Minister asks foreign tourists not to wear skirts, courts row

Minister asks foreign tourists not to wear skirts, courts row

Minister asks foreign tourists not to wear skirts, courts row

Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma has advised foreign women tourists not to wear skirts in India or venture out alone at night, setting off a controversy.

He later came up with a clarification that his advice to tourists was bonafide and with reference to places of worship such as temples and gurudwaras, where visitors had to follow certain norms.

“One is required to follow certain norms while visiting holy places (in India). For example, one is required to cover one’s head with a piece of cloth while visiting a gurudwara. One is required to remove shoes before entering a temple,” Sharma told a television channel, defending his dress code advice.

Regarding his advice that foreign tourists should not venture out alone at night, the Tourism Minister wondered if it was wrong to give such a suggestion for the safety and security of the tourists travelling to India from different parts of the globe.

“I said please take care of yourself while travelling at night. Is it wrong to give advice for their safety in advance? Law and order is a state subject. It is our moral duty to ensure a safe and secured environment for our tourists. I am also a father of two daughters. I would never tell women what they should wear or not. Such a ban is unimaginable,” Sharma added.

The minister also referred to travel advisories issued by foreign countries for the safety and security of their respective citizens during their trip to India and other parts of the world.

“For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts. Indian culture is different from Western (culture),” Sharma had told reporters in Agra on Sunday.

He was on a visit to the city to conduct an inspection of the facilities available to tourists at the iconic Taj Mahal and other spots.

His suggestion drew sharp criticism, prompting the Opposition parties to launch an attack on the BJP led coalition government at the Centre.

Foreign governments, including US and UK, do issue travel advisories to their citizens travelling to India that they should respect local Indian dress codes and customs.
Such advisories have followed several incidents of crime against foreign tourists in India.

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