Swachata Abhiyan: The ideal way forward!

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”- Michael Jordan.

After many years, today I feel very contented. This morning when I woke up and was getting through my daily chores, I heard slogans by nearby school children in my residential area, “Thoda toh haath badhao, Bharat ko Swachch banao” which in English means ‘Do your bit to make India clean’.

Cleanliness drive by students

Cleanliness drive by students via avenuemail.in

It was indeed heartening to see those young children imbibing the values of a clean India. Fortunately, our PM Narendra Modi has the vision of a clean India and has stressed it as the way forward. During his speech in USA, he said that he was asked by others to have a vision and he translated the Vision into a clean India vision. As rightly pointed out by PM Modi, every family shall be saving Rs. 6000-7000 a month by saving on on medical expenses due to lack of unhygienic conditions and since bread-earners will not fall sick as frequently due to clean environment, he/she will be able to avoid absenteeism from workplace and earn more. This shall be beneficial to the nation, as it will increase the productivity of the entire nation. The cleanliness drive around religious places shall increase the number of religious tourists and will provide employment opportunities.

Ravi Shankar Prasad during Cleanliness drive

Ravi Shankar Prasad during Cleanliness drive

Ok so here is an exercise for you, take 2 minutes to think of 10 countries that might be the cleanest in the world. When I did the exercise, I could only think of countries such as Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland etc. Were you able to think of any Asian or African country in the 10 cleanest countries list?

In a study done by Forbes.com in 2010 to rank the World’s 10 Cleanest countries, one would expect the list to be full of European countries. However, to my surprise, there were 3 countries in the list that were of smaller size and having lower GDP than India.

Costa Rica: That such a relatively poor and developing country ranks third in the EPI is testament to the natural endowments of Costa Rica, with dense forests, plentiful water and abundant wildlife.

Costa Rica- Forbes 10 cleanest country

Costa Rica- Forbes 10 cleanest country

Mauritius: A tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar, Mauritius is far and away the highest-ranking nation of Sub-Saharan Africa!

Mauritius- Forbes 10 cleanest country

Mauritius- Forbes 10 cleanest country

Cuba: Researchers doubt the veracity of Cuba’s data, which shows higher levels of public health, (including almost universal access to sanitation and clean water) than GDP would suggest.

Cuba- Forbes 10 cleanest country

Cuba- Forbes 10 cleanest country

In my opinion, the above mentioned countries have earned their place in the ranking by making optimum use of the available resources. But do you think that India cannot achieve the same? Is India not endowed with dense forests, water, abundant wildlife? Instead, I feel that rich cultural heritage of India is an add-on.

Mt. Everest

Mt. Everest

Sunset at Radhanagar beach

Sunset at Radhanagar beach

Varanasi ganga

Varanasi ganga

Experience Heritage of India 4.bp.blogspot.com

In my opinion, it is just a matter of mindset and a spark that shall pave the way for a Clean India. The spark has been provided by the Prime Minister, now it is up to us to follow suit and make India more live-able and more like-able.

Let us take the Swachata pledge:

pledge

Take the pledge

1. I shall not spit in public and discourage others from doing so.
2. I shall not litter in public and discourage others from doing so.
3. I shall not urinate in open areas and discourage others from doing so.
4. I shall not encroach area.
5. I shall not write anything on monuments of historic significance and discourage others from doing so.

If each of us follow the pledge, we shall serve ourselves and the community.
Most importantly, we will be able to sleep satisfactorily.

Source:
http://www.forbes.com

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Ahoy! Happy World Tourism Day

Many people associate tourism with a recreational activity but as per UNWTO, Tourism is a people-based economic activity built on social interaction. It prospers if it engages the local population by contributing to social values.

World Tourism Day

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) declared 27 September the World Tourism Day with the purpose to raise the awareness of the global community about the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, economic and political value. World Tourism Day (WTD) is a global observance to highlight tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value.

The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day is Tourism and Community Development which is sync with the Bed and Breakfast scheme.

UNWTO Theme WTD 2014

UNWTO Theme WTD 2014

Tourism and Bed & Breakfast industry

The Bed and Breakfast industry is not a new concept in the world though it is adopted as a novel idea in the B&B scheme of “Incredible India” over the age old practice of “paying guest accommodation in India”. As per figures of foreign tourist arrival as mentioned in (MoT, Statistics at a Glance, 2012), in countries like France (8.02%), USA (6.3%), China (5.57%), Spain (5.57%), Italy (4.48%) where maximum percentage of foreign tourists arrive every year the shortage of regular commercial accommodation is met by the B&B stays prevalent in these countries but in different modes.

UNWTO Definition of Tourism

UNWTO Definition of Tourism

According to Caroll Cathy, an author of “Travel Weekly”, the utility of B&B type accommodation is increasing as many business travelers are finding that B&B inns suit their needs, and owners are furnishing these guests such equipments as private telephones and computer connection.

The ‘B&B stay’ concept helps in saving huge additional infrastructure costs towards construction of hotels, recycling of waste water, electricity generation ,and  cutting of trees etc. and other materials required for creating additional facilities for accommodation.

