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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 17:11 GMT
Rajasthan cleans up for visitors
Hawa Mahel in Jaipur
Defacing Jaipur's Hawa Mahel is now illegal
First it was the turn of foreigners visiting Rajasthan to be educated about culturally inappropriate behaviour.

Now the government of the northern Indian state has banned street habits often considered typically Indian.

Graffiti and spitting and urinating in public have been outlawed across the state - although critics of the new law say more urinals should be built first. Last year, Rajasthan issued guidelines on tourist behaviour after several foreigners fell foul of local customs.

'Harassment'

Anyone violating the new Rajasthan Prevention of Defacement of Property Ordinance, 2006, will have to pay a fine of up to 1,000 rupees (about $23) or face imprisonment of up to a month. Repeat offenders face double the fine.

The problem of defacement of public property is widespread and warrants immediate action
Urban Development Minister Pratap Singhvi

State Urban Development Minister Pratap Singhvi said the law was necessary as defacement of public property was widespread.

But CP Joshi, of the state's opposition Congress party, said the law could be misused and lead to harassment.

He urged civic authorities to build more public facilities before they banned urinating in public.

Those who feel the new law is a bit harsh say that, in the absence of sufficient public amenities, many Indians have long been used to urinating and spitting on the streets.

The new initiative extends on-the-spot-fines introduced in the state capital, the "pink city" of Jaipur, for urinating in public last summer.

Culture clash

Rajasthan is one of India's premier tourism destinations, thanks to its numerous monuments built by royals who used to rule the state.

Man with camel in Pushkar Mela, Rajasthan
Camels are among Rajasthan's attractions

But as in most states in India many historic buildings are defaced with graffiti scrawled by visitors seeking their share of glory.

The BBC's Narayan Bareth in Jaipur says the behaviour of a few graffiti-prone tourists has given a bad name to visitors to the state in general.

In recent months, Rajasthan has been struggling to contain adverse fallout from incidents in which visitors have appeared to lack appreciation or respect for local culture.

Last November the state introduced guidelines for foreign tourists in a bid to educate them about India's cultural mores, which are more conservative than those in most parts of the West.

The guidelines, which were prompted by a nude stroll by a Finnish tourist and an Israeli couple kissing in public, states that men and women usually do not socialise with each other and that men do not touch women in public even when they are married.


SEE ALSO:
Public relief no longer tolerated
07 May 05 |  South Asia
Indecency guide for tourists to India
28 Nov 05 |  South Asia
Tourists blamed for camel death
11 Oct 05 |  South Asia
Rajasthan fights tourist kidnaps
14 Mar 03 |  South Asia
'Tourist police' for Rajasthan
21 Jul 00 |  South Asia


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