Worse Than Pakistan? A Comparative Analysis Of Heritage Protection Laws In India And Pakistan
The Indian government proposed a new Antiquities Bill 2017 recently.
Here is a relative assessment of how the Bill fares when compared with Pakistan’s KP Antiquities Bill 2016.
The world of heritage and antiquities has changed drastically in the recent past.
1. United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has identified heritage crimes as a source of terror funding for the Islamic State (UNSC Resolution 2199).
2. The United States (US) and Israel walked out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last month. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “…UNESCO has become a theater of the absurd. Instead of preserving history, it distorts it”.
3. Many countries have passed updated and strengthened legislation to deal with emerging challenges of heritage preservation – challenges that didn’t exist a decade ago.
Closer home, India is seeing a renaissance in Indic pride. Not just in temples and monuments, but in the larger view on civilisational continuity (languages, education, values, culture and so on). When the ghats of Ayodhya were lit up for Diwali, its glow figuratively reached the corners of the globe. The inauguration of Adiyogi Shiva’s murti at Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s ashram was a huge symbol of India’s reconnection with its civilisational pride.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself is the first Indian head of government to demand centuries-old, stolen Indian heritage from the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and other nations.
In light of the (a) global, and (b) Indian restatement of outlook towards heritage, the Indian government proposed a new Antiquities Bill 2017. The Bill was analysed in isolation recently. However, “good” is subjective. A proposed bill should rather be analysed and compared against benchmarks and globally accepted standards.
While many countries have introduced updated legislation on the topic at hand, the closest, both geographically and civilisationally, is Pakistan. Here is a relative assessment of how India’s Antiquities Bill 2017 fares when compared with Pakistan’s KP Antiquities Bill 2016.
As proud Indians, one wonders why we cannot frame laws that are as strong as Pakistan’s? On one hand, we wax eloquent about “Incredible India” and “Atithi Devo Bhava”. On the other, we bluntly refuse to protect our heritage. It is left to private activist groups to run campaigns like #SaveOurGods because the laws don’t do so. While India engages in platitudes, Pakistan goes ahead and builds world-class legislation.
We had the chance to proudly go to the world and claim our rightful place – as one of the oldest civilisations, one that ensures continuity through its heritage.
We could have gone for vishwaguru. Instead, we chose to stay two steps behind Pakistan.
Call to Action
If you agree with the authors, please (a) click on the link below, and (b) click on “Share on Facebook/Twitter” to add your support.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.