We all have heard, seen and enjoyed the campaign called ‘!ncredible India’ by tourism department of India. In fact they did a great job in creating a brand campaign that reached masses around the globe. It is also true that this campaign made a huge impact globally. But have you ever wondered about what the reality is? Let me share my experience here. These events date back to a couple of years. I was accompanying foreign guests on a trip to various places around Mysore. Any place you visit will have a disgusting difference in entry fee for Indians and Foreigners. See the images below.
Revealing the precise place details is out of question right now to save the little left pride, but these two images should give you an idea on how well we treat our guests. Is this the way to honor our guests by saying “Atithi Devo Bhava” (अतिथि देवो भव – meaning ‘Guest is God’)? Believe this or not, it was such an embarrassing moment whenever I had to purchase entry tickets when guests are around.
I still fail to understand why we have such a racist discrimination towards the foreigners. Since they are so called ‘Gods’, is our governments planning to reap the most from them? For our culture sake, please do refrain from acting as if we are racists towards our guests.
I do understand maintenance cost does matter a lot for most of our tourist spots given the kind of corruption that prevails all over multiple bureaucrat levels. Can we fix the root cause and save ourselves from shameful times in front of our Gods please? If we don’t know how to respect our guests, at least let us stay away from letting them feel bad about us.
I haven’t visited many tourist spots in the North, is it the same kind of treatment? What is your thought on this topic?
K.T. Santosh says
Its wonderful article…..
There is no meaning of “Athidi Devo Bhava” if we treat our guests with in equal manner. I too observed so many place like Belugm Caves, Dargeling, Sikkim every where they are charging minimum five times of entry fee. Our kind authorities think is it right way to treat our guest with high rate of entry fees. We are acting like a official looting team. Give them to chance know our culture and they only spread the good word about our country in their respective countries.
In this Way we are loosing our respect and value. Please think my kind officials and stop the looting system from our guest (foreigners).
I don’t find the concept of charging non-nationals (note the wording) a higher amount and nationals to be charged subsidized rate.
But what is deplorable here is that it is done based on skin color rather than actually checking identification which fits the RACISM definition to the ‘T’.
If Govt. wants to subsidize nationals – it should defnitely do so- but implementation is the key point here.
Very nice article. I had been to a place in Karnataka last year…where they charged the foreigners 10 times the amount they charged the Indians. I was shocked and when I asked the authorities about it, they said it was their ‘custom’…wonder what that meant.
Haven’t you noticed this outside Karnataka? People have been telling that it is prevalent all over India!
I have read the article and had the same concerns as others. Talking with one of the older generations found that this price was fixed for all museums days ago when the dollar rupee conversion was around 4. The entry prices never got changed and we are still paying the same price may it be in dollars or in rupees. The only thing which changed was the conversion amount and this resulted in the so called discrimination.
I have just come across this article and read many of the comments which I found very interesting.
I am from the UK and recently travelled around India, Nepal & S.E.Asia. When I was in India, I would get very frustrated by this price discrimination for tourist. To be discriminated against in this way is quite unpleasant and I am amazed it is allowed to go on. Unfortunately, it seems to be the general rule all over India to charge more for foreign tourists at tourist attractions and museums as well as the usual over pricing at stores and taxis. Understandably prices are usually higher in tourist centres but for government to be at the front of price discrimination is quite deplorable. As soon as I arrived in Mumbai I was being asked for money buy various people which was quite embarrassing at times. It almost felt like because of my appearance and skin colour it was assumed that I was very rich and had money to burn.
But India is not the only country to do this; it is very common in many developing countries and regions such as Nepal, S.E. Asia and S. America. If this was to happen in the UK or Europe, there would be a huge problems, with discrimination laws, human rights groups as well as other countries such as India complaining about the discrimination, so why is allowed to happen the other way around? It’s not that India as many other countries don’t already receive huge amounts of money in aid payments, which is money paid by the tax payer in our foreign countries.
It is a shame to want to attract visitors to your country and then exploit them in this way. When you have experiences like this it doesn’t really make you want to go back and visit and can leave a bad impression of the country.
