Minister raises concerns over attempt to reduce number of entries of historic sites country can send to UNESCO
Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi on Wednesday said there is an attempt to reduce the number of entries of historical sites that a country can send to the UNESCO for inscription, and this may not be done given the vastness, diversity and timeline that India has to offer.
The Union minister of state for culture was speaking about India's historic places getting the UNESCO's recognition as ''world heritage sites'' and an attempt to restrict the number of entries in a year. ''There is an attempt to reduce the number of sites that can be inscribed or be sent by a country. I feel this is an occasion for me to mention from the podium that this need not be encouraged, especially considering India's vastness, and the diversity and timeline it has to offer,'' Lekhi said.
She was addressing the inaugural session of ''Vadnagar International Conference'' organised by the Gujarat government with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and UNESCO as the partner organisations.
The number of sites may not be reduced, as unlike many other countries, which at one time or the other inscribed 10 or more sites in a year, India had been sending just one entry per year, she said.
''So this is one occasion where through this conversation, we can also have a conversation — maybe not this year, maybe next year — about the UNESCO itself, whether the number should be reduced or not, how to strengthen the UNESCO so that the history of mankind gets recorded,'' the Union minister said. The three-day conference organised at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar aims to serve as a platform for exchange of ideas, strategies and perspective in developing Vadnagar — the hometown of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mehsana district — as a global heritage tourism destination.
Lekhi also called for a need to standardise processes to determine the timeline of antiquity. ''Otherwise each one will give their own antiquity a different timeline, which desecrates the truthfulness of the methodology being adopted. My request (to Eric Falt, the UNESCO representative) is that we must standardise processes. If we do not standardise processes, the timeline changes,'' she said. The Union minister further called for a need to look at Indian culture through genetic findings, which can possibly yield findings that can change the previous writings.
Lekhi said she concurs with writer VS Naipaul that India is a ''wounded civilisation'', citing the history of Vadnagar, which was one of the oldest fortified towns that continued till 6th century AD. Hindu and Buddhist traditions were not two separate, but syncretist traditions, she said. ''The Dashavatar mentions the ninth avatar as Lord Buddha...Bhagwan Buddha was one of the incarnations of Bhagwan Vishnu. And is depicted all over as ancient inscriptions as the ninth avatar,'' Lekhi said.
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