Foreigners partying has to be captured on video in Karnataka, rules govt

Foreigners partying has to be captured on video in Karnataka, rules govt
Video grab of Spring Zouk 2012, organised by a private company with the state government at St Mary’s Island, where foreigners were allegedly caught indulging in ‘inappropriate behaviour’
* Details of all foreign invitees in parties/music shows to be handed over to police

* Parties and music shows should end by 10 pm; no midnight parties allowed 

* New rules not applicable to Bengaluru. Phew! for the small mercies

Let’s call it Make in Karnataka. The state, whose capital Bengaluru has probably most expats and tourists in the country, has just ruled that they can party only under police vigil. Bengaluru has been spared the ‘police state’ diktat, which apparently has been prompted to uphold ”Indian culture and tradition”.

The Karnataka government has made it mandatory to videograph all parties where foreigners are invited. The organisers also need to provide the full list of foreigners attending any party. A gazette notification, dated February 26, a copy of which has been accessed by Bangalore Mirror, mandates the organisers of parties to organise programmes that are in tune with Indian culture and tradition. The definitions of culture and tradition, though, have not been specified. The organisers are also supposed to obtain permission from district-level committees headed by the deputy commissioner by revealing the project cost, source of funding, names of advertisers and the event schedule.

The other rules are: All parties and music shows should end by 10 pm; organisers should provide all details of foreigners who will be participating in the event at the time of obtaining permission; officials from the tourism and police departments should be allowed to videograph and photograph the show/party. The rules also prohibit tourists from staying back/sleeping at the venue after the event is over.

This is being done to prevent a repeat of a 2012 incident at St Mary’s island off the Udupi coast. “We do not want a repeat of the incident. These rules are meant to end display of sleaze in the state,” said a tourism department official after Bangalore Mirror picked up a copy of the gazette notification mentioning the new rules.

In February 2012, an event called ‘Spring Zouk 2012’, organised at St Mary’s Island by a private company in association with the state government, had caused it huge embarrassment when some foreign couples were seen making out. The government had also been slammed for allowing consumption of liquor and drugs, besides turning a blind eye to nudity by the guests.

Following this, the then BJP government ordered a probe into the incident. A few months ago, tourism minister R V Deshpande chaired a meeting and decided to roll out new live shows of national and international level, including music concerts, and tourism-related events. But, to safeguard its interests, the government brought in several riders.

“During the music festival at St Mary’s Island, which was organised to promote beach tourism on the lines of similar events in Goa and Kerala, several foreign couples had pitched tents on the island and stayed there,” said another tourism department official.

While the government maintains the rules will make the organisers more accountable, event managers have started crying foul. “Why would any foreigner wanted to be snooped upon? The government’s move is nothing but intrusion into the privacy of tourists. It would have been ideal for the government to issue a list of dos-and-don’ts for tourists instead of scaring them,” said an event manager, who did not want to be named.