New Delhi: Days after his reported remarks that he would "cleanse India of all western cultural influence", Union Minister Mahesh Sharma on Monday said the reference "seems to have been misinterpreted" and he stood by the spirit of India's traditional openness to the world.
"No, Madam. The said reference appears to have been misinterpreted," he said in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.
He was asked if he was aware of his reported statement that he would "cleanse India of all western cultural influence" and whether it has done damage to global perception of India in the world, depicting an atmosphere of rising intolerance.
The Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism was also asked if he has taken steps to retract his statement in the spirit of India's traditional openness to the world.
"The Minister and Ministry of Tourism stands for the spirit of India's traditional openness to the world and we assure our international tourist a warm welcome in a secure, clean and hospitable atmosphere," he further said.
Sharma said the number of foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in India during 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 6.58 million, 6.97 million and 7.68 million respectively.
"The data shows that there is an increasing trend in the number of FTAs during the above mentioned period. During 2014, India witnessed an impressive growth rate of 10.2 per cent in foreign tourist arrivals as compared to a modest growth rate of 4.2 per cent observed in international tourists arrivals worldwide," he said.