Personally it will embarrassing when we invite our guest and make them pay more. But as others mentioned we can explain them them difference in price. Initially when i read the article i felt shame on us, But as nation and economy its not that bad also.
Thanks much for a beautiful article…I shared the same with many of my local friends here in Kuwait and many more in India & US. By putting picture of sign/notice board…..it really appeals many ….Thanks much !!
Saumen, not sure if that was a satirical statement! But that is a reality all over.
Jeevan Krishnakumar says
Came here through indiblogger… liked the post… its true but i have felt that it is handled in a less blatant way in Kerala… shopkeepers and handicraft wallah’s however show no mercy!
Welcome to this blog Jeevan! Thank you. I do agree with you, I didn’t notice such differential fee in Kerala in my last visit. I might have missed capturing too 😉
awww…that’s too bad. Actually the whole of India is like this (only) :)…..only diff being, this place has advertised it. Shame on us!
I have seen it in most of the places, not just here!
Chitra Nayak says
that’s a nice analysis. I never gave a thought to it. In Mahabalipuram the charges are different but they have started maintaining it very well. I hope same thing is being followed for other monuments too. I have readied a post with the same title ‘Incredible India’.What a coincidence only thing is the subject is different.
Good to hear that! Look forward to read your article 🙂
Mohan, I agree with you – I really think it is unfair. It must have been so embarrassing for you to be in that situation.
Everywhere abroad, that I have been , the rates are the same everywhere. And since there is no real way of making out if a person is an Indian National or not, clearly it is based on skin colour. So technically, if I come there as a British Citizen, but look Indian, I could get away with paying the ‘local rate’. As for revenue from tourism – yes, it needs to be there, undoubtedly, but the sad thing is, despite the revenue, so many monuments look so badly looked after and I find it difficult to believe that it is due to lack of money. It is more due to the lack of interest in looking after them well. If we improve our infrastructure and facilities, we could easily attract far more tourists and that would more than make up for the reduction in revenue that would happen if the rates are made similar.
Very aptly pointed out Smitha. Infrastructure can make all the difference. Our internal system needs to be revamped to bring in a new birth to all these corrupt minds. Sad that people take it granted to change the law to suit their best needs.
Mohan, the theme of ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ campaign is to treat the foreign nationals with respect, not tease/ harass female visitors, and charge the same amount of money as Indians for travel, shopping etc. I have seen this entry fee-related discrimination everywhere that I have traveled in India. On one hand, we as a culture still suck up to anything/ anyone ‘phoren’. Any Indian who visits Goa is full of horror stories about not getting accommodation, good spots, etc because foreigners pay more and hence are preferred. On the other hand, foreign nationals are ripped off by the hawkers, shopkeepers, everyone.
But having said that, look at it in terms of parity. When we go out of India, at places of interest, we pay in dollars. Which is much higher than most of our standards of living. Foreign nationals, however are paying in Rupees. I am sure the parity is in favour of them rather than us. Our tourist places are in complete disarray. Most of our museums don’t have the funding to get a basic security and lighting arrangement to safeguard the artifacts from vagrants or natural forces. If (and it is a pretty big IF) this money collected is being used for betterment of these tourist places, I am all for it. Maybe one way to do this better could be to charge foreign nationals who reside in India and/or earning in INR, at par with Indian nationals… just an idea! And for other visitors, there can be a facility of discount passes for a select group of places.
I can’t agree more… nice suggestions you have! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Aparna!
The Lonely Saint says
If I go to a museum in NY, I’ll pay $20. So will an American. Which means the museum needs $20 per person for maintenance. If we follow the same thing here how many Indians can afford to pay Rs.1000 to enter a museum? The museum still needs money alright!
I know it’s embarrassing. I remember how difficult it was for me to explain an American colleague why he’s being charged differentially at Taj.
Other than the Government deciding to aid all these places there’s no way for them to lose the revenue they get from foreigners. And with the position our Government is in, I don’t see it happening any time soon.
