Categories
Culture India News

Mohenjo Daro may lose world heritage tag

The site contains the remnants of one of two main centres of the ancient Indus civilization (c. 2500–1700 BCE), the other one being Harappa, some 640 km to the northwest…reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan’s department of archaeology has called for urgent attention towards conservation and restoration work at Mohenjo Daro apprehending that the site may be removed from the world heritage list if such work was not carried out.

Sources said that archaeological ruins of Mohenjo Daro had received record rains, measured at 779.5mm, which continued from Aug 16 to 26. It resulted in considerable damage to the site and partial falling of several walls, including the protection wall of the stupa dome.

It was learnt that the curator of the site in his Aug 29 letter to the director culture, antiquities and archaeology said “we have put in efforts to protect the site with our resources”.

The role of other departments — irrigation, roads, highways and forest — was quite essential for safeguarding the world heritage site, as landlords and farmers had not only inserted pipes and given cuts to canals and roads to release water into Mohenjo Daro’s channel.

However, due to negligence on the part of above-mentioned departments, the rainwater from nearby agriculture lands had filled disposal channel, the sources said.

This caused delay in driving out water from the site, the letter said, adding that water had entered even into the campus. After rains, the official concerned at the site had said: “We are facing another emergency in the shape of a constant rise in the Indus level.”

Although water level in Indus is low, due to the construction of metal road on the protection dyke near Mohenjo Daro, paired with occurrence of fissures, cavities and dangerous gullies, the department had approached local irrigation officials but in vain, according to the letter. No one had turned up to inspect the site and assess the situation, it said.

The archaeology official had called for immediate contact with the irrigation and roads departments for the repair of bund, breached canal dykes and removal of pipes.

The curator has proposed sending of experts (conservators and engineers) for an assessment of the damage caused to the site during downpours. Presently, the archaeology officials posted at Mohenjo Daro are busy repairing the damaged portions of the structures.

Tourists’ entry banned

Keeping in view that the heritage site Mohenjo-Daro situated on the right bank of Indus River is facing the danger of obliteration after braving the monstrosity of recent flash floods and torrential rains, the administration on Sunday banned the entry of tourists to the place.

The recent heavy spell of rains and concurrent floods which have ravaged large swathes of Sindh, have also taken a very heavy toll on the mounds and ruins of 5000-year-old historic city of Mohenjo Daro.

The authorities fearing its annihilation has put a ban on the entry of tourists to the place.

It is expected that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will visit the archeological site during his visit to Pakistan on Sept 11.

In a statement, the UN said that Secretary-General Guterres will travel to Pakistan for a solidarity visit given the “tragic situation facing millions of men, women, and children impacted by historic floods.”

The Secretary-General is expected to arrive in Islamabad on Sept 9 and will then travel to the areas most impacted by the unprecedented climate catastrophe.

He is expected to be back in New York on Sept 11 but before wrapping up his visit, he is also expected to visit Mohenjo-Daro. Mohenjo-Daro – a group of mounds and ruins on the right bank of the Indus River in northern Sindh – lies on the flat alluvial plain of the Indus, about 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Sukkur.

The site contains the remnants of one of two main centres of the ancient Indus civilization (c. 2500–1700 BCE), the other one being Harappa, some 400 miles (640 km) to the northwest in Punjab province.

The historic site also called City of Dead has received torrential rains and floods in recent days.

The department of archaeology has called for urgent attention towards its conservation and restoration work apprehending that the site may be removed from the world heritage list if such work was not carried out.

Meanwhile, the road link between Swat and Bahrain was restored.

The Pakistan Army engineering corps, NHA and district administration participated in the restoration work and repaired the damaged road.

ALSO READ-SC to hear Swamy’s plea to declare ‘Ram Setu’ heritage monument

Categories
Culture India News

SC to hear Swamy’s plea to declare ‘Ram Setu’ heritage monument

Swamy’s plea sought a direction to the Central government and the National Monument Authority to declare ‘Ram Setu’ as a monument of national importance…reports Asian Lite News

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will list a plea by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking a direction to the Central government for declaring ‘Ram Sethu’, a national heritage monument.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana said the matter could not be listed as one of the judges on the concerned bench had some health issues. The Chief Justice told Swamy, “We will list it”.

