Wednesday, 10 January 2018

In Ruins And Relics


When was the last time you visited a museum? The mere mention of the word "museum" has become synonym to "boring". No one takes their date to a museum or friends don't hang out their for "fun". It is observed as a solo activity mostly kept aside for geeks and weirdos. Of course, there was a time when it was an active educational tour for kids but I somehow find it hard to picture current internet-savvy young generation looking forward enthusiastically to something like that. But why are Indian museums so "boring"?

We are one of the oldest civilizations in the world. We claim to be the land of Ramayana and Mahabharata. It's the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. We have been raided and invaded by Persians, Mongols, Spanish, Portuguese and British. I would definitely not called history of India "boring"! But unfortunately we don't have enough interesting souvenirs to prove this point. And our museums are devoid of the glory it deserves.

If you visit the website of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), you will find this notice "Hon'ble Prime Minister of India made an announcement on Independence Day, 2003 for setting up of a National Mission on India's Tangible Heritage. Accordingly the National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities was launched on 19th March 2007. The National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities proposes to launch its activities throughout the country with independent functional strategy in each state and union territory. It is envisaged that mandate of the Mission should be achieved within a stipulated time frame of five years i.e. 2007-2012." You will find no further update and if you try to find out more online, there is a press release on 8th feb saying how the mission is extended till 2017. I am not implying that nothing has been done, but I think after more than a decade people deserve to know what exactly has been done till now. But then again the problem is, no one cares.

Even though we are a secular peaceful nation, it's like a live wire. The moment we get a whiff of any religious controversies like excavations on Ayodya or finding a lost submerged city near Dwaraka, our ears perk up. Here religion is so deeply instilled in every aspect, that from politics to archeology nothing can escape it's choking grip. In fact I think most of the activities of ASI are monitored so as not to cause any controversies. We are too scared to find the truth. We keep saying Lord Rama and Krishna were real, rather than finding actual evidence to prove it. Because what if we were proved wrong? Are we ready to accept the truth whatever it may be? Isn't it much more easier to mix religion with mythology and seperate the entire thing from scientific approach,even if it's at the cost of being dubious?

But religion is definitely not the only obstruction in the path of archeology, it's something much more basic. People feel a developing nation like India doesn't have the time or money for investing in relics from the past. In this age of technology, every parent want their kid to be engineers and doctors and they do have a point, right now it's not a lucrative career. But it need not remain so, just like Egypt, Rome or Paris we have enough material in our disposal. If we invest a bit more, gear it up with latest technology, make it audience friendly, do a bit of make over to the entire department (which has a typical "government office feel" to it right now), we can resurrect this dying industry and convert it into a profitable venture.

We may not be a rich nation anymore, but we have always remained proud of its rich culture and vast diversity. We have much more to offer in this world than software engineers and chicken tikka masala. I hope one day people across the world would admire ancient India not just as a mythology but as a legitimate proof of our spectacular history found in ruins and relics.






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