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1.India’s tourism possibilities: Paryatan parva (PIB)

2.150th anniversary of sister Nivedita (PIB)

1.India’s tourism possibilities: Paryatan parva (PIB)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the potentials of tourism sector in India. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Recently, Prime Minister in one of his recent ‘Mann ki Baat’ had urged the people to discover the wonders of #IncredibleIndia. Taking on the cue, the Ministry of Tourism has recently organised the ‘Paryatan Parv’, which is being touted as “a celebration of India’s rich tourist heritage”.

Exploring the tourism

  • It is a wonderful coincidence that the ‘Paryatan Parv’, a celebration in the festival loving country such as ours, is happening during the peak festive season, also a time when many people take out time to tour various parts of India. But for various reasons, people continue to visit the more popular, more exploited sites rather than exploring newer, lesser known places. Instead of going in for routine tourist places, it is high time Indians explored the nook and corners of our beautiful country; rather than staying at hotels, living with people to learn about the traditions and customs.
  • The ‘Paryatan Parv’ seems to offer this opportunity. Two things from the comprehensive government plan that stood out for me are the interstate engagement matrix under the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ scheme and the guidelines for CBSE affiliated schools to visit heritage monuments among other programmes for getting students interested in cultural and traditional diversity of India.
  • The idea that school students should visit monuments is not a new one, albeit linking it with the paradigm of ‘tourism and studies’ gives it a new twist. Imagine a class learning about the conquest by Chhatrapati Shivaji sitting at a fort in Maharashtra? Or imagine, learning about what Akbar did sitting at the Agra fort? The heritage monuments are a treasure trove of information. They offer not just lessons in history but also in that era’s architecture and traditional practices. What better way to understand it than an actual visit?

Tourism potential for India

  • India is lucky, it is endowed with more than 3500 monuments of national importance (that are taken care of by the Archaeological Survey of India) and almost 10,000 other monuments that are taken care of by different state governments.
  • Similarly, imagine, people from Kerala engaging with those from Himachal Pradesh. Or for that matter, people from Madhya Pradesh meeting and seeking to know more about those from Nagaland and Manipur. What a beautiful concept, if implemented well!! After all, didn’t Adi Shankaracharya formulate the concept of char dhams in four corners of India and envisaged people visiting 12 jyotirlingas in various parts of the country?
  • If not for pilgrimage, but for knowing the rich traditions and culture of our vast land, people should engage with those from other states, further the better. This is exactly what the Tourism Ministry through ‘Paryatan Parv’ can harp on – envisaging through this exchange that “the knowledge of the language, culture, traditions and practices of different states will lead to an enhanced understanding and bonding between one another, thereby strengthening the unity and integrity of India.”

Raising tourism sector

  • India has attracted tourists from all over the world and not just now but since ages. While foreign tourists’ arrival brings in the much-needed foreign currency, and hence are given a priority, it is equally important to ensure domestic tourists are not neglected.
  • As per Tourism Ministry’s Annual Report for 2016-17, domestic tourism continues to be an important contributor for the tourism sector in India. As per the data furnished by the state/UT governments and other information available with the Ministry of Tourism, the domestic tourist visits during the year 2015 were 1432 million as compared to 1282.8 million in 2014, registering a growth of 11.63% over 2014.
  • This is a huge number as compared to the number of foreign tourist arrival in India (8.03 million) in the same time showing annual growth rate of 4.5 % over previous year. The stakeholders, including authorities, in the tourism sector will need to understand the rising trend in case of domestic tourism.
  • For instance, from about 190.67 million domestic tourists in 1999 to about 1,431.97 million in 2015, the domestic tourism industry has undergone a sea change, seen a whopping 651.02% rise in just 16 years. Perhaps, keeping in mind all such things, the government has already initiated an exercise to formulate a comprehensive revised tourism policy by March 2018.
  • There was a time when people stepped out only for pilgrimage and tourism only meant luxury pursued by few moneyed people. Today, as more and more common men and women seek to step out and explore various parts of India, domestic tourism has spanned almost all fields beyond pilgrimages. This opens a positive opportunity for the government and all other stakeholders to further explore and exploit the rising sector.

Tourism infrastructure and livelihood

  • The elaborate planning by the Tourism Ministry and the complimentary programmes chalked out by other central ministries and state governments go on to show the sheer variety that is possible in tourism sector and how it can have an impact on almost all other ministries/fields Education, Culture, Textiles, Development of North-East India, Rural Development and even Information & Broadcasting Ministry.
  • Tourism needs stable infrastructure, tourism needs peaceful law and order situation and tourism needs an inviting host. In return, tourism gives much needed livelihood to local population and revenue to the government.
  • India is known world over for its hospitality and in most parts of India, law and order situation is tourist-friendly. But apart from major metro cities and few of the places on tourist map, the tourism related infrastructure needs lots of improvement. Scores of smaller places first need to be identified for promotion of tourism, the last mile connectivity needs to be ensured, infrastructure for visiting and resident tourists needs to be developed. This includes availability of decent accommodation and food services. Many potential places across India remain oblivious to tourists only because one or more of the above factors do not work in their favour.

Way ahead

  • The tourism ministry has encouraged and developed a chain of B&B (Bed and Breakfast) homes across urban centres well. But it is now time to concentrate on ‘Home Stays’ in rural and semi-urban areas. Only such Home Stays can bring in sustainable tourism as against the big-ticket hotel industry that often leads to draining local natural resources. Plus, Home Stays are a better way to interact directly with the local population and to know about their traditions and culture. Home Stays will also improve livelihood opportunities for the locals rather than the hotel industry where profits are pocketed by outsiders.
  • ‘Paryatan Parv’ can be a good opportunity to identify these weak links. Not just for this time slot, but for a better, sustainable future in tourism.

