As part of a lecture series organised under the banner of Virasat Pune’s Heritage Week here in the city, Prof. MK Dhavalikar talked about the way heritage and its value has changed in India, over the past few decades.
India is a treasure trove of artifacts, still found abundantly in various areas, a lot of them by the road side with vermillion applied to give them religious connotations. Many such wonderful antiques have been smuggled out of the country and some yet are part of private collections, kept away from public eye.
The first Ancient Monuments Protection Act was passed in 1882 by the British, recognising the need for a governmental administration on the protection of ancient monuments. Most of our monuments are protected by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. The Government of India passed the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act 1972, in order to curb the smuggling of art treasures from India. This Act also helped establish ownership of antiques.
In spite of all this, very few people register their antique pieces, mostly due to lack of awareness.
The State Government should be adding museums to help relocate these treasures, but in the past 60 years, there have been hardly a handful of museums set up in Maharashtra. And by and large, there are only 2 official museums that house antiques – the Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai, and the Nagpur Museum. But both have not been set up by the State. And the elected MPs and MLAs are doing very little to help.
It is this lack of responsible action and the increased want to own antiques by people from world over, that is causing the deterioration of our heritage.
For which, Prof. Dhavalikar suggests that public participation is necessary. Preservation of heritage without giving it a religious symbolism is also important. The participation will happen only when there is awareness. And most importantly, when there is pride.
Prof. Dhavalikar quotes and emphasises, ” The quality of a civilisation depends on the respect it gives to it’s heritage.”
Happy World Heritage Day!
– The Heritage Week is being held in Pune from 15th April -22nd April 2012, under the umbrella of Virasat Pune. For more details, see http://www.janwani.org