Tuesday, 2 June 2015

4. In the Making of the Nation


                              Tertiary Resources (Tourism and Services)

Tertiary or services sector usually is the largest segment that builds up the national GDP. The entire infrastructure, banking, transport, railways, forests, education, water management, etc. fall under this head. In this sector my main impetus shall be on tourism, which has enormous potential and is greatly neglected, besides refurbishing and improving the infrastructure for other services.

Improving Tourism

Worldwide tourism amounted to over a trillion dollars ($ 1100 b) in 2010, out of which India’s share was a mere $ 14.19 b (`75,000 crore). It is anybody’s guess how much of the $ 1.1 trillion flows into Europe, US and South-east Asia. This is one major reason for their booming economy. Their most places are attractive and inviting. They keep their countries remarkably clean and attractive and are ready to receive their guests with warmth and a smile. Back home the foreign tourists encounter a repulsive ambience right from when they alight from the aircraft, at the airport, and as they pass through sordid, unplanned and crowded cities full of filth, stink and poverty galore, rising incidents of eve-teasing, fleecing, rapes, and murders.
A vivid description of most of our cities would tell of traffic congestion, potholes, dusty lanes with mud and filth, open and scattered garbage dumps at every nook and corner, foul odours filling the air, seas of sewage flowing through the open drainage system, stray cattle feeding on refuse, and pigs making fun and frolic in the garbage and refuse of our homes. The milkman milks those same cows in the evening and supplies us milk adulterated with polluted water to feed our children. Mosquitoes and flies abound in the open, cockroaches and rats flourish in most Indian kitchens. Every sight is demoralising and repulsive.
At most sight-seeing spots a flock of children selling small low-priced items will surround visitors and pester them.After such encounters one would think many times before visiting such places again. For what does one see while sight-seeing – herds of pestering petty vendors, and monuments and art works that have long lost their splendour and have become old and squalid. The pace of deterioration is now rapid thanks to the overcrowding of cities and neglect by the local authorities. Everything is disgusting and pathetic. The green belts and parks have long vanished. Many lakes and ponds have dried up and many places meant for sight-seeing bear a deserted look.
One more dimension added to this already sordid and creaking situation is the lack of public utilities, scarcity of water, and shortage of power. Even our hill resorts face scarcity of water and discourage even the home tourists. Many hill resorts and tourist spots are turning into unplanned concrete jungles with traffic congestion and parking nightmares. The lush green hills have long turned into denuded hillocks.
Our Tourism Department “develops” tourism on its files. But tourism is not merely providing attractive tour packages; rather it is making tourist spots attractive to visitors. There should be attractiveness in the place they visit, not repulsiveness. Tourists would like to carry away with them pleasant memories and souvenirs of their holidays.
Art and Culture
Ours is a glorious past, with history spanning from the Indus Valley civilisation. We have inherited a rich culture, imposing historical monuments, and very rich and captivating arts. We also possess lots of individual skills and talents like folk dances, fables and story-telling, and crafts. All this can be a source of enormous potential for tourism if developed properly. Many of our old monuments are like our lost primary resources. These can be restored to revive our rich art and culture to become sites of tourist attractions. They can improve the overall condition of the local people besides changing the cultural and economic scenario of our country. Many of our magnificent monuments and rich art works are in shambles; restoring them to their old glory and grandeur will be a Herculean task but all this is possible.  
For a start we can make sure that the big towns and cities have cultural centres – theatres to organise local and regional arts, folk dances, plays and any such events that can promote local talent and culture. We should make such events interesting and entertaining. It can prove to be a good source for employment and income, boost local business and keep the cities clean. Experts, business houses, industrialists and known TV and Bollywood personalities could be invited to establish such centres. Gradually we can organise local, regional and state-level events for more entertainment and business opportunities.
Similarly, we can establish sports stadiums to boost our indoor and outdoor sports. Our unexplored talent can do wonders in changing the whole national scenario in a few years. It will induce hope and enthusiasm in our people and make their lives lively and pleasant.
Coastal Development
We are blessed with a long coastline surrounded with vast oceans on three sides. They have enormous treasures in their depths that we have yet to explore. We must give special attention to the development of our coastlines and develop them into attractive tourist spots, besides fishing and marine businesses and exploring for the hidden treasures of natural resources. I am sure the development of coastlines will put our country on the world tourist map and extend a lot of opportunities to our people for better living. In developed countries we can see people basking by their lakes, rivers and beaches. Back home we neither realise their importance nor have fun. Our coastlines and wonderful beaches and islands remain neglected. The development of coastlines and water resource management will give a new impetus to tourism, tremendous boost to the development of flora and fauna, and multiply our domestic and export incomes through seafood, fisheries and a variety of flora.  

India has enormous potential for tourism, at least up to 500–1000 times (one lac percent) of what it is now. These plans would raise our income from foreign tourists alone, from about `75,000 crore, to at least 50–100 times within five to seven years besides income from home tourists. The remaining will be a gradual process and shall be achieved along with the city centres (say in 20–25 years). This sector alone can transform our economic scenario and make our country neat and tidy. All this will require detailed working by experts in the field and working relentlessly until we achieve the desired goal. We must make development, maintenance and upkeep of tourist sites and historical places, and identifying the new ones, a religious and continuous process.
I have tried to provide just a brief peep through the large potential that this sector contains. The amount of work on it will be enormous and will take long years to reach the goal. But all this is achievable and must be achieved.

Thanks and Regards
K C Agrawal

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