Foreign students shun India after Delhi gangrape

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Nainital, April 4: While Indian tourism has been severely hit owing to the lack of safety in the country, now even foreign students prefer keeping away from India. Foreign students who used to vist the country to work with NGOs during the summer break has fallen by 50 %.

"We have registered a 50 per cent decline this year in the number of foreign students we receive every year during summer to work as volunteers or interns with us," Executive Director of Nainital based NGO Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA) Pushkin Pakthiyal said.

Camvol, a UK based organisation which arranges volunteer students from the Cambridge University for select NGOs in India including CHEA, attributes this decline in the number of volunteers from abroad to a sense of insecurity engendered in them by the Delhi gang-rape incident, Pakthiyal said. "The Delhi gang rape incident has scared the students and they don't want to come to India for the valuable experience they gain while working with us," the CHEA Executive Director said citing a communication from Camvol.

NGO such as Central Himalayan Rural Action Group (CHIRAG) and Centre for Ecology Development and Research (CEDAR) are also facing a similar situation.

Foreign tourist arrivals in the first two months of 2013 has been 13.87 lakh which is equal to a growth of 2.1%. Last year, during the same time frame there were 13.59 lakh arrivals, which was equal to a growth of 8.7%.

Even as recent surveys have pointed out to the falling number of foreigners visiting India, Minister of State for Tourism K. Chiranjeevi on Wednesday contradicted reports saying that the 'figures were positive'.

According to experts, this number will remain the same through the year. There has been a drastic fall from the previous years with growth being at 12- 14 % earlier. "Growth this year is down to single digits, from 12-14% earlier and is likely to remain the same in 2013," an expert was quoted as saying.

However, Chiranjeevi is quick to deny it. "The growth of foreign tourists in January and February (2013) has been positive and not negative, as reported by the media," Chiranjeevi defended.

OneIndia News (With inputs from PTI)

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