Cultural Tourism in India (Market the Peace – Which is our USP)

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Business Mantra: Faridabad

Dr.Sarla Sharma

Associate Professor (H.O.D.)

Department of Business Administration

Kanoria P.G. Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Jaipur

Tourism plays a vital role in the economic development of a country. Tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earner in India. The tourism industry employs a large number of people, both skilled and unskilled. It promotes national integration and international brotherhood. India has fascinated people from all over the world with her secularism and her culture. There are historical monuments, beaches, places of religious interests, hill resorts, etc. that attract tourists. Every region is identified with its handicraft, fairs, folk dances, music and its people. The Departments of Tourism promotes international and domestic tourism in the country. The Tourism Advisory Board recommends measures for promotion of tourist traffic in India. Indian tourism is adversely affected by terrorism, tours and pollution. Sincere efforts could help to further develop the Indian tourism industry. Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries of the world. It plays vital role in the economic development of a country. India is one of the popular tourist destination in Asia. Bounded by the Himalayan ranges in the north and surrounded, on three sides by water (Arabian sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean), India offers a wide array of places to see and things to do. The enchanting backwaters, hill stations and landscapes make India a beautiful country. Historical monuments, forts etc. add to the grandeur of the country. They attract tourists from all over the world. India has a composite culture. There is a harmonious blend of art, religion and philosophy. Thought India has been subjected to a serious of invasions, she has retained her originality even after absorbing the best of external influences. Religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism etc. has co-existed in India. India has fascinated people from all over the world with her secularism and her culture.

Introduction

India, colourful and vibrant, is a land as diverse as its people. Its a mosaic of faiths, cultures, customs and languages that blend harmoniously to form a composite whole. One of the world’s oldest living civilizations – which gave to the world – the concept of zero, the primordial sound Aum, Yoga, and Buddhism.

Today – the India of the 21st century is carving a niche for itself as an economic superpower. The Maharajas of yore have yielded place to some of the wealthiest tycoons of the world. Our country has achieved remarkable breakthroughs in missile, aeronautical and space technologies. India has become the hub of Information technology in south Asia, owing to its vast pool of English-knowing technical manpower!

Enchanting India, a treasury of art, architecture; philosophy, classical dances and music; the mesmerising Taj, the eternal Ganges, the Thar desert, the mighty Himalayas, tropical rain forests, the Cape where the waters of three seas mingle, the rich fauna – snakes, peacocks, Royal Bengal Tiger, lions, India is all of these and more.

The culture of India is the way of life of the people of India. India’s languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food, and customs differ from place to place within the country. The Indian culture often labelled as an amalgamation of several cultures, spans across the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced by a history that is several millennia old. Many elements of India’s diverse cultures, such as Indian religions, yoga and Indian cuisine, have had a profound impact across the world.

Current Scenario

Tourism emerged as the largest global industry of the 20th century and is projected to grow even faster in the 21st century. India has immense possibilities of growth in the tourism sector with vast cultural and religious heritage, varied natural attractions, but a comparatively small role in the world tourism scene. Tourism is the catalyst in employment generation, environmental regeneration, development of remote area sand development of women and other disadvantaged groups in the country, besides promoting social integration is, therefore, vital to our economy. It would lead to larger foreign exchange earnings and create conditions for more Foreign Direct Investment.

In the year 2011 the global Foreign Tourist Arrival (FTA) were 983million, the Asia – Pacific region witnessed 217 million out of which India’s share was 6.29 million. The statistics clearly show that India accounts for a minimal of 0.63% of the world FTA which is quite low as the top most preferred destination – France got 79.5 million FTA in the same year accounting to 36.6% of the world FTA. Similarly, the Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE) globally in the year 2011 were 1030 billion US $whereas in Asia Pacific region were 289.4 billion US $. USA topped in this list claiming 116.3 billion US $. It is further heart-breaking to view India’s position from this perspective as India accounted only 1.66% of the world’s FEE which being 17158 US $ million. This clearly gives us the vision to study the policies that the government is initiating to enhance the competitiveness of Indian tourism industry as tourism is becoming a booming industry in the 21st century.

Cultural Heritage as Propellant for Tourism Growth

India as we discussed had been the fountainhead of the civilization, the leader of knowledge and epitome of philosophy which led to achieving inner peace. The country was called a “Golden Sparrow” and had always attracted the businessmen, plunderers and seekers of knowledge. We need to focus our energy on those aspects of our culture which are our Forte and at the same time we need to build a conducive environment to attract the foreign tourists and make impeccable infrastructure and a strong service manpower to make the visit to India a memorable experience in their life and converting them as our tourist ambassadors in their own country.

