Monday, April 19, 2021

Centre plans tourism push to mark 75 years of Independence

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The Centre has decided to launch a grand celebration to mark 75 years of India’s independence with events, exhibitions, rallies and a tourism outreach with Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicking off the festivities on March 12, the 91st anniversary of the historic Dandi March, officials said on Wednesday.

The culture ministry is the nodal point for all events, which will include exhibitions on freedom fighters Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel and Subhas Chandra Bose, said the officials quoted above. All government departments and state governments will come up with their own plans to mark the occasion.

India will also promote tourism by celebrating 2022 as the Visit India Year through a promotion campaign highlighting India’s strengths like heritage, culture, art, wellness and yoga. Specific sites will be identified in each state to be developed and promoted under the Dekho Apna Desh scheme, said a document prepared by the Union tourism ministry and seen by HT.

The programme,called Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav will commence 75 weeks prior to August, 15, 2022 — the day independent India turns 75 — and end on August 15, 2023. PM Modi is likely to hold a meeting early next week, after which the final plan will be unveiled, said officials.

One previous meeting was chaired by Union home minister Amit Shah, who is also part of a panel overseeing Bose’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations. Bose is an important election issue in West Bengal, which goes to the polls along with Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry in March-April.

The Union tourism ministry will launch a mega plan to boost visitors to major historical attractions.

“Indian diaspora across countries would be encouraged to visit the country of their origin for taking pride in India’s achievements since Independence… all government of India ministries and departments and state governments would be requested to come up with their action plans of incentives and events,” read the tourism ministry document.

According to a March 3 communication by the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B), seen by HT, the celebration will kick off in Gujarat with an event inaugurated by PM Modi on March 12.

Exhibitions on Gandhi, Patel and Bose will be organised by the I&B ministry at various locations; states will hold exhibitions on other unsung heroes of the freedom struggle. The celebrations will last through the 25 days of the Dandi March, undertaken by Gandhi and his followers in 1930 to protest a colonial salt tax, and conclude on April 5.

Chief secretaries of all states will choose two or three places of historical significance, with a total of 75 destinations selected across the country. Youth clubs, National Service Scheme, National Cadet Corps volunteers, in collaboration with the department of youth affairs, will organise cycle rallies.

The department of school education and literacy and the University Grants Commission will organise a one-hour long symposium and conference on India’s freedom struggle. An essay competition will also be held by the department.

The events will be covered live by Doordarshan and All India Radio, and social media campaigns, including dedicated hashtags and tweets by influencers, also figure in the government’s plan to maximise the reach of the events, said the officials quoted above.

The tourism ministry is also planning a host of activities to help the sector recover after Covid-19 losses. According to a communication, seen by HT, the ministry will organise a promotion of defence museums and encourage the Indian diaspora to visit various cities under the Dekho Apna Desh campaign.

All state governments are also slated to come up with incentives. “The event would be befitting way of celebrating [email protected], considering it’s ancient and diverse heritage and culture, natural resources and arts and recent improvements in tourism infrastructure,” the document read.

Officials from the tourism ministry said they were in the process of collating a list of all defence museums. “We have reached out to the ministry of defence and culture to see where all the museums located, we should know the details in a few days,” an official said.

The tourism ministry document said the government will hold road shows, themed tours, webinars, interactive sessions and workshops. The ministry also plans to organise a nationwide event titled Paryatan Parv 2022 from January 26, 2022 to September 27, 2022, which is World Tourism Day. The event will comprise photography, essay and debate contests, illumination at key tourism sites, cultural programmes, tourism exhibitions and guided heritage walks.

The ministry is also planning a series of webinars on various themes such as the Statue of Unity in Gujarat, the freedom movement and stories of places associated with freedom fighters. HT last year reported that the culture ministry is also planning a web series on the freedom struggle, slated to go on air before August 15.

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