Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidayalaya: A Trend Setter
Dr. Mamta Bhatnagar, email@example.com, Faculty, Dept. of Indian Culture and Tourism Management, Dev
October 25, 2011
The World today is in the middle of an accelerating globalization process, to which tourism industry is closely related. In everyday language, tourism can be described as leisure time used for traveling and seeking desired experiences. Travel is clearly governed by the motive to escape, to pause and get some rest from an increasingly stressful life, and to see something new.
Today, travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, responsible for more than 10 % of the global GDP. This industry is one of the biggest global employers with more than 250 million jobs depending directly or indirectly on tourism. 65% of those jobs are in developing countries.
In this paper is on focus is on Cultural Tourism. The role and relevance of developing a specific educational strategy for developing this tourism is discussed in the paper.
Cultural tourism as a form of special interest tourism is defined as “Visits by persons from outside the host community motivated wholly or in part by interest in the historical, artistic, and scientific or lifestyle/heritage offerings of a community, region, group or institution.”
Common pattern in which the cultural tourist:
- Spends more time in an area while on vacation,
- Is more highly educated than the general public,
- Tends to be in older age categories,
- Sensitive about the local problems.
Impact of Tourism
The impact of cultural tourism is extremely varied. It plays a positive role in socio-economic and political development of destination countries. In certain instances it contributes to border cultural understanding by creating awareness, respecting the diversity of culture and ways of life. Some of its positive impacts are as follows:
- Tourism as a force for peace
Traveling brings people into contact with each other and as tourism has an educational element it fosters understanding between peoples and cultures and provides cultural exchange between hosts and guests. This increases the chances for people to develop mutual understanding and to reduce their prejudices. In the first Global Summit on Peace through Tourism (Nov. 2000), more than 450 world leaders of the travel and tourism industry ratified the Amman Declaration that recognized travel and tourism as a global peace industry”. The document committed itself to building a culture of peace through tourism that supports tourism as a fundamental human activity, free of undue restriction and respectful of human differences and cultural diversity.
- Strengthening communities
The jobs created by tourism can act as a vital incentive to reduce emigration from rural areas. For example the San of Namibia and southern Africa and the aboriginal peoples of Australia have recently regained management or ownership of traditional national park lands and conservancies, operating eco-lodges and serving as guides and rangers while maintaining their heritage.
- Facilities developed for tourism can benefit residents
As tourism supports the creation of community facilities and services that otherwise might not have been developed; it brings higher living standards to a destination. Benefits include upgraded infrastructure, health and transport improvements, new sport and recreational facilities, restaurants, and public spaces as well as an influx of better-quality commodities and food.
- Revaluation of culture and traditions
Cultural Tourism boost the preservation and transmission of cultural and historical traditions, which often contributes to the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, the protection of local heritage, and a renaissance of indigenous cultures, cultural arts and crafts.
The ultimate goal of cultural tourism is to boost business growth by increasing economic stability, nurturing good relationships with local communities, and ensuring the long-term appeal and sustainability of the environment. However at the same time tourism can cause change or loss of local identity and values, brought about by several closely related influences. Some of these influences are as follows:
Tourism can turn local cultures into commodities when religious rituals, traditional ethnic rites and festivals are reduced to conform tourist expectations, resulting in what has been called “reconstructed ethnicity.” Once a destination is sold as a tourism product the tourism demand for souvenirs, arts, entertainment and other commodities begin to exert influence. Sacred sites and objects may not be respected when they are perceived as goods to trade.
- Cultural deterioration
Damage to cultural resources may arise from vandalism, littering, pilferage and illegal removal of cultural heritage items. A common problem at archaeological sites in countries such as Egypt, Colombia, Mexico and Peru is that poorly paid guards supplement their income by selling artifacts to tourists. Furthermore, degradation of cultural sites may occur when historic sites and buildings are unprotected and the traditionally built environment is replaced or virtually disappears.
Many tourists come from societies with different consumption patterns and lifestyles than what is current at the destination. One effect is that local people that come in contact with these tourists may develop a sort of “copying behavior,” as they want to live and behave in the same way. Especially in less developed countries, there to be a growing distinction between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is likely. In resorts in destination countries such as Jamaica, Indonesia or Brazil, tourism employees with average yearly salaries of US$ 1,200 to 3,000 spend their working hours in close contact with guests whose yearly income is well over US$ 80,000.
- Irritation due to tourist behavior
Tourists often, out of ignorance or carelessness, fail to respect local customs and moral values. When they do, they can bring about irritation and stereotyping. They take a quick snapshot and are gone, and by so acting invade the local people’s lives.
