BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Recently, certain politicians and political parties tried to create controversy over signage with the picture of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, designating the washroom of the Manohar International Airport in Mopa.
The attempt at stirring up trouble fizzled out and revealed how desperate politicians and political parties are in trying to divide society for their personal political gains.
No individual from any religion, except perhaps for an atheist, would think of playing with the divine.
So, to see malice in what could have been a genuine error through ignorance reflects the mentality of those seeking to grab attention through religion.
And, to file a police complaint under various sections of the Indian Penal Code indicates the morass in sections of the Goa Legislative Assembly and, sadly, the future of politics in Goa. One stupid reaction has taken them a hundred steps backwards.
Those upset, or pretending to be so, kept harping that the sentiments of the people have been hurt by the signage. Ironically, apart from the politicians from the political parties who tried to create a ruckus, nobody reacted to the signage.
Politics in India has been polarising people on religious lines in various states of the country, but trying to do so in Goa, that too with something so trivial, is a sad reflection of how far politicians in Goa are ready to stoop for votes.
Many years ago, at a call centre in New Delhi representing the biggest bank in the United Kingdom, an employee enthusiastically wished a customer “Happy Good Friday” on Good Friday.
The upset British customer informed his bank about the incident and the bank's counterparts in India were notified of the same.
In this incident, the customer, the bank and the company to whom the call centre was outsourced realised that the employee, being Indian and not Catholic, was unaware of what Good Friday was.
The orientation course subject was revised, adding religious traditions as another subject.
Obviously, the matter died there because the thought process in the West, even to a great extent amongst the politicians there, is different and the attitude to life is different from that in India, largely a reflection of the education received.
Granted, many of our politicians are not educated. But those who are using that education – or at least attempting to use it – are doing so for political gains instead of trying to bring communities together.
Coming back to the signage at the airport in Mopa – the idea of using not just the photograph of the Basilica of Bom Jesus but all the other pictures as well is ostensibly to sell Goa better to all visiting.
That the photo of the basilica placed next to the washroom is akin to the employee in the Indian call centre wishing his client “Happy Good Friday”, is simply preposterous.
The way the two incidents were handled reflects how far Goa is moving forward or backwards politically.
Attempts to create an issue out of nothing simply bolsters the fact that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is running short of opposition, irrespective of the defection syndrome.
Goa has and will always bask in communal harmony because it is part of the backbone of the state.
Hindus from Goa have always maintained cordial relationship with their Catholic brethren and the same is true of other religions present in Goa.
If there are occasional communal meltdowns, they are caused by people from outside Goa that has decided to settle here.
The reaction of politicians and their parties has left Goans with more disdain for them than the signage at the airport elicited because it shows poor leadership on the part of our politicians.
But then, could anything better be expected from these leaders?