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17 Sep 2019

India earmarks billions towards five-year heritage and culture project
BY Andy Knaggs

The Unesco World Heritage Site of Hampi, south India, is dotted with ruined temples

The Unesco World Heritage Site of Hampi, south India, is dotted with ruined temples
photo: Shutterstock

A programme of "authentic reconstruction" of 11 historic sites in India, and the setting up of 100 experiential museums, are among ambitious plans reportedly under development by India's culture ministry.

The country's The Economic Times claims the Indian government will invest some 270 billion Indian Rupees (US$3.8bn, €3.4bn, £3.1bn) in a five-year programme running from 2020 to 2025, about a quarter of which will go to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) – a seven-fold budget increase for the agency that is tasked with conserving the nation's historical sites.

Historic sites such as the monuments of Hampi and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation are among those chosen for reconstruction. New amenities will be provided at 600 sites, while 50 interpretation centres will be established, and 50 monuments illuminated.

There will be a national centre for performing arts, an Indian Institute of Culture to provide training in archaeology, museology, conservation and allied fields, and a national festival to celebrate the folk art of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The 100 experiential museums suggested in the report will be "on the lines of the Acropolis Museum in Greece", and include a national experiential archaeological museum in Prime Minister Modi's hometown of Vadnagar in Gujarat.

Technology will play a key role in the authentic reconstruction project, with proposals having been received from 25 organisations to discuss technological possibilities. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has been appointed the project's "nodal agency", with technical support provided by the National Council of Science Museums, according to The Economic Times.

The aforementioned Indian Institute of Culture will be created by merging educational and training institutes, such as the Institute of Archaeology, the National Museum Institute and the National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property.

Other projects will see a Museum on the Prime Ministers of India at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, which is due to be fully installed by October 2020, and Gandhipedia – an online repository of Gandhi's important works and the philosophies of Guru Nanak and Rabindranath Tagore.



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