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Friday, 01 June, 2018, 09 : 43 AM [IST]


The ‘adopt a national monument’ scheme is well intended, but it is only the first step and if the vetting & supervision of the work quality of the adopting sponsors is not taken into account, those scoffing the plan will have the last laugh.
It is not often that politicians crib about the sorry state of the environs, maintenance or upkeep of the country’s historic monuments. Not high on priority, it is majorly manifested as a stick to beat whoever is in authority if the need arises. It is in this light that the recent storm over ‘sponsoring’ national monuments under the ‘Adopt a national Monument’ scheme of the Central government should be viewed.

The specious argument against it is that national heritage and monuments should not be ‘commercialised’ to avoid exploitation and misuse by corporate entities. This shrivelled vestige of socialist angst possibly owes its origin to a deep set antipathy to anything that remotely appeared as ‘interference of big (or even medium) business interests in any aspect of national or public life.

It’s a relief that the Ministry of Tourism did not respond apologetically to such protestations of those who had their knickers in a twist.

There are serious benefits of involving the corporate world in the upkeep and maintenance of these monuments and sites. In the same breath, one can still understand that those unhappy with the move might be equating the implementation of these plans with the ‘sponsor a Metro station’ scheme in which the sponsoring companies add their name to the Metro station, making it unpronounceable and even ugly. While that can be forgiven for once as a fallout of a bargain for advertising rights, surely by ‘adopting’ the Red Fort, the Dalmia Group will not get the rights to put up signs of ‘Dalmia Red Fort’ all around the premises.

The adopter’s deliverables at the Red Fort include facade lighting, building pavements, creating a top-of-the-line visitor centre, providing street furniture, revamping toilet facilities and provision of drinking water, besides a host of other services and facilities that are common in the smallest of historic sites in the developed world.

However, the concern should be more about the quality of the facilities, the worth and style of the artwork to be installed during national day celebrations and the historic accuracy, intelligence and production values of any A/V or 3D show, etc. that might be presented at the venue.

Unless all that is screened and vetted by truly competent authorities and not just bureaucrats or those who happen to be ‘friendly’ with the authorities, the argument against such adoptions could gather some real steam. The lessons from the Film Certification Board snafus should not be forgotten.

The real fear lies here and not in the mere act of inviting private participation in upping the so far drab act at national monuments and heritage sites.

Anurag Yadav
Industry Expert

(The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.)
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