Fifth column: Parivartan of the wrong kind

One of the reasons this column supported Modi was because he seemed to understand well the possibilities of creating millions of jobs through investment in tourism.

Written by Tavleen Singh | Updated: April 16, 2017 5:28 am
mother of all bombs, MOAB, MOAB Afghanistan, beef ban, anti-romeo squad, india news, indian express editorial India has much more to offer because, luckily, many of our beautiful old monuments survived the depredations of socialist rule, but a measly eight million foreign tourists came last year.

Went to my favourite sushi restaurant for lunch last week and ordered a portion of spicy salmon, a portion of tuna and a glass of white wine. As I sipped my deliciously chilled wine I mulled over the Americans dropping a MOAB (mother of all bombs) on ISIS bases in Afghanistan, until I noticed that the waiter was still hovering. When I asked why, he muttered nervously that perhaps one portion of sushi was sufficient. His reason for hovering became clear. And are we more than 500 metres from a highway, I asked, or should I throw away the wine? Even as we spoke, an old friend wandered up and gave me a hug and kissed me on both cheeks. By now I was as nervous as the waiter and disengaged hastily, whispering to my friend that an anti-Romeo squad might be waiting to pounce.

Saying this filled me with nostalgia for the days before beef bans and liquor bans and morality policing. I remembered Pakistani friends coming across the border and revelling in the ‘freedoms’ of India. It was these they missed most at home. I knew exactly what they meant. Before learning of the un-freedom of Pakistan, I once went to Lahore wearing leather pants and a military jacket. It was January and very cold. When I landed at the airport I noticed people staring and wondered why, until an old Pakistani hand, who had travelled from Delhi on the same flight, said it would be wise to go straight to my hotel and change into a salwar-kameez.

As the first Prime Minister to say tourism could be a vital economic tool, has Narendra Modi noticed that the ugly atmosphere being created by his food and wine inspectors will drive all foreign travellers away? As it is all of India attracts less tourists than Venice does. Even fewer will come if officials lurk in the shadows of bars and restaurants and if couples can be arrested for being affectionate. Surely the Prime Minister understands this?

Surely he has noticed on his foreign tours that tourists avoid going to countries where bars are considered dens of vice and restaurants policed for food wastage? If he has not, then it is time that he did because there is no hope of India expanding its tourist industry otherwise. Tourism was disdained as an economic tool in days of yore because our high-minded Leftist rulers thought of it as something that was much too elitist. Meanwhile, Marxist China invested in tourism and today attracts more than 130 million visitors a year.

India has much more to offer because, luckily, many of our beautiful old monuments survived the depredations of socialist rule, but a measly eight million foreign tourists came last year. Many countries, much poorer than India, are today much richer just from investing in tourism. This investment pays dividends in many ways. It helps preserve old monuments, ancient cities and the environment. It creates jobs in a long list of ancillary industries. And foreign tourists require almost exactly the same infrastructure that Indians desperately need — good roads, reliable electricity and telecommunications, clean water, modern hospitals and environmental preservation.

One of the reasons this column supported Modi was because he seemed to understand well the possibilities of creating millions of jobs through investment in tourism. Another reason was his promise to give us ‘maximum governance and minimum government’. How does deciding portions in restaurants amount to minimum government? Food wastage is a serious problem in India but should the Minister of Food not be concentrating his energies on facilities to store foodgrain and on cold storages that could prevent half our fruit and vegetables from rotting in the fields. On this front the ministry seems to have not moved at all. And the truth is that the Tourism Ministry has been as negligent when it comes to building the right infrastructure. So the end result is neither ‘parivartan’ nor ‘vikas’.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s comrades in Hindutva have been very, very busy. On the edges of Delhi we have in recent days seen Hindutva warriors enter people’s homes and drag lovers out of their bedrooms. Last week, a man got arrested in Meerut for dropping his fiancée home. And, we have seen restaurants and bars along major highways see sales drop by more than 80 per cent since the Supreme Court started imposing its own form of semi-prohibition.

