Since the Vedic ages, tourism has been in vogue in Bharat in the form of pilgrimage, yatras by social reformers and spiritual reformers, educative tours, eco-tourism, trade routes and so on. Even in small villages, there were inns to cater to tourists and needs of local inhabitants for civil functions, weddings, etc. In my small village of 30,000, named Barhaiya in Bihar, there was a big inn. Like places of pilgrimages, all villages had inns. Now, most of these are in a dilapidated condition. The government has also not built tourist lodges and inns in rural areas. There is a great potential of developing rural tourism like it has been done in Sikkim, for sustainable growth and employment.
Bharat has immense potential for medical, educational, ecological, spiritual, and social tourism. Infrastructure needs to be created in rural Bharat. Tourism infrastructure should be covered under the MGNREGA programme. Violence against women and tourists need to be taken seriously and dealt with firmly. Rules and regulations for foreign tourists should be simplified.
Thailand, Dubai and some neighbouring countries have become very popular as wedding destinations. Their travel and accommodation costs are cheaper than that of India. However, Rajasthan has also become a popular wedding destination. ‛Incredible India’ has to become a reality in practice.
Bharat has great talent and highly skilled and qualified doctors and educationists. Medical and education tourism has tremendous potential. Foreign exchange earnings will increase. The medical tourism sector is projected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2020. It can be doubled. The government needs to simplify rules for creating medical infrastructure, both for foreign tourists and Bharatwasis. Many of them are going for treatment to the US, Singapore, and even to South Korea.
The Government of Bharat is working to achieve one per cent share in global international tourist arrivals by 2020 and two per cent by 2025. To promote the tourism sector, 100% FDI is allowed through the automatic route. A five-year tax holiday should be extended to all categories of hotels. Rivers should be harnessed for cruises and entertainment, like water sports. Bharat has very few hotel rooms per capita when compared globally and low ATM penetration too. The ‘Incredible India’ campaign will work with better infrastructure and law and order. The GST rates need to be lowered so that more and more budget tourists come to Bharat instead of going to other destinations.
Indian Economy: When we come to Bharat’s economy, we find the amount of investment is low, rather negligible. The GDP is likely to be 7.5% by the year-end. India does not stand to lose much from the ongoing US and China trade war. Higher crude oil price and higher imports will have an impact on India’s trade balance and economic growth. Current account deficit for 2018-19 would be wider. The government is trying to meet the fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of GDP without curtailing expenditure. It is relying on dividends and disin-vestment revenue. The states’ debt burden is increasing. A report of JP Morgan Chase & Company says that states’ debt might increase and GDP will fall. Private sector Capex is still fragile. Moody’s Investor Service raised India’s sovereign rating for the first time in 13 years with comments that the growth prospects have improved on account of reforms. Bharat’s rating has climbed to BAA2 from BAA3. Other rating agencies may also upgrade the sovereign rating.
NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, Rajiv Kumar, said that the slowdown in economic growth starting from the end of 2015-16, was due to the RBI’s measures for non-performing loans of banks and not demonetisation. NPAs measures has stalled credit disbursal to the industry. Credit to the MSME industry has shrunk. Credit to large industry has come down to even negative.
Stock Market: Stock market does not go straight up. It meanders in its up and down course. Some investors put money in and others take it out. Occasionally, the market will dip or spurt over several days or weeks as it corrects or rallies. Wise investors/ traders benefit in this game of market.
World: Christine Lagarde, Chief, IMF, has warned that the US-China Trade war could deliver a ‘shock’ to the already struggling emerging markets. It causes uncertainity. The US President Donald Trump is preparing new US tariffs on $ 200 billion of Chinese imports. He said that the US felt no pressure to make a deal while China is feeling the heat to stop the trade wars. For him, the US market is surging, while the Chinese market is collapsing. It will have a measurable impact on China’s growth. China must end currency manipulation. China has large current account surplus. China vowed to retaliate.
May God bless Bharat to be wise, bold and smart in taking timely action.