Preserving National Heritage Through CSR – Fiinovation

In the past few years, it has been observed that the rising global warming, mishandling and inadequate restoration of cultural arts and monuments has caused deteriorating effects on the historical masterpieces around the world. Although the developed countries practice best methods for the conservation of their art and culture, the developing countries often lack both funds and willpower to carry out this exercise. For instance, European Union started the project CHARISMA, which brought industry experts from universities, museums, research institutes and historians from the respective disciplines to share their knowledge, expertise and innovative ideas for preserving their national heritage.

The project aims at developing innovative tools through research to identify the materials and methods originally used by the artists as well as the modern techniques to safeguard them against rising challenges related to environmental degradation. Under this project, different art works like paintings, sculptures, ceramics, manuscripts, monuments, art work of different forms like metal and glass etc., books and archaeological items will be investigated by the historians and archaeologists. Apart from this, several grants and funds are raised through government, civic bodies and private sector for the preservation of its prestigious art and culture.

However, in a country like India, the heritage conservation is often taken for granted and there a very few corporates who are involved in initiatives related to the protection of culture and heritage. Kiran Seth, the recipient of Padma Shri award and founder of SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth) voices her concern saying, “We have failed to protect so many art forms and now they are lost to us forever. Ustad Asad Ali Khan’s death meant the end of the Khandar Vani style played on the rudraveena. The Koodiyattam style of theater in Kerala has almost no takers now. So much knowledge about our heritage is getting lost every day.”

Even corporates are also lagging behind in extending much support in this sensitive matter. In a recent study it was found that in FY16, the CSR spend on the projects related to heritage conservation by corporates has declined by 40% as compared to FY15. In the first year of CSR rules, the projects related to heritage conservation received Rs 67.87 crore but the funding fell to Rs. 40.88 crore in FY16. Experts believe that sufficient efforts aren’t being done by the government and corporates for preservation of art and cultural heritage and the lack of funds is aggravating the matter further. The government allocates funds for the projects related to heritage conservation only from the tourism point of view. So, if a monument or a historical piece is not important from the tourism perspective, it doesn’t receive funds and precious pieces of glorious history are eventually lost.

The projects related to education, poverty, health and environment receive maximum focus from the corporates as they lack awareness about the benefits associated with programmes related to heritage conservation. Hence, if seen positively, this field has immense scope for executing successful CSR programmes which can integrate a corporate’s activity with its core business objectives. For instance, industries related to tourism and hospitality can derive maximum benefits through the strategically designed CSR initiatives. The programmes can include site maintenance and restoration, carrying out awareness programmes and setting up of management frameworks for maintaining the historical sites. Similarly, other companies whose area of operations holds historic significance can also make valuable contribution towards executing such kind of projects.

In India only few corporates have taken up CSR projects related to heritage conservation. For example, IT giant Infosys Ltd. funds a part of its CSR budget for the restoration of monuments and organising cultural shows in south India. In 2016, Infosys Foundation (the CSR arm of Infosys) completed a restoration project at the Somanatheswara temple complex at Lakshmeshwara in Karnataka, spending around Rs 5 crore over four years. It also organized performances at the two restoration spots in Andhra Pradesh at Lakshmeshwara and Anupu.

Similarly, Yes Bank has used a part of its CSR funds for organising over 100 heritage walks and 50 cycle rides at various heritage spots like Lodhi Garden, Qutub Minar and Hauz Khas in 2016. It has further plans to extend these activities to different cities. It spent Rs. 29.52 crore in FY16 and plans to invest Rs. 34 crore in FY17 for conducting these initiatives.

Many PSUs such as ONGC, NTPC, GAIL and Indian Oil have also undertaken the renovation and maintenance activities for temples and monuments around their areas of operations. The Indian conglomerate Tata Group has been traditionally involved in promoting historical monuments and setting up museums through their institutions and trusts. The group has also helped the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) through grants.