It should not be the business of judges to make policy but they are busy doing this instead of concentrating on much needed improvements in the justice system. Is it not time that the Prime Minister spoke up against this judicial interference? Is it not time the Prime Minister told us what he thinks of the rise and rise of a version of Hindutva that threatens to change India for the worse?

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh

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  1. N
    Nutopian
    Apr 23, 2017 at 11:16 am
    It is said that there are none as blind as those who do not want to see. And there is also this term 'gatekeepers' of the Establishment. Both very apt for Ms. Tavleen Singh.
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      g
      Apr 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm
      Funny - News Channels are using the gentle mammals for their ratings. Indian op-ed writers are milking them for pretty pennies even in n e w York times.
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        Deepak
        Apr 19, 2017 at 2:21 pm
        Wine-dine and mulling over the US bombing over Afghanistan.
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        1. B
          Brajesh nath
          Apr 18, 2017 at 1:38 pm
          she is right. Guess its time she discovered the many virtues of previous regime and authoritarian shadows lurking in the shadows now. In our race to prove to the world that we are far superior country than our neighbors we have degenerated to such levels that its deplorable.And the fascist like fringe elements of hindutva are turning into an ogre. its time the people woke up and smelt the coffee.
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          1. S
            sahil
            Apr 18, 2017 at 12:34 pm
            Dear Tavleen, Such a small jolt & you are already coming to your senses, now bhagwat is being suggeted for president. All fuhrer ever cared about is creating & ruling bharat as per manu.
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            1. L
              Lakshminarayana
              Apr 18, 2017 at 10:48 am
              Utter nonsense and biased
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              1. R
                Rohit Sakhwalkar
                Apr 18, 2017 at 9:00 am
                Isn't the alcohol ban a supreme Court decision based on a PIL filed by a regular unknown citizen of India. Why is it that you are referring to it as an act of the GoI? Also should you not discuss the possibility of bootleggers and their business and the loss of taxes and lives which this spurious liquor will cause.
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                  Janakiraman Rajalakshmi
                  Apr 17, 2017 at 11:02 pm
                  The rss members are in love with this country. They do not know what LOVE is. They are killjoys. In Ramayanam itself Seetha is actually very smart . When Ram is asked to go on exile He requests Seetha to stay in the Palace & serve the others. She being in LOVE with Ram puts her foot down. Says categorically she can never bear separation from Him even for a minute. She does not say ' Ayodhya ka seva ' karoongi..is seva se badke koyi sukh nahi chahiye. RSS goons would have prevented Seetha from accompanying Ram threatening both.
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                    Janakiraman Rajalakshmi
                    Apr 17, 2017 at 11:06 pm
                    Sorry not serve the others. Ram says life in exile in Forest would not be comfortable at all. To which she says " Nothing can be more painful than separation from you". When they are together in the Forest is their BEST time in entire Ramayanam. RSS members only scream 'jaishreeram' violently like a battle cry.
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                    Janakiraman Rajalakshmi
                    Apr 17, 2017 at 10:54 pm
                    The first paragraph of Tavleen Singh's article made me laugh so much , I spent the entire night laughing. That lightened me up. So I could get some sleep also. Thank you very much Tavleen !
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                    1. J
                      Janakiraman Rajalakshmi
                      Apr 17, 2017 at 10:52 pm
                      Typos:- I never anti ted .... MK. hi.
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                        Janakiraman Rajalakshmi
                        Apr 17, 2017 at 10:49 pm
                        I do agree with Tavleen Singh on many points. I strongly feel hindus are particularly targeting Muslims with unpardonable vengeance. I never anti ted this kind of highhandedness. Many hindu girls do fall in love with Muslim men & why does RSS think women cannot decide who they want to marry etc. By listening to the Commandments of God if everyone can abide by entire world would have become a Heaven. But that is not the way things work out. Majority of us need to go through a mixture of sweet , sour , bitter , pungent experiences for WISDOM to dawn. I was appalled to read the CM Yogi has made ambedkar worshipping compulsory for all school students. Along with MK. hi. Aiyo what a tragedy...they are anything but great. Sathsang is different. For which there are Competent Gurus giving Pravachans in Temples etc. School is where we learn the three R's.
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                        1. V
                          vikas purush
                          Apr 17, 2017 at 8:18 pm
                          Good article, since no party can govern properly my solution is hand over India to multinationals. EG north India to coca-cola & south India to Pepsi co. They will take care of all Yogis & bhogis and maintain professional standards. Then India will always be in profit.
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                            Peter Aremone
                            Apr 17, 2017 at 2:04 pm
