India has shaken off its post-colonial mantel and undertaken huge economic reforms. Soon it is tipped to become one of the great powers of the 21st century. But huge challenges remain, our wide-ranging journey explores those recent changes. We also get to enjoy some of India’s remarkable beauty and wildlife.

DATESSunday 3 – Wednesday 13 February, 2019
DESTINATION

Mumbai, Jaipur, Ranthambhore, New Delhi

Led Nilanjana Bhowmick

DURATION11 nights
INCLUDED
All AccommodationMeals and Water
Local TransportationExpert Guide
COSTCost: £5030.00
Single supplement: £730.00

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We start in Mumbai, famed for its multi-cultural mix and home to a booming economy situated alongside some of the largest slums in the country. We also explore Hindu nationalism which has fueled religious tensions. These tensions are now seen as the largest threat to India’s democratic institutions, all the while encouraged by the governing BJP.

From there we fly north to Jaipur – the pink city – home to some beautiful architecture and fierce political rivalry between the BJP and Congress. We look at how cast remains a key issue in Indian politics.

Next, we go to one of India’s most famous national parks, Ranthambhore, home to tigers and a charity that is working to improve local education and healthcare. The tour ends with visits to the parliament and meetings with a wide range of politicians and experts.

The tour is led by Siddharth Varadarajan the former editor of the Hindu, India’s largest paper, and Nilanjana Bhowmick, formerly with Time Magazine.

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Like all our tours the itinerary is focused on current affairs. Events on the ground may change and the final schedule may be adjusted accordingly.

Day 1

Sunday 3rd February: Mumbai

Our tour starts in the evening in the thriving city of Mumbai home to over 18 million people. We get an introduction to the tour ahead with the Political Tours experts and staff. How India is shaping a new identity for itself. Experts talk over dinner. Overnight in Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai
Day 2

Monday 4th February: Mumbai

We get an overview of India’s largest city (by size). Mumbai is proud of its multi-cultural mix, home to major Hindu and Muslim shrines as well as its financial centre and not least, Bollywood, India’s booming film industry. A packed first day covers business, show biz and the mix of religions; we tour the city and meet with leading figures in all three areas. Overnight in Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai.
Day 3

Tuesday 5th February: Mumbai

Mumbai faces major challenges – not least of all over population and groaning infrastructure. We visit Dharavi, one of the most densely populated areas in India and look at a project trying to improve local lives. We visit the home of a more middle-class family to learn about their life in the city. Later we look at transport – just getting to and from work is a major feat for most city dwellers. Pollution is another factor both in the air and on the ground. Environmentalists and urban planners give us their take. In 2008 the city was subject to one of the worst terror attacks in India’s history. We look at its legacy. Overnight in Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai.
Day 4-5

Wednesday 6th to Thursday 7th February: Jaipur

We fly north to Jaipur, one of India’s most prominent and beautiful cities.

Mumbai – Jaipur by air: AI 611 Economy class 11.35 – 13.15
(Please contact Political Tours to book your flight with our travel partners)

The pink city is the capital of Rajasthan one of the most contested politically in India with traditionally close rivalry between the BJP and Congress. We visit the regional assembly learn about recent elections (Dec 18) and see how cast continues to play a critical role in Indian politics. There will also time to explore the city centre and architecture. Overnight in ITC Jajputana Hotel Jaipur – 2 nights..

Day 6-7

Friday 8th to Saturday 9th February: Ranthambhore National Park

We leave Jaipur by road for Ranthambhore National Park, formerly a hunting ground of the Maharajas of Jaipur and now home to a huge diversity of wildlife, include tigers and leopards. We have two early morning trips with rangers.

We are staying in a beautiful camp on the edge of the park in luxury accommodation run by a charitable foundation. Money raised from the camp goes towards funding local hospitals, and schools and we will see their work. While the state is still incredibly weak at providing such services, charitable foundations take on much of the burden. Overnight at Khem Villas – 2 nights.

Day 8

Sunday 8th February: New Delhi

After a morning in Ranthambhore we leave by train at lunch time for New Delhi, this is included in the price. Check into hotel for dinner and an introduction to Delhi with Nilanjana Bhowmick. Overnight at The Manor Hotel, New Delhi.
Day 9-10

Monday 11th to Tuesday 12th February: New Dehli

New Delhi is the cauldron of national politics and we get the most diverse view of what is happening in the city. We visit the offices of two leading national papers. Is nationalism undermining Indian democracy? We look at the courts and meet with university students at the elite Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), a left-leaning liberal stronghold, to talk about a crackdown on political dissent. Maoism is alive and well in India; we speak to a leading politician who was also one of the leaders of the women’s protest movement against rape. We’ll also be visiting local homes, speaking with think tanks and meeting with senior politicians from the BJP and opposition in parliament. There will be the usual opportunity to own ask questions. At our last dinner our experts review the week. Overnight at The Manor Hotel, New Delhi.
Day 12

Wednesday 13th February: New Dehli

The tour ends after breakfast on our last day.

Please contact us for options to extend the tour to visit the Taj Mahal, Agra.


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Dates: Sunday, 3 – Wednesday 13 February 2019

Cost: £5030.00 Single supplement: £730.00

This tour starts in Mumbai and ends in Delhi

What’s Included

All of your accommodation and meals with water are included, as well as local transport (except during your free time). Flights are not included in the price and need to be arranged by customers themselves or with an agent.

Following the news

Like all our tours the itinerary is focused on current affairs. Events on the ground may change and the final schedule may be adjusted accordingly.

Group size

As on all our expert-led tours the groups are deliberately small and will not exceed 12 people. Frequently we travel with 8 – 10 people. Limited spaces are available.

