Page 1

a cross section publication

Volume 38 | Issue 6 | June, 2014 | Rs. 50

the big picture for travel & tourism

Talking points on tourism matters for the new government SAARC Heads of States at PM swearing-in, is tourism next? Andhra and Telengana: Two to Tango critical for developing combined tourism assets Varanasi: the city is a management issue, not an urban design problem Agenda for the new government: time to take aviation seriously

Creating Tourism around National Icons, Gujarat sets the pace with Sardar Patel Memorial


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THIS ISSUE

FROM THE EDITOR This issue of Destination India comes at a time of historic change in our midst. The cacophony of elections is over, yielding the dawn of a new and stable government. These developments have brought fresh hopes for a resurgence in the tourism sector as it has been identified as a prime thrust area by the incumbent government. In two lead pieces, we examine the challenges that presently confront the civil aviation sector, while in the second we present our wishlist for tourism for the new government. We take a look at the recently conducted SAARC meet and what it means for regional tourism in South Asia. In our cities and states section, we take a look at four different cities – Ajmer, Varanasi, Bodh Gaya and the walled city of Shahjehanabad. We contemplate the possible improvements, both immediate and long term, to re-energize the spirit of these great cities which we believe will considerably enhance the tourism product of the country.

In a bid to understand the future possibilities and issues confronting medical tourism, we indulge in a candid conversation with the Apollo Management. Down south, we witness an inclusive and sustainable form of tourism practice in the lap of the serene Nilgiris. We remember with pride, the passing away of Capt. Krishnan Nair, a true pioneer in the hotel industry. In an attempt to decipher India’s biggest tourism project initiative yet, we bring you all that you need to know about the Statue of Unity project; access its impact on future of tourism and how it is set to be a game changer in the long term. We also critically analyze the future course of our troubled national carrier, Air India and the possible ways of its resurrection.

navinsberry@gmail.com

Currents Talking points on tourism matters for the new government …4 SAARC Heads of States at PM swearing-in, tourism next? …6 Andhra and Telengana: Two to Tango critical for developing combined tourism assets …8 Cities & states Chandni Chowk: the Long Overdue Resurrection …10 On the Cusp of Change …12 The City is a Management Issue, not an Urban Design Problem …16 How Bihar Remains Undersold as a tourism destination …20 editor

NAVIN BERRY navin@crosssectionmedia.com editorial

AMIT JETLEY amit@crosssectionmedia.com SHASHANK SHEKHAR shashank@crosssectionmedia.com business

Hotelscapes The Legacy of Capt. CP Krishnan Nair

…27

SAURABH SHUKLA saurabh@crosssectionmedia.com DESTINATION INDIA is printed, published by Navin Berry and owned by Cross Section Media Pvt Ltd. printed at Anupam Art Printers. B-52, Naraina Industrial Area, Phase II, New Delhi - 110 028. It is published from IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi – 110 002. Editor: Navin Berry. Tel: 011-43784444. Fax: 011-41001627. Total pages 48 + 4

Airlines & Airports The Art Collection at Mumbai International Airport …28

Air India: Back to Square One …31 Agenda for new government: time to take aviation seriously …32 Air India geared to join STAR, augurs well for Indian Aviation …34 Top 10 priorities for our new aviation minister …37 Tourism Connect Chai pe Charcha: sample a rich diversity of culture …38 Apollo Hospitals sets the benchmark to attract patients from overseas …42 Bringing history upfront will create new tourism frontiers …44 Connecting the Indian rivers will unleash a new energy …48 Destination Marketing Selling India online critical for augmenting foreign arrivals …50

MAY 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  3


CURRENTS

Talking points on tourism matters for the new government

We have a new government at the Centre, led by a party that uniquely included tourism in its election manifesto. Tourism is also one of the 5 T’s that were enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his election countdown. This is not a policy paper, just a brief wishlist.

T

here is also a wish list for tourism, per se, not just for India, built around iconic Indian labels. Here are some bigger hospitality and aviation, but specifically a desire to push points for consideration: forward the tourism agenda. A host of issues, over the last decade have dented the flow of tourists from overseas.   24x7 PR mechanism: We need to put into place, plans and Yes, the Ministry of Tourism figures have continued to show some mechanisms that clearly insulate the tourism industry from negaincrease, from 4% to over 10% in a given year, but there are many tive incidents and their reporting patterns. Only some years ago, it who believe these are not genuine tourists but possibly Indian was the foreign media that we had to be worried about. In recent origin foreign passport holders, who are coming home to visit times, the Indian media has become the bigger problem. Now, their own families. We need to have these press people are perhaps just a grand revival for tourism, built doing their duty, performing their job PM Narendra Modi has exhibited his around an Indian renaissance, idefunctions, and in the process dentally. A cultural rejuvenation must go ing and harming not just the image belief in tourism during his stint in alongside the promotion of Brand of the country, but also impacting Gujarat. This same enthusiasm directly the flow of tourists to India. brought to the centrestage can Take the case of the tragic Nirbhaya girl. Very sad, very tragic. But comprehensively enhance India's the manner in which it got reported, image as a destination. created an unhappy impression that India was not safe, which is fortunately for us not the case. India is among the safest of countries in the world, but yet there was this horrible take away from this reportage. Something or the other keeps erupting, time and again. And our tourism process suffers, from this adverse publicity. How can we set this right? We need a mechanism at the government level, with officers roping in professionals, with I&B ministry heading this cell, with MEA and Tourism within this ambit, ready to combat every given situation. Or, better still, a permanent cell with a dynamic website that keeps in touch 365 days with the press around the world – keeping posted India updates.

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  Incredible India – the next steps: Take Incredible India, as a brand, to something beyond. It was a great job, to begin with. As an exercise for the country's tourism and soon it caught with the imagination of the world. It soon also went beyond tourism, so instant and effective was the branding. But then, brands can only be built with the experience and the delivery. And there possibly, there was inadequate back up from the products that made up the Incredible India destination. So now, we need to piece together the diverse and exciting elements where we can effectively deliver, create experiences around them, and then market them as specifics. Gone is the time when loose images could sell – tourists want specifics.   India needs more tourism products: We need to create new products and start promoting them. Those that are getting created by the ingenuity and innovation of the Indian entrepreneur are not getting noticed by the powers that be. These need to be identified and packaged and then sold around the world. The


CURRENTS government should not shy from publicising private sector products. For long, there has been an unwritten code that government advertising will speak only of government products. If this is still the case, this must give way to an open and transparent embracing of private enterprise. The Incredible India experience is essentially a story of private individuals driven by passion, creating products out of nowhere, in the middle of the dessert, or in the middle of the backwaters, or high in the mountains. The sheer diversity of India is mind boggling – where has it been extolled?   Inclusive outlook, based on Indian psyche: Indian tourism needs to acquire an inclusive outlook and perspective. It is not meant to be about just about 5-stars, elitist, about eating continental cuisine, dancing on the floor to the latest international music. Nothing wrong with these but there is so much more to India, that we do not seem to see or engage with, or promote as essential India. More 3 star driven, even without any stars at all, just gazing at the stars in fact, out in the open in the vast Indian countryside.   Integrated incentives that generate new incomes: Tourism is meant to be a strong economic activity. On the surface of it, is a cow that will generate much milk for the country. This is true, but it also needs good quality fodder, some nurturing. It needs good quality incentives to make people invest in the business. A clever mix of incentives is required, not just for the existing industry magnates, but equally for first time investors. Such investments must be both in cash and kind, including offers to get land at special rates. Government must become truly a catalyst. Land parcels can be made available and given to an anchor investor, who in turn develops entertainment hubs and recreational centres. Two successful cases on hand – the DLF Cyber Hub in Gurgaon is a great example of private sector initiative. The other is Aerocity at Delhi’s IGIA, that also has some lessons for us, on how to avoid pitfalls, on the need to have all clear signs from every government agency, or for the need for the government to show good governance and bring speedy redressal should ever the need arises for intervention.   Event-based and multi-faceted tourism: Today's tourism draw is not just about monuments and sightseeing. Modern India has so much more to offer. New strands such as sports should be brought within the loop of the country's tourism effort. We rejoiced for the sake of India when Formula 1 came to the country. A private sector giant showed the vision to put India on the world sports map. But then we soon floundered – why, we don’t know but this needs to be set right. In the capital, the much maligned CWG came and went, leaving behind some of the most impressive sports facilities in this part of the world. These are languishing for want of a specific sports events calender. Big ticket events should be brought to India, we should become a part of the world circuit in every sport that we play ourselves as a nation. Event management agencies like Wizzcraft should be engaged. Festivals need a national grid and then promoted accordingly. The big point about them is the national awareness and pride that they instill. Domestically, they create a better understanding, goodwill and larger fellow feeling. Tourism build bridges, or cements them.   Domestic tourism is the base of the pyramid: Realise, strengthen and develop domestic as the base of the tourism pyra-

mid. Foreign tourism is the creamy layer. This should be the basic theme of our tourism efforts. When the tourism effort started in India, it was divided between states looking after domestic tourism and the centre promoting foreign tourism. Over the years, much has changed. Many an Indian state, notably Goa and Kerala, not surprising that they are also the front runners today, has been promoting overseas as well. The centre has also taken upon itself the task of domestic tourism promotion.   Tourism as patron of Indian arts and heritage: We have often said that Tourism is an effective catalyst for sustaining our heritage. Years ago, we had recognizable patrons of the arts, not so many today. But tourism, and more lately, airports and hotels have built around Indian traditions and customs. This process could have been more invigorating but in principle it exists and remains valid and most essential. We therefore need a mechanism that uses tourism to promote Indian crafts heritage and tradition in an institutional framework.   Every linkage counts for tourism: Tourism is the sum total of so many disciplines that create this entity. By itself it perhaps does not even exist. It becomes stronger for every linkage that we empower it with. With every addition, it grows, and embraces more overwhelmingly what we call the tourism product.   Aviation and tourism go hand-in-hand: Most of all, given the fact that our foreign tourist arrivals are coming by air, we virtually have no road arrivals, we need to create a viable and long sustaining synergy with civil aviation. It is not often recognized that every worthwhile tourism nation needs an effective and strong airline to back its tourism effort. Take Singapore Airlines and Emirates as good examples. In India, our own airlines have provided little impetus in recent years. In fact, in our heyday, Air India was a powerful instrument to promote Indian tourism. An aviation policy is needed that integrates the tourism effort, and it is equally true the other way round as well. Tourism cannot grow in isolation. We therefore also need to bring the fruits of change to every nook and corner – new gateway cities such as Bhubaneswar are crying for more connectivity. Depriving them of direct international flights is ignoring their economic growth.   Tourism needs a new institutional framework: Ministry of Tourism needs a revamp. It needs a dynamic entity to monitor and execute programmes – elements like the lowest tender will attract monkeys, and not high spending tourists to our country. We need to bring consultants to MoT, not all need to be imported. There is adequate experience available within India. The present day MoT has little experience, and the goalposts keep changing with every incumbent. Every time we get a new secretary, the person wants to leave his stamp on the assignment, thinks out some bold new steps, spends his entire tenure trying to execute it. Some manage to do so, others don’t, but either way it does not matter – the next incumbent will create his own agenda any way. In the states, too, the same is true and an institutional framework must get framed, sooner the better. In some states, the tourism budget has been significantly enhanced in recent years and requires judicious spending. The question is where will the expertise come from that can provide important guidelines for development. NAVIN BERRY JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  5


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SAARC Heads of States at PM swearing-in, is tourism next?

Afghanistan

Bangladesh

S

AARC Heads of state coming to Delhi, for the swearing in of the new prime minister! This is news and an event that took place a few days ago, and which would gladden the heart of every keen student and votary of more regional tourism in the Indian sub-continent, raising new fond hopes for a momentum in this sector. As a region, compared to most others – let us look at Europe, the Middle East, and also the Far East, the Indian sub-continent’s tourism numbers in terms of intra-regional travel has always been dismal. Despite many a proclamation by SAARC leaders, and respective summits, nothing has really taken off. There have been suggestions aplenty – from having a common SAARC currency, air connectivity between state capitals, a common promotional / marketing fund for the region, development of circuits on themes such as the Buddha and even cricket, visa on arrival for travellers within the region – many of these have fallen on

As a region, compared to most others – let us look at Europe, the Middle East, and also the Far East, the Indian sub-continent’s tourism numbers in terms of intraregional travel has always been dismal.

        6  DESTINATION INDIA JUNE 2014

Bhutan

India

suspecting ears, in an atmosphere where distrust has ruled the minds of the powers that be. Let us conclude, tourism has been a victim to politics in the region. Nothing could have been worse, when regional tourism has been the mainstay in every other part of the world. Some 65 to 70% of Europe’s tourism is from within the region, and this is equally true of the Middle East. More than half of Malaysia’s tourism comes from its neighbour Singapore. It is true that India is, and will remain, for sheer size of its population, the biggest contributor in terms of numbers when it comes to intra-regional tourism. It will also remain true that in pure numbers wise, other South Asian countries are likely to gain more than India will, both in receipts, that is spending power, and also in sheer numbers. That should not daunt us, in fact it should be a welcome step of extending a helping hand to our neighbours. If we have the numbers, let our friends enjoy them, get the benefit from them. In the Indian psyche, image wise, Colombo will always compete with Kerala and Goa as a beach destination. It will not vie with Bali, Spain and Portugal. Kathmandu as a hill station will compete with the likes of Shimla and Darjeeling. It will not compete with Switzerland. The reason is that when it comes to Indians travelling overseas, there is the perception of destinations, their star quality and their

Maldives

Þ

Nepal

From (left to right): Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Bang Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Vice President Hamid A    Bhutan Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay.


CURRENTS experience. The fallout of this is that Colombo and Kathmandu, more likely than not, will compete with other domestic destinations, and not international holidays. It will therefore make more sense to view South Asia as an extension of our domestic market, and not an infringement on the overseas market. The flip side is that we will open a new

Pakistan

Sri Lanka

There have been suggestions aplenty – from having a common SAARC currency, air connectivity between state capitals, a common promotional / marketing fund for the region, development of circuits on themes such as the Buddha and even cricket, visa on arrival for travellers within the region – many of these have fallen on suspecting ears, in an atmosphere where distrust has ruled the minds of the powers that be. market for our own industry. There is adequate proof with us to know that our own region can also produce adequate numbers. Sri Lanka is among the top three producing nations, among all countries, in terms of numbers. Nepalese visitors do not get recorded, but it is true that more Bangladeshi and Pakistani tourists will travel to India only if we were a little more liberal with visas. So, what does this Heads of States from SAARC coming to Delhi mean for tourism? Hopefully, it could be the next step. What is needed is a welcome next step from the

Indian government to ease travel restrictions from within the region. Let us open a few windows, if not the gates. One such possibility could be the extension of the LTC provision to include South Asian neighbours. Another could be a more meaningful dialogue to take the process further, to identify possible next steps. It also needs a convergence within ministries, directed by the PMO, to integrate the process. People travelling from within the region, making new friends, knowing how alike we are, will also create the mood for greater peace in the region. NAVIN BERRY

gladesh's Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam, Ansari, President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen and

JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  7


CURRENTS

SHILABHADRA BANERJEE

Retired Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and IAS, Andhra cadre

Andhra and Telengana: Two to Tango critical for developing combined tourism assets

O

n June 02, 2014, the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana come into existence in terms of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014. They would be carved out of the State of Andhra Pradesh established

in 1956. History has endowed Telugus with a heritage that includes religion, architecture, art, language, literature, music, dance, nature and cuisine, to name a few. This heritage includes a significant tribal population with their distinct culture, language and lifestyle. While the two states would have to take policy initiatives that preserve and highlight these assets, the tourism industry would do well to market them. It is relevant that the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh accounted for 20% (20,68,17,895) of all domestic tourists in India in 2012 (provisional), on account of

the state’s wealth of religious pilgrim centres. On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh attracted few foreign tourists (2,92,822 in 201213), which does not do justice to the State’s tourism potential. Clearly, the two states need to take policy initiatives to rectify this situation. First, in pilgrim destinations, the infrastructure and health needs of the domestic (pilgrim) tourists have to be met. This could involve the tourism industry being co-opted for upgrading infrastructure with local (municipal/panchayat) bodies providing health and sanitation facilities while limiting tourist visits within transparently established carrying capacities. Second, Buddhist heritage sites in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana have not been marketed by the tourism industry though they have the potential for attracting pilgrims from neighbouring

