Saturday, December 12, 2009

Opportunity to Preserve Our Past

By A. K. Khanna

Heritage is our legacy from the past, that we live today and that we pass on to the future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage is both priceless and irreplaceable source of life and inspiration. The World Heritage Sites, Cultural as well Natural Sites belong to all people of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

In 1972, the General Conference of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) adopted a resolution with overwhelming enthusiasm, thereby, a convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, by which countries recognize that the sites located on their national territory and which have been inscribed on the World Heritage list, without prejudice to national sovereignty or township, constitute.

India is a grand repository of ancient cultural and natural treasure of exceptional value, is a state party to the convention concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage from 1977 and has been working in close cooperation with other international agencies like ICOMOS (International Council of Monuments and Sites) IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and ICCORM (International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property). India is also an elected member of the World Heritage Committee since 1985 and is contributing regularly for the promotion of World Heritage.
As on 2008, India has 22 Cultural and 5 Natural sites, which are inscribed, as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, they are:Ajanta Caves (1983), Ellora Caves (1983), Agra Fort (1983),Taj Mahal (1983), Sun Temple, Konark (1984), Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984), Kaziranga National Park (1985), Churches and Convents of Goa (1986), Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986), Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986), Fatehpur Sikri (1986), Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987), Elephanta Caves (1987), Great Living Chola Temples (1987 & 2004), Sundarbans National Park (1987), Nanda Devi National Park (1988), Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989), Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (1993), Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993), Indian Mountain Railways (IMR) (1999), Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002), Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003), Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004)Red Fort (2007)

The ICOMOS, a wing of UNESCO, has declared April 18 of every year as a World Heritage Day. The Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India apart, from observing the World Heritage Day and augmenting various practical measure in respect of conservation of the World Heritage Monuments have been observing the World Heritage Week (18th – 25th Nov). The World Heritage Week coincides with the birthday of Smt. Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India, whose love and concern for the Cultural and Natural Heritage well known. These annual events specially aimed to involve the youth of the country in such work as creating awareness, in preservation and propagation of the rich cultural heritage for which our country is World famous.

The World Heritage Day offers an opportunity to raise public awareness concerning the diversity of the World’s Heritage (tangible, intangible & Natural) and the efforts that required to protect and conserve for the future generation as well as to draw attention to its venerability. There are two major issues to the theme of ‘Heritage and Science ‘that has been chosen for International Day for Monuments and Sites or World Heritage Day on 18th April, 2009. One being the role that the science and the scientific process has played in the creation of heritage and the other being the contribution that science and technology offers to the study of heritage. The term Science and Technology are twin sisters, science defined as a system of process that and a body of knowledge about the physical world cannot exist without technology .As technology is a system of tools and procedure concerned with modifying the physical World and to a great extent is based on science.

The bulk of the World tangible or build-in heritage excluding purposes completely natural landscapes is the result of the practical application of knowledge under science and technology.

The most important tangible heritage of Jammu region is Mubarak Mandi Complex. Clearly reflects the influence of Science and Technology into its construction, the application of science in terms of architectural design, also in mining of stone, making of lime mortar / plaster, Casting of iron girders / grills / railings / pipes etc. In the means Transportation of the raw material from England and to organized skilled and unskilled components that made the structure possible in terms of the palace complex. Apart from this hydrology (Science of water lifting system) mechanic (lifting of load) and requirements of tools suitable for the quarry of stone, placing the large girders, execution of wood work and frescoes on walls and doors. Fundamentally without science and technology, no monument of structure could exist. The contribution that science and technology can now make to the conservation, preservation and even understanding of cultural heritage or tangible heritage is rapidly evolving and expanding with experience of the Archaeological Survey of India in last 147 years of the existence. For example, the use of lasers beam for the treatment of surfaces and measurement of shape and form, non destructive methods of exploration and excavation, chemical and compounds for clearing the artifacts and building structures, the analysis of compounds using x-ray diffraction and mass spectrometers, the use of information system to store and analysis data/ modeling as a means of planning repairs works and even use of information technology for dissemination of research and development.

The celebration of the International Day for Monuments and Sites offers an opportunity to review and acknowledge the role of science and technology in cultural heritage. It also provides incentives to discuss potential benefits and threat that science also posses in the future with respect to the safeguarding of’ the thing we want to keep.

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