Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of women, are raising tall, foaming pints in distant toasts and bombarding Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar with pictures of their feat, using social media. They are from all walks of life and from all over the country. Some of them aren’t even beer drinkers, and prefer to toast him with single malts and vodka Martinis. Some of them don’t even drink, actually. They are united only by the keen desire to intensify into moral panic Parrikar’s declared uneasiness about women drinking. If the uptight world of the patriarchy must end, let it be quick and painless.
The political leadership of India’s smallest state, and one of the biggest tourist destinations, has decided to be small-minded, and that’s bad for the balance-sheet. Before Indian womanhood had finished drinking to the chief minister, his deputies swung into action, determined to secure Goa for Goans, even if it meant chasing off tourists. Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar threatened to “chase them away” if they were not sufficiently appreciative of Goa’s culture and “Goanness”. And prior to that, Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai called domestic tourists “scum” after watching a video of a specimen of the species urinating from the window of a bus. Admittedly, extraordinary acts may elicit outrageous responses.
But the reality is that Goa has built its image and its economy on the leisure spends of people who go there for a bit of sand and surf, a couple of beers and a feni, and maybe a drag or two of something that would scandalise the honourable ministers, if they admitted to recognising it. Tourists do not go to Goa to celebrate Goanness, any more than they visit Amsterdam to go Dutch. Goa can only use the gentle arts of persuasion to keep their wilder instincts in check.