For several years, India’s Ministry of Tourism has had an marketing campaign called “Incredible India,” intended to woo foreigners to Indian shores. The ads are evidently pitched towards foreign tourists and non-resident Indians as they are broadcast mostly on international cable channels.
A recent ad, released in November, I found especially striking. It featured an attractive fair-skinned young woman, presumably from North America or Europe, on a voyage of discovery of India. We see her enjoying a cricket game with an Indian flag painted on her face, learning to mediate and practicing yoga, snowboarding and motorcycling in India’s far north, swimming with an elephant, and playing carom (a popular Indian board game) with Buddhist monks. She even trusts Ayurvedic medicine to treat her injured elbow and is so enticed by the famous Indian head shake that she does it in her sleep. What makes this ad fascinating is that she’s traveling the breadth and depth of India as a single woman. She displays no fear in her travels and bestows her trust in complete strangers. The only thing that scares her is the portrait of a fearsome-looking Indian prince in what looks like a boutique heritage hotel.