mind, not on the three days gone by, but what is it that is really ailing the Department of Tourism. Surely, something is is amiss at the top, and we could well start with some orders of the High Court.
For a start, the Director of Tourism has been tweaked not once, but twice on Contempt of Court petitions, within a short spell of time, and on both occasions due to a rather casual attitude.
The Director of Tourism was first hauled up for not adhering to a demolition order. Not only was the construction not demolished, but was even allowed to operate, and play loud music, despite a Supreme Court ban on loud music after 10 pm.
After being excused once, the demolition was executed, and mind you, the beneficiaries were people from outside the State.
The second Contempt Petition was about hosting the Sea Food festival on Miramar beach despite orders of the court to the contrary. Once again, the department went ahead, planning to host the festival, and fortunately asked for deferment when it became obvious that too many false truths would emerge.
During the hearing, the department’s style of operation was likened to that of the Sunburn Festival in what should be a slap on the face of all those involved. Imagine, the government trying to take itself for a ride!
Instead of being pro-people or pro-locals, the department appears to be taking a negative slant, and trying to push ahead with an agenda that is anti-people, anti-environment, with the swing towards drugs, alcohol and prostitution.
Goa is not virgin in terms of drugs, alcohol or prostitution. Scents of all three could be sniffed at some time or the other, but it turns into a problem when there is an overdose, and that is why the foresight of Department of Tourism is frightful.
The Director of Tourism is just around three months old in his role, but this is no excuse because 'IAS' is not an ordinary abbreviation appended to the name of the officer. It means a lot of things, but most of all, it reads – service to the people.
Goa attracts tourists because of its people. The sea, the sun are the frills. The sun and sea are found in so many places, but it has a special texture here because it is woven with an emotion cherished by most visitors. That is why, Goa is Goa!
The Department of Tourism should not play with our identity, or it should stop playing with it because there will come a time when all will be lost not just for the people, but even the IAS officers clamouring to get a posting to Goa.
It is time that the government stops selling Goa to tourists because that has been a job well done by the people for so many years. And, the government has little standing.