New tourism package for Biharis living abroad

Wednesday, 30 July 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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PATNA: The cash-starved Bihar government plans to launch "Root Tourism", a special package aimed at attracting Biharis living outside India to their roots in the state.

The government is eyeing thousands of non-resident Biharis and people of Bihari origin living across the world, who might have a desire to visit their native villages to retrace their roots and their origins.

Tourism Minister Ashok Kumar Singh said his department would lend a helping hand to Biharis who had lost touch with their roots and wanted to visit the state.

"We will prepare a special tourism package for them and give it a nostalgic touch of homecoming," Singh told IANS.

The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) plans to set up a special cell that will help such people locate their place of origin.

BSTDC managing director Atul Prakash said: "We have information that large numbers of Biharis in Fiji, Mauritius, Surinam and other countries are eager to trace their origins in Bihar. A majority of them have a strong desire to locate the villages of their forefathers."

The corporation has already contacted the embassies of at least half a dozen countries, including Fiji and Mauritius, where a large number of people of Bihari origin are settled.

It has sent a specially designed brochure to the embassies, asking them to help in creating awareness about the package.

Large numbers of people from Bihar, known as the Girmitiya labourers, travelled to various parts of the world in the 19th century to serve as indentured labour on sugarcane and rubber plantations.

Social researcher Ajay Kumar said most of these people belonged to the districts of Chapra, Gopalganj, East and West Champaran, Bhojpur, Sitamarhi, Siwan, Gaya and Patna.

Thousands of third or fourth generation Biharis now live in Fiji, Surinam, Mauritius and South Africa. Most of them are well off and play a significant role in the socio-economic and political structures of their adopted countries.

Officials in the tourism department said foreign tourists visiting Bihar account for only 3.37 percent of the total foreign tourist inflow to India.

A substantial number of these foreigners are Buddhists from countries in South, Southeast and East Asian, drawn to Bihar by numerous sites and shrines associated with their religion.

Source: IANS
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