Chandrababu Naidu has an established reputation ADILABAD and concern for tourism, also MADHYA PRADESH MAHARASHTRA known for the turnaround SRIKAKULAM of Hyderabad city. KCR, a KARIMNAGAR VIJAYANAGARAM first-time CM for the newly Kalingapatnam established Telengana, will NIZAMABAD WARANGAL VISAKHAPTTANAM Bhimunipatnam have to compete for tourism TELANGANA MEDAK laurels with his counterpart Visakhapatnam EAST GODAVARI Gangavaram KHAMMAM in Andhra. The bottomline Hyderabad WEST GODAVARI however will be for the two RANGAREDDY Kakinada Vijayawada NALLAGONDA to work together – Editor ORISSA

ANDHRA

MAHABOOBNAGAR

KRISHNA

GUNTUR

Machilipatnam

Nizamapatnam Vadarevu KURNOOL

PRAKASAM

CUDDAPA

ANATAPUR

KARNATAKA

RAYALA SEEMA

NELLORE

CHITTOOR

Krishnapatnam

Tirupathi

TAMIL NADU

        8  DESTINATION INDIA JUNE 2014

Narsapur


CURRENTS countries in the region. Fortunately, the world-class international airport at Hyderabad provides improved connectivity with Asian countries. To further improve access, the airstrip at the Nagarjuna Sagar could be opened to charter flights bringing in Buddhist tourists, as it is located close to the holiest of Buddhist sites in the region. Similar charter flights to Gaya (Bihar) bring in pilgrims from East Asia on a regular basis. Third, heritage buildings and palaces in Telengana and Andhra Pradesh could be restored and converted into boutique hotels. Indigenous building architecture, technology and materials have almost entirely been displaced by ‘modern’ substitutes that are not suited to the local climate and have to be imported at higher costs. Restoration of heritage buildings would, therefore, involve identification of local building materials, revival of traditional building technologies and architecture, identification and training of local artisans. The success achieved in similar ventures in states like Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka could be gainfully replicated. Fourth, Andhra Pradesh has a 972 km long coastline, dotted with beaches suited for water sport activities. Care must be taken that tourism projects on the coast do not displace primary fishing communities that could be co-opted as partners in growth. Fifth, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh have 63,814 square kilometers under forests that support a rich diversity of flora and fauna apart from being the habitat of tribals. These assets could be promoted for promoting ‘nature’ tourism with tourists being accommodated in tented accommodation to minimise damage to the environment and for which guidelines exist. The Tribal Cultural Research & Training Institute at Hyderabad could be consulted by the tourism industry for advice on tribal culture, customs, dialects, festivals and handicrafts that could be developed as tourism products. Sixth, despite the fact that Telengana and Andhra Pradesh are urbanising fast, both have deep roots in their rural past. Telugus are leaders in a host of agricultural activities including paddy cultivation, poultry, dairy, fishery, sericulture and horticulture. Visitors to any farm in these two states would have a lot to take away which makes for great rural tourism. Accommodation at rural tourist destinations should be traditional and, in case any repair or restoration work is necessary, they should be carried out using traditional techniques through local artisans adept at them. Seventh, the cuisine of Telengana and Andhra Pradesh is highly evolved and reflects the assimilation of influence of the cuisine of people who made these two states their home over 2500 years. ‘Cuisine tourism’ is, therefore, a distinct possibility. Finally, the ill effects of tourism must be countered by adopting principles of ‘responsible’ tourism that make for sustainable growth of the tourism industry based on environmental integrity, social justice and economic development of the states. While robust tourism growth in both states is possible, the lack of infrastructure and security are factors that may impede it. Tourists, both domestic and foreign, are attracted to destinations that are accessible, offer accommodation of their choice, and where they feel safe. These are critical requirements and must be provided. Empowered Committees could be set up in both states with the specific task of creating required tourism infrastructure. These would include communication, accommodation, health, and sanitation at tourist destinations among others. Similarly, ensuring the safety and security of tourists is the responsibility of the states. Dedicated Tourist Police organisations need to be

An illustrious saga that dates back centuries

The early history of the Telugus goes back to 800 BCE when ‘Andhra‘ finds mention in Buddhist texts. The roots of the Telugu language are found on inscriptions in Guntur that have their origin in the 5th Century CE. Andhra is mentioned by Megasthenes, the Ionian Greek who visited the court of Chandragupta Maurya (322297 BCE) at Pataliputra (Patna) as Ambassador of Seleucus, in charge of Alexander’s eastern empire. Buddhist texts of that time indicate that the Telugus inhabited the region around the Godavari River. The Buddhist heritage of the Telugus is significant. Gautama Buddha visited Amaravati in the year following his enlightenment. Mahayana Buddhism originated in Andhra with Nagarjuna, Dignaga, Candrakriti, Aryadeva and Bhavaviveka shaping Buddhist philosophy there. Buddhist sites abound in Amaravati, Nagarjunakonda and Jaggayypeta along the Krishna River as, for over a thousand years, Buddhism flourished in Andhra. During this period (5th and 6th Century), Telugu replaced Prakrit and Sanskrit as the language people spoke. From the 4th Century BCE onwards, the political heritage of the Telugus included, in succession, the Renati Cholas, Mauryas, Satvahanas, Ishkavakus, Pallavas, Ananda Gotrikas, Rashtrakutas, Vishnukundinas, Eastern Chalukyas, Cholas, Kakatiyas, the Delhi Sultanate, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Bahmani Sultanate, and the Qutb Shahi dynasty. In 1687, Aurangzeb, the last of the ‘Great Mughals’, captured Golconda and Hyderabad. The Mughals ruled Andhra, through Governors appointed by them, till 1724 when Asaf Jah I, Nizam-ul-Mulk (‘Governor of the Country’), overthrew his Mughal masters and established the Asaf Jahi dynasty. Following military reverses, Nizam Ali Khan, ceded the Northern Circars (the ‘Circar’ districts in Coastal Andhra) in 1766 and the Rayalaseema region (‘Ceded’ districts) in 1800 to the East India Company. The Asaf Jahis ruled Hyderabad till 1948 when it was merged with the Republic of India. In 1953, the Andhra State was formed, comprising of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema region with its capital at Kurnool. In 1956, the State of Andhra Pradesh was formed, after merging the Telugu speaking areas of Hyderabad State with Andhra and its capital was at Hyderabad. This State of Andhra Pradesh has been bifurcated into Telegana and Andhra Pradesh by the A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014.

created, empowered with the authority to protect tourists. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), tourism comprises activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes. It delivers a travel experience comprising transportation, accommodation, eating and drinking establishments, retail shops, entertainment businesses and other hospitality services provided for groups travelling away from home. In 2012, the world recorded 1035 million international tourist arrivals, generating $1075 billion in tourism receipts. In 2011, tourism contributed, directly or indirectly, $121 million or 6.4% of GDP and sustained 39.3 million jobs or 7.8% of employment in India. Can Andhra Pradesh and Telengana ignore this potential? I should think not. JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  9


CITIES & STATES

Chandni Chowk: the Long Overdue Resurrection We catch-up with Dr. Harshvardhan, the newly elected MP from the Walled City. He is determined to fast track the overdelayed redevelopment plan of Shejehanabad.

W

e spoke to Dr. Harshvard- congested traffic and horribly mingled han, t he newly elected electricity wires. On these issues, he Member of Parliament from conceded that there were a lot of fronts Chandni Chowk constituen- which needed urgent attention. He said, cy, about his plans for the development “There are problems of traders, traffic, of his constituency and Delhi in general. transport, vehicle parking and developWe spoke to him specifically on the am- ment of tourism for prestigious places bitious Shahjehanabad re-development in the area.” He also stressed the need plan which is yet to see daylight despite for cleanliness and regular supply of being conceived well over seven years drinking water. Apart from these issues, ago. He said, “Whatever I know about “we must also look into general issues Chandni Chowk and whatever I have of garbage disposal and sewer cleanlilearnt about Chandni Chowk is during ness. He also seemed confident of the my campaigning in the last 25 days, and execution of these plans, he said, “I am I think the major issue particularly for the walled city is Exclusive with the redevelopment plan of the entire area.” BJP MP from Chandni Chowk The Shahjehanabad plan aims at redevelopment of the entire walled city area by making going to have another meeting with the wide roads, separate pedestrian lanes, Lt. Governor next week to review all the resurrecting the clock tower and lay- plans related to development and try to ing the dangling electricity wires un- understand the things that need to be derground. It also looks at a possibility done, mark the projects that need to of making the area free from motorised be prioritised and start immediately”. vehicles and use greener modes of trans- When asked for any time bound comportation. He says he has initiated the mitment on the issue he said, “I have process by a series of meetings with the already begun my discussions and also Lt. Governor of Delhi. Dr. Harshvardhan plan to consult and involve technocrats said, “I have already had two discus- with adequate expertise to speed up the sions with the honorable Lt. Governor process. You can appreciate and underto speed up the Shahjehanabad plan of stand my zeal for work. I only believe in redevelopment, which is only lying in action and without getting into any time the files and nothing has actually devel- frame promise, I can assure you of hard oped on the ground.” work and full commitment.” Chandni Chowk is notorious for its SHASHANK SHEKHAR

DR. HARSHVARDHAN

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Whatever I know about Chandni Chowk and whatever I have learnt about Chandni Chowk is during my campaigning in the last 25 days, and I think the major issue particularly for the walled city is the redevelopment plan of the entire area.


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On the Cusp of Change Like every other city, change is coming to Ajmer. So far, it seems to hold on well, retaining much of its original character. But in the near future, Ajmer is also on the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and is likely to grow faster. How will it embrace the further modernisation remains to be seen.

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city or a town has existence in time as well as space. Time brings with it change and the town of Ajmer is no exception to this rule. Ajmer is no sleepy town. In the heart of Rajasthan, on National Highway No. 8 that links Delhi to Ahmedabad, 130 kilometres to the south-west of Jaipur, this town has an ethos of its own and a certain vibrancy that is a product of its history. It has been the home of a brave and chivalrous people and a rich culture both of which have prevailed in a relatively hostile geographical environment.

A historic city

The evolution of a city is a historical process. Said to be founded in the seventh century by Raja Ajay Raj, and known at that time as Ajaymeru, it may have had a prior existence as an urban set-

tlement as testified by the ancient inscriptions found here of the Digamber Jain sect. It is a town with much history and has seen the vicissitudes of fortune, the rise and decline of kingdoms, dynasties and empires. The town initially developed in the area now famous for the Ajmer Shrine. The Chauhan dynasty built the famous Taragarh Fort near Ajmer on an Aravali hilltop. As this dynasty faded away, Ajmer passed into other hands. Ajmer was wrecked by Muhammad Ghori, the invader, in the 12th century. Qutb-ud-Din Aibek, the Sultan of Delhi, developed the Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra, a mosque that now has historic relevance, on a previous site of temples. Near it, in 1464 Sultan Ghiyasuddin constructed Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti’s mausoleum. Subsequently, around 1558 Ajmer fell into the hands of the Mughals and Akbar remodeled the shrine in 1564. In 1571 Akbar ordered a strong wall to be built round Ajmer and a palace to be erected for his own residence. This place, called the Daulat Khana, is now known as the Magazine. He also built the Khas Bazar, now called the Dargah Bazar. Akbar added the Akbari Masjid to the Dargah in 1570. In 1818 Ajmer was ceded to the English, and on 28th July, 1818, they occupied the city. The city began to prosper under British rule and became more populous. The population of the city, which in 1818, was about 24,000 rose to 119,524 in 1931. The whole valley was filled with buildings, roads and gardens. The railway linked Ajmer to the United Provinces, Punjab, Bombay and Sindh on the west. After 1818 the town extended greatly and the Naya Bazar was developed while the Agra gate was built about 1820. In 1868, the foundation stone of the present Government College building was laid. In the 1870s a new courthouse and the central Jail were built and a hospital was opened in the Naya Bazar. The Mayo College was constructed between 1875-82. With the advent of the railway and transfer of the various offices connected with the railways, including the locomotive and carriage shops to Ajmer from Agra and other places, the population of Ajmer further increased. The first planned extension was towards the south and Kaisarganj came into the existence in 1884-85. The Railway General office was built in 1884 and the railway workshops in 1879. The Adhai-Din-Ka-Jhonpara, the Magazine and the Baradaries on the Anasagar Lake were repaired and restored. Thus, in the 19th century Ajmer became an important centre of commerce for the British and the town slowly began to take shape. During the British period, Ajmer was the administrative capital for a part of Rajputana. This was to change after independence when Jaipur became the capital of Rajasthan but Ajmer then emerged as the second most important urban centre in the state.

A draw for tourists

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Ajmer has relevance as a pilgrimage centre for both Hindus and Muslims.

With the only temple in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma at Pushkar, a little beyond Ajmer, with the holy Pushkar lake and with the shrine of the revered Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, this town has relevance as a pilgrimage centre for both Hindus and Muslims and is visited by pilgrims in large numbers. It is home to the famous Pushkar fair that draws many. There are several other fairs in the city centred around Hinduism. There is also the Urs festival that commemorates the death anniversary of Sufi Saint Moinuddin Chishti which draws visitors from India and abroad. It has other historic and cultural attractions, such as a Jain temple and a Sai Baba temple, and the Akbar Fort and Ajmer museum, that make it a draw for tourists and a centre for tourist activities. It is on the world map of tourism. JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  13


CITIES & STATES According to the statistics of the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, in 1986 the number of domestic tourists who visited Ajmer was 470396 and, in 2001 this was 823236. The number of foreign tourists in 1986 rose to 7228 and in 2001 it rose to 79771. In 2013 the number of foreign tourists who visited Ajmer was 30750 while the number of domestic tourists was 3753260. There is a rising number of visitors to the town. However, the town doesn’t have many hotels with quality facilities so far.

the local municipalities in the district with the Ajmer Development Authority in 2013. Earlier, growth in the district had been scattered, with plans being made by the local municipalities and other local authorities. Now there will be coherent, unified plan for the whole region. At present, this authority is formulating an integrated Master Development Plan, for up to the year 2033, for the town of Ajmer and the rural areas surPushkar, a little beyond Ajmer, is the only temple in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma. It is also famous for Pushkar Fair that draws rounding it. many tourists not only from India but also from overseas. There are several problems, associated with development in this town. There is limited So far the cultural social infrastructure and civic amenities as An administrative, also spaces in the town. There is the probintegrity of the town commercial and educational lem of encroachments on the roads. There has not been harmed. hub is a severely constrained public transport Ajmer is an administrative centre, with The town has adapted. system. There is a problem with the drainmany of the Rajasthan government’s ofage in the city. There are the Aravali hills There is continuity in fices located here, as also some central to the north, west and east of the town government offices, besides being the which makes development and expansion change in Ajmer. district headquarters. It is also an educadifficult. Most of the development of the tional hub and, among the educational town has taken place in the valley, which institutions the most famous are the Mayo College for boys and adds to the problems, as it is flood-prone. Sophia Girls College, founded by the British for the elite. It has Besides, the development in the town is lop-sided. On the a contemporary university as well and many other schools of one hand are the open spaces associated with the railway areas, good quality. the Mayo College and the CRPF camp and other such establishAjmer is a sub-regional hub of economic activity and trade and ments while on the other hand there is the congested and overcommerce have been steadily rising. Located on the Jaipur-Beawar populated old town. This has narrow streets and shops built over Road, it is also the junction for many small and large rail lines. It nallahs. Some of the ways are so narrow that only a single person is a major railway hub, and 110 passenger trains arrive here, with, can pass. Even the major arteries of the town are under pressure on an average, 2800 passengers departing daily and 900 arriving. as the vehicular and human population grows. Unauthorised To the south of Ajmer is Bhilwara town, which is a centre of the constructions, as for example, six storey hotels around the Ajmer textile and garment industry. To the north is Kishnangarh which is Shrine, have added to the overcrowded conditions and made for a significant centre of the sangmarmar (marble) industry. Also to difficult traffic and parking conditions. the south is Beawar Nagar with its cement industry. These towns However, the newly developed parts of the town have wide make Ajmer a commercial hub as well and there is a steady rise streets, offices and shopping centres and malls. Yet even these in commercial activities with a consequent impact on the town. lack community facilities and infrastructure and encroachments The Rajasthan State Industrial and Investment Corporation and unauthorised constructions are found here as well. Much of has been encouraging industrial activity in this region. The city this is likely to change as the new Master Plan is implemented. has experienced growth of small and medium-sized industries There are other signs of change as well. Besides new malls, during the last few decades. A major impetus to economic activ- designer retail outlets are making their presence felt. Some local ity in Ajmer is likely to be given by a central government project, hotels are now listed on international travel websites. A flyover the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. has been recently constructed and a few more may be in the offing. What is striking about the town is its cleanliness now folChange and development in Ajmer lowing a drive by the local administration. Ajmer is in the midst of change. Though slow so far, this is likely There are other kinds of changes in the town. For instance, to accelerate. Change can be seen in many facets of the town but the female literacy rate is going up. Besides, there is the inevialso in the steady rise in its population over the years. According table process of globalisation that impacts upon values and the to Indian census figures, the population of Ajmer was 147258 in cultural practices of the region. 1941. It became 485575 in 2001 and further rose to 551360 in 2011. So what happens to the ethos of the region? Does the pressure Ajmer is Rajasthan’s fifth largest town from the point of view of of development and change have an impact on it? Or does it surpopulation. The town is more crowded than it ever used to be, vive the onslaught of the new forces. So far the cultural integrity with more people and more vehicles on the roads. of the town has not been harmed. The town has adapted. There Realising the tourism potential as also the possibilities of Ajmer’s is continuity in change in Ajmer. future growth and development, the state government replaced AMIT JETLEY