Earlier, a bench headed by Chief Justice and also comprising Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli had agreed to list the plea for hearing on July 26. Swamy had mentioned the matter for hearing a couple of times in the apex court.

Swamy’s plea sought a direction to the Central government and the National Monument Authority to declare ‘Ram Setu’ as a monument of national importance.

Ram Setu, which is also known as Adam’s Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island or Rameswaram Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.

Swamy contended that the government has already accepted the existence of ‘Ram Setu’ and in 2017, a meeting was also convened to examine his demand, but things have not moved after that.

In April last year, a bench headed by the then Chief Justice S.A. Bobde had directed that the plea seeking National Heritage Status for Ram Setu be listed before the next Chief Justice N.V. Ramana.

The UPA government, in 2007, had proposed a Sethusamudram project. Under this project an 83-km-long deep-water channel was to be made by extensive dredging and removal of the limestone shoals to link Mannar with Palk Strait. Swamy moved against this decision in the court and the government resorted to another plan to link Mannar with Palk Strait.

ALSO READ-Delhi police release all Congress parliamentarians

Categories
Culture Lite Blogs

Let the past be, urge historians

Qutab Minar is a soaring, 73 m high tower, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom…reports Mohammad Suaib Khan

Be it Delhi’s Qutab Minar or Agra’s Taj Mahal, heritage monuments are lately a hot topic of debate. Mathura’s Shahi Idgah and Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque have already made their way to courts. But the question is — to what extent it is right to change history?

The court’s decision on Qutab Minar is expected in a few days and we will know if the temples that once stood on its premises and were demolished centuries ago, should be revived or not.

Historian and author S. Irfan Habib said, “It is absolutely not right to tamper with history. It is a politically motivated agenda and has a purpose that everyone sees. One can see that such things are being done in all the places at the same time. Voices are being raised about things which are already known to people. There is no point bringing these things in discourse.”

“Everything is being questioned, now it is the turn of Ajmer Dargah, 850-year-old history is being questioned. The Rajputs ruled Rajasthan but never said anything. No historian has written anything about it. Facts are not needed for rants, just noise is enough. For some people, it is a hate-driven fight; for politics it is a fight for votes.”

He pointed out, “The Government of India is silent on all these issues but the people raising these issues are with the government. My only advice is that it is necessary to read and understand history. If Aurangzeb did something wrong in the past and if you do the same in the 21st century, what is the difference between you and him?”

Recently, people from several Hindu organisations gathered outside Qutab Minar, raising their demand to be allowed to offer prayers inside the complex as it was built on the ruins of a temple. Qutab Minar is a soaring, 73 m high tower, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom. It is among the earliest monuments built by Muslim rulers in India.

Dr Tarun Kumar, Assistant Professor at Khalsa College, Delhi University, seconded that there should be no tampering with history and insisted that “Things are written on the basis of researched facts and evidence, and historians should discuss these matters further. Research should never be stopped; facts will keep coming in. This is how our knowledge grows.”

He also cautioned, “People should not form their views on the basis of social media. It is necessary to learn from the right sources to avoid any half-baked information. Our governments should have emphasised of quality education right after Independence.”

The Krishna Janmasthan at Mathura is yet another conteoversy which has gone to court. Hindu parties say that, out of the total 13.37 acres of land allotted for Shri Krishna Janmasthan, only about 11 acres of land is used for the temple. Shahi Idgah Masjid is built on 2.37 acres of land adjacent to it. The demand is to release this 2.37 acres of land and include it in the birthplace of Shri Krishna.

Historian Syed Ali Nadeem Rizvi said, “History is being tampered with continuously for the last 8 years, it has to be understood that history can never be good or bad. Whatever happened in the past cannot be denied. History is not written or read without proof and there is a story behind history.”

“Myth is being propagated and it is insisted that history be taught in a certain way, which is wrong. What happened in the past can be best explained by historians but no body asks them. This is a worrisome situation to make a mockery of history,” he said.

“We have to accept our history, we can’t rectify past mistakes. We are playing with the future by changing history. Countries that used to take us seriously are taking us lightly because of this.”

