Protecting the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment

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Question – Protecting the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment. Comment 7 February 2022

Answer India is unmatchable in terms of having largest and most diverse mixture of traditions and cultures. Its diversity is reflected by tangible and intangible art heritage which is as old as the Indian civilization. India is a cradle of finest cultural symbols of the world which includes architecture, performing arts, classical dance, sculptures, paintings etc. The art heritage of India has a special place among the countries of the globe.

The recognition of Indian art can be gauged from the fact that 32 cultural sites which includes, Ajanta caves, Great living Chola temples, Agra fort, Elephanta caves etc are on the Tangible Cultural World Heritage list of the UNESCO. The list consists more than a dozen elements which includes KumbMela, Yoga, Nawrouz etc. on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO.

With the passage of time cultural significance of India is increasing at the global to the extent of considering culture as the mainstay of the largest democracy in the world. ‘Incredible India’ campaign has risen to higher pedestal owing to the importance given to the cultural heritage of the country.

So protecting art heritage of India that reflects the cultural sensibilities of Indian civilization becomes imperative. Some of the factors that make preserving our art heritage imperative include:

  • Art as symbol of national identity: Culture and its heritage reflect and shape values, beliefs, and aspirations, thereby defining a people’s national identity. It is important to preserve our cultural heritage, because it keeps our integrity as a people. Our national leaders used cultural symbols to instil sense of oneness.
  • Art as an instrument of harmony and social cohesiveness: Art and culture has played an important role in unifying the nation. It has acted as an instrument of harmony and social cohesiveness.
  • Art as a symbolic description of history: Indian art is an immediate expression of Indian civilization as a whole. It represents the beliefs and philosophies, ideals and attitudes, the material vitality of the society and its spiritual endeavors at various stages of development.
  • Art symbolizing harmony with nature: Indian painting, sculpture, architectural ornamentation, and decorative arts are replete with themes of nature and wildlife that reflect love and reverence, and hence the ethics of conservation. A wide range of paintings of forests, plants and animals are found in Indian miniature paintings and sculpture. The theme of the life of the Hindu god Krishna depicted in miniatures underscores the appreciation of ecological balance. He is shown persuading people to worship the mountain to ensure rain. Krishna swallowing the forest fire is also a symbol of concern for the protection of forests and wildlife.

Some steps that can be helpful in reviving and maintaining our art heritage include:

  • Tapping of the Public-Private Partnership models for sustenance of arts and crafts. E.g Monument Mitra and Adopt a Heritage Scheme of government.
  • Greater involvement of universities in schemes promoting arts and culture as well as inclusion of Fine Arts as a subject in universities.
  • Preserving and properly promoting India’s rich intangible cultural heritage by inventorizing and documenting oral traditions, indigenous knowledge systems, guru-shishya systems, folklores and tribal and oral traditions. Also extending patronage to various dance forms like Bihu, Bhangra, Nautanki, Dandiya and other folk dances besides classical forms.
  • Setting up at least one museum in each district with different chambers for visual and other forms of art, architecture, science, history and geography with regional flavour.
  • Enhancing assimilative capabilities in order to adapt to emergent challenges of globalization and technological innovations.
  • Promoting regional languages
  • Making cultural and creative industries work in tandem for growth and employment.
  • The promotion of export of cultural goods and services for taking the country in the list of first 20 countries ranked by UNESCO for export of culture.

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