Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

Friday, April 4, 2014

India's Forex Reserves Cross $300 Billion Mark

It is a good news that India's foreign exchange reserves have witnessed a jump of a staggering $5 billion, with the total reserves now crossing $300 billion. 

It may be noted that it is after 2 years that India's forex (foreign exchange) reserves have reached this level. Last time they touched this $300 billion plus mark was way back in December 2011. 

Two main factors to which this achievement has been attributed are - a.) selling og the Indian govt's 9 per cent stake in Axis Bank, and b.) buyback of forex that were given to oil companies in 2012. 

Now let's hope that we are able to make an effective use of this kitty.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

WHO Declares India To Be Polio Free

It is really so heartening that World Health Organization (WHO) has declared India and 10 other Asian countries to be Polio free. This recognition comes after a long phase of hard work, with the countries concerned deserving a huge applause.

The other Asian countries that received this long cherished recognition include Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

It may be noted that now virtually all the countries from the Indian Sub Continent have officially become polio free, with only two countries from that region that still await that achievement are Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

India Decides To Support UNSC’s Syria Resolution

India has finally decided to support United Nation Security Council’s resolution on Syria, after dillydallying over the issue for quite some time.

I personally feel it is a wise decision, in terms of diplomatic strategy as well as humanity. First, it is important for India to get its voice heard in an international issue, as it will help it further strengthen its status as a power to reckon with. Secondly, there is the question of humanity and ethical responsibility, which compels India to do something to address the Syrian bloodshed that is continuing without any sign of end.

It is not that through this act India will become a party to an act of any forced regime change. Nothing in the language of the resolution talks about any endorsement of regime change. It is only focused, at least apparently, on restraining the ongoing violence and facilitation of a negotiated settlement.

India has deep respect and appreciation for the sovereignty of every nation of this world, and no force can force our country to deviate from that principle. However, we cannot afford to overlook the government sponsored massacre of innocents in Syria in the name of crushing rebellion. The Bashar al-Assad government has every right to be strict with any form of mobocracy that is destabilizing that country. However, the world has the right to intervene if it finds the situation is getting increasingly scary with every passing day. In fact, it might even turn into a favourable development for Assad, by ushering in peace and stability that will enable him to focus on the development of his country.

Let’s hope that our Syrian friends soon find themselves in a peaceful Syria, and then work together to make their motherland as glorious as Mount Hermon.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Indian Govt. Mulling Institutionalization Of Community Policing

It was heartening to know that the Indian government is planning to institutionalize community policing, by setting up an exclusive wing for the same. The said wing, to be named 'Community Policing' or CoP, will be a part of the existing police department itself.

It is undoubtedly a very significant development. It is now an established fact that appropriate involvement of community always enhances the quality of the governance. This explains why it has now become such a popular practice for governments across the world to partner with local community members for carrying out various tasks and activities (one notable example is that of “Community Forestry”).

And moreover, community policing has been proved to be a very fruitful tool for curbing crime, with the practice being followed in a number of developed countries for quite some time. No matter how much strong network of informers a police force has, there is no parallel for a system where the common, grass roots level citizens act as the “eyes” and “ears” of the force. All of us are aware of at least a couple of incidents where the alertness of a common citizen has helped the police to smell a crime that is about to take place, and prevent it by taking necessary steps at the right time.

I was also happy to know that new courses and programmes were being developed for being taught in police academy, which aim at sensitizing police personnel on the role they have to play in community policing.

Let’s wish the government all the best for this smart move.

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Indian Government Extends Visa-On-Arrival Facility – A Step Likely to Boost Tourism

The Indian government has extended its Visa-On-Arrival (VOA) facility to four more countries, viz. The Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (all ASEAN countries).

Before this the government offered this facility in January 2010 to five other countries, viz. Singapore, Japan, Luxembourg, Finland and New Zealand.

Some key features of the said facility –

It will initially be available at the airports of New Delhi, Calcutta or Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.

It will allow a traveler a single entry facility with a validity of 30 days.

A passenger will have to pay a fee of $60 for availing the facility.

One passenger will be allowed to avail the facility for not more than 2 times in a calendar year. And there must be a minimum gap of 2 months between the two occasions when he will avail the facility.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

India’s Parsi Community Is Facing Extinction, Thanks To Their Own Fault

India’s respectable Parsi community – a community to which our country owes so many stalwarts from so many fields – is on the verge of extinction.

