India’s culture and tourism minister Mahesh Sharma has given an advisory to foreigners traveling to India. As Sharma pointed out in January, India has seen a surge in tourism. Hard to believe, however, that his latest diktat will further this positive trend. Mahesh Sharma has advised tourists not to wear skirts and short dresses in India and to not venture out alone at night. Obviously the unsolicited advice is for women- men can wear and do whatever they want. He says it is for security reasons and that short dresses aren’t compatible with Indian culture. Indian culture is, however, compatible with the caves and temples with wall carvings showing gods and goddesses engaged in all sorts of sexual activity.
It also made me think of a recent trip to Dubai. And the tourists as well as the expats living there. I remember seeing women in burqas as well as skirts roaming the streets and malls without a care in the world. The secret wasn’t that the dresses were a part of Dubai’s Islamic culture but the strict enforcement of law and order and policing which kept harassment to a minimum.
A woman walks on the road in Dubai/ Raghav Chopra
A woman in a burqa walks down a street in Dubai/ Raghav Chopra
Not sure whether the short skirt advisory will help strengthen Indian culture or 'save women' for that matter, but it might help in keeping those pesky mosquitoes away considering many places in India are battling a dengue and chikenguniya outbreak.