Temple of the Emerald Buddha - Amazing Thailand

This series is based over my reflections upon visiting Thailand.

Shahjahanabad (Const 1648 CE)- The Legacy of Delhi Series (Vol 8)

'Shahjahanabad' is the eighth post in a series of 9 articles on the former capital cities which were built in the historical region of Delhi. Read on to know more..

Hill Fort of Kumbhalgarh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Know more about this incredible World Heritage Site here..

The Immortal Kumbh Mela - Mahakumbha of 2013

Believed to be the largest congregation of mankind in the world, read my series of posts to know how it feels like to be amongst a magnitude of people

Guru Dongmar Lake, one of the highest in the world

Few destinations have the ability to change your life; Sikkim being one of them. Check out the series 'Sikim Soujourn' to find out why ?



Friday, October 27, 2017

Tourist Safety and India - A Long Distance Relationship?

On Sunday, October the 22nd, a young Swiss Couple who were visiting Fatehpur Sikri (a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Agra) were brutally attacked by 5-6 boys after they, allegedly, refused to click pictures with them. The Swiss female received fractures and gash wounds while the Swiss male suffered from a fractured skull, hearing loss and a clot in the brain. Reported by the national papers on Thursday, October the 26th, this event impacted the conscience of many citizens of the country.

               Let's try to be Incredible for good reasons!
(Pic Courtesy - Ministry of Tourism)

This incident revealed the pathetic condition of the minds of every Two out of Three Indians involved in the tourism and hospitality industry who look upon tourists (be it foreign or Indian) as means of earning an 'extra' buck or two by either fleecing them, fooling them or by some other unfair means. Such people, neither respect the monuments around which they stand nor do they respect the people who visit them.
Such an attitude displayed by touts, false guides, hooligans etc only serves to spoil the experience of the tourist or traveller who has come down to India to see the monuments or attractions which belong to one of the oldest civilizations in the world.
The notoriety of touts in Agra, for example, has been observed by me (Came across a character who chased me from the door of the train till the time I sat in a shared auto heading to Agra Fort). I have heard worse stories from Fatehpur Sikri, where my friend and Travel Blogger Merwyn was threatened with physical violence when he refused to take the services of a guy masquerading as a guide. Even in this case, it was only when Merwyn dared him to lift a finger did that guy leave him alone.
So, when an Indian can face such a threatening behaviour in his own country what would a foreign backpacker go through is anyone's imagination.
While the police at Fatehpur Sikri have arrested those culprits but it is imperative for them to realise that mass sensitisation programs need to be seriously considered in order to educate people about the value of tourists and how to behave with them. As long as the attitude of people towards the tourists will not change, the country will continue to get bad word of mouth publicity from tourists who visit India.
One should reflect upon this point - What experiences are this couple going to relate to the people and media in Switzerland when they go back?
There was also this other incident (some years ago) of a Swiss Couple (on a cycling tour) being attacked and the female being gang-raped by criminals in feudal-minded Datia (Madhya Pradesh). My point is this, is there any sense in sinking millions of Rupees of taxpayers money in the Incredible India Advertising Campaigns (in the manner in which it is doing currently) while many continue to disrespect tourists with impunity?
A proposal for a Tourism Police has been repeatedly  ignored despite the fact that such an entity is required in a country like India more than anywhere else. In my opinion, the protection of tourists has to be accorded an equally important priority if not the highest priority as compared to the Incredible India campaigns. The sooner the government realises the better it would be for the prestige of the country which keeps taking a hit everytime a tourist is fleeced, robbed or assaulted - physically or sexually.
Another interesting aspect of this entire story was that it was the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj who first took cognizance of this event and not the (usually loud) tourism minister K Alphons.
In the end, it would be better if we pose this question to ourselves, that in 'the manner in which we are treating our guests, would we ourselves like to visit India if we were non-Indians'? In the answer to this question, we would find the answer to another very important question, and that is,