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Atithi Devo Bhavah.

4 years 3 months ago

One would wonder what would words like this be doing in an English daily.. These Sanskrit words, which mean “Guest is God” are an initiative of the Government of India to promote and enhance tourism and educate our citizens of the importance of a guest and tap the full potential of tourism to our country. Goa proudly being a leading recipent of international & domestic tourists, needs to be a forerunner of this initiative.
 
Whilst so much of valuable time has been dedicated to the MOI (Medium of Instruction), it would make a lot of sense to dedicate some parliamentary time more towards what the MOI really educates the people about.. Tourism though, being one of the biggest drivers of the states economy almost ever since our independence, has never been an integral part of the syllabus unfortunately..
 
India with its incredible wealth of heritage, culture & all the other ingredients that makes up for a good holiday receives a meager 3.5 Million tourists annually, whereas our tiny neighbours like Singapore receive 7 Million & Malaysia a whooping 11+ Million!
 
“Atithi Devo Bhavah” is a social awareness campaign based on a multi-pronged charter, highlighting:  Hygiene / Behaviour / Honesty & Integrity / Safety & Security.
 
Goa has emerged the tourism Pearl of the vast Indian coastline, largely due to the happy welcoming attitude of its people in general. Unfortunately of late there have been innumerable cases of harassment of tourists including beating up our guests, many of whom have even had to be hospitalized! Recently a coach carrying a wedding party from the Leela was stopped by 4 drunks at 0200 am and the guests beaten up, being told “Don’t come here to get married”. The offenders were arrested the next morning, but released the same day! The coastal belt of north Goa has regular cases of International and even our own Indian tourists being harassed, molested and often being needlessly beaten up, just to satiate selfish egos and wrongly establish ones social standing. 
 
Animalistic territorial behaviour is a thing of the past, we cannot permit destruction of a good tourism growth, due to such mentality and this needs to be percolated down to the masses, starting with our education system as one of the main tools. Let us teach our youngsters to treat our visitors as guests and not outsiders, India has been a country that has always been a destination for enlightened travelers, lets bring that golden age back again!
 
Whilst our tourism department even took the initiative of setting up a tourist protection & regulatory force consisting of ex-servicemen, the same had to be soon disbanded due to complaints from those hand in glove with miscreants, whose irregular businesses along the coastal belt were being affected by this task force. Beggars, which was something unheard of in the Goa of yesteryears, has become a menace and will soon be uncontrollable.. This would be one of the leading factors to drive away our happy tourists.
 
It is we the people who can make the change and be the change and the fastest way of making this happen is through educating our younger folk.. What difference would the MOI make, if the very purpose of it, which is in educating the people, to benefit themselves and the state as a whole, is not utilized fully?
 
Atithi Devo Bhavah was initiated by the Central Goa in the states of Delhi, Bombay, Jaipur, Agra & Goa, unfortunately not many in Goa are even aware of the same. Details of the programe are available on http://www.incredibleindia.org/newsite/atithidevobhava.htm or just Google: Atithidevobhava.