India seeks new global lens for Kashmir; G20 tourism meet to counter separatist narrative
By Our Special Correspondent
New Delhi, May 21: Amid beefed up security arrangements, Srinagar is all decked up to host the third working group meeting on tourism of G20 from Monday for three days during which delegates from member nations, as well as special invitees, will get to see changes since the Narendra Modi government at the Centre trashed the special provisions of Article 370.
After not taking part in a working group meeting in Arunachal Pradesh, China has already announced that the Communist nation will not take part in the Srinagar working group deliberations. China claims both Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir to be disputed territories. But India is unfazed, and New Delhi is seeking to emerge an alternative to attract the European and American tourists, who had been flocking to China before the Covid-19 outbreak.
Delegates from G20 countries along with representatives of 10 invitee nations and private organizations will attend the Srinagar meeting of the tourism working group. “Many of them are visiting J&K for the first time, and when they see Kashmir with their own eyes and relate to what has been projected in the international media and by some of the so-called self-styled commentators, they will be able to carry the message. They will be the true messengers of not only J&K but of India, as it has emerged under PM Modi,” said Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of state in the PMO, who also hails from J&K, which became a Union Territory in 2019.
Harsh V Shringla, chief coordinator of G20, said that the third meeting of the tourism working group in Srinagar will be an opportunity for delegates to see ‘paradise on earth’. “This meeting will highlight the unique tourism potential of Jammu & Kashmir, its local products, pristine valleys, spiritual centres, and seasonal blossoming in the beautiful gardens which can only be witnessed by being there in person,” said Shringla, adding that “there are great opportunities for youth in floriculture, especially export. Handicrafts of Kashmir, saffron, woolen products especially pashmina shawls are renowned all over the world, and yet there remains a substantial scope for expansion given the increasing focus on infra.”
Srinagar will host the marquee event from May 22 to May 24. This is the first such international event taking place after J&K became a Union Territory in 2019.
“G20’s 3rd tourism working group meeting starting from May 22 is a historic opportunity for 13 million citizens of J&K UT to showcase priceless culture, heritage, tourism and warm hospitality. All the citizens should come forward and be a part of this memorable event,” said Manoj Sinha, the Lt Governor of the UT on the eve of the inauguration of the event.