In the Babel of voices and opinions we have heard since Vijai Sardesai’s, ‘scum of the earth’ remark which already looks to find a place in the annals of immortal quotes of Goan politicians, it is amazing how quickly, the conversation has moved from the core to the absolutely tangential.
Sardesai’s choice of words, his purported singling out of North Indian/ Haryanvi tourists, (which on further hearing seems to be not quite correct), and we say this at the cost of repetition were not, repeat not, correct. But can anyone who loves Goa and that includes non-Goans, who have settled here and are preserving this land, disagree or duck from the spirit of the argument?
It will be in the fitness of things to look at both the literal meaning of scum as well as how the word is generally used in the language.Literally speaking it means “a layer of unpleasant or unwanted material that has formed on the top of a liquid” And it is most commonly used to describe “someone so disgraceful that they are seen as the lowest form of life.”
Here let us pause, and see the repulsive video which has had every right thinking person in Goa, cutting across state boundaries, feeling absolutely nauseated. It has a male tourist urinating from inside a tourist bus bearing a Karnataka number plate on to a busy street in Panjim, with a puddle of his urine forming on the road. Doesn’t this image fit in with the definition of scum? And doesn’t the act of every person who treats our land and our roads as a garbage bin, deserve to be called an act of a ‘scum-ster’.
Shouldn’t every tourist who takes over our footpaths and our beaches to camp, cool and leave their dirt there, be open to being called a scum of the earth for being disgraceful.
As it often happens in Goa, the narrative has got narrowed down to whether you support Vijai Sardesai or you don’t and the arguments are rooted in personal or political dislike for the minister rather than on the merit of the statement and if a line has indeed been crossed.
If Sardesai has singled out a particular community or state or referred to tourists from a part of India as ‘scums’ it is indefensible. But how many of them who are part of this argument have actually seen the video of his speech, if a community specific reference was made in clear reference to the use of the word scum.
A display of boorishness as well as of graciousness isn’t the monopoly or domain of specific lands or people and that includes Goans too. Don’t we have people of our land protecting the land, its environment, its hills and its forests, and also have brothers of the same land, bending rules, violating the codes of communidades, acting as middle men for the sale of Goa? Don’t we have countless Goans who are vociferously fighting for a better, affordable transport system, to fight against what Goans themselves call the ‘taxi mafia'. And who runs Goa’s taxis? Goans of course. Behaviour which is most disgraceful by anyone is exactly the trait of a "scum-ster".
Without any further deviation from the focused issue of the conduct of tourists who mess with Goa, let’s simply ask ourselves if this is par for the course. Quite clearly it is not. And the time has gone to expect that this will be sorted by education and awareness. This has to be eradicated with seriousness with tough action. And in doing so, Goa will be supported and praised not just by Goans but people from other states who are responsible and love Goa.
The ultimate bottom line of this debate is this- when you see puddles of urine, cooking on footpaths, garbage strewn, these images do not have a place or race tag. They just have the stamp of a “scum-ster".