New Delhi: After coming under fire for suggesting that woman tourists should not wear skirts in India, Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma on Monday clarified his statement saying that it was only in reference with religious places so that the sanctity of the holy place is maintained.
“All I said was that if they enter a temple they should take off their shoes and cover their heads if they are entering a Gurudwara, that’s all,” said Sharma.
Asserting that he did not comment on what a person cannot wear, the Union Minister said that India is known for its diverse culture and that imposing such a ban was unimaginable.
Further stating that as a minister it was his right and job to ensure the safety of foreign tourists, Sharma said that the government releases advisories just like other nations, for the safety of the visitors.
“I am a father of two daughters…I would never tell women what they should wear or not. Our culture is Atithi Devobhava (the guest is almost like God). Such a ban is unimaginable, but it is not a crime to be cautious. Different countries issue advisories from time to time, but I never said change anyone’s way of dressing,” Sharma said.
Sharma stirred a controversy saying that a welcome kit is being provided to tourists visiting India and the dos and don’ts on the card advise women not to wear skirts or roam alone at night.
“When visitors land at the airport, they will be provided with a welcome kit. The kit contains a card, a pamphlet which describes do’s and dont’s. The advisory tells the visitors not to travel at night and ask them not to wear skirts,” he said on Saturday.
“In that kit, there is a pamphlet which says that India is a cultural state where apparels change with respect to religious places like temples and asks the visitors to mind their dress codes,” he retorted.
He also asked visitors to take a photograph of every vehicle’s number plate as a precautionary measure while travelling.
Hitting out at Sharma, the Congress said that if he had his way, then every woman in the country would be wearing a burqa.
Congress leader Manish Tewari said that the Culture Minister of India comes out with the most ‘uncultured’ remarks possible.
“India gives everybody the liberty to be permissive, modern, extremely liberal in their habits, disposition and even in the clothes that they wear. So therefore this diversity of culture is something that the Culture Minister should recognise. But as I said that if ‘Pandit’ Mahesh Sharma has his way, he will put every woman in this country in a burqa,” Tewari said.