The history of India’s monuments and heritage sites are as old as the development of Indus Valley civilization. It is important to understand the need to preserve and protect the monuments. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
Significance of monuments and antiquities:
- Cultural role: Old buildings teach us about the history that happened before we were born and promote respect for those who lived in different times and different societies. Architectural monuments cultivate pride in our past and heritage, making us unique in the world.
- Economy: Architectural monuments are great attractors of tourists. Tourists can provide locals with jobs and generate extra income. Eg. Used as location for movie shoot
- Environmentally friendly: Preservation and restoration is the ultimate form of recycling. It helps reduce construction waste and save the energy that is usually spent on manufacturing and transporting building materials and tools.
- Aesthetic Importance: Older buildings often are made with unique, valuable materials such as the heart pine, marble, or old brick. Thus, older buildings have their own identity and distinctive character.
There is a lack of adequate measures to protect this rich heritage. Hence, there are frequent incidents wherein these idols and artefacts are stolen from centrally-protected temples, museums, monuments and archaeological sites. The following measures are needed for their preservation and protection:
- There should be Centralised management for rule-based procedures, before granting authorisation for archaeological research.
- There should be adequate funding for conservation projects and maintenance.
- The ASI needs to enhance the use of modern scientific technology, build capacity of its officials to ensure better conservation of monuments.
- MOUs and bilateral agreements with other countries and international organisations to prevent illegal trafficking. E.g India can sign the 1995 UNIDROIT (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law) Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.
- Involvement of private organisations and individuals in protection, monitoring and inspection of cultural sites.
- The Culture Ministry should take immediate steps to resolve manpower shortages especially in the crucial departments engaged in conservation related works.
Monuments and old buildings must be preserved because they are the symbol of a nation’s rich history and past. A serious and focused development plan and programmes may develop a closer engagement with our history through these monuments.