Visa

All foreign nationals entering India need to have a valid visa. All individual visa seekers are requested to apply for an Indian e-Visa through the online application site. Visit the official site – indianvisaonline.gov.in

Weather

Sunblock is essential as temperatures in Mumbai during the day can reach mid-30s centigrade (C)/90s fahrenheit (F). Further north temperatures will be cooler (mid-20s C/70s F), with overnight temperatures dropping to around 9 C/mid-40sF..

Dress

Travellers should always ensure arms and legs are covered, when visiting temples and other religious institutions visitors may be required to cover their heads or remove their shoes..

Men: Will need a jacket and tie for some of the meetings.
Women: You will need some smarter attire for one or two meetings.

FCO Website – Travel Advice

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes regularly updated travel information on its website www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo which you are recommended to consult before booking and in good time before departure. Where it considers it appropriate to do so, the FCO may advise against all travel or all but essential travel to particular countries or parts of particular countries. Similarly, the FCO may withdraw any such previously given advice. Where the FCO issues such advice, we may as a result cancel your tour or make changes so as to avoid the area concerned (see clause 10). Alternatively, we may ask you to sign a form confirming you wish to proceed with the tour notwithstanding the FCO advice. It is in the nature of the itineraries we offer that the FCO may have issued such advice in relation to the country or parts of the country we are intending to visit prior to confirmation of your booking. In this case, you will be asked to sign the above form before we confirm your booking.

Medical Requirements

Advice on health requirements may be obtained from your GP, or alternatively from the Department of Health leaflet Advice on Health for Travelers, or the Department of Health in the UK. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx.

Mosquito repellant is a good idea.

It is also useful to travel with medications for traveller’s tummy – like imodium, probiotics and rehydration sachets.

We suggest you visit your own doctor or local travel clinic who will have the most up-to-date travel advice, and be able to recommend any vaccinations prior to travel based on your medical history.

Currency

Local currency is the Indian Rupee. There are restrictions on bringing Indian rupees into India. Visitors, including tourists, are not permitted to bring any amount of Indian currency into the country. You can bring cash or travellers’ cheques (in pounds sterling or another foreign currency) and/or a bank card with you and exchange or withdraw rupees once in India.

Electricity & Plugs

Electricity supply is 220-240 volts AC 50 HZ. Most plugs are 5 amp with 3-prong round pins.

Internet Access

Wifi is available in all hotels, as well as many coffee shops and restaurants.

International Passenger Protection Insurance (IPP)

All our travel arrangements are covered by the UK’s package tour regulations and are financially guaranteed. We are a land-only tour operator and flights are not included.

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Nilanjana Bhowmick

Multi-award winning, independent journalist, a former Time correspondent, based in New Delhi, India. Currently, an editor with Agencia EFE’s English Language Service and an independent commentator on gender, development, politics and current affairs.

15 years of experience writing and reporting for some of the world’s best media publications on development, social justice, human rights, gender and environment, foreign policy and international affairs, including: The Washington Post, Time, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Cs Monitor, New Internationalist, The Establishment, Reuters, BBC World, Voa News, Panos, Radiolab, Financial Times (Germany), El Mundo (Spain), National Geographic Magazine.
Columnist for the Washington Post and New Internationalist Magazine.

Awarded for being the best development journalist by the UK-based Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in 2010. Lorenzo Natalie Prize (European Commission) in 2010 for development journalism. Diageo Women’s Empowerment award for the best online story in Asia-Pacific in 2013.

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Comments from Recent Tours

“These trips bring real, usually politically-connected, people to the table. All of us are free to ask whatever we want and to follow up with tough questions. Reading about situations isn’t even close to finding out things firsthand. There is nothing like being on the ground, face-to face, with people who are making or impacting policy.

As a rule, I don’t do group tours. But I make an exception for PT given the value I’ve experienced every time – and the Baltics was my 6th PT.”
ME, a frequent traveler with Political Tours

“Hearing first hand from people closely involved and well informed from both sides was, in my view, exceptional. I thought we had a good range of views across the spectrum.”
CF on Israel and Palestine, the Baltics and Russia

“It introduced me to some interesting people (including fellow travelers); it took me to places and to people I would have never accessed as an ordinary tourist. It was the first time that I had been part of any tour group – it was very well run and the group members and leaders were great.”
MS, Israel and Palestine

“I always recommend Political Tours when people say they want to get away from the “tourist trail”
AM, a frequent traveller with Political Tours

“I thought thought the organisors were amazing. They were not just knowledgeable, they were very good at making me feel welcome, at managing the group, keeping the focus on the topic at hand and encouraging questions and follow up discussions.”
MH, Colombia, Iceland and Hungary

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Political Tours recommended reading list for the India tour

Why I am a Hindu – Shashi Tharoor

The Paradoxical Prime Minister – Shashi Tharoor

In Spite Of Gods :The Strange Rise Of Modern India – Edward Luce

India After Gandhi – Ramachandra Guha

India’s Unending Journey – Mark Tully

India Unbound – The Social And Economic Revolution From Independence To The Global Information Age – Gurcharan Das

Everybody Loves A Good Drought: Stories From India’s Poorest Districts – P. Sainath

The Argumentative Indian – Amartya Sen

How the BJP wins: Inside India’s Greatest Election Machine – Prashant Jha

Electoral Politics in India: The Resurgence of the Bharatiya Janata Party Hardcover – 1 Feb 2017

Web sites

The following websites: The Wire, Scroll.in can be an impartial source of news on India.

These blogs are a great read on India.
http://www.indiauncut.com
Youth Ki Awaaz

The Better India
http://themangoman.co.in