India Has To Fix Its Attitude Towards Heritage Preservation

I wanted to talk to you about a key issue today – something that has tremendous money earning potential for India, something that is deeply, deeply connected to our sense of cultural identity...and history.

Now there was a lot of social media anger...you can say justifiably so about a group of young men vandalising heritage structures in Hampi. These guys were so naive – they thought pushing down a line of pillars for fun AND videographing it was a quick way to social media stardom.

But think about it – you and I are angry about it because we have a sense of why those pillars or architectural wonders in Hampi are important, we appreciate it, and we know what it stands for.

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But those guys don't, and even if they cared, there is literally no meaningful infrastructure in Hampi that would instil in them a sense of history and culture.

We have no good museums anywhere in the country, the museum in Hampi is only an embarrassment when you compare it to what is available in, say, Italy, a relatively poorer European country. We have temples that are more than 1,500 years old but no temple museum that tells us the history of the temple.

Forget museums, our heritage sites don't even have decent toilets. You could take a group of 10 tourists to Hampi, but after a couple of hours of wandering about, you're left searching for clean and functional toilets, and you'll hardly find a few.

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So we don't build museums
We don't publish good, interesting books about our heritage,
There's no good multimedia production to explain it all,
No good light and sound shows,
No audio guides...

...so you build nothing to promote heritage tourism, you starve the place of funds and then you expect tourists to appreciate the importance of the place.

That's not going to work, is it?

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You see, Hampi is spread across 4,100 hectares consisting of 1,600 monuments. You can't post security men everywhere..but what you can do is ensure people are given the right kind of facilities to appreciate the heritage, they can be given good audio guides and yes, maybe the tourism authorities can build functioning toilets as well.

Without doing all this, you're only shooting yourself in the foot – you're not promoting tourism, you're not helping the local economy, you're not protecting Indian heritage – THAT is the real tragedy.

If we're not addressing this, all we're doing is expressing empty anger at some young men who didn't know better.

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