In many Muslim countries strict standards exist regarding the appearance and behavior of Muslim women, who must carefully cover themselves in public. Tourists in these countries often disregard or are unaware of these standards, ignoring the prevalent dress code. Besides creating ill will, this kind of behavior can be an incentive for locals not to respect their own traditions and religion anymore, leading to tensions within the local community. The same types of culture clashes happen in conservative Christian communities in Polynesia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
- Child labor
ILO studies show that many jobs in the tourism sector have working and employment conditions that leave much to be desired: long hours, unstable employment, low pay, little training and poor chances for qualification.
Child labor in tourism is common in both developing and in developed countries. Many boys and girls below 12 years of age are engaged in small business activities related to hotels and restaCommon pattern in which the cultural tourist:urants, the entertainment sector or the souvenir trade, often as porters, or as street or beach vendors. They are frequently subjected to harsh working and employment conditions.
An estimated 13-19 million children and young people below 18 years of age (10-15 per cent of all employees in tourism) are employed in the industry worldwide. However, these figures take no account of the number of children working in the informal sector in ancillary activities.
Educational Strategy for Tourism
Therefore there is a need for an educational strategy to develop professionals for ensuring sustainable tourism development. An open learning approach, which combines the principles of learner-centeredness, lifelong learning and flexibility of learning can be widely applied in the construction of educational programs where the learners are encouraged to develop skills for effective management of cultural tourism at a destination.
Worldwide, there are many distance learning university programs for careers in tourism. Many universities have also established international departments, which attract students to full-time programs or shorter exchange courses. Tertiary education in the field of tourism has grown dramatically, driven by the notion that tourism enterprises are in desperate need of qualified staff.
However these programs suffer from the following drawbacks:
- Most of the programs are predominately management-directed in character. The class teaching is focused on the traditional subjects like product development, enterprise planning and management. They fail to recognize that there is a demand for semi-skilled workers in the industry such as guides, escorts, and souvenir shopkeepers, cultural event organizers, etc.
- The concept of self-development of the student is completely ignored. No specific modules on spiritual growth, stress management, or meditation are run to enhance the inner potentialities of the learner.
- Visits to cultural destinations are organized, but they fail to sensitize the students about the role and importance of cultural values and its preservation. The societal responsibility of the tourism enterprise is hardly focused.
- No specific modules are offered whereby the students are encouraged to develop own enterprises with the help of local resources in the form of manpower and materials.
IOU with its unique educational strategy can launch courses a the Bachelors and Masters level with the emphasis on the acquisition of skills need to manage resources in a systems approach such as to ensure the economic, social and environment sustainability of tourism industry. In this context, education in the following forms of Tourism should be imparted:
- Reaching huge numbers spread over vast areas
- Accomplishing this at low cost
- Using local languages as the medium of instruction
- Using variety of student support services.
At the international level IOU can develop educational strategies broadly at two levels:
- Developing Pro Poor Tourism: Developing Countries
- Promoting Volunteer Tourism: Developed Countries
1 Developing Pro Poor Tourism: A Strategy for Developing Countries
Many developing countries, facing debt burdens and worsening trade terms, have turned to tourism promotion in the hope that it brings foreign exchange and investment. The manpower of the developing countries may have low levels of literacy, productivity and knowledge, but possess a rich and diverse culture. It is this culture, which is their prime strength. This diverse culture is exhibited in the form of arts and crafts, dance and music, cinema and theatre and a host of other traditions. If their rich culture can be preserved and marketed in such a way that these communities are economically benefited in a sustainable way then the famous India expression Sarva Bhavanto Shukina – let all be happy and prosperous – will be practiced in the true sense.
This type of tourism is about changing the distribution of benefits from tourism in favor of poor people. It involves reducing poverty through business activity rather than alleviating it through philanthropy.
There are many types of pro poor tourism strategies, ranging from increasing local employment to building mechanisms for consultation. Any type of company can be involved in pro-poor tourism – a small lodge, an urban hotel, a tour operator, and an infrastructure developer. The critical factor is not the type of company or the type of tourism, but that an increase in the net benefits that go to poor people can be demonstrated.
Implementing these strategies may involve lobbying for policy reform, involving the poor in local planning initiatives, amplifying their voice through producer associations, and developing formal and informal links between the poor and private operators.
The trained professionals from the IOU courses can take initiatives to integrate the products of the poor into the value chain in a sustainable manner.
Objectives of the Program
- To sort harmony between the needs of the visitors, the place and the host community at the destination.
- To regulate the activities in such a manner as to ensure that profits benefit local people and conservation efforts.
- To promote consultation in the tourism process and encourage events promotion in traditional areas.
- To sensitize them to the potential impacts, such as loss of privacy of locals, prevention of their access to culturally significant places or natural resources, invasion of sacred sites or the demeaning of cultural ceremonies.