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CITIES & STATES

Historic Town Hall Set to Regain its Past Glory: New Delhi

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onsidered by many as the biggest landmark in the walled city of Chandni Chowk, the imperious Town Hall building of Delhi spread across 16 acres, is all set for a major facelift in the coming days. The Ministry of Tourism has allotted 50 crores to refurbish the building and providing a host of tourist activities to restore

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When these plans fructify and the Town hall premise is fully restored, it is sure to emerge as a leading cultural and heritage hub of Delhi.

its past grandeur. The plan includes a 16 acre site with a ladies park, a food bazaar, hotel and spa, crafts and handloom market and a shopping arcade. There is also a proposal for an open air theatre, a music fountain and a maze garden for children. The building was build between 1864-66 with yellow painted brick and stone and seated the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in the Raj days. The Town Hall building echoes of rich history as where it stands once had the famed gardens of Emperor Shahjahan’s daughter, Jehanara, along with the Clock Tower that collapsed in 1952. The restoration project is aimed at strengthening the structure of the building, waterproofing and general refurbishment. The museum itself is going to be unique and aimed at displaying the artifacts and audio visual presentations on several aspects of the city. The exhibitions are likely to be on art, literature, jewellery, textile and warfare and architecture. The museum is aimed at interpreting all aspects of Delhi’s heritage which essentially include food and music as well. When these plans fructify and the Town Hall premise is fully restored, it is sure to emerge as a leading cultural and heritage hub of Delhi, encompassing its rich history of one and a half century.

Trams to make a magnanimous comeback

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he good old clank of the wheels of trams is set to make a historic come back in the Chandni Chowk. The Lt. Governor of Delhi has in principle approved the project to restart tram service along with non-motorised vehicles at Chandni Chowk and its neighboring areas. The first stage will include a 2.5 kms stretch from Subhash Marg to Fathepuri Masjid running along the wide footpath. Along with trams, only non-motorized vehicles like rickshaw and cycles, will be permitted. The bigger plan is to have a 20 kilometre of network in the walled city to connect Esplanade road with Sadar Bazaar and old routes of Asaf Ali Marg, Paharganj and old Delhi railway station. The project ultimately aims at a tram station in every 400-500 meters and will ply between 8 am to 8 in the evening. The attempt to decongest Chandni Chowk and introduce trams is a welcome step, which is sure to ease the overflowing traffic and return the charm that once defined Chandni Chowk. JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  15


CITIES & STATES

SANJEEV SANYAL

The author is an economist, urban theorist and bestselling author

The City is a Management Issue, not an Urban Design Problem

PHOTO: TANMOY DAS

As one can see, Varan ingredients required for a problem is not its urban des is not better "planning" but difference betwe

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espite its importance as a religious centre and tourist hub, anyone visiting Varanasi can see that it is a city crumbling from neglect. Therefore, one hopes that some good will come out of all the attention it has attracted during the election campaign of 2014. Whoever wins the contest will become an important national figure, and will presumably have the clout to make real changes. But what needs to be done?

Although I have never lived in Varanasi, I have visited it several times and feel a strong emotional connection with it. My family is of Bengali extraction, but it settled in Varanasi in the mid-18th century. We continued to live there till the British colonial government confiscated our ancestral homes and drove

nasi already enjoys most of the a successful urban ecosystem. The sign and, consequently, the solution better "management". There is a big een these two approaches.

us out in 1929 for participating in the freedom struggle. Many male members of the family went into hiding or were jailed, some never to return. Yet, I found many lingering reminders of my family in the winding lanes of Madanpura - including the Bengali Tola Inter-College, one of the first "modern" schools in north India, established in 1854 by my forefathers.

I have often asked town planners and local officials about what could be done to revive Varanasi. The answer usually is that not much can be done, because it is such an antique city, with narrow winding lanes, that it is impossible to introduce any modern infrastructure. The best one can hope for is that we build "planned" extensions to the city with wide roads and "modern" amenities so that the old city can be "decongested" - that is, it would be a great city if only we can introduce neat suburban houses and broad boulevards suitable for cars. Meanwhile, the old city is seen as a legacy problem to be kept somehow alive for tourists.

There is a problem with this framework of thinking. If the so-called improvements had actually been made, Varanasi would have been reduced by now to Navi Mumbai or Delhi's Dwarka, soulless products of a 20th-century "modernism" that has been discarded everywhere except in India. So how should we think of Varanasi in the 21st century?

Today's leading urban thinkers no longer advocate cities as machines that must be run to a "master-plan" that maximises efficiency. Instead, cities are seen as evolving ecosystems that organically mix and match many ingredients. Thus, a successful city is one that encourages human interaction, has accessible public spaces, conserves historical heritage, is conducive to walking, creates human capital/diversity and, horror of horrors, mixes commercial and residential uses.

When seen from this lens, the urban design of Varanasi no longer seems a problem. The narrow winding lanes and their idiosyncratic twists are a nightmare for cars but make perfect sense on foot. High density, mixed use and distinct neighbourhoods create urban buzz and encourage human interaction. The ghats provide public spaces open to all strata of society and actively utilise the riverfront, something most modern Indian cities fail to do. The multiple layers of history, the organic mix of halwai shops, temples and homes, and the bubbling mix of people from different backgrounds give Varanasi a personality that would otherwise be impossible to create by deliberate design.

Moreover, the urban cluster is more than just the old city strung along the ghats. For instance, the city is also home to numerous educational institutions, including Banaras Hindu University, one of India's top universities and the largest residential university in Asia. The city is also at the heart of India's transportation network. Ancient India had two major highways - the Uttarapath, or northern road, and the Dakhshinapath, or southern road. These highways met just outside Varanasi at Sarnath. Incredibly, two of India's most important highways still meet at Varanasi: NH2, which roughly follows the old Uttarapath, and NH7, which runs all the way down to Kanyakumari. A short distance away is Mughalsarai, the nerve centre of the country's railway network.

As one can see, Varanasi already enjoys most of the ingredients required for a successful urban ecosystem. The problem is not its urban design and, consequently, the solution is not better "planning" but better "management". There is a big difference between these two approaches. The management approach to Varanasi would emphasise the following. First, the single most important thing would be to clean up the city. For the most part, this is about better management of existing municipal services - garbage clearance, JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  17


CITIES & STATES

drainage, controlling stray animals and so backbone.

Finally, the city's historical Varanasi already on.

Second, the surrounding river system heritage is crumbling and needs urgent needs to be revived. People usually pay investment. It is not merely the passage of enjoys most of the attention only to the Ganga, but the city time; in many cases, there is thoughtless ingredients required has other rivers. In fact, its very name is dedefacement from advertising hoardings rived from the Varuna and the Asi rivers. and unauthorised construction. for a successful The Varuna is still a discernable stream, As the reader will recognise, the apurban ecosystem. but the Asi has been reduced to a sewageproach of "managing" Varanasi organifilled drain. Many locals who live next to cally and adding to its ecosystem is funThe problem is not the Asi were surprised when I told them damentally different from the approach its urban design and, that they lived along its banks.

Third, of adding “planned” sectors and widening consequently, the the city's intellectual cluster needs to be roads.

Looking at Varanasi from a postenhanced. The current fashion is to build modernist lens resolves one of the great solution is not better new universities in sprawling campuses in mysteries of Indian history – why did an“planning” but better cient Indians not build rigidly planned citremote locations. But this disperses intellectual clusters. It is far better to enhance ies after the Bronze Age?
It is now known “management”. existing hubs like Varanasi. This will need that the Harappan cities were abandoned investment in new institutions, conference around 2000 BC due to climate change facilities, laboratories within a short distance of the city, and a and the drying of the Saraswati river (and not marauding central deliberate effort to encourage the exchange of ideas.

Fourth, Asians). Some of the refugees moved east to the Gangetic plains large parts of the old city should be pedestrianised. Some where they built great Iron Age cities, but historians have permotorable roads can be left in place for emergencies and for petuated the idea that these cities were somehow inferior to the bringing in supplies; but a clean, safe walking network would Harappan cities. From a post-modernist view, however, the Iron transform the feel of the city, as happened in the medieval Age cities were just as successful as urban centres. Indeed, the city centres of Europe. Perhaps an elevated monorail could great Harappan cities were abandoned after just a few hundred be built to run parallel to the river at a distance of half a years, whereas the Iron Age city of Varanasi has survived more kilometre inland so that locals and visitors can go about their than three thousand years and, perhaps with a bit of care, may business by combining walking with a reliable public transport survive another three thousand.

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Four eco- Tourism Circuits to be developed in the Vidarbha region

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aharashtra tourism development corporation (MTDC) is all set to multiply the choices of wildlife enthusiasts by developing four new eco-tourism circuits in the Vidarbha Region in Maharashtra. Already at Tadoba, four new base camps at Ramtek, Sakoli, Bodhalkasa and Chikhaldara have been set up at a cost of 37 crores. These spots have huge tourism potential and are already attracting swarms of foreign and domestic tourists. Chosen because of its pristine location and varied flora and fauna, the tourists can look forward to the unforgettable experience of spotting tigers in thick jungles while staying in ecofriendly huts. Three of the mentioned four circuits, with the exception of Bodhalkasa is slated to be operational by September, is already up and running. Being thickly forested, these locations cannot be accessed by trains and can only be reached by road travel. This effort and the similar ones planned in the future for Nagpur region are sure to diversify the choices of wildlife enthusiasts travelling to Maharashtra, giving them a sustainable wildlife tourism model.

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Chikhaldara, one of the four new eco-tourism circuits in the Vidarbha region.

Maharashtra plans to revive the state’s fort history

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Restoration work is in progress at Sewri Fort

Tourists can take their own time, sip a cup of coffee and track the migratory bird from the comfort of an open deck restaurant which will be constructed outside the fortification wall. Dr. Jagdish Patil MD, MTDC

he Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has planned to revive the iconic Sewri Fort in Mumbai as a pilot project. The success of the project could be replicated in all other forts which are not looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) or the state directorate. A proposal to revive tourism, and to attract more tourists, at a cost of Rs 11 crore at Sewri Fort – famous as a location to spot the migratory flamingoes – has been mooted by MTDC. The make-up of Sewri Fort with a museum, mini-theatre, souvenir shop and an open deck restaurant being proposed under the scheme. “Tourists can take their own time, sip a cup of coffee and track the migratory bird from the comfort of an open deck restaurant which will be constructed outside the fortification wall,” said Dr. Jagdish Patil, Managing Director, MTDC. The MTDC initiative is a significant development because, of the total 350 forts only about 19 have been notified by the ASI while another 50 have been notified by the state directorate.

Telangana gets its own Tourism Corporation

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he government of India recently approved the creation of Telangana Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC). The creation of TTDC brings forth a new set of administrative and management challenges as experts feel it lacks substantially in tourism revenue as compared to the neighboring state of Seemandhra. Telangana has a fair share of natural beauty and heritage buildings coupled with tiger forests which also contain other forms of wildlife. There are opportunities galore to brand and package Telangana tourism but it would require substantial investment and aggressive marketing. It will be interesting to see how the administration manages to overcome these obstacles. Hyderabad sees the maximum arrival of both international and domestic tourists in the region, and the challenge will be to tap into that market and aggressively woo tourists to visit sites in Telangana. The focus could well be on the Vijayawada, Tirupati and Vishakhapatnam belt which are a major source of revenue for the TTDC.

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CITIES & STATES

HUGH & COLLEEN GANTZER Celebrated travel writers and tourism commentators

How Bihar Remains Undersold as a tourism destination

Twenty-five centuries old and growing, Bodh Gaya is Bihar’s greatest tourism resource, and its most under-utilised asset.

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here is also just too much packed into this area. We discovered this on our third visit to this sacred town and its rapidly expanding environs. The nimbus, the spiritual halo, of Bodh Gaya has now spread from the far south of Bihar’s capital, Patna, to Vishali in the north, and beyond. Visitors need to have time to be informed, and absorb, the significance of what they are seeing. They are in the Holy Land of the fastest growing religion in the modern world. They are at the source of an Indic faith that is likely to have as much influence on the mind-set of the future of mankind as Christianity has had over our time. Driving into Vishali, we saw evidence of the growing influence of distant Bodh Gaya. . We stopped to photograph the impressive Vietnamese Mahaprajapati Nunnery with its striking green roof and its multi-syllabic name, CHUAKIEUDAMDIVIENAM. Also on the Vishwashnti Pagoda road was a Thai Monastery, a Japanese Temple and a Sri Lankan Ramayana Temple. Fascinated by the burgeoning international reach of Buddhism, we followed a coach filled with pilgrims from a South-east Asian country into Vishali. They stopped and streamed into a park on the right. Along with them we paid our respects to the Lichhavi Stupa. It, reputedly, contains one-eighth of the relics of Lord Buddha returned by the Lichhavi Dynasty after he was cremated in their kingdom. We also visited the unusually plain Kolhua Ashokan Pillar rising near a brick stupa. A Buddhist monk sat in meditation while pilgrims walked around the stupa. Here, according to legend, Lord Buddha had spent many monsoons, been offered honey by a tribal leader described as a ‘monkey king’ and, for the first time, admitted a woman into the sangha. She was a court dancer named Amarpali. On the far side of a beautiful lake was the superb, white, Vishwashanti Stupa. A cascade of school children, all in uniform, all wearing identity tags, tumbled out of a coach, hurried around the stupa, rushed into the coach, sped away. We wondered if they had been told that the stupa was, reputedly, the tallest in

the world at “146 ‘ and the diameter at 120 ‘” and was built by “Indosan Nipponji, Japan in 1996”. Such large chunks of data can be rather confusing. We felt much like a bewildered non-Catholic tourist wandering around the Vatican and the churches of Rome . And so, rather hurriedly, we did a quick mental scan of the history of Buddhism. Born in Bodh Gaya in the 6th century BC, Buddhism started as a Hindu reformation movement. It was, initially, opposed by the establishment but it caught the imagination of the common people. It got a major boost when Emperor Ashoka became a Buddhist after seeing the carnage wrought by his army. Under the patronage of Ashoka, Buddhism spread across India, reinforced by the inscribed pillars of his edicts, dotted around his empire. Buddhism received a major setback in the 8th century because of a resurgent Hinduism led by the seer Adi Sankaracharya. By that time, however, Buddhist missionaries from India had established the faith beyond India’s borders. Those Buddhists continued to regard India as their holy land and make pilgrimages to it. The next major re-kindling of Buddhism in the land of its birth came with the social reformer Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who, in 1956, became a Buddhist along with about 2,00,000 of his followers in order to step out of the confines of the caste system. And then, in the same 20th century, His Holiness the Dalai Lama exiled himself from Tibet and sought refuge in India because he felt that his faith was being jeopardised by the Chinese government. That makes India the epicentre of what is likely to become the world’s most significant faith. Buddhism’s chequered history has had a major impact on Bodh Gaya. We had noticed this on our two earlier visits to this remarkable place but the impact was even more striking now. Bodh Gaya is, in a very real way, a pan-Asian enclave in India. We saw it in the dress and features of the pilgrims highlighted by a woman in green sarong from Myanmar. Most of all, we noticed it in the architecture and ambiance of the many Bud-

BODH GAYA

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Bodh Gaya is, in a very real way, a panAsian enclave in India. We saw it in the dress and features of the pilgrims highlighted by a woman in green sarong from Myanmar.

