“Rural Business Hub” (RBH), the concept to economically empower Rural India and also assist social empowerment was mooted by our Prime Minister in his first address to the Chief Ministers on Panchayati Raj. Unfortunately nothing much was done during 2001-06. However with the new government in the saddle it is imperative we look at various projects that will economically empower rural Tamil Nadu. One of the short gestation period project which can create significant employment is the Rural Tourism.
RBH is a Public, Private, Panchayati Partnership. (PPPP). Hence the funds that are allocated through other programs of the Government of India and Tamil Nadu can be dovetailed to fit in to the scheme. The GOI ‘Backward Region Grant Fund’ (BRGF) can also be used for the RBH initiative to create specific infrastructure. Approximately Rs.250 crores of unused funds is available which can be used in the notified backward area for the current FY. In Tamil Nadu the following six districts are identified: Cuddalore, Dinidgul, Nagapattinam, Sivagangai, Thiruvannamalai and Villupuram.
The Rural Tourism concept is well accepted all over the world. People from all over the world travel far & wide not only to see places of interest, but also for the opportunity to interact with the locals and to an extent even get introduced to their culture. Tamil Nadu has significant tourist potential. The GOI tourist department has already identified 36 places, 4 of which (karaikudi, Thoothukudi, Thdiankdidsi, & Kombai) are located in the Sivagangai, Thoothukudi, Dindigul & Theni districts. I have attached an over view of how Haryana which does not have the kind of tourist spot we have is benefiting out of Rural Tourism.
As we in Tamil Nadu promote tourism we should get away from the mind set of looking only at the foreign tourist. As the earning power of the young specifically the software professionals and urban city dwellers are on the rise, we should also target to cater to their needs. It may be worthwhile looking into setting up these Center for Rural Tourism (CRT) next to the existing cultural and other tourist center spots; this will facilitate the people who are visiting places like Mahabalipuram to do other activities in the village like milking the cow etc. We can also tie up with organizations like Dakhinchitra model with CRT. These should be run as a franchise with the local villager owning the capital investment and managing the day to day operations and the Tourist operator/Hotel Chain managing to ensure safe, hygienic and quality is maintained.
In order to effectively and quickly achieve our objective of setting up CRT as a RBH project I have attached here with Backward Region Grant Fund (BGRF) Program Guidelines.
‘Americai’ V. Narayanan
Advisor – Ministry of Panchayati Raj
Government of India
Mobile: 98400 india (46342) or 98410 india