Ma­hesh Sharma


India Today - - 30 YEARS OF MODI GOVERNMENT | SOCIETY - —Kaushik Deka

FROM IN­TRO­DUC­ING E-VISAS TO recog­nis­ing tourist cir­cuits and launch­ing a ver­nac­u­lar in­ter­face for in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers, Ma­hesh Sharma has of­fered a sig­nif­i­cant pro­mo­tional boost to the in­dus­try. “We have sanc­tioned Rs 4,800 crore for theme-based cir­cuits un­der the Swadesh Dar­shan Yo­jana; Rs 488 crore has been

al­lo­cated for spir­i­tual tourism,” he says. “It will take us about a year to com­plete th­ese projects.” The min­istry’s draft­ing of a new tourism pol­icy has been wel­comed by Aditi Chan­chani, direc­tor of Equa­tions, a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that stud­ies the im­pact of tourism on lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. At the same time, she is not en­tirely pleased with the min­istry’s ap­proach. “The min­istry sought con­tri­bu­tions only from for­mal stake­hold­ers .... There is no ac­knowl­edge­ment of peo­ple whose homes and back­yards are pro­moted as tourism des­ti­na­tions,” she says. As cul­ture min­is­ter, Sharma has fewer ac­com­plish­ments. “It has re­vived the IGNCA, and it is eas­ier for artists to ap­ply for and get grants,” says Ashish Mo­han Khokar, an au­thor­ity on In­dian arts and cul­ture. But there is still no word on a cul­tural pol­icy and no as­sess­ment of or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Sangeet Natak Akademi.


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