Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday stressed the need to involve people in preserving the country’s archaeological heritage, saying it was the responsibility of society to take pride in it.
He rued the mentality of not giving importance to the archaeological legacy and said the younger generation should be made aware about the significance of the heritage to change the mindset.
The prime minister also questioned the rules which prohibit people from clicking photographs at certain monuments. Inaugurating Dharovar Bhawan, a new building at the Archaeological Survey of India’s headquarters here, Modi said people’s participation is a must to preserve and protect the archaeological legacy of the country.
“Across the world, where people take interest in this, there is citizens’ participation and cooperation. Whichever monument you visit, retired people work as guide. The society takes the responsibility (in preserving the legacy),” he said. He noted that it is necessary to inculcate the same values in India to ensure people’s participation.
Stressing that the younger generation is the harbinger of change, Modi suggested that in 100 cities which have historical sites, school syllabus could include information on them so that students grow up learning about their significance.
He said the new generation in these places can be trained as tourist guides.
“It is our responsibility to present our heritage and culture with pride,” he said.
“The legacy cannot be protected if people are not proud of it…,” the prime minister said, adding that the corporate sector can also be roped in to devote resources to help preserve the country’s heritage.
He wondered why the ASI prohibits people from taking photographs at certain monuments when technology allowed satellites to take pictures from far away.
Modi felt that restricting people from clicking photographs was not right.
Lauding the work of archaeologists, he said, “Stones with edicts are old but not dead. They speak. Every page related to archaeology tells a story.”
Modi recalled his meeting with Haribhai Godani, a medical practitioner in Ahmedabad, who had made a rich collection of artefacts over the years. He said Godani showed him a slide of a stone statue, which according to him, was some 800 years old.
“The statue was of a pregnant woman. Her stomach had been cut in half and another carving was made on it. It showed a foetus and the layers of skin…
“Some 800 years ago, the sculptor was aware of the position of the child in the womb…Medical science discovered this a few centuries back,” he said.
The prime minister also recalled his visit with then French president Francois Hollande to Chandigarh a few years ago to see the archaeological discoveries made by an Indo-French team.