Where do we stand in Incredible India?
Amrit Raj | 12 Apr 2008

This is about the much flaunted Incredible India campaign of indian government and the flip side of it.

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This is the impact of the ?molestation? which has been done with foreign tourists in recent times from Pushkar to Kochi to Agra to Goa. These incidents have raised serious concern in the union tourism ministry, which is apprehensive that its high-profile ?Incredible India? campaign abroad would be adversely affected by the cases that create a poor image of the country. Already, several prominent countries including the US, UK, Australia, Canada and France have issued on the law and order situation here in travel advisories to their citizens planning to visit India. They have specifically warned women tourists about the possibility of physical harassment and molestation in major tourism destinations like Delhi, Agra, Goa and Himachal Pradesh. Foreign visitors have been easy targets of unscrupulous cheats and truths masquerading as guides and friendly neighbourhood faces. The reported at least seventy cases of rape harassment, theft and cheating last year. The figure tells a grim story how government agencies have been callously indifferent to the sordid tales of molestation which have brought bad name especially to Taj, which every tourist entering India wants to see. While there is no doubt that the guilty parties should be apprehended and given maximum punishment, a major part of the fault lies with the way the western white women dress and behave with the local coloured population when they come as tourists in India. They usually dress in the scantiest and most transparent clothing and believe that they are living sirens to the locals, irrespective of their age and nationality. A case involving another Canadian woman happened recently in Thailand where a local policeman had to shoot her and her boyfriend because they crossed all levels of decency. So, all white female tourists should take a course in sensitivity before touring to this part of the world. Rising incidents of crimes against foreign tourists has pushed the Tourism Ministry to send a communication to all states asking them to speed up the process of creating a special tourist police force. The urgency was highlighted by an incident in Mumbai last year where a Latvian national was raped by a driver who offered her a lift. The ministry had reminded the states to speed up the matter in June at the chief secretaries meet. Today, only 10 states have implemented the measure ? the communication had first been sent last year-while the rest continue to drag their feet. But even in those states that have deployed special tourist police, it open to question whether this is merely a token measure or a genuine effort. Tourism Secretaries will meet Ms Ambika Soni( Union Tourism Minister) and other senior officials in New Delhi on January 24 to review tourism projects and other related issues. It has been decided that the safety and security aspect of tourists will be the focus area at the meeting, an official stated. They will try to identify various measures that can be undertaken to provide better protection to foreign visitors, apart from reviewing the effectiveness of the existing ones. The government should undertake a training program to sensitize those who come into contact with foreign tourists. Shop-keepers, those living around tourists spots etc. should be taught how to behave and it should be drummed into their heads how important tourism can become to our economy. All touts who try to cheat visitors should severely punish. It?s common in India to try and cheat anyone who is thought to have money?a tradition left over from our socialist past. Also our attitude has to change. Right now we are so unused to seeing tourists that we tend to treat them just like our countrymen! 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