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Entrance to the Maha Bodhi Temple

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CITIES & STATES dhist temples. Like the embassies in New Delhi’s Diplomatic Enclave, designed to express the character of their nations, the Buddhist temples of Bodh Gaya capture the aura of their form of Buddhism. Thus, the Japanese Temple was as austere and meaningful as a haiku. It even had a pavilion housing a great Peace Bell struck by a swinging log. The Tibetan temple had a row of rotating prayer drums and murals of fierce protective deities in its verandah. The Thai temple was a regal resplendence of gold and tip-tilted roofs in the delicate architecture of the oldest kingdom on earth. The Bangladeshi shrine was, as befits a new nation, understated but steeped in the dogged determination of a minority faith. The Chinese temple was guarded by two large, stylized, stone lions similar to those we have seen in Beijing’s Forbidden City. All these diverse expressions of an essentially simple faith come together in Bodh Gaya and are centered around the great Mahabodhi Temple. This is where a Prince had become an inspired Preceptor.

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The Bo Tree and devotees

Prince Siddhartha Gautama, of a sub-Himalayan kingdom, had been pampered and privileged as a young man, married, sired a son but had still been dissatisfied with his life. He had left his family and his kingdom and wandered around India seeking the reason why humans suffer and die. Not finding the answer even after severe, self-inflicted austerities, he had accepted a bowl of rice and milk from a woman named Sujata. Then he had retired into a jungle and sat in meditation under a fig tree. There, eventually, the answer had come to him and from a Prince he had become the Buddha: the Enlightened One. The tree under which he had found his answer is known as the Bo Tree. Its descendant, possibly many generations of saplings later, is still revered. In fact a vast body of beliefs has grown around the teachings, deeds and places associated with the Buddha.

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We walked the revered path that he is said to have paced. We visited the great mound-stupa that, reputedly, once marked the house of Sujata. Pilgrims from South-East Asia stuck glittering gold-leaf stamps on the weathered brick structure to proclaim their reverence. The religious practices of Buddhism are so flexible, so liberal, that they have been adapted to suit a people like the Thais who are ruled by a traditional monarch as well as those in a totalitarian Communist state like China. To our surprise we saw that the Buddhist temples there were crowded with devotees But though the many forms of Buddhism have burgeoned, and the streams of pilgrims and curious visitors flowing into Bodh Gaya have grown, the roads of this sacred town have not. Horse-drawn tongas compete with luxury cars and coaches for passage down increasingly crowded roads, often made narrower by pavements choked with vendors’ stalls. As in all faiths that start as simple protests against the complexities of worship, Buddhism itself grew from a religion that shunned idols to one with an enormous pantheon of them. It became more and still more intricate, expressing itself in great monuments and monasteries, and icons of increasing size like the Great Buddha Statue, the epitome of serenity. Serenity, however, is not the impression that we carried away from Bodh Gaya. Its temples radiate peace but, as soon as one steps outside their precincts, it is just another teeming tourist town where the benign message of the Buddha is replaced by a sharp-eyed cupidity, the urge to make a fast buck. When we parked our taxi outside the Mahabodhi temple, a man demanded 60 rupees as parking fees. He refused to give a receipt. Later, another man drew up on a motorcycle and said the fees were 30 rupees. He drove away when we said we’d contact the police. A van full of Caucasians, parked near us, however, shelled out ‘parking fees’ in hundred rupee notes. If we hope to keep attracting international visitors from the future economic hub of the world, we need to maintain appropriate standards of civic services and probity. This is the contradiction of the so-called ‘Buddhist Circuit’ of Bihar. It’s potential is enormous; its tourism product is sub-standard. It can, if properly handled, leverage Bihar into developing and promoting its many other attractions of history, handicrafts and wildernesses and becoming the premier tourist-drawing state of our land. But to do that needs an enhancement of Integrity, Imagination and Infrastructure. A chalta hai will no longer suffice. The spiritual aura of Bodh Gaya spreads far and wide, spanning the questing globe. Sadly, the experience of visiting Bodh Gaya also exposes one to another, rather depressing, reality.


CITIES & STATES

Double Decker trains on course to ply from Mumbai to Goa

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he two successful trials conducted by the Research Design Standards Organization (RDSO) and Konkan Railways between Roha- Madgaon and Madgaon- Ratnagiri have raised expectation of a full fledged double decker train service between the two tourist magnets. This is one of the busiest routes of the Konkan area and even with a record 27 trains plying on this route, it remains chaotic and busy. The rationale behind this attempt is to lower the unmanageable demand of transport in the peak seasons. The train, with the capacity of accommodating 120 passengers in a coach rather than the conventional 60-70, will help ease the strain on the route and is sure to give a stiff competition to the burgeoning bus sector. The route consists of a maze of 68 tunnels and several passes and is the second double decker train route after Delhi and Ahmedabad.

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A network of flyovers to help it decongest, planned for Varanasi

Japan to aid Hussain Sagar Lake Improvement Project

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he holy city of Varanasi is set for a major revamp in its infrastructure. The new government has set its agenda rolling by proposing a series of flyovers to de-congest the narrow lanes of Varanasi. As many as 60 flyovers are expected to come up. More so, there are plans to connect the two banks of the Ganges as well. The city of Varanasi attracts pilgrims and tourists alike from all corners of the globe. The crumbling infrastructure, illegal constructions and unchecked commercial activities at the ghats are the priorities that are likely to be addressed. The focus is also likely to be on cleaning the river fronts and the ghats restoring the former glory, bringing them to as they were in the 1970’s. The idea is to focus on Varanasi and through its tourism help the entire belt of eastern Uttar Pradesh in gaining from its ripple effect. Thus, Varanasi can expect a surge in tourism and relate activities in the near future.

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Hussain Sagar Lake

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his improvement project has been funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Over the years, Hussain Sagar Lake has become polluted through entry of untreated sewage and industrial effluents through the nalas that flow into the lake. As a result, nutrient rich sediments collected in the lake bed which in turn acted as an internal source for supply of nutrients to the lake water. This project gives hope for its betterment. The project’s objectives

are to maintain the round the year water balance in the lake, to improve the lake water quality by preventing pollutants entering the lake – both point source and non-point sources of pollution, removal of nutrient rich sediments at lake bed, interception and diversion of dry weather flows, improvement of nalas, to improve the overall lake environment and its surroundings for enriched biodiversity and increasing the potential of eco-tourism. JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  23


CULTURE & HERITAGE

The joy of covering National Museum in 90 minutes

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he National Museum has such a plethora of sculptures, paintings, manuscripts. that if you spent a minute with each piece in the collection, it will take three years, nine months and 23 days to view them. Accordingly authorities at the National Museum, keeping in mind the convenience of visitors, have launched a yellow-book, where the worth while highlights of the over two lakh works of traditional arts displayed at the museum are mentioned. The booklet, titled ‘The Museum in 90 minutes’ is given to visitors free of cost. Within the booklet visitors will find the names, route map and short descriptions of the best of 25 pieces. Mostly visitors fail to see the best of the museum, given the time constraint and the expansiveness of the museum. This booklet is prepared with the consultation of curators where they have picked the prime pieces according to their significance.

Gandhi Smriti Bhawan’s tryst with Modernity The Historic Gandhi Smriti Bhawan, dedicated to the life of ‘father of the nation’ is set to get a face-lift to bring it at a par with international museums of prominence. The project undertaken by the INTAC (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) is aimed at retaining the spirit of simplicity adhered to Gandhi yet infuse modern technology to upgrade the museum. The plan is to bring Gandhi closer to the people, literally, through advanced lighting techniques, holographic projections, an audio-visual display room, laser lights and a wax mannequin of the great soul. The museum plans to divide Gandhi’s life in four parts, showcasing his personal life rather than his political and social achievements. His childhood, his life in South Africa, his days in London as a barrister and days in India before and after Independence will be stressed. The plan also involves the meticulous renovation of the building. Old oil paintings which have got, will be revived chipped with time. The old wooden doors, windows and ornamental stone in the delicate jaali work adorning the roof will be changed. The audio guide, too, will be based keeping in mind the age, gender and language preference of the user and will provide multiple choices to the visitor.

Conservation efforts at the Tughlaqabad Fort

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here has been a serious need for conservation efforts at the ruined Tughlaqabad Fort constructed by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, the founder of the Tughlaq dynasty, in 1321. Efforts at preservation have been limited largely because the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) did not have funds for the project for much of the time. The ASI has now started conservation work with money that was committed to the project by the Gas Authority of India (GAIL). GAIL had released Rs 30 Lakh to the National Culture Fund (NCF) for this purpose in 2009-2010. The NCF was set up by the Government of India under the Charitable Endowments Act, 1860 to preserve our heritage in partnership with the community. Though the ASI did carry out some conservation work before the 2010 Commonwealth Games, it did not utilise this fund. The ASI will now work on the internal bastions and also take up the restoration of the inner fortification wall. The ASI will also provide tourist amenities, such as benches and provision for drinking water. Resurrecting the lost past The massive fort complex was abandoned just a In a bid to preserve the old classics of Hindi Film Industry, the few years after construction. According to a colourrecently constituted Film Heritage Foundation has decide to ful story that has come down the centuries, Sultan restore the ‘endangered’ movies, along with creating wide Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq was cursed by the revered spread awareness about the old classics, mostly from the Sufi Saint Nizamuddin Auliya, which caused the decades of early 1930’s to 50’s. city’s abandonment.

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JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  25


HOTELSCAPES

Kempinski plans three new hotels in India by 2020

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The brand currently has one hotel in operation in India and 73 hotels globally, with plans to open 112 hotels by 2017. Talking about the importance of the Indian market, Duncan O’Rourke, COO, Kempinski Hotels, says that India is a rapidly growing economy with a burgeoning middle class that appreciates and has the resources to enjoy high-end luxury. Talking about the plans of the brand in India he further adds, “We plan to operate three new hotels in India, by 2020. We already have an operational hotel, the Kempinski Ambience Hotel Delhi, and these additions will take our total strength to four hotels in the country in the next 5-6 years.”

Hyatt Regency Gurgaon. Gurgaon has established its presence as an important commercial centre in India.

Hospitality spreading its wings in the NCR

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ver the last 15 years, Gurgaon has established its presence as an important commercial centre of India. However, the nature of companies in Gurgaon has somewhat evolved from being business process outsourcing (BPO) focused industries to including major multinational companies across a variety of industry sectors at present. Federico Mantoani, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Gurgaon says, “Gurgaon is seeing the growth in all hotel segments, be it in budget or luxury properties. The expansion plans of existing hotels, newer projects, and large-scale investment surely is marking the golden period of this industry in Gurgaon. The Gurgaon – Manesar region has important commercial centres. With the growth of Gurgaon shifting towards Manesar, the newer development areas are along the Golf Course Extension

NCR has a robust pipeline of upcoming hotels with approximately 18,000 keys expected to enter the market over the next five years. Federico Mantoani GM, Hyatt Regency Gurgaon Road, regions of Sohna, the Dwarka Expressway and the development of the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridor.” Talking about the new inventory that is expected to come in the NCR he says, “NCR has a robust pipeline of upcoming hotels with approximately

18,000 keys expected to enter the market over the next five years. The majority of this new supply is expected to be in Delhi (34 per cent). A total of over 4,200 keys are expected to open in the next five years in the Hospitality District alone. The opening of a number of new hotels in this area has been delayed by a few months because of safety and security concerns raised by the Airport Authority of India (AAI). Noida has a share of about 25 per cent, Gurgaon with 21 per cent, Greater Noida 13 per cent, Manesar four per cent, and Faridabad three per cent of the total upcoming supply in the NCR.”

Swiss hotelier Movenpick announces its 3rd property

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fter setting a luxurious property in Bengaluru, and announcing its plans for a spa resort in Dharmashala, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts now announces its third property in India in Kochi. This new property will be a contemporary hotel with futuristic design elements, and is strategically located on the national highway bypass road around 6 Kms from the city centre and 25 Kms from Cochin International Airport. Andreas Mattmüller, Chief Operating Officer of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts for Middle East and Asia talks about the significance of organic growth

in the sub-continent for the company.  “India has tremendous potential for further growth in the domestic and international travel segments. Last year, revenues from domestic tourism rose by 5% and that figure is expected to increase to 8% during 2014. Considering this along with the country’s planned infrastructure developments, we’re keen to continue expanding our existing portfolio in India by including additional key cities,” he said. The management agreement was signed with ITMA Hotels India Private Ltd, an associate company of Jomer Properties & Investments.


HOTELSCAPES

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is name has been synonymous with Luxury. As a hotelier owner, his modesty and professionalism has taken him around the world, sitting at travel marts, selling first Destination India and then his own hotel chain, to tour operators and travel agents who would come to the India pavilion to source their travel needs. When the majority his age the world over has entered into its retirement phase, in his 60’s, he donned a new hat, one completely different from what he had done earlier in his life. From being an innovative exporter of Indian cotton, he turned hotelier and based his exploits on his vast travelling experience. He would often sit, much to the discomfort of his staff, in public areas in his hotels, supervise standards, and often admonish the errant ones. Captain Nair passed away, after going in and out of hospitals over the last few months, at the ripe age of 92 years. A late starter into our industry, the Captain proved to be the quintessential hotelier, the stuff of which dreams are made of! Over thirty years he built the most iconic hotels, wherever he set his footprint, starting with Leela in Mumbai, then moving onto Goa, and then Bengaluru, and finally into Kovalam, Udaipur, New Delhi and finally Chennai. Each of these vied with the best, and wherever there were existing big brands in operation, his vision and passion was to outdo them and build only the best. He exemplified only the ultimate in hospitality, never compromised, and outdid the competition, with an eye for the minutest detail. Many of his peers remained sceptical when he built these – the Mumbai property was seen too out of town, the Goa property was too expensive to build and uneconomical, while the Bengaluru hotel was too grand for the city and a white elephant. He proved them all wrong, the visionary that he was. More than his hotels, it is the man who will be remembered among the greatest of Indian hoteliers in the annals of history. Awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan by the Government of India, PRS Oberoi being the only other, the Captain was known for his sense of modesty and selfeffacing charm. He had an unhurried pace, never ruffled, always reaching out with a helping hand. His passion for building only the best, his conviction that he needed a hotel in the capital, and his vision for the ultimate in local design for Chennai left him out of pocket – coming as they were at a time when the world economy took a beating and corporate India saw a tumbling in confidence and in travelling numbers. The fall of the rupee did not help. We also understand that while the business took a turn for the worse, the cost of their projects also went through the roof. So, what would be his legacy? This would be his unwavering passion and belief in the hospitality business, his solid belief in destination India and its tourism potential. He touched every life that he came across, had a sharp memory and never forgot to say a good word for others.