Several claims are being made on the Gyanvapi mosque which is adjacent to Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. It is claimed that Aurangzeb demolished the temple of Lord Vishweshwar and built a mosque over it. Recently, a Shivling in the Wazu Khana of the mosque has been found and the matter is being heard in the court.

Historian Firdous Anwar asserted, “Some people have vested interest for a particular purpose. Efforts to rewrite history have been made repeatedly but history is based on facts, not emotion; and such an account cannot be accepted on big platforms. All historians should come together and present their view.”

“Political parties should not interfere in history. If there is any issue, then they should talk to historians. I don’t recall a time when there was an attempt to tamper with history on such a large scale,” he added.

Added to the list of disputes is the demand for opening 22 rooms in the basement of Taj Mahal. This demand has also reached the doors of the court. The court petition claims that there is evidence which can prove that there was previously a Shiva temple there.

ALSO READ-Gaurav Gupta’s global fashion magic at Cannes

Categories
-Top News Culture UK News

British Library Event Launches Joseph Rufino Cordeiro Foundation

The Joseph Rufino Cordeiro Foundation was founded with the goal of supporting national and international projects that promote science, the arts, and sports, as well as the cultural ties between the UK and India … reports Asian Lite News

The Joseph Rufino Cordeiro Foundation was formally launched in the UK with an intimate gathering at the British Library. Invited by Mary Anne Cordeiro, co-founder and chair of the foundation, friends and well-wishers gathered in the Bronte Room to learn about the foundation’s current projects and future goals, with a special introductory speech from Minister (Coord) for the Indian High Commission, Manmeet Singh Narang.

British Museum Event Launches Joseph Rufino Cordeiro Foundation

The Joseph Rufino Cordeiro Foundation was founded with the goal of supporting national and international projects that promote science, the arts, and sports, as well as the cultural ties between the UK and India.

Founded by the father-daughter team of Joseph Rufino Cordeiro – who sadly passed earlier this year – and Mary Anne Cordeiro, the foundation has already been working in India to encourage these three pillars of society with projects like their ambitious Bible translation project. In collaboration with Banares Hindu University, Sanskrit scholars are working to translate one of the longest, most comprehensive Bibles into the world’s oldest language to make its spiritual knowledge accessible to a whole new audience.

The event also served as the first awards ceremony for the JRCF Award for Excellence, honouring those who have achieved outstanding things in the fields of Art, Science, and Sport. Honourees included Professor Hagan Bayley of Oxford University for Science, Shree Udayraj A Gadnis for Art, and Tessa Sanderson CBE for Sports.

British Museum Event Launches Joseph Rufino Cordeiro Foundation

Bayley, whose work in DNA sequencing has been a great help in developing COVID treatments, said he was honoured to receive the award.

“This is a very special award,” he said, “almost intimate, coming from such a small and new foundation. Mary Anne has put so much thought and care into the work she is doing.”

Mary Anne Cordeiro herself said it was ‘like a miracle’ to be able to officially launch the foundation in person. “We’re excited to continue nurturing emerging talent,” she said. “We’re in the process of formulating the best way to train and support healthcare workers to deliver much needed healthcare services in local Goan communities right now, and our work is only just beginning.”       

This insight into the current projects and future ambitions of a small and emerging charitable foundation promises great things to come. Now the foundation has been officially launched in the UK, the work of the Joseph Rufino Cordeiro Foundation will be able to advance in so many different directions.

Categories
Asia News Culture Diaspora

RAJAH SPICES: Empowering Women In India For Good

Rajah has been working with SEWA on this project for the past three years and now wants to tell its loyal customers about this important initiative and ask for their support. The new partnership will ensure that 5p from every promotional pack of Rajah Spices sold in the UK is donated to SEWA as part of a project to empower the lives of 2,400 cumin farmers living in Gujarat

Rajah Spices, the UK’s leading authentic spice brand, has announced a new partnership to empower women farmers in Gujarat who grow cumin and other spices. The programme is being run in partnership with The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), India’s largest Trade Union specifically for women.  

Rajah has been working with SEWA on this project for the past three years and now wants to tell its loyal customers about this important initiative and ask for their support. The new partnership will ensure that 5p from every promotional pack of Rajah Spices sold in the UK is donated to SEWA as part of a project to empower the lives of 2,400 cumin farmers living in Gujarat. 