Peace – The Unique Cultural Heritage

The biggest USP of India is that it can guide to help achieve inner peace.The Sanatan Dharma of India and the Buddhism which has flourished from its land is the biggest attraction worldwide. The most important thing is that 4 out of 5 important places associated with Lord Buddha are in India. He was born at Lumbini which is in Nepal but very nearby. He got enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. He preached a lot at Sravasti and Sarnath and died at Kushinagar. There are around 150 crore Buddhist in the world. Most important thing is that maximum Buddhist population isin the rich countries of the world like Japan, China, South Korea, HongKong, Taiwan etc. Another important thing is that whenever someone get material success in the world he gets drawn towards the Buddhism in search of inner peace. As Eknath Ranadeji, the founder of Vivekananda Kendra, had said that life should not only be successful but it should also be meaningful. Those who had attained material success in life like Steve Jobs etc had turned towards Buddhism. In order to tap the growing interest of people towards Buddhism, India should strive to reap the biggest advantage of the same. As the Hajj has been popularized among the Muslims of the world, the same way once in lifetime visit to the famous five places associated with Lord Buddha should be popularized.Even if we target to attract a minimum of 20 to 50 million people visiting these places each year it will take 20 to 50 years to cover the entire Buddhist population of the world. This will not only make India the best FTA country of the world but would also have the highest FEE. Once we are able to draw people to India, we have thousands of other things to showcase and retain them in country for a few more days.

These achievements are easier said than done. The biggest bottleneck is the availability of tourism infrastructure in these areas. The availability of air, rail and road connectivity, availability of quality affordable hotels,availability of quality food of their own taste, availability of quality tour guides and availability of standard facilities like toilets, eateries etc. at the historical sites. There is a lack of vision in making efforts to create these infrastructural supports. There is a total lack of vision in converting the visit in a memorable trip for the tourist. While this is bound to create so much of jobs and opportunity that the number of unemployment would come down heavily and pretty income would reach to each household of the area. The local artisans would also extremely benefit as tourist take home the memorabilia. The entire effort of the Govt. should be focused upon streamlining this sector which will not only bring widespread success but would also raise the level of the country several notches up.

The problem of terrorism emanates from the lack of inner peace. The problem of drugs which is quite widespread in the Western Society is manifestation of the lack of peace with oneself and an alternative effort to achieve a temporary peace of mind. Our yogic methods and meditation can ensure that one can get permanent peace of mind instead of going via those temporary encounters with peace. How the mission of Samrat Ashoka could was so welcomed, even 2000 years back, in the neighbouring countries. The reason was that it was not invasion but a mission to teach them how to attain peace of mind. We need to showcase our biggest USP.Many a time Govt of India receive request from the Western Countries to allow the war returned soldiers a 15 days course at Bodh Gaya. We just need to capitalize on it. This can become our permanent courses. We can offer these courses in meditation to thousands of soldiers who are returning their homes from war torn areas of Afghanistan and Iraq etc.While it is not a practice in our country to take care of the psychological health of the individual soldier, it is an accepted practice in Western Countries. We still have a joint family system and family bonding which take care of many such emotional and psychological issues which arerarely found in those countries. But taking cue from this we can start offering these courses with wonderful infrastructural support system. This will boost the image of the country as a peaceful nation on one hand andimprove the alternative avenues of revenue generation on the other.

Monuments

The Archaeological Survey of India protects over 3650 monuments under the provisions of Ancient Monuments Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASRA), 1958. The List of recorded sites on the World Heritage now stands at 981 which include both cultural and natural wonders, and endowment that is shared by all mankind and the protection of which is the concern of the entire mankind. These include 759 cultural, 193 natural and 29 mixed properties in 137 countries. India is an active member State on the World Heritage from 1977 and has been working in closeco-operation with other International agencies like ICOMOS(International Council on Monuments and Sites), IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and ICCROM (International Centre for the study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property). There are 32 World Heritage Sites in India out of which 25 are Cultural Sites and 7 are Natural Sites. More than100 sites protected by ASI are ticketed monuments. The above stated 32World Heritage Sites and the ticketed monuments in India have the huge potential for the international tourists. These sites of cultural and archaeological importance can also be leveraged to draw tourist in India.

Museums

The Museums are one of the biggest attractions for the tourists. They showcase the art, architect, culture and development of civilization in that part of the world. When someone visits Paris in France he always feels contented if he visit “The Louvre”. Similarly if someone visits London he would definitely love to visit the British Museum, Museum of London and Victoria and Albert Museum. In India we do have some Museums like National Museum at Delhi, Indian Museum at Kolkata and CSMVS Museum at Mumbai worth visiting. The important aspect is that we have huge reserves of artefacts and sculptures stored in the store houses of these museums and the god owns of Archaeological Survey of India. The worst aspect is that some of these objects of art, artefacts and sculptures have not yet been opened by the officials of the Govt. Museums and Archaeological Survey of India, since Independence. Our civilization isone of the oldest in the world. During British Rule huge numbers of discoveries were made and many things were taken away to Britain but many things have been left in India. The need of the hour is to develop big Museums in each and every State Capital of India. If the Government of the day finds it difficult to fund such big projects many private players would love to come forward in this venture on Public Private Partnership(PPP) Basis. The Private sector can invest in building the Museum infrastructure while the Government can provide the artefacts to these new Museums. The Galleries can be rotated once or twice in a year in such a manner that these artefacts are displayed through the length and breadth of the nation in say 10 to 15 years time. This will maintain the liveliness and newness in the each museum on one hand to keep the interest of the local people as well and at the same time would enable display of the entire or maximum stock for the people and tourists on the other.