The Legacy of Capt. CP Krishnan Nair

He will be remembered as among the greatest of Indian hoteliers. He had a passion for building only the best. A man of endearing personal qualities, he touched every life he came across.

by NAVIN BERRY

JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  27


AIRLINES & AIRPORTS

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n assortment of finest art pieces from around the country, Mumbai International Airport’s new Terminal 2 is giving a tough competition to the world-class museums with its Art Museum – Jaya He. The curator, Rajeev Sethi brought this marvelous museum to reality, which was the brainchild of Sanjeev Reddy, Vice-Chairman of GVK. Born of this mandate, the Artwork Program at GVK Art Museum at Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport Terminal 2 is the vision of Sanjay Reddy, Vice-Chairman of GVK. It was conceived as a spectacular doorway to India, integrated into the fabric of the city it is located in, initiating the visitor into the experiences that lie beyond its doors. It is also a distinctive narrative of a country of incredible complexity and diversity, living in multiple

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centuries simultaneously. The Artwork Program encompasses original art treasures sourced from various regions of the country, specially commissioned works by master-crafts people working within traditional idioms, as well as artists and designers exploring contemporary visual languages and media. Arguably India’s largest public artwork project to date, the Artwork Program at T2 is an unprecedented interdisciplinary platform for India’s cultural and creative industries. Approximately 5, 400 exquisite ethnographic objects were sourced exclusively for the art program. The hand-picked artifacts were stored at the mock-up site spanning an area of 20,000 sq ft. The artifacts belonged to different centuries and some were as old as 200 years and needed special care and attention to ensure that they did not deteriorate further and were not lost forever. For this very purpose a Heritage Conservation Agency was brought in to carry out the conservation and restoration work required. The work is being carried out by a 40 member


AIRLINES & AIRPORTS team of art conservators and restorers, who are transforming the damaged and distressed objects into their original form. The Artwork Program comprises two distinct sections – the Arrivals Corridor, consisting of a series of installations along travellators, and the Art Wall, a scenography spanning a 1.2 km stretch of the terminal leading to the boarding lounges. The Arrivals Corridor features site-specific works by many of the country’s most eminent contemporary artists, including Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Amitava Das, Jagannath Panda, and Riyaz Komu. Many of the works incorporate kinetic elements that resonate with the spirit of Mumbai. The Art Wall runs symmetrically throughout the terminal on all four levels, an immense tableau of India’s cultural legacy, living traditions and contemporary artistic expression, presented as six thematic compositions, which can be seen at all four levels in different viewing perspectives. A large part of the art wall showcases traditional arts from the different states of India. 28 locations in the art wall scenography have been identified for these artworks. IICD (Indian Institute of Craft & Design), an agency, based out of Jaipur has been commissioned to help manage the design development and production in remote villages across the country.

Mumbai International Airport’s new Terminal 2 is giving a tough competition to the world-class museums with its Art Museum – Jaya He. The curator, Rajeev Sethi brought this marvelous museum to reality, which was the brainchild of Sanjeev Reddy, Vice-Chairman of GVK (in pix).

The Art Collection at Mumbai International Airport JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  29


AIRLINES & AIRPORTS

No-frills airports on anvil with Civil Aviation Ministry preparing a blueprint

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oing by the growth expectations in the sector, given the need for air connectivity across the country, India will need some over 200 low cost airports, over the next decade. Much of T3 Terminal at IGI Airport. Not every airport needs to make this will be in Tier 2 and a statement as being among the world’s best in size and Tier 3 cities, reducing  proportions. But yes, should be best in efficiency and safety. commuting time, and helping the economy grow that much faster. The projected growth and requirement, assuming it is met in time, is likely to pitch India as a nation with third largest number of airports after China and USA. India, today operates around 400 aircraft which is set to increase to a mammoth 1000 plus, by 2020. Such a move is also likely to open a host of opportunities for employment in The COO of SpiceJet, Sanjay Kapoor has the areas of repairing, maintenance expressed his apprehension about Tony Fernandes’ Air Asia’s low cost model of operation and claimed that the model would be unsuccessful in Indian market. He said that high input costs of fuel and similar charges of operations leave little space for cost advantage. Kapoor said, “There is one way to offer fares lower by 30-35% than market rates; that is to have a 30-35% lower cost structure. Given fuel and other costs are similar for all players in India that kind of cost advantage can only come from lower aircraft and asset costs. You can have that kind of cost advantage if, maybe, part of your costs are reflected in Kuala Lumpur and not in India” said Kapoor in a press conference held in Delhi recently. These statements come amidst news that Air Asia is likely to commence its domestic service in India from June. The war in the skies is set to intensify, providing more competitive rates for the travelers in the days to come.

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Low fare model of Air Asia not suitable for high cost aviation market of India, says SpiceJet chief

and overhaul. The plan seeks a major investment, which is by some estimates to the tune of 120 billion dollars. No frills airports means reducing the investment required to build a given airport, and ultimately making air travel cheaper. Not every airport needs to make a statement as being among the world’s best in size and proportions – though it is advisable to be among the best in efficiency and safety. Ideally, we can have modular airports, low cost, and the terminal buildings can be made as per the projected parking bays required. being modular, they can grow as per the growth they record. These will have everything required, from retail to best conveniences, but the emphasis will be on what is really needed to make people fly at the lowest possible cost.

Tony Fernandes tweets, calls a competitor by name in a first

There is one way to offer fares lower by 30-35% than market rates; that is to have a 30-35% lower cost structure. Sanjay Kapoor COO, SpiceJet

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ony Fernandes did the rare act directly naming a rival airline trying to stop his airline's entry into India. On Tuesday morning, the owner of Malaysian low fare carrier AirAsia wrote the following on social networking site Twitter, tagging the AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya: "@Mittu Chandilya exciting plans for airasia Indian. Whatever Indigo tries to do to stop us it just makes us stronger and smarter. Well done".


AIRLINES & AIRPORTS

SANAT KAUL

Chairman of International Foundation for Aviation, Aerospace and Development (India Chapter) and formerly India's representative at ICAO Headquarters in Montreal, Canada

Air India: Back to Square One

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he earlier BJP-led Vajpayee Government had taken a relevant post liberalisation, with private airlines competing with decision to divest Air India to a private entity in a stra- each other. The good news is that it is likely to join Star Alliance, tegic sale which may have a foreign airline as its junior a leading alliance of top 28 international carriers, very soon. partner. The process of divestment got nearly completed What should the new BJP government do? The present state when Tata-Singapore Airline was offered of affairs of Air India does not give the to take over. At the last minute in August confidence that it can be brought into Necessary at this 2001 Singapore Airline backed out of the profits once again under the existing cirJoint Venture and the Tatas started lookcumstances in a reasonable timeframe. stage to take a fresh ing for another partner as they wanted an With two new powerful airlines that is look at Air India and experienced airline for a partner. Within Tata-Singapore and Air Asia again in cola fortnight of this the incident of 9/11 took its future. The decision laboration with Tatas starting operations place in New York and the airline industry soon the completion will be severe. The not to divest it needs went into a tailspin and no airline would public sector model of poor governance come forward. evolved in this country with its back-seat to be reversed. The UPA 1 government in 2004 redriving by the Ministry cannot compete versed the decision of the previous govwith other airlines. So what can be done? ernment and decided not to divest Air India, perhaps due to the A similar instance is the recent case of Japan Airlines (JAL). nostalgia attached to the so-called National Airline. Till then Air Japan Airlines was bailed out by various governments over India had been running without any budgetary support and liv- the years but finally it was made to file for bankruptcy with a ing within its revenues. Not only that, over the years it had built debt of USD 25.4billion in 2010. All board members resigned, many properties in India and abroad. Then came the major deci- a drastic cutting of jobs took place and Mr. Kazuo Inamori, 78, sion to purchase 111 Aircrafts for Air India and Indian Airlines a top management Guru and founder of KYOCEI, a leading followed by the merger of the two. In 2009 the Prime Minister of electronic company, was brought in as its chief executive. With India stated in his Independence Day address to the nation from a $ 6.6 billion bailout funds, he was able to turn it around and the ramparts of Red Fort that his government will not allow Air bring it to profits in just over three years. Even in India the case India to go down and opened it up to massive budgetary support. of Satyam stands out as an example of government’s decision In 2014 BJP has come back into power with a massive man- to revive the company. date with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. The issue of what It is, therefore, necessary at this stage to take a fresh look at to do with Air India once again comes up. Air India is not what Air India and its future. The decision not to divest it needs to be it was in 2004 when NDA government handed over to UPA. It reversed. However, considering its pathetic financial condition is in a terrible financial condition and need to be put into ICU we need a Kazuo Inamori for Air India to bring it back to profits for a surgery. Even the concept of a National Airline is no more and then privatise it. JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  31


AIRLINES & AIRPORTS

Agenda for the new government: time to take aviation seriously The leading consulting company CAPA has put together an extensive study on issues that the new government needs to urgently consider. Here are excerpts.

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ver the last few years the combination of a high cost environment, a sluggish economy, regulatory constraints and excess capacity have seen Indian airlines post accumulated losses of USD10 billion and increase their debt to close to USD20 billion. India’s carriers combined have cash on hand of approximately USD500 million on annual industry revenue of close to USD10 billion. Some carriers are in a precarious state, with cash balances equivalent to less than one day’s revenue. Airlines are at the core of the aviation value chain and as a result the situation across the industry is quite dismal. Most airports, other than PPP airports, are losing money; MROs are struggling; ground handlers are challenged; general aviation is chronically sick; cargo and express has stagnated; and the training sector is dysfunctional. The conditions have been deteriorating for some time and have reached threatening proportions. The Indian aviation industry is clearly in dire straits. There is an urgent need for a deep and comprehensive systemic review of the sector to identify the root causes of the current situation and to recommend solutions. CAPA proposes that a special committee be established – along the lines of the Naresh Chandra Committee of 2003 – to oversee the preparation of a comprehensive set of White Papers analysing critical issues. The Committee must be given a mandate to probe these issues in-depth, and to consider them in the context of a holistic vision for the industry through to 2040. While certain problems will take time to address, there are some fixes which could be implemented without too much deliberation to inspire confidence: • Notifying ATF as a declared good, thereby reducing sales taxation on fuel to 4% from an average of 24% today, would be the single confidence boost that the government could provide to the industry. This was not possible in the past because of the nature of coalition governments; however the BJP’s clear majority may make this more feasible now especially given the priority attached to tourism in its manifesto. Such a move would deliver an immediate reduction of 10-12% in airline operating costs, a significant benefit in such a low margin industry. • Abolition of the 5 year/20 aircraft rule should not be delayed further; there is no justification for persisting with a regulation which discriminates against Indian carriers. • Restrictions on the ability for airlines to generate ancillary revenue should be lifted completely; • The proposed new Route Dispersal Guidelines should be

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shelved until a thorough review of the policy on remote and regional connectivity is completed; • A clear signal from MOCA of its willingness to be partners with the industry, working collaboratively and equitably towards a common goal, as opposed to the more obstructionist relationship that has evolved in recent years. 
And although other solutions may take longer, if the government and industry can work with renewed vigour and a resolve to deliver positive change there is no reason why significant progress cannot be achieved. 
The weakness of the institutional framework is one of the core underlying problems.
India’s weak institutional framework in aviation has led to poor policy and regulatory decisions which have been key contributors to the current challenges. Some of the major shortcomings include: 
 • The absence of a comprehensive Civil Aviation Policy; • The weakness of the regulator, characterised by a lack of resources and expertise to conduct appropriate oversight, such that safety is compromised; • The absence of domain expertise at the Ministry of Civil Aviation to deal with the complexity of challenges which it faces. • The industry remains over-regulated with no clear desire at the Ministry level for enabling reforms and liberalisation; • The challenges between the Ministry and the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority over the appropriate model for the economic regulation of airport tariffs which is unnecessary; • The uncertainty about the future of the public sector units in the aviation sector – most notably Air India and the Airports Authority of India – and the fact that the presence of the government as an operator in the industry clouds policy-making; • The very high cost structure in the sector as a result of taxation, currency weakness as well as base charges; • Absence of defined criteria and process for the award of new airline licences with regular changing of the goal posts. It has on occasion proven to be easier for under-capitalised promoters with limited experience to secure a licence compared with proven, well-funded investors. • The lack of transparency and predictability in the decisionmaking criteria with respect to the negotiation and allocation of bilateral seat entitlements. 
India requires a comprehensive Civil Aviation Policy which has support across relevant ministries and is designed to last beyond just the current administration.
CAPA has advocated for the last 11 years the need to create a long term sectoral policy and one that should be viewed as a Government of India policy not just a MOCA policy. That is, to recognise that


AIRLINES & AIRPORTS many issues that affect aviation are in fact beyond the purview of MOCA alone, they touch upon the Ministries of Finance, Commerce, Petroleum and Tourism, the Planning Commission, state agencies such as immigration, customs and excise, and State Governments.
In order to develop an effective policy MOCA must therefore seek and coordinate inputs from across this diverse group. Broad-based agreement is necessary to break the ad hoc decision-making that has increased the structural challenges in the industry in order to attract the necessary investment in the aviation sector.
There should be a consistency of vision that extends for a generation or more rather than simply the tenure of the current administration. In recent years we have seen ad hoc developments that prevent the industry from being able to plan ahead. In such an environment it is very difficult to attract private sector funding. The ultimate objective must be a policy that promotes a safe, viable and sustainable industry; the policy must be practical and implementable. There should be separation of regulatory and policy functions CAPA believes that in order to meet the requirements of a large and modern aviation industry, there must be a clear separation of the regulatory and policy functions, which should be independent of each other. A separate accident investigation and safety board should also be established. All of this must be concluded during Stage 1. Moves are already underway to establish the Indian Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) along the lines of the UK CAA, however it is critical that such a development goes far deeper than simply changing the name of the DGCA to the Indian CAA. The DGCA’s technical regulatory functions (such as airworthiness, safety and licensing) will form only one part of the CAA, which will also need divisions responsible for issues such as airspace, competition, consumer protection and the environment. The DGCA is already under-resourced and cannot take on additional responsibilities. This is an issue that cannot be ignored. The FAA’s downgrade of India to Category 2 status is a clear reflection of India’s regulatory shortcomings. MOCA must be revamped to allow it to lead, develop and implement. A renewed sense of mission should be established. Summary of objectives to be achieved by 2016/17 • A new liberal Civil Aviation Policy should come into force, based on wide consultation with stakeholders and with interministerial support. The new policy should be developed in the context of a realistic 2050 plan for Indian aviation; • Aviation policy-making and regulatory functions should be separated, and a unified and professional regulator should be established in the form of the Indian Civil Aviation Authority; • Both MOCA and the DGCA/CAA should be subject to institutional strengthening with a particular focus on the development of skills and expertise, and a separate accident and safety board should be established; • The negative fiscal framework (e.g. excessive taxation on aviation turbine fuel, and unhelpful tax on third party maintenance and aircraft lease payments) together with regulatory distortions which act as a barrier to efficient operations (e.g. 5 year/20 aircraft rule for international services; route dispersal guidelines, restrictions on commercial decisions) should be dismantled; • MOCA and the Central government should engage with the

states to demonstrate the benefits that could be generated by categorising aviation turbine fuel as a declared good with a flat sales tax rate of 4% (compared with an average of 24% today). MOCA and the state governments should formalise a structured framework for engagement by establishing a committee which meets every quarter to discuss aviation‐related matters. State governments must play a much more active role in the aviation sector given the critical contribution which it can make to economic development and tourism. • Aviation and tourism must increasingly collaborate both at a centre and state level. Issues related to connectivity from key source markets; availability of bilateral seat entitlements to destination cities in India; domestic capacity; and joint marketing and promotion initiatives are examples of areas where the two portfolios are inextricably linked and where better cooperation can drive significant economic benefits. • A new regional airline policy should be established which better supports the desirable objective of enhancing connectivity to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities; • Air navigation services should be established as a separate entity from the AAI, remaining as a government responsibility but managed independently along commercial principles; • AAI’s airport operations divisions should pursue a clear commercial objective and establish a cycle of developing value in its airport assets, privatising them to generate lease income and then re-investing in new projects. However, all capital expenditure should be within the framework of a defined business plan which is based on developing and operating viable airports which have been cleared by CAPA’s proposed Airports Approval Commission. State governments should be involved to provide viability gap funding where required; • AAI and Air India must be managed independently from MOCA with a profit objective and be prepared for privatisation; • An Aviation Finance Corporation should be established to provide dedicated capital for the industry; • The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security must be recast with a new focus on upgrading management, technology, training and intelligence, conforming to international standards; • A new legal framework should be established to replace the archaic Aircraft Acts which date from the 1930s and are increasingly unsuited to a modern aviation system. 
Airports Authority of India requires a new business model and perhaps a new role given its changing priorities 
The AAI manages 125 airports across the country. Four of the largest airports in the country have already been leased out to private operators. A further 15 airports, including virtually every profitable AAI airport, are expected to be privatised. 
The AAI is also responsible for air navigation services across Indian airspace. However this activity too, which accounts for a significant proportion of the authority’s profitability is expected to be hived-off as a separate entity and corporatised. 
As a result, after the privatisation of the 15 airports and the corporatisation of air navigation services, the AAI will be left with a portfolio of around 110 airports, virtually all loss-making, with almost half of them lying idle. 
The AAI has demonstrated an excellent ability to develop and upgrade airport terminals on a cost effective basis, having successfully completed almost 40 major modernisation projects over the last few years. But with most of these projects completed or approaching completion there is not expected to be a significant call for such activity over the next few years. And most greenfield construction will in future be carried out on a PPP basis. JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  33


AIRLINES & AIRPORTS

Air India geared to join STAR, augurs well for Indian Aviation

A HIGHLIGHTS Air India is expected to join the alliance formally in July 2014. This is partly a reward for the airlines improved performance but mostly a barometer of the global industry Air India has completed 45 of the 64 requirements. The outstanding issues for Air India mainly relate to the airline ensuring its IT systems are compatible with the alliance Lufthansa has been the key driver of Star's renewed interest in Air India. The German carrier has been cultivating a framework of cooperation with Air India for many years Helping the situation is the improvement in Air India's performance. Its 787's have arrived and some of the routes on which they are deployed have turned cash positive The coming on board of Air India was subject to the signing of commercial agreements about which routes the new member will operate A consequence may be new routes in an eastbound network, supported by a feed from STAR carriers

        34  DESTINATION INDIA JUNE 2014

ir India is now nearly ready for admission to the largest branded global alliance, according to an informal announcement by Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab on 29-Apr-2014. Air India is expected to join the Alliance formally in Jul-2014. This is partly a reward for the airline's substantial improvement, but mostly a barometer of the global industry, as the three Gulf carriers have come to dominate the international long-haul Indian market. For Star leader Lufthansa, the Indian market was for many years the jewel in its crown as, in a highly protected marketplace, the German flag dominated India's connecting traffic over its Frankfurt hub. The recent rise of Emirates, Etihad (now with Jet Airways) and Qatar Airways in carrying Indian traffic over their highly effective hubs and across their diverse global networks has completely changed the shape of the Indian long-haul market, as it has in many other markets. Lufthansa, the only one of Europe's big three to remain aloof from entwinement with a Gulf carrier, will be anxious to bring India's languishing but still powerful flag carrier into the Star fold; not quite at any cost, but still recognising that Air India has a long way to go before it regains its position as a serious competitor on the world stage. In the process, Lufthansa looks set to reinvigorate its anti-Gulf carrier rhetoric, putting any thought of an Emirates partnership behind it.

