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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Heritage and Metro rail

Here is the script of what my daughter spoke in the inter school oratorical competition for Madras Week celebration two years back held at PSBB k.K. Nagar and she got the first prize.

The Topic given was

Heritage and Metro rail

Heritage as a terminology has acquired a wide range of connotations. So, at first we need to clearly define what we mean by heritage? 

In general we all have scant respect combined with varying degrees of ignorance and indifference towards many really culturally, socially, environmentally and scientifically significant aspects, value systems and facets of heritage and the symbols that represent such heritage. 

Heritage in brief includes and involves the full range of our inherited traditions, monuments, objects, and culture.  Most importantly, it is the range of contemporary activities, meanings, value systems and behaviors that they impact

However, going by the topic it is obvious that we are talking about a sudden new found concern and care for some old, dilapidated, mostly unused or unusable or misused constructions mostly built in the past few decades at the maximum a century ago. Constructions mostly made of combinations of brick, lime stone, clay etc. Of course, there are some exceptions to this, wherein, such old buildings are used for some meaningful activities and they do stand as symbols of some activity. Let me stress they are symbols and not the intrinsically significant part of such activity. 

Constructions which were older than a century and a half are mostly of solid rocks, stones and hence do not get jolted or spoiled even when they get submerged under water like the structures at Mahapalipuram. 

This sudden concern is purely due to some vested interests, ideological affinities, political expediency and purely personal and material gains. 

We all must have sane approach towards anything based on facts, inevitable situational requirements, the relative changes and adjustments that we have to make towards such requirements and in some cases even a hard decision or a sacrifice if one may use such big words.

The facts are:-
1] Everything has an expiry date, including our life.

2] Infrastructural development is inevitable if we are to promote economy, trade and enable movement of goods and transportation of a constantly growing population.

3] If we remain as luddites [those opposing change] then we will remain an economically backward state/country.

4] What could we do if these buildings, mostly those built of brick, lime stone and clay and existing in dilapidated conditions get damaged or come crushing to the ground due to earth quake, severe cyclonic storm, sudden floods, heavy rainfall etc or get destroyed in some fire.

5] In most cases the activities that are taking place can be easily relocated elsewhere in the interest of growth of economy.
We must all remember one thing that the only thing that does not change is change and everything else is subject to change.
Heritage has very little to do with the past, but is actually more about how we conceptualize the future. Objects of heritage are the things we pay attention to because they’re still meaningful to us, not always because they tell great stories about the past but because we use them to tell stories about ourselves. Practices of heritage are customs and habits which, although intangible, also inform who we are as groups, and help to create our shared social memory.
We use objects of heritage (monuments, buildings, sites, landscapes) and practices of heritage (languages, music, community celebrations) to shape our ideas about who we are as nations, communities, and individuals. What we define as ‘heritage’ is constantly changing in the light of the present as we look to the past to imagine our future.
So in the interest of future and our own progress we must be willing to exchange a few symbols of heritage in the form of some old buildings. 
We read in history books that how passive spectators we were when all our rich cultural heritages were plundered by invaders. We ourselves have made lots of changes to our value systems, and symbols of heritage for various reasons.

If time permits I can go into the relative importance and even inevitability of metro and mono rails……


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