Ahead of a visit to China starting Tuesday, India’s Tourism Minister K J Alphons said the government would make efforts to increase the number of Chinese tourists visiting India (The Indian Express, Monday). Figures from the Ministry of Tourism show that 2.50 lakh Chinese tourists travelled to India in 2016, accounting for less than 3% of all foreign tourist arrivals that year (88 lakh). These 2.50 lakh visitors represented an even tinier fraction of Chinese tourists visiting sites across the world. In 2017, according to figures from China cited by Alphons, there were 144 million Chinese tourists worldwide. In 2016, according to a report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the number of Chinese outbound tourists was 135 million. If the UNWTO and Tourism Ministry figures were seen in the context of each other, it would imply that India’s 2.50 lakh Chinese visitors in 2016 represented one out of every 540 Chinese tourists who travelled abroad that year.
Since 2012, China has been the top spender in international tourism. From 2002 to 2013, the number of Chinese outbound tourists grew by double digits as a percentage each year, according to the UNWTO report. China currently generates some 21% of tourism receipts in destinations worldwide, the report said. In 2016, tourism expenditure from China was $261 billion, more than twice the expenditure from the US, which was next on the list at $124 billion.
In India, China is at ninth place among source countries of foreign tourists. Bangladesh and the US head the list, each accounting for about 15% of foreign tourist arrivals in 2016, followed by the UK with about 11 per cent.
A New Takedown of Capitalism
The idea that some of the world’s richest individuals, whose lives and lifestyles are the exemplification of the staggering economic inequalities of today’s capitalism, should claim to be solving the problems that arise from precisely those inequalities, is like assuming that “arsonists may make the best firefighters”, argues Indian-origin American author Anand Giridharadas. These self-appointed “change agents”, Giridharadas says in his new book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, believe their conference-circuit schmoozing and platitudinous commentary is helping but they are, in fact, only reinforcing inequalities, and making an already bad situation worse. “They are making a difference in ways that allow them to continue making a killing,” Giridharadas says on a podcast by The New York Times, where he was formerly a columnist. “And giving back in ways that sustain their opportunity to keep taking.”
The book is out Tuesday, and in a review in The NYT, Joseph E Stiglitz, the celebrated Nobel Prize-winning economist who has been studying inequality since the late 1960s, writes: “In a series of chapters centred on different individuals who are part of this rarefied class, Giridharadas exposes the rationalisations of the 0.001 per cent who actually believe they are making the world a better place. The Sacklers helped create the opioid crisis but give money to important causes. The chief executive of Cinnabon thinks that being transparent about the fat and sugar she peddles offsets the harm her company creates. It’s a land of PowerPoint presentations and cuddly good intentions.”
This, in Giridharadas’s description, is “MarketWorld”, populated by an elite who want “to do well and do good”, a world of feelgood clichés like “win-win” and “make a difference” that “beautifully catches”, says Stiglitz, “the language of Aspen, Davos and the recently extant Clinton Global Initiative, which will doubtless reappear in the newly born Bloomberg initiative”. The ethos of MarketWorld, Giridharadas says, is represented by people like Bill Clinton who saw the dangers but did not “call out elites for their sins: or call for power’s redistribution and fundamental systemic change; or suggest that plutocrats might have to surrender precious things for others to have a mere shot of transcending indecency”.