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Monday, 25 April, 2011, 11 : 00 AM [IST]

Gour Kanjilal, Executive Director, IATO & Former Deputy Director General – MoT, Govt. of India

A talented and multilingual person with clear vision about life, Gour Kanjilal is an avid traveller and passionate about tourism. Anish V Punnackattu gets Kanjilal to unravel his personal side and talk about
A firm believer in giving back to society, Gour Kanjilal runs a charitable school offering free education to poor children, which according to him is a joint effort of like-minded people. He also works as a visiting faculty in tourism institutes. After working as Director, Deputy Director General, Regional Director in India and overseas offices of the Ministry of Tourism (over 37 years in various positions), Gour Kanjilal retired in the 2005 from the India Tourism office - Mumbai. In January 2006, Kanjilal has got an assignment with Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) as Executive Director. Between his various assignments Kanjilal also penned two books: ‘Compendium of Tourism Articles’ and ‘Indian Tourism through Inner Eyes.’ A keen traveller, Kanjilal has travelled to 65 countries and visited most states in India. He has not been able to travel through Tripura, Arunachal and Nagaland and these are on his wish list.

Fast Five

Favourite Cuisine: Indian Chinese, Thai, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Mexican. However, fish curry and rice and sweets made by mother are the best.
Favourite Holiday Destinations: Milan, Rome, Florence and Venice in Italy, Switzerland, France, Greece, Austria, South Africa, Kenya and San Francisco and Las Vegas in United States.
Favourite Drink: Aloe Vera juice with Amla
Favourite Restaurant: Bukhara at the ITC Maurya
Favourite music: Indian classical music, old songs by Mukesh and Kishore Kumar and Bhajans

My morning   
Kanjilal’s day begins at five in the morning with a prayer to Goddess Kali (family deity). Thereafter, he usually does yoga for half an hour. On Sunday, he generally takes a brisk walk for an hour at an ornamental park near his house and spends time interacting with members of his senior citizen club. Breakfast is a simple affair of yoghurt, fruit salad, cornflakes/milk or some South Indian snacks, tea/ biscuits. During and post breakfast Kanjilal catches up on news by watching television and reading newspapers.

250411_dl_2.jpgAt work
Workday begins by negotiating the Delhi traffic to reach his office located 30 kms away from his residence in CR Park. Kanjilal reaches office around 10.15 a.m. and his first task of the day is checking e-mails, letters, and Facebook and web requests. Thereafter, he tries to keep in touch with Ministry officials, trade members and media and does a follow up on things pending on his to do list. Kanjilal often represents IATO in various meetings and spends considerable time updating himself about various developments and plans of IATO. During the meetings Kanjilal In these meetings Kanjilal presents inputs on behalf of IATO and also gives feedback to the IATO Executive Committee about the proceedings and outcome of the meetings. He also does a lot of correspondence work at the IATO office and his post lunch routine mainly comprises of IATO administrative work including responses to the press, member queries, updating memberships and calling on officials in various Ministries. Kanjilal tries to wrap up the day's work by 5:30 p.m. and leaves for home by 6 p.m. if he has no meetings scheduled.

250411_dl_3.jpgAfter Hours
Evenings are generally spent visiting club, “Bangiasamaj” where he is the Vice-President. Otherwise, he visits the temple through which he runs his charitable school, Lokenath Ashram. His main responsibility for the school is to arrange funds. Kanjilal donates 10 per cent of his earnings to charitable work. Apart from social service, Kanjilal who is a sports fan tries to take time off to watch cricket and football matches on television. Weekends are mostly devoted to catching up with friends and relatives. Every Sunday, Kanjilal visits the temple in the morning and afterwards joins his senior citizens tea-club, where he is well-known for his anecdotes and sense of humour. Kanjilal loves to read and spends quite a lot of free time reading travel related magazines, religious books, books on wildlife and jokes. Apart from watching news and sports he finds television quite boring.

Recalling landmark moments in his life, Kanjilal says, “I got a scholarship to go to France in 1975 to study a Tourism Management course and thereafter was lucky to get the opportunity to explore Europe. Later I was posted in UK for five years and it coincided with the Festival of India in 1982. I put in a lot of hard work to boost India's image and it made me proud that I could serve my country.” According to Kanjilal the posting in UK was quite different and exciting from the life he was leading in India, living in a rented house and working in a very bureaucratic atmosphere at the Ministry of Tourism, Transport Bhawan.   

“All I have achieved in life has been thanks to the blessings of my parents who gave me best education possible,” avers Kanjilal. He did his post-graduation in MA (History) and also learned to speak several languages including French, Japanese and also Sanskrit. Speaking about the travel and tourism industry in India, Kanjilal says, “I want tourism industry in India to improve. Infrastructure development has to be a top priority if tourism has to prosper. We also need rationalisation of taxes. Otherwise, Indian tourism will remain where it was three decades ago. The product is overpriced mainly due to a gap in the demand and supply. India has a special charm for foreigners that very few destinations in the world have and we should cash in on it with proper facilities.”

Revealing his shortcomings Kanjilal says, “I am always worried about my health as I am diabetic and I tend to lose my temper if things don’t go in accordance to my way of thinking.” His overall philosophy is “Money is not everything and that service and trust are most important. I am always ready to support the poor and needy as it gives me great satisfaction.”
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