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Published: Saturday 31 December 2005

www.exploreruralindia.com

Exotic rural India

"Any form of tourism that showcases the rural life, art, culture and heritage at rural locations, thereby benefiting the local community economically and socially, as well as enabling interaction between the tourists and the local community for a more enriching tourism experience can be termed as rural tourism," is among the platitudes that run through the website under review: www.exploreruralindia.com. Run by the Union ministry of tourism (MoT) and the United Nation's Development Programme (UNDP), the site is replete with clichs

That apart, the site showcases 31 rural destinations in India for the tourist. The sites are part of the MoT-UNDP' Gurukul programme. Specially skilled craftspersons in these sites will be selected and tourists encouraged to stay with them to acquire proficiency in crafts.

The site has maps to guide people to the 31 destinations. There are glossy photographs showcasing the salient attractions of each of these. And that's where the site -- and the project at large -- ventures is open to the: is it among the numerous projects that make rural India into an exotic item?

Of course, the site claims decentralisation, increasing livelihood options and gender equality amongst it aims. But www.exploreruralindia.com provides little ideas on how these objectives can be attained. Anyhow, let's hope it succeeds.

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