Defaming India

Tourism industry is a good foreign exchange earner for India. The Centre is trying to promote tourism and make tourist places more attractive and staying facilities at tourist spots more comfortable. What discourages foreign tourists from visiting India is the incidents of violence committed on them – from defrauding to harassing to rape and even murder.  Last Sunday’s incident at Agra where a Swiss couple was badly beaten up and one suffered a fracture in the skull stands in a different category. Some locals, it is said, insisted on taking selfies with them against their wish. Resistance on their part led to thrashing and inflicting grievous injuries on them.
The culprits had no business to try to force the tourists to allow them to do something that they did not want. What followed was not only a crime but an act that blackened the image of India abroad and defamed India. The External Affairs Minister and the UP Chief Minister have taken the incident seriously and some suspects have been arrested. But the damage to India’s reputation has been done. The Taj Mahal happens to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It draws tourists from all over the globe. It is a ‘must-see’ for all foreign visitors – from heads of States to the commoner. Of late, the Taj Mahal has been the target of vicious attacks by the champions of Hindutva. It has been claimed, without any evidence, historical or circumstantial, that it was originally a Shiva temple named Tejo Mahal which was destroyed during the Mughal rule and turned into a mausoleum.  Such intolerant and inspired propaganda, reeking of communalism, does not redound to the credit of India which is known to the world as a country which embraces the people of the whole world as its own – vasudaiva kutumbakam.
The image of India which is being projected now militates against the traditional idea and image of India. The forces which are dominant now and are actively trying to foster this negative image of India abroad will not be dominant for all time to come but the damage they are doing now to India’s fair name will take a long time to repair. If Taj Mahal is being denigrated today, tomorrow it may be the turn of Lal Qilla or Kutb Minar or Humayun’s Tomb – in fact any architectural monument associated with the Muslim rule in India. Civil society will have to resist and thwart such attempts to rewrite history or to put the clock of history back.

Saturday, 28 October, 2017