Bed and Breakfast logo

Bed and Breakfast

In a country like India, additional land for constructing more hotels is made available by shrinking of forest land, cutting of trees, generation of more electricity & water etc. In Delhi, there is always a shortage of accommodation particularly in budget category during the period of various festivals, carnivals, conventions, functions, national and international conferences etc. These events are generally planned from September to March every year where large number of foreign and domestic tourists arrive in Delhi thereby increasing the demand for more accommodation.

Celebrations in India

Celebrations in India

This day last year

I remember clearly that on this day, last year, as the Managing Director, Delhi Tourism (DTTDC), our Department had facilitated the shooting of the upcoming Rajkumar Hirani’s Bollywood movie PK (Peekay), best known for its Nude-Aamir-Khan poster, in the bustling streets of Delhi by getting the various permissions from various departments.

PK poster- Aamir Khan

PK poster- Aamir Khan

To appreciate our effort, the crew of Peekay held a dinner for Delhi Tourism where we interacted with Aamir Khan, his son, Mr Rajkumar Hirani, Anoushka Sharma and other members.

with Aamir Khan

with Aamir Khan

Interesting facts Bed and Breakfast establishments in Delhi

In a recent survey of around 50 Bed and Breakfast establishments (out of about 350 total B&Bs), some interesting facts were revealed. There is a group of substantial number of domestic tourists who stayed in lower tariff of B&B units at Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2000 per month (equivalent to US 25$ to 34$). These are generally those tourists who came to Delhi for pilgrimage. However, most of domestic and foreign tourists stayed in the tariff range of Rs. 3500 – Rs. 4500 (US 60$ – US 70$) per night. Average stay of tourists was 3 days in Delhi. Most of the B&B units are located in South Delhi particularly in Vasant Kunj, CR Park, Greater Kailash, Hauz Khas, East of Kailash and Kailash Colony. Out of total foreign tourists staying in B&B units, majority are from USA & UK (20%), followed by Australia (13%), Germany (12%) & France (11%). Chinese tourists seem to avoid B&B establishments). These tourists, generally, visit three world heritage sites in Delhi namely, Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Humayun Tomb.

Red Fort in Delhi

Red Fort in Delhi

Qutub Minar in Delhi

Qutub Minar

Humayun's Tomb in Delhi

Humayun’s Tomb

Some of the tourists visit Akshardham Temple, Bahai Temple, Jama Masjid also. Most take taxis or package tours of Delhi as these are cheaper compared to other cities in the world. Unlike cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, London, etc. there are not many souvenir shops in Delhi. However, Dilli Haat is popular among tourists and serves as a good shopping stop for souvenirs, handlooms and handicrafts. While Dilli Haat purchases are less costly, some foreign tourists also prefer to make such purchases from Janpath street shops at slightly higher rates.

Crockery items in Janpath

Crockery items in Janpath courtesy: cpdiary.com

The tourists staying at homestays in Delhi very well know where from to purchase, how to travel within the city and where to eat at reasonable rates. The tourists staying in hotels have lesser choice of interacting with people, though they are also able to avail such information through sites like India Tourism, Delhi Tourism and other websites of local travel agencies. Delhi gets maximum number of tourists in the months from September to February.

These data are generally taken from DTTDC and are incorporated in the author’s Ph.D. thesis and research article “Economics of B&B Scheme of Delhi” published in July’13 issue of SAJTH.

Why should you visit India amidst security concerns?

In India, Tourism was first conceived as Tirthatan (religious travel) then as Deshatan (travel around the country) and finally as Paryatan with the sole purpose of promoting intermingling among people of neighboring states, to acquaint them with the culture of the host country.

In India, hospitality is based on the principle of Atithi Devo Bhava, i.e. “the guest is god.” Here people live in unity though there is diversity in Caste, Creed and Culture. During various festivals, all the communities including Hindus, Muslims, Christians and others enjoy with great fervor and gaiety. Neighbours share their joy during family functions and also console each other at times of mourning. All Indian religions follow the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and sharing of joys & sorrows with a sense of togetherness.

 

atithi_devo_2

Atithi devo bhava- Incredible India

Thus, India has something for every tourist who wishes to get a taste of the unique culture of India. There are

  • 22 languages with 1542 dialects
  • 27 world heritage sites
  • 7500 km. of coastline
  • 9000 years old history, civilization and heritage
  • 55,000 km. of lakes, streams and rivers
  • 476 forts and palaces

India is also well known as a rich culinary heritage destination. It boasts of the following:

  • 70 million hectares of forest
  • 147 dance forms
  • 5000 years of experience in Ayurveda and Yoga.

If you enjoy having morning tea then India is a must visit! There are a large number of “Tea states” totaling 1641 in India.

 

Tea plantation

Tea plantation in India via 3 blog.shantitravel.com

 

Furthermore, India is host to almost 60% of the world’s tiger population. There are 60 national parks, 400 wild life sanctuaries.

 

Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat

Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat

 

If you still have doubts about visiting India with your friends and family, feel free to reach me at ggsaxena@gmail.com or +91 9810603010.