Citizenship Programme -talk on conservation

On Friday; 12th January, 2018, a talk was organized by the Citizenship Programme, titled “Preservation and Conservation of Delhi’s Heritage”. Our resource persons on the occasion were Mr. Ratish Nanda, noted conservation architect and CEO, The Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Ms. Sangya Chaudhary, Director Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development ( ITRHD). The ITRHD was established in June 2011 and its founding trustees are all well-known individuals who felt that there was a great need to preserve India’s rich rural heritage for its intrinsic value. They also felt the need for an opportunity to connect the preservation of this heritage to economic and infrastructural development and the general improvement of the quality of life.

Mr. Nanda conducted heads the multi-disciplinary teams presently undertaking the 2 major urban conservation projects in India: The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative in Delhi and the Qutub Shahi Heritage Park Conservation in Hyderabad. He earlier worked for the Historic Scotland project in Edinburgh and been responsible for several successful projects for the INTACH Delhi Chapter such as the restoration of the St James Church, the ruins adjacent to Sultan Garhi, monuments in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, etc. He is recipient of the Eisenhower Fellowship, the Sanskriti Award for Social Cultural Achievement, and the ‘Urban Hero’ title awarded by the Prince Claus Fund, the Agha Khan Foundation International Scholarship and the Charles Wallace Conservation Fellowship.

Mr. Nanda started his talk with a PPT which showed how monuments in Delhi looked years ago and now. It was indeed sad to see how several beautiful structures have been degraded and defaced by human indifference . Monuments are invaluable economic heritage which passes on from one generation to the next. Mr. Nanda pointed out that repairs of monuments deploy hundreds of workers and artisans and restored monuments are a great tourist draw.

To prove his point, he told us that prior to the restoration of the Humayun Tomb, it attracted about 1-2 lakh tourists annually, but post the beautification, the number jumped to 20-25 lakh of visitors annually! This was indeed a great eye opener. It became a lesson for us that we, citizens are morally bound to preserve our heritage for the next generation in better condition than what was received.

With the help of slides, the speaker showed us how monuments are being restored by artisans who are trained to restore art in the same way as done historically. This provides employment to many and also helps revive old yet enduring techniques. He advised us not to wait for action by the government or any public authority, but to take proactive steps oneself where one sees a monument wasting away abuse or neglect.

The talk was followed by a question-answer session laced with very interesting political and historical perspectives. Ms. Sunita Singh requested Mr. Nanda to guide our school on the ropes of putting up a cultural show at the tomb of Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana, whose restoration will be soon complete. Mr. Nanda asked her to get in touch with him once the restoration is complete.

Mr. Nanda and Ms. Chaudhary were presented a shramdaan hamper of candles and a potted plant from the school nursery as a token of our appreciation.

Sirjan Kaur and Akshat Sharma, class 11.