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


Save Our Sites

In 1972, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted a resolution for a ‘Convention concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’. The main objectives of the convention were to define the World Heritage in both cultural and natural aspects; to enlist sites and monuments from the member countries which are of exceptional interest and universal value; the protection of which is the concern of all mankind; and to promote co-operation among all Nations and people to contribute for the protection of these universal treasures intact for future generations.

Here are the sites which are recommended for UNESCO world heritage sites:

1. Monuments and Forts of the Deccan Sultanate

Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur

Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur

The ‘Monuments of the Deccan Sultanate’ is a serial property comprising of four component constitute the most representative, most authentic and best conserved examples of Deccani Sultanate monuments in India. The series demonstrates the exemplary convergence of national and international styles of Islamic architecture and their intersections with the prevalent Hindu architecture of the period southern Indian in present day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,

The contributions of Deccan Sultanate to the arts and architecture of India is impressive with iconic Indo Islamic monuments constructed in Gulbarga, Bidar, Bijapur and Hyderabad. These sites emerged as important medieval fortifications and walled cities of the Deccan Sultanates with a vigorous new architectural style of the sultanate that emerged from encounters with the Deccan Hindu heartland of the period.

2. Cellular Jail, Andaman Islands (2014)

Cellular Jail, Andaman Islands

Cellular Jail, Andaman Islands

The Cellular Jail, also known as Kala Pani (Black Water), was a colonial prison situated in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. The prison was used by the British especially to exile political prisoners to the remote archipelago. Many notable dissidents such as Batukeshwar Dutt and Veer Savarkar, among others, were imprisoned here during the struggle for India’s independence. Today, the complex serves as a national memorial monument.

3. The Glorious Kakatiya Temples and Gateways

The Glorious Kakatiya Temples and Gateways

The Glorious Kakatiya Temples and Gateways

Centuries old Kakatiya temples in Warangal are likely to make into UNESCO’s world heritage list if official indications are anything to go by. If everything falls in place, these temples that stand testimony to the old glory of a dynasty rule will get the UNESCO tag much ahead of many others in the state.

S S Rangacharyulu, special officer, Archaeology & Museums Department, says, “The Kakatiya temples deserve to be on the world heritage list and the temples are getting their due attention after the formation of the new government. In 2012, several encroachments were removed in front of the Thousand Pillar Temple and all actions are being taken to see that it is in compliance with the UNESCO rules. One hopes that the Kakatiya temples get the world heritage status.”

4. Iconic Saree Weaving Clusters of India

Iconic Saree Weaving Clusters of India

Iconic Saree Weaving Clusters of India

The saree is undoubtedly distinguishable as the Indian woman’s traditional attire and is essentially a valuable Indian contribution to the world’s cultural heritage and diversity. Rooted in history and maintaining continuity as a contemporary garment, the saree survives as living traditional clothing.

Traced to the Vedic civilization, evolving with cross-cultural influences of trade, confluences of techniques and patterns, the saree still has innovations in its production processes.

The houses of craftsmen are example of vernacular architecture, where the architecture has evolved over a large span of time. The Plan of a weaver’s house developed from the livelihood needs of the inhabitants. It focuses on the tangible elements of saree weaving clusters irrespective of the popularity of the saree.  This pan-India serial comprises of sites from five Indian states such as  Madhya Pradesh (Chanderi, Ashok Nagar District), Uttar Pradesh (Banaras, Feeder town Mubarakpur), Maharashtra (Paithan, Yeola), Andhra Pradesh (Koyyalagudem, Pochampalli) and Assam (Sualkuchi).

5. Sites along the Badshahi Marg – The Grand Trunk Road

Purana Quila

Purana Quila

Grand Trunk Road in the Indian subcontinent was historically known as the Imperial Highway in the medieval period. It  has been a dynamic site for the emergence and fusion of indigenous and foreign social, political, economic and cultural practices. The Grand Trunk Road connected Kabul (Afghanistan) to Sonargaon (Bangladesh) in the medieval period of India. The road had a few forerunners that were constructed during the Mauryan and Kushan empires.

Few sites include Gateways of Old Sarai, Tomb of Muhammad Momin and Haji Jamal, Red Fort, Purana Qila, Humayun’s Tomb, Tomb of Shamsher Khan, Tomb of Hasan Shah Suri and many more.

Let’s pledge to save our sites and be proud of the rich heritage and culture we have.

Follow us to know more about the heritage sites which were recommended for the addition in UNESCO world heritage sites in 2014.

Continue reading