Goa minister Vijai Sardesai may have been guilty of using detestably strong language in denouncing domestic tourists to Goa as the “scum of the earth”. His diatribe against visitors to his home state, who outnumber the locals by about four to one in a year, may gain political overtones as he lumped tourists as “North Indians” who were out to make a Haryana out of Goa. He did retract while explaining how his comments were triggered by the sight of tourists urinating out of a bus window on a main thoroughfare in the land famous for its clean beaches, swaying palm trees and a wicked local brew made out of cashew nuts. The aberration of an incident might have made anyone angry as it represents a crude cultural statement that Goans are not accustomed to witnessing. The problem of littering the great tourist hotspots is a national one.
Domestic tourists, rich and poor, are inured to treating the great outdoors of India as personal space that can be dealt with as the user pleases. Day tourists are spoiling the lovely mountain towns in the extreme north, west and south of the land, cooking by the roadside and treating the outdoors as an open toilet. Unless and until Indians change their mindset to the principles of Swachchh Bharat, this is a problem that will not go away. As Indians we have to learn that cleanliness is a concept to cover the whole country and not only personal living spaces. It is not only the people of Goa who are to be pitied rather than censured for the antipathy to domestic tourists. Tourist spots, including towns with popular shrines for different religions, can help tackle the problem by providing picnic sites with toilet facilities for visitors.