I see your point, but that doesn’t mean we need to charge differently for different people here. If the government is so biased about such differential fee, let them not invite phoren people to visit India… atleast not with the tag ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’
Arvind Chugh says
That’s what i am always focusing on , to tell India what they actually doing.We call Australians racist .But its happening in India everywhere.We are also a part of it and that is never shown on Indian new channel.Good topic , I think we should share it with NDTV anchors so that they could bring this topic into limelight.
Arvind, media is always busy with the 3 big C’s. Cricket, Crime and Cinema. If at all they get any time in between the ads and politics, they get into some more non sense… May be someone in the mighty media looks into this and brings it to public notice.
I haven’t traveled much.. I have been to USA and never saw anything like this over there neither in the UAE. I was thinking of inviting my friends to come over and have a look at my country (proudly off course) but now I have to think once again. It is definitely a big shame for our country and thanks for bringing this into focus…
I can’t say anything more. I just shared my feelings when I was accompanying my foreign friends a couple of times… As long as you can convince and make them understand, it should be fine. Don’t put off the idea altogether!
I completely agree with Madhu -there is no intent of racial discrimination. Let’s face it -we are a developing country and there is no harm in asking foreigners (I mean citizens of developed countries) to pay a bit more than what a commoner in India would pay. After all the very same people pay a lot more money when they visit places in their own countries or other developed nations -so if they can easily afford it, there is no harm. There is nothing to get embarrassed about it. It’s a different matter that the govt (or our bureacracy) doesn’t actually put that extra money to good use !!!
Looks like I am one of the odd man out here on this issue. May be I am too cynical about the embarrassments with my foreign friends. Good to get multiple view points.. thanks for sharing your thoughts.
well I have seen this in other places like Nepal, F E, Europe too. Locals or EU in the case of Europe get charged less. Sort of subsidy for taxes that they pay.
In fact India is one of the few nations whose people need visas to go anywhere. Not so for many others
That is true Kalyan, most of the developed nations have a treaty to let their citizens travel in friend country without Visas. Since we aren’t there yet, we need to get it for sure if we desire to travel those countries.
Looking a pics- shocking!!!
I have never seen this…..unbelievable…sad….
I had heard loads of stories, on how some guides and auto / taxi fellows charge 10 times more for foreigners but this openly, never…
I don’t call it racism but its not fair ethically…I have travelled to many countries and somewhere Felt it exist a lot there, towards us 🙁
I am surprised that many people here don’t find it as an issue at all!
Mansi Bhatia says
I’m surprised that no one mentioned the currency exchange rate. Sitting in the U.S., earning in dollars, I don’t see this as discrimination at all. I see this as a rather cheap entrance fee. Indian people earn in rupees and they have to pay five whole rupees to enter a heritage site, whereas a person of foreign descent is only paying $2 for entering the same site. I think it’s a great deal from the U.S. visitors’ point of view! For a Britisher it’s only a pound and a half! So, if U.S. and U.K. nationals aren’t feeling ripped off and the Indian government is making some money from it, I don’t see where the problem is.
Wish everyone thinks like you Mansi. Unfortunately, that is not reality. Even may be that I am the one who is thinking so deep into this instead of taking it light!
Welcome to my blog 🙂
On a trip to chennai when I was a kid, I remember seeing this discrimination and I wondered why would the government do such a thing. I am stunned to see such kind of treatment even now.
But one honest doubt here. How do they determine who is a foreigner and who isn’t?
By the color of their skin or the way they look? They are definitely not going to see everyone’s passports, as they should, if they want to implement this rule. Then, if they are going by looks and confirming that they are foreigners, that is racism right there.
They purely go by skin color and nothing more is what I feel…
Anil Menon says
Well discrimination allright. But as long as the foreigners dont feel about it we might as well do well by looking at it as good economics. After all will the foreigner feel bad about contributing a bit more for the upliftment of poor and disease ridden India? In fact the foreigner may feel nice that he is being treated as a class (higher) apart from the lowly Indians.