Women make up the majority of farmers in Gujarat, many have low incomes, and there is limited support if their crops were to fail, for example, due to poor weather conditions or a bad harvest.

Through this promotion 5p from the purchase of every participating pack (Chili 100g, Garam Masala 100g, Dhaniya 100g, Jeera 100g and Haldi 100g) will directly support all the women enrolled in the programme. This contribution will fund vital financial and agricultural training to help improve their farm businesses and build a more secure future for them and their families.

Through Rajah’s partnership with SEWA, training will be provided on essential farming practices, such as how to use natural pesticides and apply fertilizers effectively, to grow more crops. SEWA will also provide the women with financial training and reliable market access to ensure they get a fair price for their cumin when it is sold.

Kamiben Khegarbhai Ahir from Patan District said ‘this training changed conventional farming and these new practices increased our income and our living standards have also improved’; while, another farmer from Surendranagar reported the training had made a significant difference to her business as ‘overall costs have reduced and also my quality of land has improved’ and that ‘most of (the other villagers) will carry out the same practices from next year’.

Rajah monitors the success of the project constantly, visiting the communities at least once a year to assess the impact of their work.  Lillian Paschalidi, Senior Brand Manager at Rajah commented ‘Rajah has been sold in the UK since 1931 and is proud to be at the heart of the community. This promotion builds on our longstanding work in Gujrat to directly empower thousands of women to give them a better future. We are excited to give our customers the chance to support this programme and help make a positive difference to their lives too.”   

Look out for participating packs in store and visit www.rajahspices.co.uk/sustainability for more information.

Categories
Culture India News

First-ever International Mithila Summit organised

The deliberations included Mithila’s glorious past, dynamic present and glowing future, during which dignitaries from the fields of art, academics, economy, politics, finance, and technology have highlighted various challenges and potential solutions, a report by Asian Lite

The first-ever International Mithila Summit was organised recently by International Maithil Diaspora, for which Maithils from diverse sectors across the globe have joined hands to create a positive ecosystem for the sustainable development of the region. The deliberations included Mithila’s glorious past, dynamic present and glowing future, during which dignitaries from the fields of art, academics, economy, politics, finance, and technology have highlighted various challenges and potential solutions.

International Mithila Summit 2021

Luminaries at the summit included Sanjay Kumar Jha- honorable WRD and IPRD Minister, Govt of Bihar, India, Dr. Sanjay Mahavir Ram Paswan- former HRD Minister, Govt of India, Padma Bhushan Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, Shri Kapileshwar  Singh- grandson of the Maharaja of Darbhanga Shri Kameshwar Singh and Consul General of India (Hamburg, Germany) H.E.  Gulshan Dhingra.

At the outset, flute recital by Malaika Jha and Vidyapati song by Pallavi Jha, Anamika Jha, and Meenu Mishra from Germany were presented, followed  by welcome remarks by Dr. Rajesh Kumar Mishra- President, Shaktya Foundation, Germany, and inaugural address by CGI H.E.  Gulshan Dhingra. Chief Guest Shri Sanjay Kumar Jha highlighted several initiatives taken by the government for developing Mithila region such as Darbhanga airport, University for Mithila Painting and Museum for ancient heritage. He has also welcomed investors and investments into Mithila. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak spoke on his social entrepreneurial initiative of Sulabh and emphasised on it as the need of the hour. Dr. Sanjay Paswan underscored the scholastic achievement of Mithila and Shri Kapileshwar Singh highlighted the glorious past of industrial feat  of Darbhanga Maharaj and how we could possibly revive it.

Dr Rajesh Mishra at International Mithila Summit

The summit had three main sessions on Economic Development, Culture and History, and Social Change and Development, moderated by social entrepreneur Chandra Prakash Jha (Germany), Cllr Sharad Kumar Jha (UK) and Dr. Himanshu Jha (Heidelberg University, Germany) respectively.

Speakers of the first session included Manish Anand (Founder Mithila Makhana), Rajesh Jha (CEO, Adani Group), Vibhuti  Jha (Investment Banker, New York), Dr. Ajay Jha (Director, IGATT-USA), Arvind Jha (Founder, Mithila Angel Network), and Maneesh Choudhary (MD, Kantar Group Ltd., Beijing), who have all emphasised on the economic development of Mithila and its dynamics.

