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Our dying heritage
A couple of days ago, the English daily Indian Express carried a piece decrying the maintenance of many of Delhi's lesser monuments mainly the tombs of the lesser nobles. Many of them were lying abandoned for years, and the Archaeological Survey which is charged with maintaining these decided to introduce entry tickets with a view to generating some extra revenue as well as keeping of encroachers and vandals in the process.

The scheme was not however accompanied by any enhancement of public amenities and so the footfalls did not increase much. The paper cited the instance of one monument having earned a revenue of less than Rs. 2000 in one whole calendar year.

Of course Delhi is littered with monuments and it may not be practical to conserve all of them, though certainly desirable. But we will definitely feel a gap in our heritage if we were to discover that the Qutub Minar or the Red Fort were damaged. That is far too important a piece of our is for the same reason that there is still an outrage at the destruction of the Babri Masjid irrespective of the background of its construction and its original identity.

Sadder still of course is when we hear as we did recently that in the course of war, the tomb of the prophet Jonah in the ruins of Nineveh in Iraq were blown up as part of the extreme fundamentalist ISIS group's attempts at eradicating all nuances of idolatry, no matter that the Prophet Jonah was revered by adherents of all three Abrahamic faiths- Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Adherents of these faiths number a quarter of the world's population and they have lost an iconic symbol which has survived two millennia and more, only to be destroyed in the hands of a more " civilized" and more intolerant humanity of the 21st century.

Readers will remember the story of the wanton destruction of the 6th century Bamian Buddhas in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule in 2001. That was another painful chapter in mankind's history. To think that these statues survived centuries of invasion and raids by conquerors and chieftains, not quite known for their appreciation of the arts or even tolerance of symbols that epitomized what to them was the evidence of a pagan faith, only to perish in the first decade of the 21st century is sad indeed.

Each such act of destruction- whether it be the destruction of a masjid or a mausoleum shrine or a religious icon, particularly when they happen in the here and now when we consider ourselves civilized and generally more progressive is a pain to live through. We consider it shameful that so many temples were destroyed by medieval conquerors in the middle ages in the name of religion. In what ways are we really different, one may well ask.

UNESCO has the practice of inspecting and pronouncing many monuments and marvels as "World Heritage Sights" and India has many of them. While it is a good thing to identify and recognize them, it is shameful that war and destruction are still so prevalent that many of these sights might not survive the century.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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