So why is the community on verge of extinction? Well, I suppose we all know the reason. The reason is an alarmingly low fertility rate that has been plaguing the community for quite some time now.

But why does the community suffer from such a disturbing fertility rate? I suppose that is also known to more-or-less all of us.

There are mainly two reasons.

The first reason is a general trend of late marriage in the Parsi community. This practice of late marriage naturally impacts the fertility potential of Parsi women, eventually resulting in a steady decline in the Parsi population.

However, the second factor that has contributed to the current status of Parsi population is more significant. It is actually an archaic practice that is, in a blunt language, very unhealthy. It is a practice of strictly precluding a Parsi man or women from marrying outside his or her community. And what will happen if a Parsi person marries somebody from outside his/her community? Well, in that case he/she will face Excommunication. In plain speak, he/she will be banished from the Parsi community.

For several generations the Parsi community has been following this practice of intra-community marriage, and today probably every Parsi man has some sort of blood relation with every Parsi woman. And so the marriage between them will obviously bear the risk of adversely affecting the health of their child.

It is high time that our Parsi friends shed off their flawed idea of ethnic purity, and look beyond their own community for matrimonial relationships. They must remember that no matter how old a custom or practice is, it cannot be more important than the survival of their community. After all, what is the meaning of adhering to a custom when it poses a threat of extinction to the very community that is practicing it?

I earnestly appeal to the elders of the Parsi community to “banish” this archaic custom of excommunicating Parsis who marry people from outside their own community.

The Parsi community has been a very resourceful community for India, and our motherland cannot afford to lose it.

(Note: I sincerely apologise in advance if anything in this write up hurts the religious or ethnic sentiment/emotion of any Parsi friend).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Congrats To India For Showing The Guts To Attend Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony

It is really heartening to know that my beloved motherland India is going to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony In Oslo (Norway), where the imprisoned Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo will be bestowed with the award in absentia.

The shameless Chinese government had started arm-twisting the various governments of the world, ultimately forcing many of them to decide to give the ceremony a miss.

However, the government of India has remained committed to the age old ethics and values that India stands for, and has decided to attend the award ceremony in full defiance of China’s veiled threats.

I wholeheartedly congratulate our government for this bold step.

Monday, November 1, 2010

India Should Take Up “Roots Tourism” Seriously

With a huge Indian Diaspora across a number of countries in the world, India has a golden opportunity to reap rich harvest from “Roots Tourism”.

As everybody knows, there is hardly any country without at least a moderate population of PIOs (People of Indian Origin). They are present in the USA, Canada, Europe, Caribbean Island countries (notably Trinidad &Tobago and Guyana), South East Asia (such as Singapore and Malaysia), African nations (like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, etc), Mauritius in the Indian Ocean region, Fiji in the South West Pacific region, and so on. And many of them have been staying there for various generations. This wide-spanning Diaspora provides India with a strong potential tourism market, and the Union Tourism Ministry may chalk out a specialized campaign to tap the same.

Personally I feel that the emphasis should be given on targeting the Indian origins in Mauritius, Fiji, Caribbean Island countries, African countries and South East Asia, with the PIOs in Europe, the USA and Canada being given somewhat less priority. Why?

Actually, the PIOs in the USA, Canada and Europe are usually the ones who have been there for at most two or three generations. They still have contacts with their relatives back in India, and occasionally visit their homeland. The concept of Roots Tourism will not be fascinating to them, as they do not feel themselves to be detouched from their ancestral roots in that sense.

But the PIOs of countries like Mauritius, Fiji, Caribbean Island countries, African countries and South East Asia are usually the ones who have been staying their for several generations, and have completely lost touch with their relatives back home. So they do not have any family ties that can encourage them to visit their original homeland. And the only way to enthuse them to visit India is to generate in them an emotional urge to visit their ancestral roots, something that the Roots Tourism concept is precisely aimed at.

I understand that the Bihar government has already launched a Roots Tourism campaign in countries like Mauritius and Fiji, where the PIOs mostly comprise Bihari origins. I do not know whether any other state government has launched any such initiative. Nor I am aware whether the Indian government has any such plan. If it does not, then I feel it will not be a bad idea to go for such a plan at the earliest.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

China’s Emergence As The World’s Top Aid Donor – Warning Bell For India?

A significant international development, at least for India, is the steady rise of China as the world’s top aid donor.