Probably we may be catering to their inflated egos and superiority complexes but getting more out of their pockets for our country. Thats not bad I guess and after all we are truly economically challenged people.
There are two kinds of people.
1. Few express their anguish outright
2. Those who curse internally but express a smile on their face.
It is hard to find the kind of people you have mentioned. May be my sample size in real life is minimal, but the psychology can be understood easily. The money that we collect through such tourists is no where comparable when we show our heart felt gratitude with equal respect. This will bring in more visitors because of a healthy eco-system. Discrimination has never lead to positive vibes in the history.
racist discrimination towards the foreigners
This discrimination is not racist. This has nothing to do with race.
Also, there is nothing wrong with the differential charges:
Why Indians should pay low: All the monuments/museums are properties of Indian. Indians should not be charged heftily to see their own heritage. Modest fees to incur the maintenance cost is fine.
Why foreigners should pay more. As the monuments/museums are not theirs and it is the heritage of India, there is nothing wrong is charging them more. To be candid, the things showcased are priceless. It’s like a “course” or study for them where it’s okay if they pay more. Whereas for Indians, it’s like see-your-own-grandfather’s-shirt which, of course, should not be overcharged.
Prashant, I beg to differ here. The sheer factor for differentiating an Indian & a foreigner was the skin color and nothing more! What else would you call when such a discrimination exists? If something belongs to us, then why are we inviting foreigners to visit us through campaigns like ‘!ncredible India’ and making they pay hefty entry fee all over? Sorry, but I fail to understand the logic in your points.
shrinidhi hande says
Foreigners keep the place clean, they read books and gain knowledge… we indians spoil the place, write on walls and rocks, throw plastic around.. so shouldn’t the charges be otherway round?
That was some serious PUN. Good one Shri 🙂
Ha ha gud one 🙂
I think they shud better make money by imposing fine on such ppl rather than the discrimination 😉
Ha ha gud one! I think a better way of making money would be by imposing fines on such ppl who leave a mark in historical places 😉
this is everywhere…..Mysore..Jaipur, Delhi, Agra etc……….don’t know if other countries also do this to visitors……….
don’t know if it’s bad or good…….but this is something i have seen everytime…..and everywhere…..in India…..so i thought may this is the way it works……..and i know it’s only at the monuments which is under care of government …..private sector doesn’t do the same………
i really don’t have a say at this………may be it is the way ……….
Ignorance is bliss at times… you just proved that!
This kind of discrmination is there in 5 star hotels as well as in heritage trains.
Why, there is discrimination for us as well. Why big hotels and multiplexes charges Rs 50 to 100 for water bottle or a popcorn?
Why in Padmanabha temple in Trivendrum, you are allowed entry only if you are in dhoti? Why young ladies are not allowed in some of Kerala temples?
This can happen only in India,‘!ncredible India’ . Jai Ho.
This looks like a duplicate comment Mr. Ayyangar!
Oh, and that sign above? I know it’s from the Taj Mahal, because I’ve been there. If it’s not, it’s just an example of how many places have the same disgusting attitude….
I don’t know what else to say!
My thoughts? Oh, where to begin?! How about that I’m charged four times the usual rate for electricity? Or that every single person you come across in trade and mercantile situations immediately, without a moment’s hesitation, either doubles, triples, or quadruples the cost of whatever it is you buy—–long, long before you’ve even decided to buy it. White skin = being cheated.
I frankly am sick to death of it….this country sickens foreigners, and believe me it’s not the poverty areas, nor the filth, nor anything else: it’s the cheating and rip off merchants. They see white skin and imagine that we live in a land where money grows on trees….ridiculous…..
I do understand your anger. Even I felt the same while accompanying my guests, without me, probably they would have felt totally annoying about we as Indians and we never get a second chance for sure if this continues…
It happens in 5 stars hotels as well as inIndian Heritage trains. Why, a bottle of water or popcorn costing 10-12 rupees becomes 50 or 100 at 5 star hotels as well as in multiplexes? And dont you have discrimination in temples where you can find board stating that devotees with only dhoti are allowed or young ladies not allowed!