Air India is to be admitted to Star in Jul​y​2014

When Air India first attempted to join Star the carrier was going through a period of significant instability: the carrier had five Managing Directors in the space of just over three years; labour unrest was at its peak; the integration of the networks of Air India and Indian Airlines was still incomplete following their merger in 2007; and delivery of the Dreamliners continued to be delayed. Political sensitivity about Air India was at its peak at the time as airline's fleet orders and the decision to merge with Indian Airlines were the subject of an investigation by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Against this backdrop the carrier repeatedly missed deadlines for meeting membership requirements. In Aug-2011, more than three and a half years after Air India was first invited to join the


AIRLINES & AIRPORTS alliance, Star members lost patience and Air India's application was placed "on hold". However, Air India's management kept the dialogue open and in Dec-13 Star announced that the process of integrating Air India into the alliance would recommence. This time round the process appears to be proceeding more smoothly. According to Air India chairman and managing director, Rohit Nandan quoted in the Economic Times on 2-May-2014, "Air India has completed 45 of the 64 requirements already (for Star admission) and the remaining will be completed in May." And Star Alliance CEO, Mark Schwab announced that – assuming completion of the requirements – Star members would hold a CEO meeting in London on 23-Jun-2014 to formalise the approval. Actual membership is to be completed unusually quickly, with Air India becoming a member in the following month. Schwab confirmed that the outstanding issues for Air India mainly related to the airline ensuring its IT systems were made compatible with the Alliance's systems. He also noted, undoubtedly with a degree of understatement, that "there are also a few commercial agreements that need to be signed".

For Air India it has been a long and winding road to membership – from rags to Princess

tractive to Star. If not yet a beautiful Princess, Air India was now Star, and Lufthansa in particular, have long had a considerable at least something too risky to allow to fall into another's arms. interest in the lucrative Indian market, but as the global alliance Lufthansa has been the key driver of Star's renewed interest in structure evolved, Air India became an inevitable focus of atten- Air India. The German carrier had been cultivating a framework tion. But it continued to be a woeful shadow of its once consid- of cooperation with Air India for many years, with a view to erable entity, losing around a billion dollars a year till recently developing long term strategic opportunities. Those ambitions and constantly in turmoil, digesting a succession of MDs and frayed between 2008 and 2011 as Air India's performance detesubjected to constant meddling by government. riorated following its merger and as the carrier became increasGiven Air India's circumstances and with little sign of future ingly consumed by its own internal challenges. But the changing improvement, Star had also sought to be able to add privately environment left no option but to resume those earlier plans. owned Jet Airways to its membership. Jet was seriously courting Also helping the situation was a distinct aura of improvement the Alliance at that time. The Indian government was on paper in Air India's performance. Its long-overdue 787s finally arrived not opposed to a second Indian member but, keen to promote the in late 2012 and have been generally well received; it now has 13 interests of its costly offspring due to heightened political sensitiv- in its fleet with 14 more to come, according to CAPA's Fleet Dataity, it insisted that Star first admit Air India and that it would take a base. Most of the routes on which the 787s have been deployed decision on Jet later. In practice, agreeing to allow India's largest have turned cash positive, as a result of which international private airline into the same alliance as the national carrier would losses have reduced substantially. have been difficult to sell politically and was unlikely to happen. The carrier now operates an integrated domestic and internaSuch a dubious proposition, coupled with heavily indebted Jet's tional network with increasing volumes of transfer traffic, while demands for an accompanying equity injection, proved too much a new operations control centre has seen on-time performance of an ask for the would-be partners. improve. Service standards have also been As time passed however, the bigger piclifted although there is still considerable ture moved on. First Etihad began its proroom for further enhancement. And indusCAPA estimates gressive relationship with the competing trial relations are now more stable following that Air India lost Air France-KLM/SkyTeam grouping; then it a firm stance taken by management during acquired a share in Jet Airways (all regulathe last pilots' strike which saw most interUS$720-750 million tory hurdles to the acquisition of a 24% national operations grounded for close to in FY2014. That is stake have in theory been cleared but furtwo months. ther challenges cannot be ruled out). That Despite these improvements, the airline down almost 40% took Jet out of play and greatly enhanced is far from being a sustainable entity. CAPA from two years ago the Abu Dhabi flag carrier's Indian position. estimates that the airline lost USD720-750 but this may be as As a consequence, Star rapidly reversed million in FY2014. That is down almost its earlier stance and transformed into an 40% from two years ago but this may be good as it gets as ardent suitor of Air India. as good as it gets as competition in both competition in both In 2013, there was also a seemingly the domestic and international arenas is good prospect that Qatar Airways – which set to intensify. the domestic and had been in discussions with Air India, but The domestic market is expected to international arenas baulked at investment suggestions – might see the entry of two new strong operators even bring the airline into oneworld. Sudthis year, AirAsia India and Tata-SIA. Meanis set to intensify. denly Air India appeared much more atwhile Jet Airways and Etihad will ramp up JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  35


AIRLINES & AIRPORTS Delhi could become the integration of their interna– at last – a valuable tional networks and Emirates hub to access eastern will also expand capacity and routes introduce A380s to having recently been granted additional That scenario would not howentitlements. The Gulf carriers ever necessarily mean an end are expected to be particularly to Air India's international aspiaggressive on routes between rations. To the east, there is the India a nd Nor t h A mer ic a prospect that Air India could where Air India is already ineven become a valuable addicurring significant losses. tion to Lufthansa's Asian expanS​ TAR CEO also said the comsion​. ​Lufthansa has expressed ing on board of Air India was concerns in the past about its subject to signing of "commerability to service Asia, talking cial agreements" that Schwab of establishing or partnering says are still to be negotiated, with a long-haul LCC to generand will surely be what routes the new memate the necessary economics in this often Air India's value ber is welcome to operate. Lufthansa – or Air low-yielding growth market. Canada and United for that matter – is hardly This need to find a solution to service lies in feeding going to support a revitalised Air India to set Asia could potentially be good news for the Star hubs, not up in competition to expand service to its Delhi Airport in particular – thus offering UK or North American Indian diaspora. Air a win-win-win, with Star, the government operating longIndia's value lies in feeding the Star hubs, not and India's largest airport. Mumbai also haul itself. ​If Air operating long-haul itself. ​If Air India – dehas strong traffic potential but capacity spite its recent 787-based revival – were to be constraints and the fact that a second airIndia – despite its constrained more to domestic, regional and port remains several years away, limit its recent 787-based medium-haul operations, its losses could hub potential in the short to medium term. be further reduced, creating a foundation Lufthansa is clearly searching for a solurevival – were to be for further restructuring. This would avoid tion to its long‐haul cost issue. On 2-May- 2014 constrained more to competing with Lufthansa, Air Canada and it was reported in Spiegel.de as planning to domestic, regional United (and some other Star operators) and convert nine A340-300s, otherwise due to everyone is made happy. be grounded, to service long-haul low cost and medium-haul In such a scenario it is possible to see routes, including to "India, Thailand and Taioperations, its losses wan". This sounds similar in design to Air CanAir India withdraw from North America entirely, and instead serve this region in ada's rouge, where lower salary scales were could be further conjunction with its Star partners. Its nonnegotiated and a lower cost profile seeks to reduced, creating stop European network would also likely cater efficiently to a lower yielding market. be limited to a few key destinations such as Yet reintroducing the fuel-hungry and a foundation London, Birmingham and Paris, with most ageing A340s has to be seen an unlikely long for further other point served via Star hubs. This would term solution on Lufthansa's Asian routes, require a restructuring of its fleet to better even one that smacks of desperation; a restructuring. align with the commercial realities of the much more cost-conscious AirAsia X was market and its role as a regional arm. The forced to withdraw its London-Kuala Lumpur recent sale of five of its eight 777-200LRs is a step in the right service with A340s as fuel prices rose into the USD100 range. direction, but even the carrier's 12 777-300ERs seating 342 pasBut serving an Indian point as a connecting hub and using sengers are too large for its long haul operations. Air India's 787s beyond to destinations like Australia (where its Despite recent improvements in performance Air India con- early performance has been encouraging), and to several other tinues to incur significant losses on its three US routes. With Gulf southeast Asian points, could be just the solution that all parties carriers rapidly expanding capacity into North America, competi- are looking for. tion is set to increase, and given Air India's inability to generate There would have to be a real sweetener politically for a new significant premium traffic the carrier may no longer have a viable government to survive a likely wave of opposition if any suggestion business case for its US operations. A fleet of a dozen 777-300ERs, were made of cuts at Air India – however needed they may be. with three more on order, is difficult to justify to support a service An understanding that enhanced eastbound services for Air India to London and three heavily loss-making routes to the US. were likely could offer just that reassurance. The airline currently Over time Air India may be best to transition the 15 777-300ERs has only a limited eastbound network, preferring to focus more to 787-9s, to provide greater strategic flexibility. These could still on its European and North American diaspora, so new routes, be used to operate selected routes to the US if required at some supported by feed from Star carriers could be a mutual win. stage. Combined with the 787-8s currently in the fleet and on order, The pursuit of such an approach would involve the creation this would eventually see Air India operate an all-Dreamliner wide of a new Air India with a fresh business plan. This would only body fleet of just over 40 aircraft that would deliver a fleet and be possible if the new government takes a comprehensive, long network platform that would support restructuring. term view of the national carrier.

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AIRLINES & AIRPORTS

AMBER DUBEY

Partner and India Head of Aerospace and Defense at global consultancy KPMG

Top 10 priorities for our new aviation minister 1. Inter-Ministerial Group on Aviation (IMGA) Establish an IMGA to facilitate faster decision making across government ministries like home, defense, finance, tourism, environment and others. There are already talks of merging all transportation ministries and tourism into one over-arching Ministry of Transport for efficient coordination.

2. ATF taxes

Work closely with the top six States to reduce Sales Tax on ATF to 0% or 4% – the eastern states have already shown the path.

3. Maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO)

Declare a 10 year tax holiday on MRO. Government of India earns nearly nothing from MRO – so the tax loss is notional. The creation of jobs, saving of foreign exchange and increase in direct tax collections (from MROs and employees) would be several multiples of the notional loss. This is the lowest hanging fruit for the new government.

4. No frills airports

Request AAI to develop a concept plan for a No Frills Airport (mini-terminal, local security, remote ATC etc). Concept plan to be then approved and notified by DGCA – else it just remains just a grand idea on paper.

5. Manufacturing

Engage with and incentivise global aerospace majors to establish aircraft component manufacturing, R&D and MRO units in India. Around three world class Aerospace Parks to be established in the country. Learn from the Singapore model of creating an environment that attracts global aerospace majors.

6. DGCA

Undertake a complete overhaul of DGCA – policies, procedures, technical knowl-

edge, staffing and so on. Industry perceives DGCA to be opaque, domineering, manipulative and unaccountable for its decisions. India’s safety standards have to become world class. The humiliating downgrade of India to a Category 2 country needs to be probed and heads need to roll.

7. Open skies policy

Conduct a national debate on the need for ‘Open skies policy’ (OSP) for India. We have OSP with USA since 2005 and a global OSP in air cargo – both have helped india. Privatise Air India. Abolish the discriminatory 5/20 Rule. Selective protectionism and treating aviation as a ‘holy cow’ have hurt India.

8. Airport tariffs

Establish a hybrid till system of tariff fixation at airports with an upper limit on the aeronautical charges per passenger. Anything above that should be carried forward to future years. AERA to regulate as per tariff policy laid down by MoCA. Policy making is MoCA’s domain, not AERA’s.

9. Air Navigation Services (ANS)

Establish an independent, world-class ANS Corporation that earns at least 20% of its revenue from export of training and consulting service. Speed up Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA) to cut down wastage of ATF in non-linear flight paths.

10. Other reforms

Establish a task force to fast-track longpending reforms in air-cargo, general aviation, ground handling and aviation education. Helicopters and small aircrafts have a very important role to play in a vast and diverse country like India (tourism, homeland security, and others). Establish the National Aviation University (NAU) quickly and help upgrade the AME training centers across the country. JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  37


TOURISM CONNECT

Chai pe Charcha: sample a rich diversity of culture

The potential of this variety of plantation tourism is gradually being realised as more and more tea estates are being thrown open to visitors who want to sample their tranquil environs.

T

he world of tea

but has been particularly encouraged in the last decade. It is a There are no storms in a teacup here but only varie- most interesting way to visit these hills. ties of tea. Typically your stay is likely to be in a bungalow that was the Welcome to tea tourism, India’s answer to the whisky residence of a British tea planter during colonial times. It is your and wine tourism of Europe. And why not. If you are tired of the chance to participate in a fast vanishing lifestyle - the pampered heat and dust of the towns and cities there is nothing like a plan- lifestyle of the colonial planters. Surrounded by tea gardens and tation visit to rejuvenate you. Off the beaten track and beyond often splendidly restored, these residences are immersed in conventional tourism. There is much to see on a tea estate and over a hundred years of history. The bungalow, set amidst lush around it. This is besides the tea manufacturing process, fasci- gardens, is likely to have furnishings from the colonial days. It nating in itself. Visit tranquil environs and participate in another is the perfect place for an Anglo-Indian fusion meal or a tealifestyle. And just who doesn’t love a cuppa good tea? tasting session. This region produces a light coloured, fragrant The world of tea has not changed much in the past century. tea that has a delightful taste. What better place to sip it than in The culture surrounding the huge tea plantations is unique and a colonial bungalow. exploring it is an experience. Besides, tea finds a place in the It would be natural to leave the bungalow for a garden walk country’s history. To explore a plantation is also to delve into the to see how tea is processed at the earliest stage. This may involve past, particularly the colonial era. More and more tea gardens are a picnic day out and an interaction with the garden workers. opening up now to visitors interested in tea Perhaps a ride in a jeep or a land rover and how it gets to them. It doesn’t matter around the estate in the afternoon is called if you aren’t fond of the cuppa that cheers for. Evenings can be a delight as there are To explore a tea though it helps if you do. no dearth of ethnic cultural programmes to plantation is also This second most consumed drink in choose from, with some around a bonfire. the world – with water being the first – The highlight of the visit can be a ride on to delve into the comes in varieties such as black tea, green the hill toy train belonging to the Darjeelpast, particularly tea, oolong tea and white tea. All these ing Himalayan Railways. There is scope the colonial era. come from the same plant: Camellia Sinbesides for miscellaneous entertainment ensis. It is this plant that is cultivated so such as golf, tennis and indoor games. More and more tea picturesquely on tea estates. The different The scenic beauty of these gardens is gardens are opening tea types are only created due to different mersmerising. Some of them provide an processing methods which are also on excellent view of the mountains including up now to visitors display. India is the largest producer of that of the Kanchenjunga range. Some are interested in tea and tea in the world, and its largest exporter, close to the forests – the area has several and the manufacture of tea is a substanwildlife parks and sanctuaries --and naturehow it gets to them. tial activity. There are several tea gardens based tourism, with nature tours, forest located in some of the most scenic parts safaris and excursions, can be a delight. of the country. Camping out is an option as well. The Dooars valley stretches from the river Teesta in the west Amidst scenic beauty in the eastern Himalayas to the river Sankosh on the east and forms a major part of the Among the best places to visit for tea tourism are the Eastern Jalpaiguri district. Siliguri, approximately 80 kms from DargeelHimalayas, mainly in the Darjeeling hills and in the Dooars foot- ing, is the gateway to the Dooars. About 632 km north of Kolkata, hills in Bengal and Assam. In the shadow of the sun-kissed peaks it is connected by air, rail and road with a road trip being a most of the Himalayas, these are places of enormous natural beauty. adventurous and pleasing way to visit this countryside. Snow-clad mountains, emerald valleys and sparkling waterfalls abound. There are a plethora of tea gardens here on the slopes Heritage and tea tourism in Assam of the hills, with over 80 in the Darjeeling area alone. What better Tea occupies an important place in Assam as well and the state way to explore the natural splendours of the region than to visit produces some of the finest teas in the world. It is said that the one of them. Tea tourism started in this region in the last century plants used to grow naturally in the Upper Brahmaputra valley.