On one hand the USA – a prominent source of international aid – is suffering from a weakening economy. On the other hand another key international aid donor Japan has decided to restraint its supply of aids to the developing world. This combined development has resulted in an ample room for China to establish itself as a top international aid donor, with the Asian and the African regions in its focus area. In fact, it has already become a key aid donor to the developing nations of the African continent.

While it is otherwise a great news to find the emergence of yet another country as a prominent international aid donor, it is probably not a pleasant development for India given the fact that the country in question is China. And the reason is very simple. Its newly achieved status as a key aid donor will enhance China’s political status as well, and it is taken for granted that it will use its enhanced political status and weight to serve its political objectives. This will in fact be quite an easy game for China, with the countries dependent on Chinese aids having a moral and/or obligatory compulsion to toe China’s political stands on international issues.

And this is likely to be a matter of concern for India, as China’s political objectives are not always at par with India’s interests. On the occasion of an Indo-China face-off, China may try to gather the support of those countries dependent on its aid, thereby exerting a strong international pressure on India. And the heat sometimes may be too much for India.

So what can be done? Well, there seems to be only one way out. India should try to convince the USA that a significant expansion in China’s sphere of international influence is not likely to be a very healthy development for “Uncle Sam”, as well. And therefore the USA must try to ensure that China does not manage to achieve the status of a top international aid donor, a status that the Chinese government is trying to achieve very hard.

But how will the USA do it? Well, let’s leave it to the US government itself. The US government is well known for handling such developments in the past, and is very much likely to chalk out a suitable plan to address this issue.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sports Tourism In India – A Seemingly Undertapped Potential

The Indian government has seemingly not made full utilization of the rich Sports Tourism potential that this country is fortunate to enjoy. Given the fact that India enjoys a highly rich geographical diversity, there is little wonder that we witness the practice of such a vast range of sports on our soil – ranging from skiing in the snow covered Himalayan regions to water sports like scuba diving and snorkeling in the coastal regions.

And this vast range of sports opportunities offers a great destination marketing proposition to the “Incredible India” campaigners, i.e. the mandarins of the Indian Tourism Ministry.

The Indian Tourism Ministry can use these sports facilities to lure a huge number of potential foreign tourists who are sports freak, and will love to practice their favourite games in an ideal locale. So the question is, does the Tourism Ministry promote and market these sports facilities properly among the potential target audience?

One can argue that these sports facilities are already well known among foreign tourists. After all, it is a common experience to find foreign tourists participating in skiing and trekking in Himachal Pradesh, scuba diving and snorkeling in Goa or Lakshwadeep, etc. Yes, it is true. But we must remember that most of these tourists come to India primarily for traveling, and avail these sports facilities on the sidelines of their travel (or as part of their travel). It is not that common to come across foreigners who have come down precisely to play these sports (though sometimes we ofcourse find foreigners to have come down for trekking, mountaineering, etc.).

Personally I feel that the Tourism Ministry should market these sports facilities very aggressively, with a special team having exclusive focus on this area. The Ministry should try to ensure that almost all foreign enthusiasts of relevant sports (skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, etc.) not only come to know about these sports facilities, but also get enthused to come down to India simply to experience them.

For that the Ministry has to carefully craft very captivating marketing campaigns, which will unfailingly catch the fascination of the target audience. The Ministry should also be careful about marketing the right “product” to the right “potential customer”. For example, while marketing the skiing facilities in Himachal Pradesh, the Ministry can target the USA and the European countries, where people are known for their love for skiing. And while marketing water sports facilities like scuba diving and snorkeling, primary focus may be given on countries like Australia and New Zealand, where people are known to be passionate about water sports. It may be true that while marketing a geographical feature (such as mountains), our main focus should be on countries where people are not familiar with it (for example Singapore), and will therefore be thrilled to come to India to see the feature themselves. However, while marketing a sports facility we must focus mainly on the country where people are familiar with the sports, and can identify themselves with the same. In case they are not interested in the sports, they will not get enthused. (Just imagine marketing a gala Cricket Event in the USA).

Since Sports Tourism caters to a niche market, it is comparatively easier to formulate “cumulative” marketing and promotional campaigns covering a huge chunk of appropriate target audience at one go. For example, while marketing Goa-based scuba diving facilities in Australia, the Ministry can make a direct campaign at the scuba diving associations and organizations of Australia.

