Imphal: Conceding that India is blessed with the extra attractions of pilgrimage and teerthatan too which is beyond the spirit of tourism; Union Minister of State for External Affairs & Education Dr RK Ranjan Singh asserted that culture and pilgrimage generated tourism contributes a lot to the national economy and strengthens our global soft power.
Addressing the valedictory session of Cultural Economy Conclave held at Gujarat University on Saturday, RK Ranjan stated that Indians generally place a high value on harmony and unity with others and form a unified and interdependent community. He stated that characteristics of Indian culture is encouraging moral qualities as well as attitudes of charity, simplicity, and frugality.
He maintained that India is blessed with rich and diverse natural, historic, cultural and spiritual resources and as such millions of tourists from the domestic and international places come to India to experience its spiritual prowess and Indian heritage.
He stated that India being a land of many religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Sufism have centres of pilgrimage for various faiths since ages and these have immensely contributed to the development of Indian heritage values.
In fact, religion, spirituality, and heritage are common motivations for travel leading to development of places of pilgrimage and heritage. Proper development of these centres leads to development of cities providing livelihood to millions of people boosting the economy of the place, state, and the country, he added.
Noting that culture, traditions and heritage are big attractions of tourism globally, he stated that India is full of miracles, monuments, mystery and marvels of historical facts, ancient wisdom, Vedic sciences and vibrant places all across to attract and inspire the world.
The MoS conveyed that India’s languages, religions, temples and pilgrimage, philosophy, family life, clothing, festivals, dance, music, literature, school of thoughts, scriptures, epic stories, architecture, art, cuisines and customs are rich sources of larger Indian economy and GDP.
He elaborated that the Indian culture is a combination of several cultures and influenced by a history and philosophy that is several millennia old preserved in our temples, shrines, archaeological sites, scriptures and family practices of larger Indian communities.
The term soft power is not new to India which led the world once through its academic excellence, spiritual guidance, life sciences and dharma. Cultural diplomacy has always been there in Bharat which is evident today with the geographical presence of diaspora, followers of sects and belief originated in India and their Indian practices prevalent in ancient and present India, he added.
He stated that while religion and spirituality is the guiding force of any noble society in every walk of life; culture and tradition are the reflection of beliefs, behavior and values deeply inherited in the society and prevailed as such to be recognised as an identity and inspiration. Tourism is not new to this country as pilgrimage is an umbilical part of our tradition and civilizational values, he averred.
RK Ranjan stated that in view of its importance, in 2014-2015, the Government of India launched PRASHAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive) Scheme which provides for infrastructure developments at the important pilgrimage and heritage destinations/cities in an inclusive, integrated, and sustainable manner that focuses on livelihoods, skills, cleanliness, security, accessibility, and service delivery.
This scheme focuses on developing and identifying pilgrimage sites across India for enriching the religious tourism experience. It aims to integrate pilgrimage destinations in a prioritised, planned and sustainable manner to provide a complete religious tourism experience. The growth of domestic tourism hugely depends on pilgrimage tourism, he explained.
He observed that for tapping the potential of pilgrimage tourism, there is a need for holistic development of the selected pilgrimage destinations by the government along with the cooperation of other stakeholders.
The PRASHAD scheme aims at paving the way for the development and promotion of religious tourism in India, the MoS added.