India is a land of rich heritage and cultures, and we still celebrate our unity in diversity, no matter what the political regime says. Another fact that should be mentioned is that we are the only nation with the largest youth population, and so the future literally depends on us.
What has happened in the past is history and we write history every day, but are we writing or re-writing it to forget or to learn from our past? I believe this question should be asked to politicians, scholars and to us. India has thousands or even lakhs of explored and unexplored tangible and intangible heritage, we have deliberately failed ourselves in promoting and conserving our heritage.
A few days back I read that a few monuments were destroyed due to rain in Hampi but I think the rain was made the scapegoat and the main reason for the destruction was our dishonest and lack of attempt at preserving our heritage sites. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has put up boards at every heritage site and even charge fees from visitors at various sites, but are they doing enough?
It would be unfair to just put the blame on governmental organisations about the present situation. We are also to be blamed for not being aware enough about our heritage sites. You can easily see even that on every wall there is at least one graffiti that says something on the lines of “Rahul loves Simran”.
What kind of citizens are we? We are destroying places of national and international significance. If I compare two states, one to where I originally belong and the other my current residence, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi respectively, I see a huge difference between UP Tourism and Delhi Tourism.
On the one hand, Delhi Tourism has been managing all the heritage sites under their jurisdiction carefully and they are trying their best to promote tangible and intangible heritage by organising events like the Urdu Festival, Dastaangoi, and more. Whereas, we do not find much of these initiatives in Uttar Pradesh, though the state government has been trying to organise Bithoor Mahotsav, Lucknow Mahotsav, etc. But still, the care given to heritage sites is not enough. We see the government organisations failing to protect these heritage sites.
At the Bachelors’ level in a university like Delhi University, we are deprived of regular field trips to heritage sites for educational purposes, and I think this is a failure of our education system. Many countries take their heritage sites seriously but it is disheartening to see that we are still very far from that goal. But, the situation is not at its worst right now and there still is scope for improvement. But this will be only possible if we get equal support from the government and the public. We have the law but that is loosely implemented.
The government should spend money on promoting not just one monument but all the important heritage sites across the country. The public must be conscious that showing their love on the wall does not make their love stronger, but causes much damage to the walls themselves and we cannot afford any more damage.
We started an initiative called Karwaan-The Heritage Exploration Initiative to promote and protect our very precious heritage and culture. We aim to collaborate with scholars, historians, heritage activists, artists who are working to protect and promote heritage. We wish to reach out to all the colleges in India, starting from Delhi University.
We have organised heritage walks, lecture series by renowned historians, and discussion sessions at various institutions of heritage. Let us come together for this cause, and we can save our rich heritage.