I suppose the Tourism Ministry should immediately form a special team exclusively focused on promoting and branding India as an ideal “Sports Destination”. And it should come up with various customized punch lines depending on the target audiences, such as “Himachal Pradesh – Your Ideal Skiing Destination” or “Goa – The Heaven of Scuba Diving”.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

India’s “Palace On Wheels” Declared To Be The World’s 4th Best Luxury Train

It was a moment of extreme pride, glory and honour for India’s rich hospitality legacy, when the country’s mind-blowing luxury train “Palace On Wheels” was declared to be the world’s 4th best luxury train by “Conde Nast”, the prominent global travel magazine.

Notably, the ranking was made not by a group of domain experts comprising only a handful of people. Rather, it was based on a voting made by the readers of the magazine. The magazine asked its readers to rank each of their favourite trains out of 100 points, and our beloved “Palace On Wheels” grabbed the prestigious 4th position by attaining 83.94 points.

And which were the first three? Well, they were the Venice Simplon-Orient Express (89.92 points), Eurostar (86.92 points) and Pride of Africa, Rovos Rail (84.25 points).

I hope everybody will agree that this Indian jewel in the casket of global luxury trains has been awarded an honour that it truly deserved.

We are really proud of you, “Palace On Wheels”. Congrats!

And a bagful of congrats to the first three rankers, as well.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Global Survey Exposes India’s Pathetic Broadband Speed

Well, this is really a very embarrassing news, especially for a country which takes huge pride in its excellence in the field of Information Technology (IT).

A global survey conducted by broadband statistics company Ookla has found that India is in the 133rd position in terms of download speed, thus being in the same league with highly backward countries (including countries of sub-Saharan Africa).

So what is the average download speed in India? Well, it is just 1.32mbps. Even Pakistan is in a better condition that ours, holding the 122nd position.

However, there is one consolation. Our other neighbours, like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh are behind us. What a relief, right?

By the way, the top position has been grabbed by South Korea. And the average download speed in that country? It is 32mbps.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Britain Declines To Return Artifacts That It “Stole” From India

Britain has rejected India’s appeal to return various invaluable artifacts (including the famous diamond Koh-i-Noor) that were carted away from the Indian soil during Britain’s colonial rule in this country. Notably, most of these artifacts were carted away illegally.

One of those artifacts that India was unfortunate to lose was the world famous “Koh-i-Noor” diamond, which today embellishes the crown of the British monarch.

Britain has said that the British Museum Act of 1963 prevents the national museums of that country from removing items from their collections, though there are exceptions for human remains and objects lost during the Nazi era.

OK, we respect the law of their land. But I have just a humble question for the cultured and erudite Britishers - Are they doing any justice to their national prestige and image by holding back the objects that their forefathers stole from India?

I leave it to the conscience of our British friends.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mehmood Qureshi – The Cheap Gallery Player

I always knew that Mehmood Qureshi is an over-smart, over-talkative foreign minister who is more interested in destructive diplomacy rather than constructive one (at least while handling issues related to Indo-Pakistan relationship).

But I never knew that he was so good at cheap gallery playing, a quality that he exhibited other day while addressing a mass gathering in Multan in the Punjab province of Pakistan.

Displaying a theatrical histrionics, that completely belied his so-called elite background, Qureshi kept briefing the innocent people about how the Pakistan government scored a diplomatic victory over India by forcing the latter to hold a dialogue with Pakistan despite strong initial reluctance for the same. In a nutshell, what Qureshi meant was that India’s acceptance for a dialogue process was not out of any constructive mindset, but simply out of diplomatic pressure that Pakistan had so successfully exerted on the Indian government.

Qureshi also “highlighted” how India tried to get Pakistan diplomatically isolated from the world, and how his country countered that attempt so effectively.

I do not wish to discuss much about Qureshi’s childish behaviour on that day. Rather, I have a humble suggestion for the Pakistan government. And the suggestion is, if it is serious about having a meaningful dialogue with India, then it must replace its foreign minister at the earliest. With such a blatantly irresponsible foreign minister in place, there is little chance that Pakistan’s scheduled dialogue with India will make any headway.