‘Incredible India’ , this can happen only in India. Jai Ho.
Some sort of discrimination does happen all over… Sad but reality!
One more thing..if you want to see literally..atithi devo bhav, then ideallyw e shouldnt charge anything at all and give them free food,lodging everything, because thats the way we treat guests…,but here it means we must not trouble them, shouldnt cheat them and help them.Those rates are openly written there, nothing hidden…I have seen the obscene amounts being charged abroad for transportation, entree fees and sometimes even water.
That is the whole point… the tag line doesn’t really go with the campaign given the kind of treatment we are offering at the moment.
I dont think it is so bad..we are a developing country and we need funds..what we give to our citizens cant be compared with tourists..citizens pay taxes and get benefits.
And since tourists come only when they can afford it…when we go abroad do we question any pricing..why are you taking 100 $ for a 4 hrs train ride..is it justified? We pay their exorbitant rates for everything without saying anything.
I see what you are saying. But do you think that extra money we get from foreigners make a huge difference? It will only be a minimal effect. Just for that making foreigners pay more is by no means justified in my view.
Madhu Rao says
While on the surface this seems unjust, it is infact very just. We pay THE SAME price that the foreign nationals are paying. The differential is that the difference is paid for by the Government — subsidy.
Government is perfectly entitled to subsidize its own citizens. If this subsidy helps promote awareness of our heritage, and a sense of national pride. In a poor country like ours, there is no way the man on the street can afford the kind of the prices that these monuments deserve. Charge all at the subsidized price and these monuments cannot function/suatain themselves.
The exact same is true in many a foreign countries as well. Ex : Locals pay 1/4 the price of tuition in most colleges in the US ; people from US pay 1/2 and the foreign nationals pay full ticket price (sans grants, waivers, scholarships that is..). This is not bad and is much needed. One of the few sensible decisions by our esteemed Government…
I do agree to your point completely. But the very fact that government is running campaigns which praises guests and then rob them by discriminating with price difference is not something I am in favor of. While we are bragging so much about our rich culture and historical heritage, it is better to ensure the foreign nationals aren’t left with a bad feeling on such differential price tags. Think of the human mind and the way each person treats such things. Emotionally at some point, each of those tourists would have felt bad about this.
Madhu Rao says
Treating guests well is different than ensuring you do not make our culture in-accessible to locals. Locals are favored in quite a few places where money is not that big of a problem — like in the land of milk and honey (pun intended) where FL residents pay about 1/2 the ticket price.
Thailand, Argentina, Australia have similar policies at many a places.
Also you cannot hope to get parity between a commoner who goes to Taj and an American who visits it. You ought to compare how much the American would pay at Machu Pichu or The Great Wall and Indian prices are comparable or on the lower end.
For once our Govt is right.
Somehow I am still not convinced with this. If the other countries are following a similar act, it doesn’t mean that we should be repeating after them. This act doesn’t really gel with the tag line of ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah’… Somewhere it is misleading.
I totally agree with Madhu rao and what goverment is doing is right, the very purpose of the tourism is get some revenue from it. Even in other countries I have seen there is subsidised rates in for their citizens. Given the economic imbalance in india not every one can offord to pay actual prices and without that govt cannot maintain the places at its best. Probably the wordings in the boards can be put in a different way so that it won’t hurt them.
Developed countries like US, UK or australia doesn’t discriminate with prices at tourist locations as their citizens are well capable of paying actuals. I remember paying 15$ in sydney to get on to a viewpoint on a bridge, can we offord it in india? but it has been practise in tourism based countries like sri lanka, malaysia, thailand etc.
We need to understand sometimes the govt pocilices and procedures are imposed based on lot of tought and effort, it just not easy to manage diversified nation like us and in which every factor need to be addressed tactically and sesitively..thanks to buraucrats who work 24/7 !!!
Even I was feeling it is not fair. But by reading what Madhu and Manjunath have said, I agree with them. There are so many monuments in India which are in very bad condition due to lack of funds.
