An Interview With… Aishwarya Singh

The IGC recently sat down (virtually) with Aishwarya Singh to discuss topics of sustainable tourism and maritime opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region. Read our conversation below:

1. What stimulated your interest in the blue economy and maritime tourism?

I was always an inquisitive kid; I challenged the normal and I believe that trait landed me in doing research about something unusual. I’m also a foreign policy and international relations enthusiast too; I read a lot on strategic and geopolitical affairs in the Indo-Pacific. Climate change is not a future phenomenon, it’s happening now and is the biggest challenge of our century; I wanted to find a model of sustainable development for oceans which led me to the “Blue Economy” concept.

2. What is the Vibrant Villages Programme and how is it fostering inclusive tourism?

The Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) is an ambitious project of the Government of India, aimed at the comprehensive development of India’s First Villages. These villages span across four Indian states and one in the Union Territory, namely – Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Ladakh.

The programme covers a total of 2963 villages, out of which 662 will be developed in the first phase. The focus is to preserve the indigenous cultural heritage, creating economic imperatives for the locals, mitigate migration from these villages, improve connectivity and infrastructure and promote sustainable tourism, thus making these villages truly vibrant.

The main goal of the VVP is to foster inclusion and ensure that no one is left behind from the Government’s policies and development agenda.

3. How are geopolitical events shaping the development in the Indo-Pacific region?

4. How did India’s G20 Presidency change/advance its prospects for development in the region?

5. How can, if at all, Indo-German relations shape initiatives to address challenges of climate change and maritime security in the Indo-Pacific?

Europe’s increasing interest in the Indo-Pacific is an example of the changing diplomatic horizons in the maritime domain and international relations. Germany has always been a crucial partner for India, and in enhancing their bilateral ties, challenges of climate change and maritime security in the region can surely be addressed.

6. Do you have any resource recommendations for readers to gain more insights?

Aishwarya has written a wealth of resources on the topic, available here:

7. What’s your favourite place to visit in India? What makes it so special to you?

Aishwarya Singh is an Assistant Manager within the Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) Cell of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Tourism Management (Maritime Tourism) and has notable interests in the blue economy and maritime tourism; as well as geopolitics within the Indo-Pacific region.