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Friday, 3 October 2014

Suggestions to PMO 8: My Gov: 10 measures to make India the hub for Spiritual Tourism

An old chariot in Jaipur used for religious procession

My government is a marvelous portal for participation of common Indian citizens for developing the nation. There are different groups and one can join five groups plus his/her own district group. He can write his/her views in comments section of chosen group. He/she can also chose a task to complete.    The My Gov site provides an opportunity to every Indian citizen to come out for development of the country. Our PM Narendra Modi has rightly said that if every citizen takes one step India would be ahead by 125 crore steps. 

I have been actively participating in My Gov site with my suggestions in comment sections of chosen groups and completing tasks and urge you to Sign up the site My Gov.  I have participated in a task that asked  10 measures to make India the hub for Spiritual Tourism  and posted this in the relevant section. I am also posting this in this blog as suggestions to PMO. I have written seven suggestions to PLO in this blog and I am gladly acknowledging that our PL has endorsed several of those. 

The ten measures I suggested  to make India the hub for spiritual tourism are as follows. 

Steven Vose, a scholar and researcher from Pennsylvania at a Jain library in Jaipur

Rudi Jansma, a scholar and author from Netherlands viewing Pachchikari art in floor of a Jain temple
1.       Encouraging foreign university research projects about religions of India: Large numbers of universities in Europe and America along with few in Asian countries and Australia are teaching religion as a subject. There are many universities that have departments for studying Indian religions.  Academicians and scholars from those universities used to come to India for research and study purposes. However, there are few institutes in India to support them.  I, personally have been volunteering myself to support them since 1983.  I found that Indian libraries, museums and institutions at large are not much supportive.  Moreover, there are only few research institutes in India. If we can make infrastructure and an environment we can surely attract more researchers who in turn become the Brand Ambassadors for our spiritual tourism.

2.        Making online directory: The world has gone digital and online. We should prepare online directories of our pilgrimage centers, temples, shrines, meditation and Yoga centers etc. It will be better to include list of festivals and events organized India wide.  A government portal will be very helpful where individuals, religious trusts and societies can post events, festivals etc for tourist attraction.

Rikhab Jharchur inaugurating an Android app (developed by young boy Darshan Kothari) of a temple
3.       Digital promotion:  Besides online directory we can promote art and architecture of our marvels (Temples, mosques, churches, Gurudwaras, shrines etc), festivals and events through online tools such as digital pictures, Videos, audio CDs etc. Indian devotional songs (Classical music) will add flavor to promotion.  Digitalization of our libraries having old manuscripts and holy books using DLI is worth.  I have been doing both these since last few years.

4.        Facilitating foreign tourists: Facilities to foreign tourists are in poor stage in India. Smaller countries likes of Thailand and Macau in Asian region have much more facilities in cheaper rate. We look at foreign tourists as money machines but do not care for them.

5.        Friendly behavior: Friendly behavior is the most essential part of attracting tourists. We speak of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” and boast of our culture. However, we and especially government officials behave most unfriendly with the tourists. We have to train our officials for “Atithi Devo Bhava” and make out citizens at large aware of the same.

A village woman at a pilgrimage center with a water pot on her head
6.        Cleanliness especially in pilgrimage centers and temples: The Prime Minister of India has launched a campaign today for clean India. This will definitely add to number of tourists. We have to emphasize on maintaining our temples etc clean. Normally we find Jain temples, Gurudwara, Mosques and churches clean but the Hindu temples and shrines. Varanasi is famous for its Ghats at the bank of river Ganga. I found most of the Ghats very dirty during my recent visit. We spend thousands of rupees daily in Ganga Arati but don’t spend anything in cleaning Dasashwamedh Ghat. During my visit, I found local and foreign tourists turning nose up  and raising eyebrows at dirt even in the river Ganga.  It will be better if Hindu priests, clergymen, religious leaders and management of trusts think cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Festival devotional songs night at Malpura Dadabadi near Jaipur
7.        Arranging world class festivals: Foreign tourists love Indian festivals. Large numbers of tourists visit Jaipur, my city, to see Diwali festival and kite festival (on Makar Sankranti). We have to increase number and quality of religious and spiritual festivals to attract more tourists.  

8.        Encouraging Yoga and spiritual healing:  Yoga attracts large numbers of people in the western world. They, in general. Use it to keep themselves physically fit. We know that healthcare is very costly affair in the countries likes of US and EU. Moreover, there are chronic diseases beyond modern medicines. People look for spiritual healing in several cases.  Developing Yoga and spiritual centers will be a right step to make India a spiritual tourist hub.

9.       Meditation camps: Large numbers of foreigners love meditation for spiritual purposes and to get rid of physical and mental disorders and agony. Several religious and spiritual institutes organize meditation camps. Encouraging those camps and advertising those worldwide will attract more spiritual tourists in India.  Vipassana meditation centers are attracting large numbers of mediators from across the globe.  

Jyoti Kothari handed over a memorandum for railwat at Malpura to Railway minister Pavan bansal
10.    Better connectivity to religious and spiritual centers: Most of our pilgrimage centers don’t have good connectivity. There are large numbers of pilgrimage centers those have no railway stations (eg Sammet Shikhar at Jharkhand). Even bus connectivity is poor what to talk about airports.  We have to provide better connectivity to attract more tourists.

There are many other suggestions that can be helpful in developing India a spiritual tourist destination. After all India is known for its spirituality since millenniums.  Private public partnership should be encouraged where government can join hands with religious trusts and societies along with communities and people at large. I have suggested several times and requested government for such a partnership in Varanasi and waiting for a response till date.

See details:  नमामि गंगे, वाराणसी 

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