A couple of years back Pakistan had another such irresponsible foreign minister in Gohar Ayub Khan, a shockingly tactless person who carried his anti-India feelings on his sleeve. Instead of trying to normalize his country’s relationship with India, he kept making provocative remarks. And those remarks not only threatened to further worsen the Indo-Pakistan relationship, but also left Gohar’s own government completely red-faced. And ultimately the then Nawaz Sharif government of Pakistan was forced to replace (read sack) Gohar, when it was convinced that the former army officer had no wish to deviate from making cheap anti-India rhetoric.

Will the Pakistan government act now, or will it like to wait till Qureshi ends up causing a serious damage as far as Indo-Pakistan relationship is concerned?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Five Indian Villages Where Sanskrit Is The Everyday Language

I have come to know, from a couple of online and printed sources, about 5 Indian villages where Sanskrit is spoken as the everyday language. Residents of these villages reportedly speak the language during every kind of communication, ranging from holding serious discussions to buying goods from grocery stores to having casual chats with friends.

These 5 villages are –

a.) Mattur or Muttoor (Karnataka).

b.) Hosahalli (Karnataka).

c.) Jhiri (Madhaya Pradesh)

d.) Mohad (Madhaya Pradesh)

e.) Baghuwar (Madhaya Pradesh)

I certainly do not know how far these claims are true. Anyways, I still decided to spread this information through Social Media. This is because I felt that the information might be of use to a scholar (from India or abroad) who is doing some research on a relevant area (such as Sanskrit language, Indian history, etc.)

Besides, I also felt that my fellow Indians who are unaware of these villages might be thrilled to know that such villages still exist in India.

But, I repeat, I am simply forwarding an information that I have found elsewhere, without having any personal idea about its veracity.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A More Effective Handling Of Post-Disaster Scenario

I was just watching these pictures in the newspaper, that how the hungry people in earthquake-devastated Haiti are fighting with one another for the food items being taken there as part of relief packages. They are also trying to snatch money and other valuables from one another, not always out of criminal psyche or greed, but to overcome the ruinous loss (of money, home, etc.) that they have suffered.

Actually such things happen in every place after it gets affected by a devastating calamity – flood, earthquake, tsunami, etc. I can still remember that few years back there was flood somewhere in India, and I was watching a TV news clipping that Indian Air Force planes were air-dropping food baskets there. I still remember that I was both shocked and moved by the scene of how people were fighting with each other for those food packets, despite the fact that all of them were seemingly from good families.

A thought has been there in my mind for quite some time, and I will love to share it today.

Why do we keep the victims of a calamity in the affected region itself, without evacuating them from the same? (I have noticed that the evacuation usually takes place only if there is any threat of further calamity). Isn’t it better to take them away to a place where they can have a more-or-less normal life, only to bring them back when the restoration process has brought back the affected region into normal condition?

It must be remembered that the survivors of a calamity experience a horrific time in the affected place, surrounded by a mount of dead bodies (and the foul smell emitted by them), shattered houses and buildings (such as in the case of an earthquake), acute lawlessness in the absence of police and other law enforcement agencies, etc. Restoration of normalcy takes time. And till then these survivors go through an ultra-harrowing time, sometimes even falling to death due to factors like hunger, thirst, contagious disease, brawl over relief, etc. And when somebody dies of such factors, it actually adds to the toll caused by the actual devastation.

So I have a humble suggestion for the Government of India. I feel it should identify 3 to 4 spots in India, scattered over various parts of the country and are uninhabited or sparsely inhabited. Now the government should develop those spots into temporary shelters for the survivors of calamities like flood, earthquake etc., the survivors whose city or village has been devastated by the calamity. The government can set up small houses or tents with all the basic arrangements that we need for our daily life, medical centers with doctors and nurses, a community kitchen with cooks, an adequate stock of food grains, etc.

Now, the moment a place in India gets devastated by a calamity, the government should evacuate the survivors from that place, and take them by air (or whatever) to any such “shelter spot” which is nearer to that calamity-affected region. The survivors will have a ready and easy access to a normal life, with food, a roof over head, medical infrastructure, etc. On one hand the government work on restoring normal condition in the affected region. And till that happens, the survivors will enjoy a normal life elsewhere, without suffering from a nightmarish experience that can haunt them for the rest of their lives. In fact, a quick escape from that affected place will help them overcome the trauma more easily, while a stay in that place amidst the destructions caused by the calamity will leave them with a permanent memory that they will fail to shed off in future. The government may be unable to save its citizens from the devastations of a calamity, as it is sometimes difficult to detect its arrival beforehand and evacuate the people from that place. But it can certainly save us from experiencing the post-devastation trauma that inevitably follows every calamity.