CGI Gulshan Dhingra at International Mithila Summit

Speakers of the second session included Dr. Ajeet Kumar (Faculty, Delhi University), Dr. Savita Jha Khan (Faculty, Delhi University), Mithila Vibhuti Pt. Ajay Nath Shastri (Mithilaskshar Sakhsharata Abhiyan), Brajesh Kumar Singh (Editor- News 18) and Md. Mukhtar Alam (Curator, Online Maithil Classes) who have all emphasised on the importance of culture, language, and history of Mithila.

Speakers of the third session included Aditya Jha (Social entrepreneur, Canada), Usha Jha (President, Bihar Mahila Udyog  Sangh), Anuj Choudhary (Head- HR, Aarti Group, Nigeria), Sachin  Kumar (Founder, Sattuz), Mamta Mandal (Social activist, Singapore), and CA Ashish Niraj (National General Secretary, Karn Kayasth Mahasabha), who have all emphasised on the role of community, people and society in branding and developing Mithila.

Hon-ble Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha at International Mithila Summit

Classical dance by Dr. Ragasudha Vinjamuri (Founder- Sanskruti Centre for Cultural Excellence, UK) and Sankhnaad presentation by Dr. Bipin Mishra, India have delightfully captivated the global audiences. Upcoming events such as International Mithila Women’s Summit, International Mithila Youth Summit, and felicitation of 75 Maithil personalities marking 75th year of Indian Independence were also announced.

Technical support was rendered by Anjani Chaudhary, an IT professional based in Singapore and Dr. Pankaj Gupta, a Scientist based in Canada. Vote of thanks was proposed by Dr. Prakash Kumar Jha, Agricultural Scientist.

Categories
Culture UK News

English Heritage Sites Granted Protection

British cultural watchdog Historic England announced that official protection has been granted to six seaside heritage sites around the coast of England.

Sites listed for conservation and protection by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport include a picturesque boathouse in Devon built to celebrate the coronation of King George VI in 1937, reports Xinhua news agency.

Eight decorative shelters along Britain’s best known promenade at northern England’s seaside resort, Blackpool, have also been added to the list.

It also includes a stone obelisk, The Crow Stone, in Southend in southern England that marks the City of London’s historic jurisdiction over the River Thames.

“England has a rich and distinctive seaside heritage. Ranging from piers to pavilions, bathing pools to beach huts, there are many colorful historic sites that reflect almost 300 years of seaside holidays and are still welcoming millions of visitors each year,” said Historic England.

“This summer our seaside resorts are enjoying an influx of visitors again and these six newly listed sites offer a small insight into the range of seaside heritage England has to celebrate,” it added.

Heritage minister Caroline Dinenage said she was delighted the seaside gems would be “recognised and protected”.

The listings were announced as millions of day trippers across England headed to the seaside this summer.

Categories
-Top News Culture India News

First heritage site from Telangana gets coveted UNESCO tag

It was in 2014 that Ramappa temple was nominated for the inscription. A team of UNESCO officials had inspected the temple in 2019…reports Asian Lite News.

The UNESCO World Heritage site status to Ramappa temple has come as the first global recognition of the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of Telangana, India’s youngest state.

Also known as Rudreswara temple, this Kakatiyan architectural marvel is located at Palampet in Mulugu district near Warangal, about 200 km from Hyderabad.

“Today, because of a historic decision taken at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, Ramappa temple now belongs to the whole world, to the entire humanity. I congratulate the people of Palampet,” India’s representative at the online session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) said, expressing excitement over the inclusion of the temple among the list of World Heritage sites.

Seventeen countries including Russia, Oman, Brazil, Saudi, Egypt, Spain, Thailand, Hungary, Ethiopia and China described Ramappa as an outstanding heritage site and a manifestation of the master of human geniuses at the session.

Ramappa temple is the 39th site in India and the first in Telangana to get the coveted tag. This comes as the first major success of Telangana to get global recognition for its cultural heritage after attaining statehood seven years ago.