Even I love this “Incredible India” campaign. These campaigns show treating guests well on the humanitarian grounds.
Naveen JP says
Its definitely embarrassing but the intent is certainly not racist. I have faced similar situations with foreign guests but when I explain the socio-economic differences between a “developed” country and a “developing” country, they do understand that they shouldn’t be comparing apples to oranges.
Naveen, I do agree to your point to certain extent. But that doesn’t mean one has to feel inferior in front of them. Asking them to visit our places with campaigns like Atithi Devo Bhavah and then discriminating them by quoting some socio-economic levels is not at all justified.
Naveen JP says
Hi Mohan, I was making a point to show that I was not feeling `inferior’ but looks like I conveyed the wrong message 🙂 (I think feeling inferior is different from feeling embarrassed). Also, note that I am not in favor of `continuing’ this concept; I agree the time is ripe to change now but I believe that a few years ago, this policy was totally acceptable and explainable. The changing landscape can change perspective!
point noted 😛
The general impression is that it is easy to squeeze money out of foreigners. When I was in Goa, I was shocked at the amount of money the shop keepers were selling stuff to foreigners for. When we try to bargain for stuff, they openly proclaim that if we hear the cost that they are quoting for foreigners, we would faint.
I have witnessed similar incidents across multiple tourism spots by private orgs / vendors, but the case in question is the government bodies discriminating between Indian citizens and foreign nationals!
I always prefer to shop on their behalf by speaking in local language to negotiate the prices.
Saurabh Panshikar says
Came here thru Neha’s fb link. I’ve seen some of these type of signs around my place too… And by foreigner they only mean White ppl. All kinds of asians are spared…
Welcome to this blog Saurabh! We are accusing other nations for being racist… when we look through our own system, we are far more worst racists than the rest. Shame!
Parth J Dave says
This is utter stupidity and foolishness! As you said, ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ means that guests are like Gods… And we ask Gods to pay higher for visiting our country as tourists!
Madhu Rao says
It is far from stupid. It is just and needed..
Parth J Dave says
I may not agree with you on this. This is clear inequality..and how can you even call it ‘just’?
There is a Sanksrit saying ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which means the whole world is one single family. So, according to this, we are actually looting our own family members. Another perspective of this, could be respecting guests in India. We can’t respect and disrespect people at the same time.
For instance, if a foreigner visits your home, chats with you, you share food with him/her. And then when the foreigner is about to leave, will you ask him for money for the food he had or for the accomodation you provided?
We need to respect our guests, this is what all our scriptures say.
In your later comment, you talk of Government subsidy. Agreed with your point. But what’s the use of this subsidy when our people don’t even respect our beautiful heritage and culture? The Government has a lot of its money which can be used for preserving our heritage sites and promoting tourism in our country, you see…
If the government bodies are so keen on reaping more money from Foreigners, it is better to re-term the tag line to something different from ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah’
this is pathetic..I don’t have words to express my anger..
I am sharing this post on my blog page – facebook..
Think of my situation while having guests around me on the practical grounds…
Thanks for sharing the post Neha!
How pathetic… Its really sad to see the stark discrimination. I hope govt wakes up and makes a difference.
u’ve blocked comments so in case u haven’t seen it yet.. there’s an award for u at my blog.
I am looking forward to see that action in reality too. Yeah, I had to block comments because of excessive spam over last one week. Now the flood gates are open again 🙂
Thank you… will go through it now… it’s been a long time since I opened my feed reader. Scared to open it at this moment!!!
Nice topic & well-said. It is the same all over India Mohan..Have seen this outside The Taj also (I hope my memory is strong). Quite shameful actually. All this in the name of ‘tourism’. I don’t think this sort of discrimination happens outside India either.
p.s. – i wanted to add my comments to your previous posts..but you had closed comments. Enjoyed watching the folk dance video.
Finding it difficult to digest.
Oh well, I was getting too much of spam over last week or so. Hence I had disabled comments for a while when I wasn’t frequent in moderating the comments. Good you liked the video 🙂