Question– Tourism has been called as the fourth pillar of Indian economy. How government can liverage the possibilities in this sector?

2.150th anniversary of sister Nivedita (PIB)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the contribution of Sister Nivedita in India’s freedom struggle. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • “I doubt whether any Indian loved India the way Nivedita loved her”, said Bipin Chandra Pal, the great freedom fighter. Tagore called her the “Lok Mata’, for her self-sacrificing services to India. Miss Margaret Elizabeth Noble, was rechristened as Nivedita, “the dedicated” by Swami Vivekananda.
  • Inspired by Swamiji’s fervent call for upliftment of Indian women, Nivedita reached the shores of India, her “Karmabhumi” on January 28, 1898, and thus began her pursuit of knowing the real India.

Contributions of sister Nivedita

  • Nivedita discovered the intrinsic Indian values as a nation and the great virtues of Indianness. Her book “The web of Indian life”, numerous essays, articles, letters and her lectures abroad between 1899-1901 and in 1908, all of them bear testimony to the depth of her knowledge about India.
  • Nivedita, a great upholder of Indian values and tradition, espoused the causes of “true education”,”national education”, and aspired to turn Indians into “sons and daughters of Bharatvarsha” and “not poor copies of Europe”. She wanted Indian women never to discard the “old-time grace and sweetness, the gentleness and piety”, “in favour of Western information and social aggressiveness”. She believed education should bestow on the people of India an “Indian mind” to solve an “Indian problem”.
  • Nivedita opened her experimental school in an orthodox locality in the Northern part of Kolkata, not in the European-inhabited Central part of the city, in 1898. She had to literally move from door to door to beg for students from the neighbourhood. She had the grand vision of her school producing modern day “Maitreyis” and “Gàrgis”, and creating it as the nucleus of a ‘grand educational movement’.
  • The school activities were seeped in true nationalistic fervour. When singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ was banned in the country, it was the opening prayer song in her school. The release of freedom fighters from the jails used to be an occasion for celebration. Nivedita used to take her senior students out to listen to the speeches of great leaders of freedom movement to imbibe in them the values of freedom struggle.
  • Nivedita, way back in 1904, designed a prototype of the first Indian national flag with the Vajraat the centre, on the ideals of self-sacrificing great sage Dadhichi. Her students embroidered the words “Bonde Matoram” in Bengali, The flag was displayed in the exhibition organised by the Indian Congress in 1906.
  • Education to her was an empowering tool. Nivedita introduced handicrafts and vocational training along with conventional learning, to make her students capable of earning a livelihood from their homes. She brought the adult and young widows to the fold of education and skill development. Timing was made flexible for them in the afternoons. Skills and handi-works were chosen according to their suitability in the Indian condition. Nivedita had in her mind the larger picture of revival of the old Indian industries and to establish an Industry and Education linkage.

Sister Nivedita’s role in igniting nationalism

  • Nivedita played a great role in igniting the flames nationalism in Indian minds. Swamiji’s idea of ‘man-making’, amounted to her ’nation-making’ as well. She called upon men and women of India to foster a love for their motherland as a “bounden duty”, “to protect her interests as a “responsibility” and respond to the call of “Mother India” for any sacrifice.
  • Integration of India was uppermost in her mind, she urged upon the people of India to cherish the “Mantra” of unity that “India is one, and she is one  and shall be one“, in the heart and mind and commit themselves to be nationalists “with a note of joy and strength”.
  • Nivedita whole-heartedly hailed the Swadeshi Movement in 1905, and considered it not a sheer movement for boycott of foreign goods or a matter of politics or economics only, but a ‘Tapasya’ for Indians, having a deep spiritual and national significance.
  • Nivedita, was a prolific writer on varied subjects. Her writings in prominent Indian dailies and journals on the burning topics, were catalytic to rouse the patriotic feelings of the people and inspire them into action, be it freedom movement, be it for the revival of art and culture or the pursuit in the world of modern sciences or education.
  • Nivedita pursued the causes for building of institutions for scientific research and development in colonial India. The Bose Institute in Kolkata is a living testimony of her such a desire and persistence.
  • Nivedita’s services to the poor and needy, be it during the Plague epidemic in Calcutta or floods in Bengal, speak volume about her selfless work.
  • Nivedita became a reckoning force in any progressive movement in India. Her small house in Baghbazar, in the northern part of Calcutta, veritably turned into a meeting point for all the contemporary leading public figures. It was no wonder that the great freedom fighter Rashbehari Ghosh, said in her memory , “….If we are conscious of a budding national life at the present day, it is in no measure due to the teaching of Sister Nivedita,”

Conclusion

  • Indeed, at this juncture of celebrating her 150th birth anniversary, the nation needs to re-evaluate the contribution of this multi-faceted personality. Her pragmatic view of India producing new types of “Sita, Savitri,Draupadi, Gandhari, Damayanti…”, according to the demands of modern age, has made her a great visionary in the history of India.
  • Nivedita defined “efficient education” and “true emancipation” for women in India as, “To work, to suffer, and to love, in the higher spheres; to transcend limits; to be sensitive to great causes; to stand transfigured by the national righteousness.” This is a great inspiration for women in today’s India, who are honing their skills in the the battlefield of life, fighting against social prejudices, taboos and cultural stereotypes.

Question– Throw light on the contribution that sister Nivedita made during the Indian National Movement?