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Lost in transition

Goa is being raped by three men at the same time: tourism, mining and waste, writes Hartman de Souza.

india Updated: Dec 17, 2009 20:43 IST

The feeble prevarication of Goa’s MP, Shantaram Naik, following his ridiculous comment in Parliament, is symptomatic of a deeper malaise. To those who have known this once-beautiful state from the ’60s and have seen it being systematically destroyed by politicians, Goa itself has been raped, and not just once, not just by one man, and not just last month.

In Goa, in the village bars one gets the pulse of everyday life. Goa’s MLAs, unfortunately, only communicate with their constituencies through their henchmen, cronies and contractors. There is not a single bar in the whole of Goa where you will not hear just who among Goa’s elected representatives has made money, how much and with what scam. In the bars, they’ll tell you that once in Goa even though the politicians were always corrupt, at least they gave fifty per cent back to the government; these days they just eat it all.

All in all, cynicism is afoot in Goan society. One meets too many people between 18 and 30 in Goa who, perhaps in sheer disgust, have turned their back on the electoral process. The closer you look, the more you realise those in their ’40s have only been schooled in the business of making money; that those in public office first get back the money they spent in getting elected, then start raking it in for the next five generations. Those who complain are those in their ’50s and older, a strange mix of nostalgia and anger.

Goa is being raped by three men at the same time. One is tourism, a child gone wild, incapable of comprehending excess and refusing to forego the lack of regulation and restriction; two is the mining industry, an old stubborn man on pills, harping on the short-term excessive profit for company and shareholders, pretending not to see the desertification left for stakeholders. The third, the one engineering the rape, is young, brash, and strong as a bull. He goads the other two. His name is waste.

Along the coast, moving inland, garbage dumps proliferate in village after village. Margao has a garbage dump that will soon be a tourist site. As urban India walks along the coast covering field after field with concrete, cutting hill after hill and disrupting traditional water patterns, creating swamps that mix with sewage, in the hinterland, they are eating into the hills to get at the ore. When both sides meet, tourism from the east, mining from the west, not even God knows what will be in the middle.

Hartman de Souza is a theatre veteran based in Pune

The views expressed by the author are personal