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India Is Not As Bad As One May Think

                                  G C VERMA
                        Editor,Tourism & Wildlife, New Delhi

India is not getting sufficient number of tourists keeping in view the large number of tourist products.  We have some excellent tourist products viz  mountains, snow, beaches, lakes, architecture,history, world heritage sites , wildlife, colourful fairs and festivals to attract people. 
    However,many journalists and tour operators are of the opinion that  the reason for lack of travellers visiting India is  that the country is not clean, many places are dirty and at some places baggers are seen.  There is no doubt that India is a  large country of over one billion people and  some places are not as clean as in Europe or other  countries.
 I have travelled most of the South East Asian countries and have visited tourist places. The countries in the region are small, the population is less, yet I have seen very poor people begging and many places are quite dirty.  My  memory goes back to 1975 when I first visited Kathmandu.  The city was over flowing with young boys and girls from Europe and other western countries. Kathmandu looked inhabited by more white young generation than the local people.  Even now many places are dirty and the lanes are narrow and congested.   Still there was no dearth of  travellers.  The plus point was, Nepalese were honest, helpful and very friendly. It was amazing to see travellers were interacting with locals teaching  men and women how to keep their hotels and restaurants clean and how to make continental dishes.  Foreigners and Nepalese worked like brothers  in spite of language barrier. Tourism was growing.
Coming back to India, we do have some  dirty places and beggary or poverty exists.  But the whole India is not a panorama of dirt, beggary or poverty.  If you visit Kerala, Odisha, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh,  Punjab, Gujarat, MP and some other states you will  find beautiful and clean tourist places with excellent infrastructure. 
 A tourist can find affordable accommodation with  very friendly  people.  Destinations are safe.  It is advisable that a traveller should not get blown away by some negative publicity in some media. By and large Indians are friendly, hospitable and helpful.  More you talk to Indians,  more you get friendlier and more you find genuine Indians.
  Except Delhi and  some places in North India where you meet over charging  taxi drivers, shopkeepers or touts. The whole country is not bad.  It is better for a traveller who visits India  first time, he should meet some educated and well to do Indians to know more about the places, its people and their habits.
  I have met many young travellers from other countries  who have been to India a few dozen times, they were more knowledgeable about my country than this correspondent. These travellers visit India repeatedly, do lot of shopping, carry back pleasant memories and offer lavish praise  for my country. 
 Travellers who visit India, stay in five star hotels and do not mix up with the local people, they get a wrong impression about our people and the country. More you visit, more you meet Indians, more discussions you have that will change your  perception about India.  This correspondent will be too happy to  clarify any misgiving or interact with any traveller by mail. Contact: tourismandwildlife@gmail.com

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