India Travels Guides & Best India Country Cultures
Before the Internet existed and websites like Fathom were even possible, travel writers Verlag Karl Baedeker, Eugene Fodor, and Arthur Frommer revolutionized the way travelers explored the globe. The modern guidebook was born, and planning a trip became a whole lot easier.
Fast-forward to today. The companies these pioneers inspired have become the standard bearers in the mass-market guidebook space. And while everyone at Fathom has a favorite mainstream travel guide, our hearts and loyalties are with the smaller, charming independents. (They speak our language, after all.)
We’re pleased to announce the latest in our 24 Best series: The heavily researched and exhaustively debated list of the 24 Best Indie Travel Guides. These best-in-show volumes are written with passion and are the ones we rely on for in-depth research and inspiration. They’re the ones we are happy to make space for in our carry-ons. Have a look. You’ll like what you see.
ABOUT FATHOM LISTS
Fathom has three missions: To help you indulge your love of travel, whether you’re on the road or staying home. To narrow down endless options (hotels, sites, destinations) to those that are special. And to find the best travel stories. These guidebooks help us deliver all of the above, through their insight, intelligence, adventures, and great writing.
And not 10 or 25 or 100? You’ll see 24 a lot around Fathom. For a few reasons: We want to deliver a balanced but concise mix of options, and twenty sometimes isn’t enough. And mainly because it’s our lucky number.
India Cultures Swachch Bharat and paramilitary forces
Prime Minister of India has give clarion call to all citizens, policy makers and corporate houses to contribute to the realization of the dream of Mahatama Gandhi of a swachch or clean Bharat.
Responding to the call of the CEO of the country, the corporate world has committed large sums for creation of toilets for girls in schools and women in rural India where such facilities are unheard of and this fifty percent of our population, in the words of NaMo “waits for the dark to answer the call of nature”. Only one third households have toilets in India. Urban areas may have more toilets but sanitation and waste disposal still continue to be challenges. Water borne diseases in rural areas due to open defecation and contamination of water sources are other resultant menaces of lack of hygienic private and public toilets.
The project has two components: one, providing separate toilets for the girl students in schools, particularly in all girls schools or co-ed schools where such facilities are non existent; two, for the rural women folk who also don’t have access to this ‘luxury’.
We all know India lives in villages. Seventy percent population is rural and agrarian lying at the bottom half of the economic wellness pyramid. Providing this facility is a gigantic though not an impossible task provided all the resources at the command of the policy makers are identified and judiciously deployed. All would agree that construction of these toilets and their maintenance is no rocket science or requires complex engineering detail. Fortunately, Sulabh International has done seminal research in the field of designing and deploying technology to suit every environment at minimal cost. Their designs are standardized with cost estimates ready for implementation.
Governmental niche agencies like PWD, CPWD, BRO and a lot of construction majors in the private sector like L&T involved in national infrastructure programmes need not be disturbed by diverting their human resource towards this noble but low tech – low cost target. It should best be left to auxiliary agencies like the Block and state housing boards.
One major contributor and hitherto unexploited in achieving the target at good pace can be the para military forces, particularly the border guarding forces which have their own engineering wing. These forces are deployed all along the country’s borders with China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar and carry out a lot of civic action programmes for the border citizenry to develop micro infrastructure besides other activities like medical and veterinary services to the people and their livestock. The dedicated engineering wing available with these forces can be leveraged to include the Swachch Bharat Scheme in their annual action plans provided adequate funding is provided by the concerned ministry and more importantly trust is reposed in their capabilities.
The advantage of utilizing this untapped resource is that the para military personnel are the only face of government in several far flung and difficult areas and their knowledge of people and terrain is phenomenal.
District Education Officer of each border district can provide list of such girls and co-ed schools which lack these facilities and sooner than later, the aspiration of the country voiced from the ramparts of the historic Lal Quila on the Republic Day, 2014 can be realized.
The involvement of para military forces in this project will also do a world of good to the force personnel who otherwise work in very lonely and harsh environment. They will consider themselves part of the larger village family, thus finding some emotional cushion that may bring down incidence of suicide and fratricide in the forces. These force personnel will be perceived as friends of people and partners in the people’s development that will make their jobs more fulfilling.
At least a beginning in this direction can be made by commissioning a pilot project in the area of responsibility of each border guarding force. A review can be done after 3-6 months to further decide on the scope of their engagement. It is hoped that by galvanizing all resources the next year’s World Toilet Day on November 19 may not raise so much stink.