It was in 2014 that Ramappa temple was nominated for the inscription. A team of UNESCO officials had inspected the temple in 2019.

Last year, it was one of the global sites nominated for the coveted tag but the WHC meeting could not take place due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Ramappa Temple emple was constructed in 1213 AD during the reign of the Kakatiya Empire by Recharla Rudra, a general of Kakatiya king Ganapati Deva. The presiding deity here is Ramalingeswara Swamy. The temple became famous with the name sculptor Ramappa who executed the work for 40 years.

The temple complexes of Kakatiyas have a distinct style, technology and decoration exhibiting the influence of the Kakatiyan sculptor. The Ramappa temple is a manifestation of this and often stands as a testimonial to the Kakatiyan creative genius.

The temple stands on a 6 feet high star-shaped platform with walls, pillars and ceilings adorned with intricate carvings that attest to the unique skill of the Kakatiyan sculptors.

The sculptural art and decoration specific to the time and Kakatiyan Empire have an outstanding universal value. The distinct style of Kakatiyas for the gateways to temple complexes, unique only to this region confirm the highly evolved proportions of aesthetics in temple and town gateways in South India.

European merchants and travelers were mesmerized by the beauty of the temple and one such traveler had remarked that the temple was the “brightest star in the galaxy of medieval temples of the Deccan”.

According to B.V. Papa Rao of Kakatiya Heritage Trust, which led the effort to get UNESCO tag, India had reached to 24 countries to inscribe Ramappa temple as World Heritage site. The countries were presented documents to show the importance of the site.

The Telangana government had also taken steps to conform to the demands made by the WHC in their agenda papers.

Two days ago, the state government announced that it is initiating formation of a management committee at the state level and Palampet Special Development Authority at the local level for adequate legal protection to the temple and to ensure regulated development by appropriately zoning areas near the temple.

Minister for tourism and culture V. Srinivas Goud stated that these steps will ensure that serenity and natural beauty of the surroundings of the temple are maintained. He announced that two temples near Ramappa will also be brought under the jurisdiction of Ramappa temple property as recommended by the International Council on Monuments and Sites.

ALSO READ-UNESCO lauds Saudi education portal

READ MORE-Hima listed as Saudi Arabia’s sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site

Categories
-Top News Afghanistan Culture

Will Taliban Keep Promise to Preserve Afghanistan’s Cultural Legacy?

There are many who pin their hopes on the US brokered talks between the Taliban and the Afghan Government hoping that the region’s past will be protected, but many others are growing anxious, reports S. Ravi

While there is a widespread speculation as to what awaits Afghanistan after the departure of the US-led foreign troops in the country, historians and heritage experts globally, are keeping their fingers crossed as to the fate of cultural legacy of the embattled nation.

The concern is justified since Afghanistan’s rich historical and cultural heritage dates back to several centuries. From being part of Indus Valley Civilisation to being invaded by Alexander, several empires including Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Timurids, and Mughals among others have started from this region.

According to an article in National Geographic some cultural heritage experts are hopeful; others are growing anxious with the forthcoming departure of US and European forces.

The fear on the part of those who are tasked with taking care of the nation’s uniquely diverse cultural heritage is not unfounded. It is still fresh in their memory, as it is of others, when the Taliban in 2001, destroyed the planet’s largest statues, the Bamiyan Buddhas. They also vandalised the National Museum in Kabul and looted antiques from ancient sites. Their attitude towards the past relics, especially the pre-Islamic ones, portrayed them in a bad light at the international level.

This time, however, there appears to be a change as Taliban have given their word to respect the nation’s history. In a statement they commanded their followers to “robustly protect, monitor and preserve” relics, halt illegal digs, and safeguard “all historic sites.” But time will tell whether the commitment is only tactical, to reduce the resistance of the world community to their re-emergence or a genuine change of heart born out the bitter experience of the past.

Interestingly, they have forbidden selling of artefacts in the art market. Their statement said: “No one should try to disturb such sites or think about using them for profit.”

According to the NG article, the statement did not come as a surprise to Cheryl Benard of Washington-based Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (ARCH). The write-up states that she told her group last fall that both sides need to address the issue.

