India is a developing country and one of top 5 world’s largest economies. Analyst predicts that in next few years India will surpass USA to become 2nd largest economy only after China. How India is growing at such faster pace. If we search for the answers, the few important insights will be young & dynamic population, exports, IT giants, entertainment hub and tourism. I want to focus on tourism as we need to understand the importance of it to our economy.
“Tourism in India is economically important and is growing rapidly. The World Travel & Tourism Council calculated that tourism generated ₹8.31 lakh crore (US$120 billion) or 6.3% of the nation’s GDP in 2015 and supported 37.315 million jobs, 8.7% of its total employment. The sector is predicted to grow at an average annual rate of 7.5% to ₹18.36 lakh crore (US$270 billion) by 2025 (7.2% of GDP). In October 2015, India’s medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth US$3 billion. It is projected to grow to $7–8 billion by 2020. In 2014, 184,298 foreign patients traveled to India to seek medical treatment.” Source – Wikipedia
Yes, I agree that India is not financially strong as US or European countries to invest so much in such projects but do you ever wonder how much we invest in defense. Last year our defense budget was Rs 2.5 Lakh crore ($40b). Why don’t we raise questions about it or about our Government’s intention because we know and understand that it is demand of the century to be stronger than our enemies. We have to defend our borders at any cost. But how will Government earn this money? We need to expand our ways of income. Exporting IT solution and other products to different countries is one way to get foreign currency but tourism is another effective way. And I think investing in tourism sector in this era is right time. Investing in tourism sector will not only boost tourism but also local infrastructure like hospitality and transportation which will generate employment and hence a great help to Indian economy. Why Dubai is investing billions of dollars in hospitality? Because it knows that sooner or later world will be oil independent and then tourism will be the highly reliable source of income.
Now the question is, can a single statue of Shivaji or Patel generate so much revenue that the cost can be recovered? The answer will be yes but will take few decades. Take the example of Taj Mahal. It generated 21 crore INR in 2013. So we can safely assume that these monuments should generate 7-10 crore per year but this doesn’t include other benefits which I mentioned above like infrastructure development and employment.
Second question that is coming to my mind is why only Patel or Shivaji. Yes, I do agree that this is politically influenced and to attract local voters. But we need to keep in mind that Swami Vivekananda statue is on the tip of South India though Swami is highly respected in North and East India specially West Bengal but having a statue in South India symbolizes that he was a national role model and his wisdom is not only concentrated to few states. Same rule must apply for other great people.
Third question how much is too much? Honestly this completely depends of project size. One government will always build something which next government won’t think of. Building small statues won’t be highlighted in media. Mayawati has built hundreds of her own, elephants’ and Baba Ambedkar’s statues but these fade away in time. But statues like Patel and Shivaji will create history and every government wants to take credit for it.
Conclusion and final thoughts: I think investing in such projects will help economy down the line but this should not be politically influenced. Shivaji or Patel which are very specific to local population and can’t attract international tourists until unless we add another value to the sites. I am sure government must have thought about it. For example the Patel statue won’t be just a statue but it will host lot of other tourist centers around it. I also think that the cost of building these statues are very high considering Indian economy. We need such places but not at such high cost. We have another high priority things to take care of like education, health etc. Even if we want to invest huge amount in tourism there are several other options like revamping Indian beaches or cities, easy access to North East Indian states and Islands like Andaman which have high potential but due to accessibility and infrastructure people don’t visit. Last but not the least every political party wants to be in power no matter what common people think of. Thanks!
Note: This is my own thoughts and I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s sentiments. If someone feels my article needs some improvement please do let me know through comments. Also I don’t take responsibility of any figure presented above. The sources have been duly mentioned.