Tuesday, October 25, 2011

India Angered by Foreign Travel Advisories Re: Diwali

India responded angrily to travel advisories issued by the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand that warned their respective nationals of the possibility of terrorist attacks during the Diwali festival season. Oddly, though, the travel advisories were only issued have India's own media raised alarm bells of an increased risk of militant attacks.

Nevertheless, tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay dismissed the advice as "nothing but scare-mongering" that would damage the tourism industry during its peak season for overseas business, the Times of India reports. The minister went on to say that "I have taken it up with the external affairs ministry and asked it to persuade these countries to withdraw the travel advisories immediately."

COMMENT: In my view, the travel advisories are fully justified for three reasons: (1) They were stimulated by Indian media reports; (2) The Indian government does not have a stellar record in preventing and neutralizing acts of terrorism on its own soil; and (3) India has a history of preventable terrorist attacks, particularly in recent years, with the latest incident in September when 14 people were killed outside the New Delhi High Court. No one has been charged over the attack. And as most of our readers know, Islamic terrorists killed 166 people in Mumbai in 2008 in a siege of the city that led to many tourists canceling holidays to India.

Diwali will be celebrated in India on Wednesday (October 26), with other religious festivals due in the following weeks. Popularly known as the "festival of lights," Diwali is celebrated between mid-October and mid-November for different reasons. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes.

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