The Ugly Indian Tourist featured in Open Magazine’s June edition. Though the piece looks condescending and elitist at places (Indians no good, Firnagis all good) yet it presents a real picture of what the modern Indian Tourism sector has become. The article has been written with Goa as the centerpiece of a rightly justified fulmination yet all that has been written holds true for the whole of India. You choose any tourist destination across the country, be it the mountains or the beaches, you’ll find indistinguishable
problems people wreaking havoc on the local ecology and resources.
And while we are at it, I’ll stick my neck out and say that its not just the outsiders who are to be blamed. Largely, outsiders (read tourists) are blamed for anything bad that happens to a ‘hitherto unexplored’ mountain trail. But who’s putting them ‘neela-peela’ tents on the top of that mountain? Who’s taking outsiders for a ‘kayaking expedition’ on the revered ‘Saryolsar Lake’? Who’s organizing ‘rave parties’ for sex-deprived Northies in the pristine environs of Parvati Valley?
Remember the recent water woes of Shimla? Someone explained them in fine details, have a look:
This list of problems that we face, in the wake of boom in the Tourism Industry, is a never ending one and I don’t want to talk about them. What I want to tell you about is the story of a few good men and women who taken it upon them to bring back the plastic waste from mountains. They are motivated groups, mountain enthusiasts and a few lone trekkers who have been doing this for quite some time now.
Here’s the story of a few good men of Himalayas:
Healing Himalayas Sunday Cleaning: This NGO needs no introduction. The phenomenal work that they have done on the hippie trails of Kheer Ganga is exemplary. Now they are organizing clean-up drives in Shimla that are organized on every alternate weekend. As of now, they’re dismantling the Plastic Kingdom that exists around the BCS Region (New Shimla). So far they’ve managed to collect over kg from Shimla alone.
The next cleanup drive is organized on 24th June in Shimla. You can get in touch with Pradeep Sangwan to be a part of it – 9278626960
Himalayaone Expeditions – Green Srikhand – Srikhand Mahadev is one of the most difficult pilgrimages of India. A journey that lasts three days, 25km, and takes you as high as 16900 feet. To bring back plastic waste left behind by ‘pilgrims’ from that height is what one would call earning punya in real sense. Ajay Dhiman, the founder of Himalayaone Expeditions has been organizing these cleanup drives since 2013-14.
The next Green Srikhand Eco-Drive is scheduled from 15-22 July 2018. You may get in touch with Ajay Dhiman – 9464341601
Gaurav Bhardwaj (Kullu) – A motivated individual who started cleaning his surroundings way back when clean-ups weren’t really popular. Gaurav has organized clean-up drives around Kullu in general and at Bijli Mahadev in particular. With the voices demanding rope-way construction to Bijli Mahadev growing louder, it becomes even more important to raise awareness that calls for either abandoning plastic or minimizing it use.
Other than these, there are a lot of motivated individuals who’ve been organizing clean-up drives frequently in the mountains. You can get in touch with them as and when you visit Himachal Pradesh. Or still better, you can always bring back your trash in a waste bag.
My friend Hiramani Kashyap took it upon himself to get rid of few hundred plastic bottles all by himself on the famous (and much abused) Khir Ganga Trail:
**I will clean it**
**Kamrunag Cleanup Drive**
Every time you leave plastic behind, remember that it will take a minimum of 200 years for that tiny piece of plastic of decompose.
An Ugly Indian Tourist is a stark reality of our times and we can’t escape from it. Though moving amidst this ugly lot is an unknown face, carrying a ‘bori‘ on his back full of all sorts of plastic waste that pilgrims, locals and tourists choose to leave behind. This ‘boriwallah‘ is the real ambassador of Swacch Bharat Mission and he needs your support. Otherwise people will keep writing about the Ugly Indian Tourist and the world would never know that not all Indian Tourists are ugly.
We sure can change that. Are you willing to do so?