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Home > News > PTI

Heritage sites need to be preserved in conflict situations: PM

December 03, 2007 11:27 IST
Last Updated: December 03, 2007 11:39 IST

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Cautioning that heritage sites around the world faced a renewed threat from fundamentalists and terrorists, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on Monday said awareness should be increased to preserve heritage structures even in a conflict situation.

"Fundamentalism in attitudes and beliefs often targets mankind's heritage structures and sites, leading to their destruction. The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha in Afghanistan is only one sad and stark example of such threats to heritage preservation," he said, inaugurating the 12th International Conference of National Trusts in Delhi.

In recent years, heritage conservation saw renewed threats from fundamentalists, extremists and terrorists, Dr Singh said, adding, "There was a need to send a message across the globe that no one has the right to destroy what humanity has inherited from the past."

Observing that India was conscious of the need to preserve, protect and promote its cultural heritage, the prime minister said, "But we cannot be satisfied with the status quo. We have not always succeeded in doing so. Our cultural properties have been exposed to various threats -- natural and man made -- over the centuries.

Conquerors, explorers, colonisers, vandals and thieves have added their bit to the vagaries of nature and the passage of time," he told the conservation specialists who are attending the three-day meet.

The prime minister said that public policy in developing countries like India was mainly focussed on the immediate challenge of survival and development while little attention was paid to larger issues like cultural preservation.

"One must not get trapped into this binary choice between development and conservation of heritage. The two must go together. We need strategies and policies that facilitate such a walk on two legs," he said.

Stating that conservation should not be seen as an "elitist preoccupation", Dr Singh said coordinated efforts should be made along with a comprehensive planning of 'local area plans' with participation from the local community.

Observing that it was wrong to suggest that more resources were needed for the preservation of heritage sites, the prime minister said, "What was more important was the mindset -- a value system and a culture -- that respects the past and wishes to learn from it.

Unless we respect our inheritance, unless we are prepared to learn from it, we will not invest in its preservation," he said.

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