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AIRLINES & AIRPORTS Robert Bruce, an official of the British empire is credited with the discovery of tea in Assam in 1823. He and his colleagues found it of a superior quality to Chinese tea and gave it publicity thus helping the modern tea industry to rise. Many tea companies are now converting their age-old tea heritage bungalows into tourist bungalows and Assam promotes tea tourism in several gardens. Tourists visiting these tea estates will get a feel of how tea leaves are plucked by the colourfully dressed women pluckers as they chatter and sing. These women meticulously pluck the freshest two leaves-and-a-bud repeatedly from the bushes. Visitors can see how tea is processed and produced at the tea manufacturing facilities set alongside these gardens. These gardens will soon have international class accommodation facilities to accommodate the guests as well. It is easy to get to these gardens. Gauhati in Assam is well-connected to the rest of India by air, road and rail. There are flights to other towns within Assam as well. The highest-quality teas mostly come from subtropical climates with some seasonality. These are regions that are the most pleasingly pretty, such as the Dooars and Assam. There are other

parts of India that have excellent tea estates. Tea grows in climate zones that range from subtropical to tropical and requires some humidity and rainfall during the growing season. There are quite a few tea estates in the South as well and there is no dearth of them to choose for a visit.

Plantations and a museum in Munnar

Munnar, a popular hill station in Kerala in the South, is a fabulous place to visit if one is interested in tea tourism. On the slopes of the hill grow miles and miles of tea amidst immense tranquility and natural beauty. Munnar is also the site of a fabulous museum dedicated to tea. Tata Tea recently opened a Tea Museum which houses photographs and machinery, each depicting a turning point in the history of the tea industry. The museum has been set up at the Nallathanni Estate of Tata Tea in Munnar. Munnar is accessible only by road. The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport which is about 130 kms away. The nearest railway station is at Aluva, 110 kilometres away. The Ernakulam Railway Station is 130 kilometres away while the Madurai Railway Station is

JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  39


TOURISM CONNECT at a distance of 135 kilometres. From these points, you can either hire a cab or board a bus.

Biodiversity in the Nilgiri Hills

The Nilgiri Hills, a part of the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats, border the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Tea thrives on the slopes of these ‘blue mountains’ and, unlike the Darjeeling hills and Assam, tea plants grow throughout the year. Coonoor, famous for its tea plantations, is just 19 km from Ooty, and Kothagiri is at a distance of 31 km. Tourists can take a walk through the tea gardens and enjoy breathtaking views of the Nilgiri hills in all their natural glory. These magnificent tea gardens are a popular picnic spot. This is where you can learn the various aspects of the manufacture of tea from picking to processing. One can visit an auction centre here. More than one million pounds of tea are sold in a week in Coonoor alone. While here, one can enjoy trekking and hiking. The Nilgiris give you the opportunity to shop for exclusive home made chocolates and fruits, Nilgiri tea, natural oils like the Eucalyptus oil and many more items. There is also the facility of home stay with the local villagers, which gives you the opportunity to learn about their lifestyle. One of the famous attractions of the Nilgiri Hills is the 'Tea and Tourism Festival' organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu and Government of India during the months of January to February every year. The festival continues for three days. It gives one the opportunity to explore various varieties and tastes of teas. It gives one the opportunity to enjoy the elegant Nilgiri Kotha Dance and Badaga dance performed by local artists.

Fragrant tea estates of Wayanad

The tea estates of Wayanad are among the best places to stay and explore the region. Wayanad, known as the ‘Land of Paddy fields,’ is situated on the north-eastern end of Kerala. The entire stretch of the Kalpetta range of hills is covered with lush green and fragrant tea estates which revive and rejuvenate the mind. For those who are tired of the maddening city life, a trip to the tea estates in Wayanad is a must. Wayanad is a hill station that has a wildlife sanctuary, Muthanga forest ranges, breathtaking waterfalls, lake, dam, rocks and caves, besides the tea gardens. One must not forget the tasty cuisines from Kerala. Chembra peak, Meenmutty falls are other places to see while Pakshipathalam is full of wildlife. It is particularly known for the richness of birdlife. The nearest airport and railway station to Wayanad are in Kozhikode (Calicut). Tea brings people and communities together. So does tourism. Tea tourism is a wonderful way to explore the country and meet its people. AMIT JETLEY

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K

aliappa does not have to worry about seasonal unemployment anymore. A Local tribal, He enjoys a reputation of being an experienced trekker and has been associated with the Nature resort properties for almost a decade now. “I am a part of this resort since it began, ten years ago, and have been interacting with tourists since then, taking them to nature treks. I do not have to worry about meeting my expenses any more”, says a middle aged Kaliappa with a smile on his face and a spark in his eyes. He is one of the many locals who have immensely benefitted from the responsible and inclusive tourism practiced by this resort. Located in the pristine Nilgiris, it is an ideal tourist destination for those seeking a break from

the monotony of a vacation of monuments and statues. It is one of the many tea plantation circuits in India, which have earned enormous fame with time. Nestled at the head of the Hulikal ravine, Coonoor is dotted with sublime waterfalls, curvaceous ravines and picturesque valley at an imperious altitude of 1800 meters above sea level. It is after all the second most travelled destination in the Nilgiri hills after Ooty (Otacamund), which is located a mere 19 kms. from here. Amidst this splendor lie the twin properties of Nature resort group named Tea Nest and Kurumba Village resort. What makes these properties different is their commitment to the cause of Responsible tourism. The property has taken measures that are worth a mention. Kaliappa is not alone; there are a host of drivers, doctors and local families who have found themselves involved in the resort activities. The tea resort boasts of having 80 percent of their employees from the local communities, thereby engaging and sharing the fruits of benefit by tourism activities. The tea resort building itself is an imperial bungalow of the 1800’s overlooking the vast valley. There are eight beautiful rooms, set amidst the chirping of Great Indian Hornbills, named after various teas such as Basil, Green and Jasmine to name a few. The menu has a stamp of tea all over it. There are six courses and all of them have an element of tea in them. Broken orange pekoe tea smoked paneer soup, tea based Brossatta and grilled fish wrapped in garden fresh tea leaves are a few of many interesting reads on the menu card. The hotel has a policy of acquiring local organic produce and has roped in local village farmers and women for uninterrupted supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. Like the menu, the outdoor activities for the guests too, are equally unique and interesting says Sanjay, owner of


TOURISM CONNECT

Ushering sustainable growth for locals through inclusive tourism

In Coonoor, Nature Resort Group has ushered innovative programmes that involve the local community in creating an unforgettable experience for the visitors

both the properties, “we have a tea tasting session where you get to taste the most expensive tea available – golden tips and silver tips which cost well over Rs. 10,000 a kilo, and get to understand from the local planters how they are grown and brewed.” Similar is the case of Kurumba Village resort, a sister resort of nature resort group. The resort is entirely based on the elements indigenous to the area. The trees are of local species and there are wide varieties of spices grown here too. The local Kurumba people own cows and have been roped in for providing milk to the resort giving them a sustained income from the steady flow of travellers. The rooms are haphazard and there is a noble reason behind this, says Sanjay. “The management decided not to chop a single tree, thus we constructed rooms in the empty spaces available, the property had over 4,000 trees when we inherited it and we have added another 5,000 new ones”, he says. The enthusiastic travellers start thronging the place from March up to late October keeping a substantial number of locals engaged. Augustine, an employee for four years remembers his tough days where he hardly managed to scrape through with seasonal employment. I have been working on tea tasting sessions and have a good life here. My wife works in the resort as well, with the locals being involved on a large scale; we have a sense of belonging and financial security, which we did not before.” The resort hosts a healthy mix of Indian and foreign travellers, mostly Europeans. The resort also organises trips to the Green shop, a small outlet run by the locals which sells organic products like eucalyptus oil, ginger honey, and organic spices. These are unique to the region and immensely help the locals in

the marketing of their products. The resort has a water treatment plant which recycles the resort waste and is used for vegetation. The lights too have been installed in a way that does not disturb the rich and varied nocturnal life of the region. There are cultural shows that are organised in the resort premises, showcasing the rich Kurumba culture. The honest effort that its management has put in to bring inclusion to the place is worthy of appreciation. India has a host of tea producing circuits and consequently a large number of resorts have sprung up too. Because of the innate beauty of these locations, be it Munnar, Darjeeling or Assam, they attract a large number of tourists seeking respite from the blazing summers. But not many resorts take the initiative to involve local communities, women and tribals in their endeavour. These initiatives have a major role in creating sustainable employment opportunities for the local communities who often do not get a share in the pie of the earnings from tourism. This can also contribute immensely in checking migration and long term demographic imbalance, which at times even takes political contours. It not only alienates the local population but also deprives them of the benefits coming from their own land. Such models of tourism are neither sustainable in the long term nor healthy. This is indeed a welcome step, a change which is not only laudable but in true sense sustainable too. SHASHANK SHEKHAR

JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  41


TOURISM CONNECT

Þ

Dr. Raj K Raina gets candid about the intricacies of medical tourism

Apollo Hospitals sets the benchmark to attract patients from overseas

Destination India spoke to Dr. Raj Raina on the group’s strategy to attract more foreign clientele and, the challenges and possibilities that lies ahead of medical tourism sector in India.

A

pollo established in 1983, today with over 10,000 hospital beds and 54 hospitals, is a front runner in catering to medical tourists in India. It is a perfect case study for the other aspirants seeking to attract greater foreign patients’ inflow for medical treatment in India. As Apollo continues to build bridges between nations and keeps India engaged in the quest of a robust medical tourism sector, it faces plenty of challenges ahead. Most important being sustaining growth in attracting patients in this sluggish economy. It also is competing for market share with emerging medical tourism markets like Singapore, South Africa and Turkey. To understand these challenges and possibilities in Indian medical tourism, we met

        42  DESTINATION INDIA JUNE 2014

Dr. Raj Raina, GM, Strategic Marketing and Business of Apollo Hospitals in Delhi. He explains to us why Apollo has been able to attract a large number of foreign patients. He attributes it to affordability and quality which he says is at par with the best in the world. He also credited the numbers to a vast pool of U.S and U.K certified doctors who have a considerable experience in the field, which gives credibility to their brand. He says, “not only are we at affordable and at par with the best, we are also quickly accessible as we can carry out major surgeries and operations in the shortest notice period.” Another reason for Apollo’s success in getting a major chunk of foreign medical tourists is the very high operation suc-


TOURISM CONNECT

cess rates and word of mouth who prepare cuisines preferred “The real challenge for India advertisement. by the patients to keep their When asked how patients visitors from getting homesick. would be to create better hospital find out about the hospital, he Other complimentary faciliinfrastructure, expand its research explained that there were sevties include free airport transeral mechanisms put in place. fer, visa extension if needed, and development base, engage in The hospital has formal tie-ups guest house assistance for exmore aggressive campaigning and with various governments and tended stay and complimentheir ministries of health like tary food for the patients and even work on bilateral relations Tanzania, Iraq and Zambia. their assistants. These facilities to seamlessly create a niche These nations also opt for Inare chargeable for Indian nadia, as they can accommodate tionals because of 15% lower medical destination which has the more patients than elsewhere, fees than foreign nationals. capability of making inroads in because of competitive pricThe challenges are also ing. Apollo also has a strong from other countries like Sinsuch untouched markets” virtual presence and extensivegapore and Thailand in the ly uses website SEO marketing. Asia and South Africa in AfriOnline presence has certainly helped Apollo in getting patients can continent which are world class in its medical facilities and from as far as the African continent. He said, “Our online pres- competitively priced posing a threat to India’s share in medical ence overlapping with physical presence has given us truly travel industry. But Dr. Raina contests that Thailand and Bangglobal footprints. Moreover, we routinely conduct free check up kok’s medical tourism concentrates on wellness, dentistry, sex camps in the source countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and change, plastic surgeries and health, where as India deals with Afghanistan, training local doctors and this knowledge transfer high-end quaternary care which has lesser competition in terms also gives us ample product recall.” of its pricing and high customer satisfaction. A breakdown of the numbers of foreign medical tourist indiYet complacency is an avoidable trait especially when the cates that a large majority of 40 % of them come from adjoining challenges are dynamic, markets uncertain and industry looking SAARC countries. Afghanistan, with long sustaining friendly at expansion in the next decade says Dr. Raina. Indian medical relations, leads the group closely followed by Bangladesh and tourism has always attracted people from Afghanistan and other Pakistan. Meanwhile 30% of the patients come from African Asian countries because of friendly relations and it has been a continent led by Tanzania and Nigeria. Middle East comprises result of aggressive online and other modes of campaigning that of 20% of the total tourists, the rest 10% come from a mix of CIS has turned India into a preferred tourist destination. Still, only less and south East Asian countries like Malaysia and Thailand. Such than 2% of medical travelers from US and Western Europe visit a varied group of tourists seeking medical benefits also throws India. Dr. Raina concludes by saying that, “the real challenge for up a lot of challenges. These are communication and language India would be to create better hospital infrastructure, expand its barriers, cultural differences, issues of food preference, Indian research and development base, engage in more aggressive camweather and even the lack of infrastructure outside the hospital paigning and even work on bilateral relations to seamlessly create premises. But there has been a host of measures that the hospital a niche medical destination which has the capability of making has undertaken to help the patients. The hospital has a number inroads in such untouched markets”. Then only excellence such as of language interpreters to ensure smooth interaction between at Apollo will become a habit to India more than an exception. patient and the team of doctors. It has arranged for trained chefs SHASHANK SHEKHAR JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  43


TOURISM CONNECT

Sardar Patel Statue in Narmada, Gujarat

Bringing history upfront will create new tourism frontiers The unprecedented scale of the project will usher unheard tourism opportunities for the already booming state of Gujarat.

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he recently conceived ‘Statue of Unity’ at Sadhu bet, an island three kilometers from Sardar Sarovar Dam, on the riverbed of Narmada is the tallest ever statue conceived in the human history, at an astounding 182 meters in height. Dedicated to the independent India’s first Home Minister, Iron Man, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the statue measures almost five times to ‘Christ the Redeemer’ at Rio de Jeneiro and almost twice the size of statue of liberty in New York. The state of Gujarat through its brilliantly crafted ‘Khusboo Gujarat ki’ campaign on tourism in the state has been able to achieve what general wisdom would describe as extremely difficult. In the past years, the state’s tourism has been growing at a double digit rate and with the inception of this game changing project; it could reach levels beyond anyone’s wild imagination.