                            Useless article that covers up the problem of Raape Jihad.
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                            1. E
                              Ekram kalam
                              Apr 17, 2017 at 12:29 pm
                              Thank u finally some one spoke
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                              1. V
                                Virender
                                Apr 17, 2017 at 8:54 am
                                Very well said TS.
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                                1. A
                                  Ajay G
                                  Apr 17, 2017 at 8:38 am
                                  Write up seems like pages of some erotic novel. Khullam khulla gaal pe puppy & Jhuppy and whispers.
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                                    Virender
                                    Apr 17, 2017 at 8:56 am
                                    You are sick. It is written only to give perspective to the article.
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                                      Janakiraman Rajalakshmi
                                      Apr 17, 2017 at 11:12 pm
                                      Indeed yes. Once Shobhaa De wrote an unforgettable article " Why No woman would want to marry Modi". That is the BEST. Please read it.
                                    2. G
                                      g
                                      Apr 20, 2017 at 1:54 pm
                                      Funny - News Channels are using the gentle mammals for their ratings. Indian op-ed writers are milking them for pretty pennies even in n e w York times.
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                                      Gopal
                                      Apr 17, 2017 at 7:06 am
                                      Sadly Tavleen fails to acknowledge that some 70 of Indians do not want cows to be slaughtered. The remaining 30 want beef or don't care. A solution needs to be found for both groups. Regarding Romeo police remark, may be she did not experience the teasing of girls by boys all over North India.
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                                        Gopal
                                        Apr 17, 2017 at 7:08 am
                                        Sorry, 70 and 30 should have been 70 and 30 .
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                                        1. G
                                          Gopal
                                          Apr 17, 2017 at 7:10 am
                                          OK, try again. 70 and 30 should have been 70 per cent and 30 per cent.
                                      2. K
                                        K.S.Narayanan
                                        Apr 17, 2017 at 3:13 am
                                        Yes. Tavleen Singh's observation is accurate. Both Tourists and Indians desperately need — good roads, reliable electricity and telecommunications, clean water, modern hospitals and environmental preservation. But both also desperately need a clean and safe environment to function and travel in. That is an environment free of corruption, crime, predators and perverts of every kind, thieves and fraudsters. These too ought to be well within the imagination and understanding of the prime minister and his team and colleagues. And solutions may not be outside the scope of their intelligent understanding. What we need are the will, commitment and discipline to bring about positive changes if they are able to resist the temptation to appoint yet another committee to study and report on this.
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                                          George Cruz
                                          Apr 17, 2017 at 3:01 am
                                          Modi and the BJP has been in power just for two years and one can't expect the modern infrastructure, reliable electricity, clean water, and other developments overnight because Modi/BJP doesn't have a magic wand. Remember, the congress party and the communists ruled the country for the last 65 years with disastrous economy, religious divide for vote bank politics while looting the country's wealth using various scams and corruptions. The Modi and BJP has already laid the viable ground work for improving the economy, infrastructure, schools, hospitals, create millions of jobs with novel concept of "make in India", in spite of the opposition parties blocking every developmental proposal made by the BJP. This is first time in India's history that foreign businesses are more confident in investing in India under Modi's leadership. Even the western countries are restricting bars along the highways because the drinking/driving are the major causes of accidents and related deat
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                                            Dash
                                            Apr 17, 2017 at 12:13 am
                                            Nonsense old woman wont say that lovejihad is being spread. Nobody drags anyone out of their homes. In Meerut,it was a case of lovejihad but this oldie wont tell that.
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                                              Jumar
                                              Apr 17, 2017 at 7:40 am
                                              The problem is that you North Indians has become hopelessly stupid.
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                                              Jim
                                              Apr 16, 2017 at 11:38 pm
                                              except for SC poking its nose in liquor prohibition, all points are contrived and invalid
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