River Sutra – Pushing the riverine tourism | 16th January 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the government’s new initiative, the Ganga cruise, to promote riverine tourism.


  • GS1: Geography of India;
  • GS3: Indian Economy;
  • Prelims


  • Recently, the Prime Minister of India flagged off the world’s longest river cruise, MV Ganga Vilas in Varanasi.
  • The PM further said that, this is a landmark moment and it will herald a new age of tourism in India.
  • This cruise service will boost tourism and create new job opportunities as well as the travel-tourism-hospitality sector getting a symbolic boost.

The Ganga cruise:

  • It will travel around 3,200 km in 51 days to reach Dibrugarh in Assam via Bangladesh, sailing across 27 river systems in India and Bangladesh.
  • The 51 days cruise is planned with visits to 50 tourist spots including World Heritage Sites, National Parks, River Ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam.
  • It is being pitched as the world’s longest river cruise.
  • The cruise on the river Ganges will be operated by private companies and is being supported by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), which falls under the Ministry of Shipping, Ports and Waterways (MoPSW).


  • The project will boost river cruise tourism and bring about a new age of tourism for India. The cruise has been curated to showcase the best of India to the world.
  • The cruise is designed to provide foreign tourists with an immersive and authentic experience, allowing them to explore India’s art, culture, history, and spirituality, as well as that of Bangladesh.


  • The Ganga cruise marked the beginning in tapping the unrealised potential of India’s numerous and diverse river systems for tourism.
  • But the expansion must take into account the best practices from around India and the world, while ensuring local communities and the environment are not given short shrift.
  • The riverine tourism could bring jobs to states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Assam.
  • But employment generation must go hand-in-hand with ecological repair.
  • Two of the greatest threats to India’s rivers — silting and pollution — must be addressed for the government to realise its goal to increase cruise passenger traffic.
  • But this growth, to be sustainable, must involve local communities.
  • While there is potential for larger, luxury liners, riverine tourism could also expand and cater to travellers from different economic strata. Also, smaller vessels may pose less of an ecological challenge.

Way Forward:

  • While the Centre’s push in the sector, with the PM as the face, is welcome, states and the private sector too must be brought on board.
  • The hospitality sector is labour-intensive and can provide some of the formal jobs that a transitioning Indian economy so desperately needs.
  • And given the growing global market for ecologically-conscious travel, India can — if it is meticulous and enterprising in its planning — protect its rivers and create jobs at the same time.

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