In 1966, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has set up the National Culture Fund (NCF) to channelise funds for the preservation of historical monuments and arts. It has identified 100 monuments of national significance which has been put up for adoption by the corporates.

In response to the poor feedback received on the hygienic conditions of the sites, the Ministry launched “Clean India Campaign” in 2012. As part of the campaign, the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) adopted Qutub Minar while ONGC also expressed interest in adopting sites like Taj Mahal, Khajuraho Temple and Ajanta-Ellora Caves for their conservation. The main objective of this campaign was to foster a collaborative model wherein corporations are encouraged to adopt a site and the local bodies such as schools, banks, authorities and trader’s associations can come forward for maintaining the nearby areas.

Maharashtra and Rajasthan governments have taken the lead and in creating platforms for corporates to adopt monuments of historical and cultural significance. Government should create awareness programmes and encourage corporates to utilise their CSR funds through structured planning and execution.

Fiinovation, a global CSR consultancy working in the domain of CSR and Sustainability urges the corporates to initiate projects related to the preservation of cultural heritage especially in their area of operations. It will not only help in keeping the history of glorious culture alive but will also enhance their presence as a culturally evolved organisation among the stakeholders.

“It has been said that, at its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future.” — William J. Murtagh

By Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

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India Celebrates – The 68th Republic Day

The Constitution of India came into force on 26th January 1950 and the day is marked as the Republic Day which gave power to the people from the hands of a few. It was in 1930 on January 26th when the most powerful political entity in India, the Indian National Congress declared ‘Purna Swaraj’ opposing the Dominion status offered by the British, suggesting another importance of selecting the date as Republic Day.

The day’s highlight has always been the celebrations at Rajpath before the President of India. The Republic Day Parade in Delhi showcases the nation’s Defence Capability, Cultural and Social Heritage. The celebrations goes on for a period of 3 days and ends with the Beating Retreat conducted on the evening of 29th January.

Being a high profile event, a lot of thought goes into choosing the Chief Guest for the Republic Day Parade. The first Republic Day Parade in 1950 was attended by the Indonesian President followed by the King of Nepal in 1951. In the past two years of the present government, the former US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande were invited with a motive to have the best possible ties with the western powers. This year, the chief guest for the Republic Day is Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed of UAE. Last year, French troops marched along with the Indian troops in the Republic Day Parade. This time troops from UAE are expected to lead the Parade. Clearly, the focus have shifted towards India’s neighbourhood, especially the Gulf region. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which has been spoken about in 2015 will materialise this time with major focus on joint defence production.

With such high profile guests including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee at the venue, Delhi is likely to be under ground-to-air security cover with more than 60000 armed personnel keeping a tight vigil. From anti-drone technology to prevention from chemical attacks, the national capital region is expected to be on high alert with Delhi borders being sealed and cars entering being thoroughly checked.

The Republic Day Parade will showcase aerial fly-past by the Indian Air Force with Light Combat Aircraft making its debut in the Parade. The Indian Navy will highlight the indigenously built Kolkata class destroyer along with Kalvari class next generation attack submarines. Audience will also be witness to tableaux from 17 states and union territories and 6 Union Ministries. There will be tribute to Lokmanya Tilak on his 160th birth anniversary with the ‘Swaraj Rath’, other than promotional tableaux of Skill India, Digital India and Beti Bachao Beti Padao which the pet schemes of the central government.

As citizens, the Republic Day enables us to re-think on the lines of our founding fathers who wanted to make this country a sovereign, secular and democratic republic. It is a day to be proud of ourselves who have given each other the constitution by having solemnly resolved our differences and pledging to secure all the citizens of Justice, Liberty Equality and Fraternity. The day reconfirms our faith on the fact that all the power emanates from the people and the political system will always be accountable and responsible to the people of the great country.

Swaraj is everyones birthright, and everyone must have it.

Happy Republic Day

By Rahul Choudhury