Bringing the survivors to a “shelter spot” will also ensure that a seriously injured or otherwise ill person gets a proper medical attention. It is very difficult to offer proper medical treatment to people in the makeshift hospitals in calamity-affected regions. Rather it is significantly easier to look after such people in a proper medical centre in a “shelter spot” that is in perfect condition.

The “shelter spots” should also ideally have psychologists and trauma counselors, who will help the survivors to overcome the terrible shock of losing everything overnight. There should also be some arrangements of entertainment, like music, which will also play some role in helping the hapless people forget or absorb their shock.

It is ridiculous that the people of a calamity-affected region will spend their nights under open sky, with hungry stomachs and among foul smell emitted by dead bodies lying around them. And their fellow citizens from other regions will watch their plight on TV, while having dinner in their cozy and comfortable drawing rooms.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Need Of The Time – Environmental Diplomats

There was a time when a country’s diplomats were mainly focused on political and military relationships with other countries, like pitching for either military co-operation (for example in a case of a possible war with another country) or voice of support on international podia while discussing an international issue (for example the Kashmir issue for India and Pakistan).

Yes, bilateral trade and commerce also played a crucial role in diplomatic negotiations. In fact, that aspect of diplomatic negotiation has been there for several hundreds of years. The Consulates of a country (like the US and British Consulates located in various Indian cities) are actually focused on fostering business prospects of their country in the “host country”.

However, the liberalization and globalization of the world resulted in the emergence of a special breed of diplomats, named “Economic Diplomats”. They are the diplomats exclusively focused on all the economic aspects of diplomacy and foreign relations, such as pitching for funds and aids from international organizations (WTO, IMF, etc.), identifying their respective countries’ business opportunities in other countries and charting out necessary roadmaps to tap the same, etc. Economic diplomacy is now a specialized wing of Statecraft, with almost every nation having a pool of expert Economic Diplomats.

The emergence of Economic Diplomats was the result of the dynamic character of Diplomacy, which is understandably very receptive to the changes in world affairs. And it is this dynamic characteristic of Diplomacy that is today signaling the need of another specialized wing of Diplomacy – Environmental Diplomacy.

The global warming has become a hot issue, highlighting the necessity to reduce greenhouse gas emission. This has subsequently resulted in a “national compulsion” for every country to explain its stand/problem/view on climate change and emission issues. And this has further resulted in the need to develop a pool of efficient and expert Environmental Diplomats, who are able to present their respective countries’ views on international podia.

And I suppose that India is at least somewhat lagging behind on this score. I think this came into light during the recent Copenhagen Summit, where the India delegation was sometimes failing to present its views effectively (though of course there were stiff and shameless opposition from the developed nations). I also feel that India failed to develop a united stand with other like-minded developing nations, thereby creating a strong pressure on the developed nations.

And the reason behind India’s not-so-effective Environmental Diplomacy is probably the Indian government is not precisely considering the domain expertise while selecting its Environmental Diplomats. There have been a number of IFS and IAS officers who are responsible for defending India’s environmental views and policies on the international arena. Unfortunately, many of them are not that expert in the field as they are supposed to be to effectively executive their responsibility.

Just one example is enough to establish that the Indian government has been unnecessarily biased to the bureaucratic community while choosing “members” of its Environmental Diplomacy team. Who is our Chief Climate Negotiator? Mr. Shyam Saran, our former Foreign Secretary.

There is no doubt that Mr Saran is a brilliant and talented person, who unarguably deserves crucial positions in the Government. But does he hold that level of expertise in Climate Change issues, which our Chief Climate Negotiator is expected to have? Well, I do not think I am sure.

I hope the Indian government is aware of the fact that Environmental Diplomacy is a specialized wing that should be handled only by people with strong domain expertise and skills. And I hope that the government is working towards the development of a well-qualified team that will be successful in defending our environmental views and policies on the international arena.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

India Is "PHAK-PAI-YUL" For Tibetans

It has been just few days that I have got a Tibetan colleague. This handsome, smart and intelligent man in his 20s - whom I will like to refer to as X - fled Tibet 17 years back (when he was a little boy), and since then has been settled in India. Some of his relatives also stay here, though his parents are still in Lhasa.