ALSO READ: Civilians pick up arms as Taliban imposes new rules

Not everyone shares this optimism. Afghanistan’s Institute of Archaeology’s Noor Agha Noori is not convinced. He told NG: “To be honest, we are very worried about the future of cultural heritage were the Taliban to come into power,” he said while informing that Islamists were indulging in looting historical sites in order to raise finances.

Speaking in the same vein, Mohammad Fahim Rahimi, Director of Kabul’s National Museum observed: “Unfortunately the statement is not clear, especially concerning the pre-Islamic heritage. You know what happened to the collection during the civil war and in 2001.”

The museum conservators over the years painstakingly pieced together many wooden and stone sculptures which were broken deliberately.

There are many who pin their hopes on the US brokered talks between the Taliban and the Afghan Government hoping that the region’s past will be protected. Last year, the Government had said yes to discuss “ensuring the security of historical and Islamic sites” during their talks while the statement of February gives an indication on part of Taliban to do so as well
Nasratullah Hewadwall of the Kabul branch of ARCH remarked: “It’s a great and positive step.” He shared that last year the Taliban had distanced itself from the destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001 while blaming it on al Qaeda.

According to Hewadwall, the leadership of the group has realised the economic significance of ancient heritage and sites as tourist attractions while perceiving that destroying them damages their image.

In terms of historical significance, there is much to be lost in case Afghanistan’s cultural heritage is not preserved. Being at the geographical crossroads of Central Asia, the region has attracted traders, merchants, scholars, pilgrims, and armies since the arrival of Alexander the Great.

Afghanistan is from where Buddhism spread to China and it is this place where Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism flourished, both before and after the advent of Islam in the 7th Century AD.

Also as part of the Silk Road which connected India with China and Iran, it boasts of remains of several ancient cities, monasteries, and sarais, which housed travellers.

Besides the threat of the Taliban, a greater fear which grips cultural conservators is that of chaos that will follow after the departure of American and NATO troops that has already begun.

According to Jolyon Leslie, who is working as a preservationist at an ancient Buddhist stupa outside Kabul: “Our fears are less about a possible threat posed by the Taliban than the prospect of a breakdown in law and order.”

Chaos already exists, informs Hewadwall, especially in rural areas. The twin factors of lack of security and shifting alliances, has enabled poverty-stricken villagers, gangs, different militia and Taliban to steal artefacts for smuggling them.

Many place their hopes on the Afghan officials who have so far done well to preserve the sites, museums and artefacts from decay and destruction. The article quotes NG’s archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert, who talking about Afghan officials said: “They will be good caretakers. I have total confidence in them.” According to him, they have braved arrest and even death in their call of duty.

It also finally boils down to normalcy returning to Afghanistan ravaged by civil war and battles for years. Murtaza Azizi, a senior Ministry official averred: “Once lasting peace comes to our country, we are eager to share this heritage with the world. We hope our tourism industry — and with it, the economy — will grow, not only in Balkh, but all over Afghanistan.” But given the Taliban’s idiosyncrasies of the past, and the strong connection of some of powerful factions, such as the Haqanni network with Pakistan’s ISI, few will guarantee that the Taliban’s basic DNA has changed

(This content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

ALSO READ: Taliban warns foreign troops will be at risk as occupiers

Categories
-Top News Culture India News

Tributes to Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji

Guru Hargobind introduced the process of militarization to Sikhism, likely as a response to his father’s execution and to protect the Sikh community. He symbolized it by wearing two swords, representing the dual concept of mīrī and pīrī (temporal power and spiritual authority)

Indian leaders greet the Sikh community on the occasion of Guru Hargobind Ji Parkash Purab 2021. Guru Hargobind Ji revered as the sixth Nānak, was the sixth of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion. He had become Guru at the young age of eleven, after the execution of his father, Guru Arjan, by the Mughal emperor Jahangir.

Guru Hargobind introduced the process of militarization to Sikhism, likely as a response to his father’s execution and to protect the Sikh community. He symbolized it by wearing two swords, representing the dual concept of mīrī and pīrī (temporal power and spiritual authority).

In front of the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, Guru Hargobind constructed the Akal Takht (the throne of the timeless one). The Akal Takht represents the highest seat of earthly authority of the Khalsa (the collective body of the Sikhs) today.