At the dawn of information age, it is time to share World Heritage with the tech-generation
It is not the honour that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind, as very aptly put down by American baseball player Branch Rickey, best known for breaking Major League Baseball s colour-barriers by signing a black player, who surely knew of giving a new cultural heritage to the world at his time and beyond.
A heritage becomes, and remains, a heritage only when it is handed-down to future generations. A heritage becomes significant due to its present, and probable, economic value, but also because it binds an emotional value around itself by making the people feel a belongingness to it in some way or the other - be it pride of nationality, tradition, culture or may be just a way of life. World Heritage is the shared wealth of humankind and protecting/preserving this amazing, common wealth demands the collective effort of all of us.
The best way to preserve a heritage, whatever it may be - cultural or natural, is to share it with others. To be kept alive and as relevant as it initially was, it must be regularly preserved-practised and be learnt within communities and between generations.
The evolution of Cultural Heritage
Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.
What one generation considers cultural heritage may be rejected by another generation, only to be revived by a later generation.
Tangible & Intangible
Cultural heritage includes tangible culture - such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts. It also includes intangible culture traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts, intangible culture, such as folklore, traditions, language and knowledge, and natural heritage, including culturally significant landscapes and biodiversity.
To be kept alive, tangible cultural heritage must remain relevant to a culture and be regularly practised and learned within communities and between generations. Safeguarding measures to ensure that intangible cultural heritage can be transmitted from one generation to another are considerably different from those required for protecting tangible heritage (natural and cultural).
There is a risk that certain elements of intangible cultural heritage could die out or disappear without help, but safeguarding does not mean fixing or freezing intangible cultural heritage in some pure or primordial form. Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage is about the transferring of knowledge, skills and meaning.
World Heritage Day - from 1982 to 2018
Cultural heritage is under attack - from environmental degradation and climate change, from socioeconomic pressures and the accelerating pace of urbanisation, from the strains of global tourism. For the same reason, on April 18, 1982, on the occasion of a symposium organised by International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in Tunisia, it was suggested that an International Day for Monuments and Sites should be celebrated simultaneously throughout the world. This very idea was later approved by the UNESCO to mark the same day as International Monuments and Sites Day , which is popularly known as World Heritage Day across the globe.
The marked day has year-over-year offered opportunities to raise people s awareness about the diversity of cultural and natural heritage we have in India and the world across, and the efforts that are required to look after. Simply putting, it is an opportunity to shout about how fantastic our World Heritage is.
Each year, the World Heritage Day is celebrated on a common theme that is decided by ICOMOS - this year being Heritage for Generations.
It is recognised that the retention of heritage has environmental and sustainable benefits. Conserving heritage buildings reduces energy usage associated with demolition, waste disposal and new construction, and promotes sustainable development by conserving the embodied energy in the existing buildings. Hence, communication across generations generates enriching exchanges. Combining the knowledge of experienced heritage-protectors with the energy and dynamism of newer members brings about a more holistic approach in the direction of sustainable development.
At the dawn of the information age , as well as Digital India, there are a plethora of options for exchanging information and voicing the importance that a heritage holds. This World Heritage Day, #heritage4generations to step out and voice and exchange your concerns and ideas. Let the world come together for imbibing heritage as an honour for generations to come
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