Sunday, December 10, 2017

Why be a part of Unesco if it’s not protecting or projecting India?

An old heritage building in Ahmedabad
In India, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra and Anuraag Saxena ( "Why be a part of Unesco if it’s not protecting or projecting India?" Hindustan Times Dec 08, 2017) are critical of UNESCO too. India contributes around Rs 320 million to Unesco, but benefits to the country from the UN body have been minimal. Too much money is spent on too little gain, sometimes even negatively affecting the country's interests, largely through ignoring India completely.
Take for example the latest publication United 4Heritage: Cultural Diversity Under Attack, which highlights the loss of heritage in war zones. Welcome as this is, it’s worth pointing out that the vast majority of current active hot spots are in West Asia, with almost all the publicised losses of cultural heritage. What’s absent here is any study on how low-level societal violence/heavy resource competition can be equally, if not more damaging to such heritage. [...]  there is limited focus on heritage-destruction in countries outside conflict zones, such as India. It is the implicit assumption that ‘heritage is destroyed only in conflict zones’ that is deeply disturbing
The authors argue that this focus on conflict antiquities "ensures that the real problem stays ignored"and that governments and philanthropists channel their money mostly towards ‘high visibility’ zones, such as West Asia.
Thus, if we’re not being either ‘protected’ or ‘projected’, but, rather being neglected by Unesco, what exactly is the point of being part of it, or indeed contributing to it? 
In India, theauthors argue, "we need whatever scarce resources we have diverted to protecting and projecting our own rather than subsidising the agenda of others who anyway get more than their fair share of attention".

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