Classical Dances

India is known for its various classical dances in the world. These dance forms are quite old and have been kept alive for centuries by the Guru Shishya Parampara. The Bharat Natyam has originated in Tamilnadu, Chhau in Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand, Kathak in Uttar Pradesh  Kathakali and Mohiniyattam in Kerala, Kuchipudi in Andhra Pradesh,Manipuri and Thang Ta in Manipur, Odissi in Odisha and Satriya in Assam. Govt of India has set up seven Zonal Cultural Centres in the country to look after the promotion of art in the country. These centres are located at Kolkata, West Bengal (Eastern Zone), Dimapur, Nagaland(North Eastern Zone), Patiala, Punjab (North Zone), Udaipur, Rajasthan(Western Zone), Nagpur, Maharashtra (South Central Zone), Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh (North Central Zone) and Thanjavur, Tamilnadu (SouthZone). These Zonal Cultural Centres are working as a catalysts to promote the regional art and culture. The budget at the disposal of these Cultural Centres is so meagre that they hardly can support the budding artists. The need of the hour is to run these cultural centres on innovative ideas. These centres organize various festivals where the artists do participate. Many big corporates and High Net-worth Individuals (HNIs) would be willing to fund these festivals provided the same is named after their forefathers or company or even product. The spending of two percent of the net profit ofthe company for the promotion of art and culture can be included in the mandate for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). These two yearly naming of festivals on bidding basis will attract huge corporates and individuals on one hand and would ensure high remuneration to the participants on the other. This will make art and culture an alternative source of earning and many young boys and girls would prefer it as a career in their life. This will also lead preservation of age old art, craft and dance forms on one hand and research on the other.

Handicraft and Handloom

There are lakhs of people engaged in making handicraft and handloom articles in our country. These people are not getting the opportunity to showcase their talent and sell their art object at a reasonable price. This is leading to leaving the traditional art field and massive exodus to work like security guard, driver, peon, data entry operator, clerks etc. on one handand danger of extinction of the traditional art on the other. In our country we have highly skilled labour in erecting beautiful pandals in West Bengal,bamboo work in North East, earthen pots in Haryana and Rajasthan, lacbangles, silk sari and shoes in Uttar Pradesh etc. We should strive to revive these genetic qualities in an individual rather than putting efforts in teaching him and preparing for something totally different. We should also endeavour to provide a platform to these traditional artists to sell their product at a reasonable rate. E-commerce integration through platforms like Flipkart should be initiated by the Govt. or private entrepreneurs must be encouraged to do the same. This will boost the confidence of the people who have been working for these art forms for generations.

Conclusion

The Govt. of the day should thus strive to attract the tourist for the sector which is close to their heart and the USP of our country. They should create tourism infrastructure by incentivising the investments. Tax holiday can be provided in a big way as the present tax system has already shifted to taxing the expenditure and services rather than taxing the income. Govt should free this sector for 10 years giving income tax holiday. The Museums and the Zonal Cultural Centres of the country should be run on better management principles and the Ministry of Culture should have its own National Heritage Management Corporation to make these organizations self sustainable. The National Culture Fund(NCF) which was devised to attract private investment in the field of Culture should be dovetailed with India Centre for Migration (ICM) and India Development Foundation (IDF) working under Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) to attract the willing Non Resident Indians who are searching for their roots and have a dream to do something for the motherland.

I have no doubt that a serious introspection of the deficiencies in the existing system and a systematic approach to find viable and implementable solutions would change the scenario on the tourism front of India.

References

  • 12th Five Year Plans (Volume 2) – Economic Sectors – Other Priority Sectors
  • Perception of Socio-Culture Impacts of Tourism: A Sociological Review
    (Kumar Sandeep1 and Kumar Vinod)
  • “Annual Report 2009–10”. Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 30 December2012.
  • “India Tourism Statistics at a Glance”. Market Research Division, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012
  • India’s Tourism Industry – Progress and Emerging Issues – DR. RUPAL PATEL 2012
  • Cultural Tourism in India – Its Scope Development with special reference to then Monumental Heritage (UNESCO)
Author: Dr. Sarla Sharma is Head of the Department of Business Administration at Kanoria Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Jaipur Rajasthan. She can be contacted on her email address doctorsarlasharma@gmail.com.

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