The former Portuguese colony that became Independent on December 19, 1961, is an idyllic haven. Known for its sunny beaches, golden sands and “live and let live” laid back ideology. It has always been a freedom from impressions for the weary wanderer, and a proactive society. The Portuguese influence, Catholic populace, Saraswat Brahmins and other religions mingling without rancour, the state of Goa has a culture that lives and breathes harmony. But in the recent past, regressive attitudes are raising their ugly head. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s comment at the State Youth Parliament where he, as an IIT alumni, recalled his own youth and college years, and then in the context of the rising drug problem said, “I fear now as even girls have started drinking,” it’s gender bias and misogynist tenor angered all. Many took swipes at the CM with a challenge where women and men posted pictures drinking beer with tirades. This was not helped by Vijay Sardesai, town and country planning minister’s comment, “North Indian tourists want to create a Haryana in Goa,” which added to the growing disbelief.
The idyllic haven has been in danger of losing its identity with divisive rhetoric in the past.
Now, angered inhabitants, who are liberal-minded are up in arms. Many were in the midst of the famed Carnival celebrations dotting various parts of Goa, where families and villages brandish their legacy with vibrant floats. The air is filled with festivity and, yes tipple! Women and men have challenged the chief minister, holding beers, saying cheers, with the handle #girlswhodrinkbeer.
Yes, the CM’s comment was said in the context of the rise of drug abuse in Goa when compared to his IIT days, but beyond it, people saw a regressive mentality and gender bias. Wendell Rodricks, designer and son of Goa says, “In this day and age, to separate girls from boys is sexist and misogynistic. This said, I hope the comment of the CM has not been taken out of context.” Which is what many others feel.
Biocon honcho, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw @kiranshaw on February 9, said on twitter, “I don’t expect such a Gender biased comment from @manoharparrikar If they r of a drinking age n do it responsibly what has Gender got to do? (sic)” We tend to agree. For former lawyer and Literati owner, who posted a picture of a group of ladies drinking at the Samba Carnival in Panjim, it’s about time such attitudes were put to rest, “Fabulous to see the spontaneous response from women to a remark that is downright sexist,” said Diviya Kapur.
There is also AAP candidate and entrepreneur actress Cecille Lee Rodrigues who challenged the CM, who has inadvertently started a movement with his comment. She posted a picture of her family saying cheers with pints of beer, “My family get together... Rodrigues... Cheers to all.. Wedding time...#Nothingtofear... #girlswhodrinkbeer Post your pictures too. Everyone has their rights. Men and women. Staying in your limit of consuming beer is each individual’s personal decision,” Cecille said, calling on others who took a cue!
Across India too, social media is rife with comments. Ila Naidu, a Bengalurean entrepreneur posted tongue-in-cheek, “This one is especially for one of our shining BJP leaders? Mr Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa who is quoted as saying, ‘I have begun to fear now, because even the girls have started drinking beer. The tolerance limit is being crossed.’ Chin-chin Sir-ji we ‘girls’ drink beer occasionally... as rehydration between other spirits.” Has the beach haven of Goa hit rock bottom? Only time will tell.