- To Develop and support programs to revitalize the diverse aspects of local
These learners can be offered core modules in the following areas.
• Local Level Planning
• Small business Enterprise Development
• Cultural Tour Operations
• Performing Arts Management.
In an open learning system an important student related issue is access. Income, minority, and underrepresented students are likely to be among those who may not have access to the technology or the technological experience necessary to take advantage of open learning courses. Therefore IOU should adopt a flexible approach.
The courses should be offered in form of a dual mode using both traditional and open learning methods. Examples of dual mode institutions like the University of Nairobi, the University of Botswana and the University of Zambia.
Besides, this IOU can also come up with courses designed to changing the attitudes of tourists about the viability and sustainability of Pro Poor Tourism. Specific actions could include working with various tourism industry representatives to integrate pro-poor approaches into voluntary codes and certification systems.
2 Volunteer Tourism: A strategy for Developed Countries
On the global scale, tourism is a one-way communication where basically the rich people from the developed countries have the economic opportunity to visit the developing countries. The inverse situation is very rare. However, a Special Interest tourism gaining popularity in the western world is Volunteer Tourism.
According to Wearing (2001) volunteer tourism is an activity where participants “volunteer in an organized way to undertake holidays that might involve aiding or alleviating the material poverty of some groups in society, the restoration of certain environments, or research into aspects of society or the environment. The purpose of the volunteering component can include poverty aid or alleviation, environmental restoration, or even research into various aspects of the environment or society.
Volunteer tourism therefore involves the travel of people not only for the purpose of a travel experience but also to make a valuable contribution to the host region in the form of volunteering.
Travelers who participate in volunteer projects become involved in hands on work in the hopes of ‘making a difference’ in the host region, while having little negative impact on the area. These tourists appear to be motivated by a very different set of needs. Some of the most commonly recognized are:
- Pursuing special interest and skills
- Being respected and earning social status
- Rewarding oneself
- Meeting local people
Understanding local culture and the host country is a central element in volunteer travel; this can include learning about other cultures, environments, or global issues. Finally, the role of personal growth and development is also important to volunteer tourists.
Demographics of the Volunteer Tourist
Although the characterization of a volunteer tourist is difficult to establish, it has been found in numerous studies that a high percentage of them are young adults between eighteen and twenty-five years old. These individuals generally lack the ties of a career and children, and are able to leave home for months or even years in order to travel and volunteer. This age group is also involved in the popular practice of taking time off prior to, or following university attendance for the purpose of traveling and “finding one’s self.” This time off is known as the “gap year.” Often during this period, students will seek out meaningful experiences that will allow them to “make a difference in the world;” this brings the component of volunteerism into their tourist experience.
The gap year phenomenon has triggered a need to develop and promote tourism programs specifically targeted at this market. These programs usually take place in third world countries where volunteers participate in community development projects. However no specific degree or diploma courses are offered at the university level. IOU can take a lead in this by launching academic programs to train the professionals in the following objectives.
Main objectives of Volunteer Programs
- Promote the respect of indigenous people’s and local communities’ self-determination, autonomy and socio-cultural integrity.
- Disseminate information to the local people about the complexity of tourism and about the objectives and criteria of sustainable tourism.
- Promote relevant research on tourism impacts, criteria for sustainable tourism and possibilities for implementation.
- Encourage capacity building among the previously neglected groups and address the specific needs of small and medium size businesses (SMBs) and emerging entrepreneurs.
These learners can be offered core modules in the following areas:
- Destination planning and management
- Marketing Skills
- Accommodation Management
- Event Planning
IOU should use the single mode institution strategy in offering these programs. Many of the world’s “mega-universities,” including Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Universitas Terbuka, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU) and United Kingdom Open University (UKOU), are single mode institutions.
Generally, employers view the volunteering experience as an asset to their job candidate’s CV, and the experience can provide students with hands-on practical experience that is job-related too. There with the open learning methodologies IOU can encourage learners to undertake specific projects in different parts of the world.
The Indian Experience
India is, and has always been a storehouse of intellectual and cultural wisdom and her diversity, cultural richness, and multifarious ways of living place her in a unique position of being able to offer many culturally distinctive products to the global community.
The cultural attractions can be classified as hard and soft. The former includes historical sites, museums, architecture, monuments, religious buildings and archaeological sites while the latter consists of music, drama, poetry, literature, painting, sculpture, engravings, herbal medicine, folklore and handicrafts.
According to figures put up by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), an apex body representing Indian industry, by the year 2020 India could have 40 million tourist arrivals, constituting 4 per cent of the world travel.
