Adopting the Korean model for TS tourism
The issue of non-procurement of coarse variety of paddy by FCI has now taken political overtones
The issue of non-procurement of coarse variety of paddy by FCI has now taken political overtones. Telangana government has raised objection over the "sudden" change of stand by Food Corporation of India (FCI) on rice procurement and the officials according to the Chief Minister have recommended that the area under paddy cultivation should be reduced.
But the question is did FCI suddenly make this announcement? Was the government caught off guard or is it being used as yet another weapon in the battle for Huzurabad by-elections?
The fact is that in April this year, the FCI had agreed to procure 80 per cent boiled rice and 20 per cent raw rice from Telangana this rabi (yasangi) season following Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's request. This was the statement of Chairman of Telangana State Civil Supplies Corporation M Srinivas Reddy.
He further said that he had however suggested the farming community not to grow common grade (doddu rakam) paddy from which boiled rice is processed, from the next season as the FCI was not willing to procure it. It was unwilling to accept boiled rice from Telangana this season but had agreed after much persuasion, he stated. Apparently, the government was in know of things.
The Centre has been coming to the rescue of rice millers when huge quantity of boiled rice stocks were piled up though there is no such mandated law or act to the procurement of boiled rice.
In the last agricultural season in April, the FCI agreed to buy 80 per cent of five lakh tonnes of boiled rice after the millers failed to export the stocks to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Odisha and Karnataka where the boiled rice consumption is high. Since three years, boiled rice millers from Telangana have been struggling hard to sell the product to in other States where the boiled rice production had registered considerable increase. The State government too has no specific policy to buy boiled rice from millers.
The State BJP says that government was targeting the Centre repeatedly and wants to project as if the Centre was not doing justice to the State and wants to appeal to the people to decide whether they want TRS or BJP. The dance of democracy has resulted in war or words between the pink and the saffron parties.
While the Finance minister T Harish Rao criticised the Centre on this issue, BJP Nizamabad MP D Arvind countered Harish by saying that Centre always rescued the millers by procuring unsold boiled rice in every season. TRS wants to derive political benefit out of the boiled rice procurement issue.
Well what one fails to understand is why can't the State government while playing its own politics think of innovative ways to explore the possibility of increasing the scope of export of boiled rice and other products to countries like Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh etc. There is good demand for para boiled rice in Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam and some African countries as well.
May be the government can examine the Korean method of marketing strategy. It could be a multi-pronged strategy to promote our tourism sector as well as export of boiled rice and several other products. Well may sound funny but let's examine what Korea is going to showcase its products for the Indian customers.
Starting from September 17, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) which had collaborated with multiple brands for a series of virtual Korean experiences, will be holding social media contest on its products for Indian travellers. The KTO decided on this module in view of the current prevailing travel restrictions due to the pandemic. It has decided to step forward and get Korea to its Indian audience and create an experience that can be enjoyed by the travel seekers and Korea lovers until November 15. The event comprises K-Food, K-Pop, K-Beauty, K-Drama and Korean product discount offers.
The TS government too can consider such events so that the great tourism potential the state can be explored and products like rice, millets and other food grains and artefacts, handlooms can be promoted. Even cultural events can be showcased to the other parts of the globe. If Korean artists can give a demonstration of their dance forms and display the richness of their music, Telangana which does not lag behind any other country in all these aspects too can attract the attention of friendly countries.
Different varieties of Telangana cuisine with para boiled rice, bajra, millets etc can be propagated on OTT platforms. Agricultural practices can be displayed which can also help in inviting queries from prospective customers. It will also provide an opportunity to propagate the eco-friendly and herbal products for which there is great international market. Similarly, the lives of popular people including poets, singers, musicians can be highlighted. Even the rich religious traditions which had gained greater popularity after the new State was formed can be shown to the world. All these measures can help in promoting the state products, art and culture to other parts of the world and the problems that had arisen out of Covid pandemic can be converted into a new advantage. If such measures are taken now, by the time the travel restrictions are lifted, TS can be on the world map of Tourism and trade prospects can improve drastically.
Korean audiences have always admired the dancers in Bollywood movies, and are starting to understand that both Korea and India share a tradition and love for song and dance. If the government works on these lines even Telangana share of tradition can become more and more popular among other countries. Audiences from other countries can be brought closer to our culture and similarly, traders from other countries can look at Telangana as a destination for their shopping which could include food grains and many other products.
Its time we give up myopic view of issues and go in for innovative ways to promote our products so that the dependence on centre can be reduced. We have been seeing that the centre is slowly washing its hands off from many things whether it be privatising of public sector industries and even railways. Hence states too need to wake up and work out alternate plans to see that they come up with new ideas.
If we keep shouting from roof tops quoting statistics on how centre has been "inflicting" injustice on state it does not really help anyone. Because we have seen how centre has been pushing ahead with its agenda and policies no matter whatever the protests and objections from the people and political parties be.
Moreover, the governments which display all their lung power from public platforms fail to put pressure on the Centre to get their opinion accepted. Then why all this noise? Why not do something differently and become role model for other states? Its time, the bureaucracy and political executive thinks about it.