Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Today the battle is for cultural rebalancing: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar


New Delhi: Underscoring the importance of “cultural rebalancing” in today’s world, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday said projecting one’s own heritage, culture and faith is as crucial in international relations as in traditional politics.

He was speaking at the Purana Qila here to announce NGO Sabhyata Foundation as the ‘Smaarak Saarthi’ for four historic monuments — Purana Qila, Humayun’s Tomb, Safdarjung Tomb and Mehrauli Archaeological Park — for five years under the government’s ‘Adopt a Heritage 2.0’ project.

“Today the battle is for culture rebalancing. How do we recognise the entire diversity of the world, how do we undo the distortions of an era which was distorted by a few countries and a few regions.

“That is why it is crucial today to project our own heritage, our culture, our way of life, our faith, our belief, and that to me, is as crucial in diplomacy and international relations as traditional politics,” said the minister.

The 69-year-old here also talked about the Hindu epic Mahabharata and how other epics in the world are no match to it.

“There are none (epics) that really compare with the Mahabharata in terms not just of the complexity and the subtlety but actually how relevant it is even today to look at the world, its challenges and its opportunities,” he explained.

In a late night post on X after attending the cultural performance themed on Mahabharata at the Purana Qila, Jaishankar said cultural rebalancing demands that India projects its heritage, civilisation and way of life, and asserted that a “rising Bharat” must understand “where we came from to know where we are going”.

“Witnessed a great performance of the Mahabharat at the Purana Qila today. Commend Sabhyata Foundation, @MinOfCultureGoI and @ASIGoI for their efforts,” he wrote.

The Union minister also shared a few pictures from the event that was also attended by Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakashi Lekhi.

In his post, he shared the highlights of the remarks he made on the occasion.

“A Rising Bharat must understand where we came from to know where we are going. Cultural rebalancing demands that we project our own heritage, civilisation, culture, way of life, faith and belief,” he said.

The EAM added that the “present-day relevance of epic Mahabharat is immense, given the opportunities and challenges facing us”.

‘Adopt a Heritage 2.0’ project, an initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Archeological Survey of India (ASI), aims for partnerships with private/public sector entities to provide, develop and maintain amenities at centrally protected monuments and sites.

As ‘Smaarak Saarthi’, the Sabhyata Foundation will undertake the responsibility of enhancing visitor experiences at these four heritage sites, positioning them as must-visit destinations. Its primary goals will include increasing footfalls, enhancing amenities and creating memorable experiences while focusing on hygiene, accessibility, safety and knowledge.

“We have 4,000 such monuments that require our efforts and we look forward to the participation from private organisations so that the national cultural treasures continue to remain inspirational for the future generations too,” said ASI director general Yadubir Singh Rawat.

Other monuments earmarked for the ‘Adopt a Heritage 2.0’ project include Qutub Minar, Uggar Sain’s Baoli, Upper Fort Aguada, Elephanta Caves, Agra Fort, Bhimbetka, Buddhist Stupa, Kailasanatha temple, Group of Temples Khajuraho, Safdarjung Tomb, and Group of Monuments Mamallapuram.

While Sabhyata Foundation’s plan for Purana Qila includes a sound and light show, a museum showcasing excavated artefacts from various historical periods and a souvenir shop, the plans for the other three monuments will be revealed subsequently.

“The foundation will organise year-round site activities and work closely with the Ministry of Culture and ASI to access authentic research, experts and historic artefacts,” the NGO said in a statement.

“Fine dining experiences themed around ‘Ancient Grains of India’ will be conducted in strategic locations. Heritage walks and interactive displays will enrich the narrative further,” it said.


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