By 2007, direct and indirect employment from tourism in India is slated to rise to Rs 66 million from Rs 41 million at present. The tourism multiplier per one million invested Indian Rupees creates 47 jobs.
Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidayalaya: A Trendsetter
University Education is accepted as a devise of expanding education for all for the benefit of personal and social development. In the last 50 years the growth of the Indian higher education system has been phenomenal but uneven. The system has emerged as subservient to the needs of the urban dwellers in general and urban elite in particular.
Indian education system needs to be revamped in this era of globalization. There is need to develop a cadre of socially committed professionals who can contribute there skills and expertise for sustainable development within the society. We need a multicultural education approach that specifically focuses on Cultural reconstruction. The goal of this approach is to ensure equitable individual participation in all aspects of society with focus on sensitizing individuals about the Indian cultural values and ethics.
In this context, Dev Sanksriti Vishwavidayalaya (DSVV) is a trendsetter in the country. Devoted to the cause of Man Making, the University has been conceptualized with Poojya Gurudev Shri Ram Sharma Acharya’s philosophy of developing a community institution. Acharya Sharma, pioneered the revival of spirituality and creative integration of the modern and ancient sciences and religion, relevant in the challenging circumstances of the present time. He wrote about 3000 enlightening books in Hindi on almost all topics concerning human life. The main objective of his movement Vichar Kranti Abhiyan or “Thought Power Revolution” is to meet the pressing need to impart global education on scientific spirituality and life style, with new thought of ethical, moral and spiritual transformation of youths.
The university is part of Gayatri Pariwar, which has more than 70 million followers all over the world. Its headquarters are at Shantikunj,Haridwar, which has grown over the years into a unique fountain-head of moral, ethical and spiritual awakening of the masses.
The university is a People’s University. No financial grants from the Center and State governments are taken for meeting the financial expenses of the university. All courses are offered at Post Graduate level, with special focus on Indian Culture.
Universities are known for organizing convocations at the end of the academic programs. A unique feature of this University is the “Gyan [= jñāna] Diksha” ceremony at the initiation of the academic program. In this unique ceremony the students take the oath at the time of the commencement of the program to make use of their skills for sustainable development of the society.Self Management
Today most of the academic programs focus on enhancing the functional competencies of the learner. DSVV initiated a strategy where the learners are first well equipped with their competencies to deal with the problems of conflicts, depressions, stress and health. Therefore the learners are encouraged to study the religious practices, meditation techniques, role and importance of prayers and a healthy lifestyle management.
The learners enrolled in the university programs are already aware of the international and national history. In the study programs they are encouraged to select a specific cultural zone and study about its traditions and systems. This is further subdivided into specializations for e.g. a budding professional came up with his own plans of organizing a local fair or a local restaurant constructed with eco-friendly design.
The tourism industry is primarily a private sector market driven industry. Enterprises are generally small in operations and are staffed with few employees. The learners are motivated to run the business on the lines of traditional value systems. Modern means of communication and principles of management are applied in the context of the Indian cultural environment.
For example Indian scriptures like Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras, the Bhagavad Gītā and Indian philosophical texts enlighten us on all manageable techniques leading us towards a harmonious and blissful state of affairs in place of the conflict, tensions, poor productivity, absence of motivation and so on, common in most of Indian enterprises today. There teaching was discussed in various discourses by eminent personalities.
The course equipped these budding professionals in the tourism industry with the skills needed for the sustainable management of tourism products, resources and infrastructure.
Internship time provides an opportunity to the students to apply their professional skills for the sustainable development of the society. Under this system, after the completion of their postgraduate studies, these students voluntarily donate three months of their time for the society. They participate in sustainable tourism activities in different states of India by the following methods:
- Developing public understanding and awareness through meetings and discourses on important tourism related issues.
- Using local patterns of communication to educate craftsmen and service providers about the opportunities in tourism.
- Inculcating a feeling of social responsibility by implementing practical solutions to current problems, such as environmental degradation.
- Facilitated in the revival of national culture through ancient systems of group prayers, meditation and sanskars.
- Provided assisted and guidance to youth for setting up business enterprises with the help of local resources.
Education is a process of human enlightenment and empowerment for the achievement of better and high quality of life. A sound and effective system of education results in unfolding of student’s potentialities, enhancement of their competencies and transformation of their personality.
Effective learning requires both knowledge of learner styles and advanced preparation on the part of the teacher or site facilitator. Teachers and site facilitators are better able to make curriculum decisions to suit the preferences of their students, such as grouping certain students productively for project work, or assigning particular students to individual research projects. IOU should design its own accreditation norms for site facilitators for different countries. These certified facilitators should be trained in IOU open learning methodologies to provide learner support.
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