Under the guidance of IAS Officer Mugdha Sinha, Rajasthan is continuously striving to put science in service of the society. Secretary General of Science & Technology and Arts & Culture along with Director General for Jawahar Kala Kendra – Sinha manages the twin departments with equal élan, combining them for meeting developmental goals. The Optimist News reached to Mugdha Sinha to know more about development of Astronomical tourism in Rajasthan, one of his flagship projects.
“I am continuously trying to make both departments work in tandem, because I feel astronomy is one of the spheres we should focus on. Previously we worked in collaboration with NASA on a program called ‘International Asteroid Search Campaign’, in which many school students took part. Out of which, two students are currently working on a provisional asteroid,” says Sinha.
The Science and Technology Department of Rajasthan is instrumental in contributing hardware while the Arts & Culture Department popularizes the monuments that demonstrate the historical legacy of the state. In 2020, when the night curfew was lifted after the national lockdown, Mugdha Sinha and team thought it would be a good time to introduce the novel concept of observing the night sky among tourists and launched Night Sky tourism at the Secretariat Lawns in Rajasthan. Generally in Rajasthan as in any other tourist places of India, the tour itineraries are all scheduled during the day and there is hardly anything for tourists to do at night. This new idea of astronomical night sky tourism will make the nights exciting for tourists. To abide by the Covid-19 Protocols, we are allowing only 15 people to look through telescopes at one go.
Speaking about the experience of introducing night sky tourism at Rajasthan the bureaucrat shares, “We placed the telescope on the terrace of Jawahar Kala Kendra which is generally inaccessible for common people. But they can now enthusiastically participate and enjoy the experience from the terrace of a government building. Nearly 500 people have registered for it, out of which more than 200 have already visited. We have provided facilities for astro-photography also and published an annual calendar for 2021 mentioning the tentative dates, on which this event will be held. This will also encourage the experiential kind of phenomenon of looking at the stars. We are glad that we are the first Indian state to launch astronomical night sky tourism.”
These small steps while offering innovative experiences are generating revenue while opening up new avenues of tourism in India.