Under fire for advising foreign women tourists not to wear skirts and to avoid going out alone at night in small towns, Union Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma on Monday clarified that the statement was made in another context.
Sharma told media that he made the comment in the context of foreigners who visit temples where certain rules have to be followed.
Admitting that he was not authorised to issue injunctions on matters of anyone's dress, he said he wanted to advise tourists to be discreet while visiting temples.
"Even I have two daughters... I would never tell women what they should wear and what they should not," he said.
Addressing a press conference in the Taj City Agra on Sunday, Sharma said, “For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts.”
He added that this would be part of an advisory pamphlet to be given to foreign tourists on their arrival at the airport, asserting that the Indian culture is different from Western.
He, however, later clarified that he was not calling Western culture bad but was only pointing out the differences between two cultures.
The minister also said that tourists should be aware of the sensitivity of Indian culture when visiting temple towns like Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan.
Both tourism industry leaders and women activists of Agra immediately protested, saying such statements would send out a wrong message about the country.
Agra Development Foundation Secretary K.C. Jain, who was with the minister, said Sharma had only referred to an advisory to be given out to foreign tourists detailing do's and dont's in India.
Earlier, in 2015, Sharma had sparked a row after he said that night out for girls is “against” Indian culture.
“Girls wanting a night out may be all right elsewhere, but it is not part of Indian culture,” he had said.