Apart from being a good colleague, X has also been a nice "discussion partner" for me. During lunch break or coffee breaks we discuss various interesting issues, like China's occupation of Tibet, Dalai Lama, China's hypocrisy about Communism, Indo-China relationship, sporadic freedom movements by some Tibetan groups in Tibet, Tibetan advocacy and campaign groups in India, etc.

Anyways, just yesterday (21st November, 2009) X told me an interesting thing, which I want to share with my readers.

I had just casually asked him how the Tibetans perceive India.

And what did he say?

He said that since ancient times Tibetans refer to India as - PHAK-PAI-YUL.

So what does that mean?

It means - The Country of Everything That Is Noble.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dalai Lama’s Arunachal Visit – A Tight Slap For Audacious China

The audacious Chinese leadership got a tight slap with His Holiness Dalai Lama’s smooth visit to Arunachal Pradesh, the unarguably Indian state that China considers to be a part of its own.

China found its strong pressure on India to be completely futile with the latter strongly defying the pressure and allowing the revered Tibetan leader to visit this majestic region in north-eastarn India.

To top it, standing on the soil of Arunachal Pradesh Dalai Lama described the state to be an integral part of India, and also slammed China for its “hard line”.

Hope China has understood that India is not the pushover that it had thought it to be.

The 1962 war is a distant past, China. Stop being obsessed with that success, and try to move on. Today’s India a strong country, a country simply not ready to tolerate your high-handedness. Got it dude?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Promoting India Abroad As A Favoured Tourist Destination – Customized Marketing Is The Key

Other day I was reading the interview of a top Indian bureaucrat. The gentleman – let him call Mr. X – has been a top official with the Central Tourism Ministry under Government of India (GOI), has been involved with the famous “Incredible India” campaign, and is considered to be a top destination marketing expert of the country.

During the interview Mr. X has said something that is very significant. We all Indians take pride in the diverse tourist attractions of India, such as mountains, jungles, sea and desert. It is the presence of so many natural features that has made India such a colourful tourist destination.

However, Mr X has said that it is this multifaceted “destination personality” of India that has made it so difficult to promote India abroad as a tourist destination. And why is India’s multifaceted personality – resulting from her diversity – a problem in promoting the country as a favoured tourist destination? Because it makes it difficult to make a proper “branding” of India. You will fail to decide how you will brand India – as a country of mountains, jungles, sea beaches, or anything else. Collective promotion of all the features robs every feature of its due glaze, making it look much less insignificant and attractive than actually what it is. The target audience comes to know about all the features present in this land, and fails to notice the speciality of any of them.

I understand what Mr. X has said. It is true. Whenever we think of a country, there is a certain geographical feature that comes in our mind, such as snow clad mountains in the case of Switzerland, savannah and wild beasts when we think of Kenya, blue ocean and golden sea beaches when we think of Mauritius or Caribbean Islands, and so on. But just try to think of India, and soooooo many features come into your mind, leaving you both thrilled and confused. (The irony of having too many?)

Well, my humble self has a small suggestion, and I feel that the Tourism Ministry already has this idea in its mind.

Since the plentiness of India’s geographical features is creating a branding problem, then why do not we go for “customized branding” in the context of the country where we are promoting our motherland?

For example, when we are trying to promote India in Switzerland, then it is stupid to talk about the beautiful snow-clad mountains that we have, because that will understandably fail to woo the Swiss people. So we should tell them about precisely all those features that they do not have – the desert of Rajasthan, the golden beaches of Goa and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, etc. Similarly, while promoting India in Mauritius and Caribbean Islands it is meaningless to talk about the golden beaches of Goa and Andaman, but highlighting our mountains and jungles (with rich wildlife) will be a great idea. And again, trying to woo the people from countries like Kenya and Tanzania through our jungles and wildlife will be a foolish plan, but they can be enthused to visit our land by talking about the mountains and sea beaches (yes, these countries have beautiful Kilimanjaro, but they will always find visiting Himalayas a good idea).

We can make customized promotion in terms of our “soft assets”, as well. For example, Buddhism is so popular in some countries like Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka. We can promote India in these countries (the Tourism Ministry is already doing it) by promoting those Indian spots that have strong links with that religion. This will certainly draw a number of tourists from these countries, and that is already happening actually.

I think the Tourism Ministry has already taken some steps in line with customized marketing. It is only that they have to take the concept more seriously.