Happy Diwali A.S.I.!

Steven E. Lindquist s-lindquist at THE-FOUNDRY.NET
Sun Nov 5 03:16:14 EST 2000


To the list:

I have not posted in the last four years of watching this list.  Given the
last month, the reasons should be obvious.  Please do not let this email
devolve into us/them nonsense.  My concern is simply as a
"educator-in-training" of Indian history.

--
ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) has recently changed its entrance fee
for ASI regulated sites.  As of late Oct., fees for sites are now Rs. 5 for
Indians, and U.S. $5 (Rs. 250) for foreigners.  World Heritage sites are $10
(Rs. 500) for foreigners.  The Taj Mahal is over Rs. 1000.

I am posting this so that those concerned with the fee structure,
particularly educators of Indian history, religion and art (foreign and
local), are aware of these changes.  Personally, I find the change abhorrent
for the following reasons:

(1) because most foreigners seeing the purchasing power of Rs. 250 will
often not pay this to enter these sites, particularly the sites that are
less known.  For example, at the early Buddhist site, Bhaja, every foreigner
I saw left in anger (a friend has told me he saw the same at the Red Fort in
Delhi).

(2)  Determination of "foreigner" status is based simply on skin-color (and
not on passport, for example).  Thus, the policy is ill-managed at best and
certainly unethical.

And most importantly

(3) ASI's goal should be the promotion of the heritage of ancient India.
While, of course, this institution needs money (something I fully support),
I do not support its means of discriminatively placing its financial
problems on foreigners.  Baldly put, it "looks bad" -- it creates a hostile
environment at the site (Indians horrified at foreigners who would pay such
a price, foreigners horrified at the extreme price difference), does not
encourage foreigners to visit (most tourists in India are not businessmen --
particularly those visiting ASI sites -- and do not have the money to spend
especially if they want to see 5 or 10 sites!), and such fees will make the
smaller sites even less known.

I ask anyone concerned with this change to contact ASI directly (I have
emailed and snail-mailed them, but have not received a response).  I, like
many foreigners, am used to paying higher prices for most things in India,
however, ASI should be principally concerned with education and the
promotion of Indian archaeological history, and not how to "get the fast
buck," with a lack of concern of how this is viewed by the rest of the
world.

ASI Contact information:

Director General
Archaeological Survey Of India
Department of Culture
Government of India
Janpath, New Delhi - 110011
email: asi at del13.vsnl.net.in

Truly,

Steven
--
Steven E. Lindquist
In the US:
Doctoral Student
Dept. of Asian Studies
University of TX at Austin

In India:
AIIS Junior Fellow/Associated Research Scholar
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
Pune, India
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