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Letter against railway’s plan on exclusive coaches for foreigners
November 02, 2009

Click here to download 'Letter against railway’s plan on exclusive coaches for foreigners-2 Nov 09', 76Kb. The same can be read below too.

Call for Action!

Letter against railway’s plan on exclusive coaches for foreigners

EQUATIONS
02.11.09

The Economic Times, dated 27.10.09 and Times of India, Bangalore edition, dated 29.10.09 reported that the Ministry of Railways plans to add exclusive coaches for foreign tourists in normal trains. The idea of ‘exclusive’ coaches for foreigners, in our opinion, is deep rooted in imperialism, racism and casteism. We do not object to better facilities in general, but object to exclusive facilities on the basis of nationality and citizenship.


Kumari Mamata Banerjee
Minister of Railways
Rail Bhavan,
1 Raisina Road
New Delhi- 110001

Sub: Railway’s plan on exclusive coaches for foreigners

Ref: “To earn more revenue, railways plan exclusive coaches for foreigners”, Economic Times 27.10.09 and Times of India dated 29.10.09

Dear Madam,
 
We learn from media reports in Economic Times, dated 27.10.09 and Times of India, Bangalore edition, dated 29.10.09 that the Ministry of Railways plans to add exclusive coaches for foreign tourists in normal trains (news article enclosed with this letter). According to the news report Shri Shuvaprasanna, Chairman Public Amenities Committee, Ministry of Railways, Government of India, is quoted as saying “the railway ministry was very positive to the committee’s recommendation”.

Madam, we are deeply shocked at this proposal. 

To introduce ourselves, EQUATIONS, is a research, advocacy, and campaigning organisation working since 1985 on the impacts of tourism, particularly in terms of rights and benefits to local communities. We envision tourism that is non-exploitative, sustainable, where decision-making is democratised and access to and benefits of tourism are equitably distributed. www.equitabletourism.org

The idea of ‘exclusive’ coaches for foreigners, in our opinion, is deep rooted in imperialism, racism and casteism. Is the present government and your Ministry taking our country back to the colonial-era when such exclusive spaces for the British ruling class had boards like ‘No Indians and Dogs allowed’. The Ministry of Railways seems to have forgotten about how the ‘Father of the Nation’, Mahatma Gandhi had decided to fight the colonial forces on experiencing similar discrimination on a train in South Africa. In 1893, Gandhiji booked a first-class train ticket to Johannesburg – and was thrown out of the coach because he was black. Today, when the country still struggles to ensure that millions of its citizens have protection against various forms of discrimination still prevalent in large measure in the country – the most prominent basis being caste, religion, gender and minority status - this step by the Ministry of Railways is retrograde and shameful. We are not objecting to better facilities in general, we are objecting to exclusive facilities on the basis of nationality and citizenship. We believe that such a move can even be challenged constitutionally.

If foreign tourists wish to experience India, we think they should experience the real India – not spaces that are “sanitised from reality” and where the citizens of the country have no access! What kind of vision of Incredible India is this?

We urge the Ministry to reverse this move with immediate effect.

Sincerely,


Rosemary Viswanath
Chief Functionary
EQUATIONS


Copied to:
•    Kumari Selja , Minister of Tourism
•    Shri Mukul Balkrishna Wasnik, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment

Click here to read the Economic Times articles reported on 27.09.2009.


For further details, contact:
campaigns@equitabletourism.org, info@equitabletourism.org
+91-80-2545-7607 / 2545-7659
EQUATIONS, # 415, 2C-Cross, 4th Main, OMBR Layout, Banaswadi, Bangalore 560043, India
www.equitabletourism.org