The specifics

The ‘Sardar V. Patel Rastriya Ekta Trust’ or SVPRET, chaired by the Gujarat CM, is leaving no stone unturned to make this project a success. The project is being handled by a power packed consortium of Turner Construction of Burj Khalifa fame, Michael Graves and Associates and one of the largest global engineering consultancies, the Meinhardt Group. The project in its entirety is estimated to cost 2063 crores, and is being built on PPP (Public Private Partnership) Model, whereas the government of Gujarat has spared 100 crores on the project in its 2012-13 Budget. During the first year and three months master plan will be prepared by the consortium and construction will be done in the next forty months. The project will be handed over in the next two months marking an end of a fifty six month long saga. But, it’s not only the scale that is making ripples in the market. The way the project is being marketed is also unique. The iron used in the construction of the statue has been voluntarily collected by farmers from all over the country emphasising the role of Patel in unifying India. This is a unique branding exercise aimed at creating a permanent memory of the project in the psyche of people. The project itself will take four and a half years to complete and was initiated on 31st October last year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.

Main attractions of the project

The statue of unity project is aimed at creating vast employment and tourism related opportunities for an already thriving tourism sector in Gujarat. The access to the statue will be through a boat ride of 3.5 kms. Estimated to cater to 15,000 visitors a day, when completed, there will be plenty of tourist engaging activities. There will be a top notch light and sound exhibition show on the Indian national movement and Sardar’s role in it, a memorial garden, a convention center and a state of the art under water aquarium. There are also plans for a host of hotels and entertainment centers. An amusement park is also slated to open. To ensure smooth access to the observation deck at the top of the statue, the world’s fastest heavy load lift will be installed, allowing the visitors to soar to the structures head and get a breath taking view of Sardar Sarovar Nigam Project and adjoining areas at a height of over 400 feet! The breathtaking panoramic view from the statue of the Satpuda and Vidhyachal mountain range will also overlook the

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JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  45


National monuments the world over create and inspire a spirit of nationalism and pride in our heroes. This is a format for tourism that has never been exploited in India. We need to do more such efforts and build around the life and times of other heroes like Rabindranath Tagore and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose – Editor

“The Statue will stand high, not just in meters and feet, but much more in terms of academic, historical, national and spiritual values. My vision is to develop the place as a source of inspiration for ages to come.” NARENDRA MODI

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TOURISM CONNECT

256 kilometers long Sardar Sarovar reservoir. A research centre is also planned aimed to give impetus to research on issues of relevance in Patel’s public life. These include good governance, agrarian issues and other pressing issues of the day, like water management and tribal development. A huge public plaza is envisaged which will include a number of retail outlets, food joints and gift shops with other public amenities. The project will immensely benefit the tourism corridor from Garudeshwar and Bhadbhut. The Baruch district and adjoining areas are set to receive enormous boom in travel and allied sectors once the project is completed in mid-2018. Gujarat already has a large number of airports, 14 to be exact. Now with this massive investment, one can expect a jump in the numbers in the near future as well. The other sectors which will see growth are hospitality and transportation. Local tribes are also expected to benefit from the upsurge of tourists in the region with local handicrafts and the textile industry as a likely benefactor.

A future worth the wait!

India is poised to be a leader in tourism in Asia with an estimated 8.9 million travelers expected to visit India by 2020. Gujarat’s muscle flexing will surely enhance India’s diverse tourism possibilities on offer. A project of this scale will increase tourist flow multifold not only domestically but also internationally. There are a plethora of tourist destinations that evoke a sense of rich Indian history, but this is unique, as there is an attempt to link the glory of nation’s past to the possibilities of the future. Sure, there are a few environmental concerns which have propped up but one hope that, for the greater good of tourism and immense future prospects, such concerns will be alleviated. Gujarat indeed has shown the way to other states, which often either lack a long term vision about the development of tourism or lack the innate strength to undertake such game-changing projects and are losing out in a race which they were sure to win! Report SHASHANK SHEKHAR How to get there: Airport: Closest airport is at Vadodara. Railway station: Closest Railway station is at Bharuch. By Road: From Ahmedabad: 202 kms. From Bharuch: 97 kms. From Vadodara: 94 kms. It is well connected by a vast network state transport buses as well. Best time to Visit Winters starting from November to late February are the best months to visit Gujarat. JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  47


TOURISM CONNECT

Connecting the Indian rivers will unleash a new energy The grand idea of linking water surplus Himalayan rivers with water scarce parts of western and peninsular India has been around for many years The National River Linking Project is likely to get a fresh impetus under the new NDA government but it faces serious opposition from environmental groups and others who question large dams and canal infrastructure.

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evival of the river-linking project?

The new prime minister, Narendra Modi, in his election speeches, had talked about river revival, focusing on the river Ganga, discussing his plans for a national project for the river. Modi has, in various forums, also underlined the importance in development of river-interlinking as part of his economic vision. This renewed emphasis on rivers gives rise to the possibility of the revival of the National River Linking Project, which aims to transfer water from the surplus river basins to ease the water shortages in western and southern India while mitigating the impacts of recurrent floods in the Eastern India. Both UPA I and UPA II, while not formally abandoning the project, let it languish. River interlinking had been taken up by the previous NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee which had set up a task force for the inter linking of rivers in 2002 with Suresh Prabhu as its Chairman. With the NDA having lost the elections in 2004, the UPA put it on the backburner.

The scope of the project

The Project may well be the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the world. It will build at least 30 links and some 3000 storages to connect 37 Himalayan and Peninsular rivers to form a gigantic South Asian water grid. The canals, planned to be 50 to 100 meters wide and more than six meters deep, will facilitate navigation. The project will cost thousands of crores of rupees. It will generate hydropower, add to India’s irrigated areas and allow for navigation. Not surprisingly, the project will take years and may not be fully complete even by 2050.

The history of the idea of river-linking

The idea of rive interlinking to solve the problem of the cycle of droughts and floods and to provide both water and power security is not new. Sir Arthur Cotton, an engineer who restored

        48  DESTINATION INDIA JUNE 2014

the Grand Anicut on the Cauvery in the early decades of the 19th century, had thought of a plan to link rivers in southern India for inland navigation. More recently, during the mid-1960’s, Dr KL Rao, when minister for Irrigation, presented a proposal for a Ganga-Cauvery Link from a point below Patna. A few years later, Captain Dastur, an engineer, speculated about a lateral Himalayan canal from the Ravi to the Brahmaputra along a constant 400-metre contour interconnected with a Garland Canal girdling peninsular India. But such ideas were routinely dismissed at that time as being too grandiose for a resource-strapped nation. However, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took up the idea and constituted the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) in 1982 as an autonomous body entrusted with the task of carrying out the water balance and feasibility studies of the river linking program and for the detailed planning of the mega-project. Unfortunately, this project never took off seriously until Prime Minister Vajpayee but thereafter has been enmeshed in politics.

The Supreme Court and river-linking

In 2002, a public interest petition was filed in the Supreme Court of India asking for directions for the implementation of the project. The court then ordered the national government to form a task force that would assess the 16 “links” in the northern, or


TOURISM CONNECT Himalayan, section and the 14 links in the southern, or peninsu- done to the ecosystem, depending on the service provided by lar, section. As part of this direction, the court ordered the full that amount of water. In this view, the water flowing into the sea completion of the project by 2016, a timetable that is impossible is not waste but is a crucial link in the water cycle. With the link to meet. In February 2012, the Supreme Court once again took up broken, the ecological balance of land and oceans, fresh water the matter and directed the Centre to implement the interlinking and sea water, also gets disrupted. River interlinking has also of rivers project in a time-bound manner and has appointed a seen as violence to nature. high-powered committee for its planning and implementation. River-linking has been criticised as likely to cause displaceObserving that the project had already been delayed resulting ment of tribals and poor people on a massive scale with fair and in an increase in its cost, the three-judge bench headed by Chief just rehabilitation not likely to happen. There is also scepticism Justice SH Kapadia said the Centre and the about the government’s capacity to mobilise concerned state governments should particithe kind of funds that river linking demands. By 2050, the pate to ensure its "effective" implementation "in Besides, politics may also act as a barrier a time bound manner". as creating a political consensus about the per capita water project is not easy. For example Bihar earlier availability The reasons for the project refused to let Ganga waters be transferred arThe reason for the project is the accentuating guing that its farmers, though unable to use its in India is water scarcity in western and peninsular India water today, may need it in the future. expected to fall besides the low per capita availability of utilisPolitical issues that involve Nepal, Banglaable water in India and the high variability of desh and Bhutan will arise. The agreement of far below the rainfall that causes drought and floods. By Nepal and Bhutan is necessary, especially with water scarcity 2050, the per capita water availability in India respect to constructions – such as dams – in is expected to fall far below the water scarcity their territories. Bangladesh will be an affected thresholds thresholds thought of as necessary for civilised and will need to be taken into confidence. thought of as living unless steps are taken. Taking away some necessary for surplus flood waters from Himalayan rivers Other water solutions and dispatching them to drought-prone areas Critics argue that there are other solutions civilised living has been argued to be an effective situation. besides river interlinking which have not been unless steps are Annual floods affect millions in the country, properly considered. It is argued that if premostly in the eastern parts, inflicting annual cipitation within the watersheds or sub-basins taken. damage of thousands of crores. Similarly, reis harvested and conserved properly, the satcurrent droughts affect large populations and isfaction of domestic water needs will not be areas. The reservoir storages and the canal diversions created a problem in most parts of the country. Some critics point to because of the project are expected to reduce flood damage and desalination as a viable alternative, especially as it no longer ease drought-proneness in semi-arid and arid parts of the coun- considered prohibitively expensive. try besides making water available for domestic and industrial water supplies in these drought prone districts. River-linking in other parts of the world The 2006 report of The National Commission on Integrated China has linked the Yangtze to the Yellow to improve water Water Resources Development emphasises self-sufficiency in availability in the dry plains of North China. The fifty year old food production and improved rural livelihoods as among the Colorado Big Thomson, US, diverts water from the upper reaches justifications for the project. It states. “…one of the most effec- of the western flowing Colorado river eastward into the South tive ways to increase the irrigation potential for increasing the Platte River Basin, which is part of the Mississippi-Missouri basin. food grain production, mitigate floods and droughts and reduce Another project is the Lesotho Highlands Water Project regional imbalances in the availability of water is the interlinking (LHWP), built and managed by Lesotho and South Africa. It was of rivers to transfer water from the surplus rivers to deficit areas...” developed to divert water from the water rich country of Lesotho to water short South Africa. It transfers water from the Orange/ Criticism of the project Senqu rivers and diverts it into the Vaal River. However, opposition has come from environmental groups and civil society organisations that have questioned the basic model Solutions to India’s water woes of water resources planning and management based on large- There seems no avoiding massive water infrastructure investscale dams and canal networks. ments to meet India’s water woes whether they are river- linking Environmentalists are worried about the ecological impacts or other projects. As yet it is not clear whether the entire riverof the project of such a massive scale. There are the dangers linking project may ever be constructed but some diversions of of seismic hazards, especially in the Himalayas. There is the river water may be considered independent projects and could possibility of the transfer of river pollution that will accompany be implemented separately. Two years ago, there was an agreeinter-basin water transfers. There are concerns about the loss ment on one of the proposed river linkages. This first project will of forests and biodiversity Even the concept of the availability divert water from the Ken River, a Ganges tributary, to the Betwa of ‘surplus’ flows has been questioned as being a subjective basin and includes a dam and a 230-kilometre canal. With the concept. A view is that there is no ‘surplus water’ because every change in government, we may see many more such projects drop performs some ecological service all the time. Ecosystems that may incrementally and over time lead to the completion of evolve by making optimal use of all the water available. If some this project. water is moved away from a basin, proportional damage will be Report AMIT JETLEY JUNE 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  49


DESTINATION MARKETING

MOHIT GUPTA

Chief Business Officer-Holidays, MakeMyTrip

Selling India online critical for augmenting foreign arrivals

“I

ndia is a melting pot of diverse cultural and historical influences and offers a wide variety of natural and geographical experiences, making it one of the most sought-after travel destinations for global travellers. From table-top plateaus on the roof of the world, to lush Western Ghats, some of the region’s best beaches and forts and palaces galore, it is virtually impossible to capture the essence of India in one visit. The country offers experiences for every kind of traveller – from back-packer to the connoisseur of luxury. While World Travel and Tourism Council forecast that India is a tourism hotspot with the highest 10-year growth potential, the number of foreign tourists coming to India grew four per cent between January and December 2013. Growth in 2012 was 5% and 13% in 2011. Our total foreign tourist arrivals in 2013 stood at 6.84 million (compare with 132 million visitors in China and 14 million in Singapore (2012 figures). Some of this is no doubt due to our reputation taking a beating on the global stage as a country not particularly safe for women travellers. But there are other destinations facing similar perception-issues and yet they continue to attract travellers. This can be resolved with effective marketing and communication that is designed to identify and allay key traveller concerns. At present our efforts focus too much on destination-marketing and not enough on targeting the traveller on a medium of his choice. In order to broaden our appeal to international travellers, we should work with International OTAs and Travel Agencies to provide inbound travellers unmatched advantage and exclusive offers. The promotions can range from exciting Face-

        50  DESTINATION INDIA MAY 2014

book photo-based contests, to flexible and exclusive itineraries for India destinations. The Tourism Ministry needs to expand its media mix and be present across touch points that the audience consumes. With people consuming more and more digital content on a daily basis – on mobile phones, laptops, and social media – there are many exciting avenues to build effective platforms to connect and engage with the target audience. It is important for us to monitor and participate in consumer conversations on social networking. At MakeMyTrip for example we promoted Tuscany, New Zealand and Singapore in association with respective tourism boards with great success. The promotions ranged from an exciting Facebook photo-based contest (offering a Trip to Tuscany), to flexible and exclusive itineraries for North & South Islands in New Zealand and main-steam media advertisements highlighting the familyfriendliness of Singapore. Within India, we need to focus on selling the ‘India experience’ beyond just the Golden Triangle. Travellers across the world are now more evolved and experimental and looking for talk-value holidays. The North-East, Ladakh, Orissa and Karnataka are destinations that can be developed and marketed better to catch the attention of inbound tourists. There is tremendous interest and potential in India as a global tourist hotspot – we only need to identify the right triggers and invest in the correct marketing mix to harness this opportunity.


Time now to look ahead to the 8th Edition Cinema Tourism sets new sights as we position with the prestigious Mumbai Film Festival Contact us for participation options ranging from exhibiting to diverse partnership opportunities. Contact: Saurabh on 09210799523 Email: cinemascapes@crosssectionmedia.com   Website: www.cinemascapes.co.in

ORGANISERS


RNI No. 28908/1976 Posting Dt. 25-30/05/2014 Reg No. DL(C)-01/1365/2013-2015

Date of Publication: 29/05/2014

We invite proposals for Partnership Opportunities at 16th Mumbai Film Festival

 Invest in India’s leading International film festival  Support and nurture art in cinema, network with some of the finest minds in India’s and International film industry  Promote your exclusive products in the midst of glamour and stars!  This is a film event with a difference Spread over more than a week

 With glittering side bar events including glittering opening and closing nights  Red carpet walks

 Discussion groups on art, craft, creativity and excellence  Our awards, chosen by an acclaimed international jury, ensuring that only the best wins. carry the highest prize money and generate interest from across the globe  Press meets

 Screening of over 200 of the best film films from across the world, all of them Indian Premieres and some of them Asian Premieres!

Mumbai Film Festival is organized by MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image), which over its 15 years has drawn inspiration from its trustees that have included Late Shri Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Late Shri Yash Chopra, Late Shri Basu Bhattacharya, Late Shri G.P. Sippy, Yash Johar, Gulzar, Manmohan Shetty, Kiran Shantaram, Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachchan,  Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap and Ashutosh Gowarikar. MAMI is run by a Board of Trustees that has the following members: Shyam Benegal (Chairman since 1998) Ramesh Sippy Amit Khanna Kiran Rao Farhan Akhtar Sudhir Mishra Umesh Kulkarni Vikramaditya Motwane Rakesh Omprakash Mehra Navin Berry To know more about us, we request you to log on to: www.mumbaifilmfest.com  www.facebook.com/mumbaifilmfest Contact Saurabh on 09210799523. Email: saurabh@crosssectionmedia.com


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