India’s rich legacy is saturated with an astonishingly diverse range of monuments and buildings, community spaces, arts & crafts, traditional dance & music, theatre, folklore, cuisine, textiles, and lifestyles. These precious national assets are of immeasurable value to the Indian identity, and yet many lie in utter neglect today. India is poised at a precarious juncture as it revels in its new-found industrial advancement. However, little seems to be publicly visible in terms of the preservation of its rich heritage.
Secondly, mainstream Indian media appears substantially market happy and deeply entrenched in the servitude of consumerism and pop entertainment. There is certainly a glaring gap in terms of cultural/ heritage programming in the mainstream media. What little of it exists, seems sparse and scattered; and is often created by unaided independent enthusiasts instead of known media companies and content producers.
It is perhaps, a matter of national urgency that a unified national discourse on heritage is established in order to enrich a national consciousness of our culture and diversity as a nation. The rapid and parasitical growth of independent tv channels and internet companies in the recent decades, has indeed made it impossible to control the constant flow of unregulated, haphazard and poor content, that is making for unwarranted cultural bankruptcy in modern India.
In the absence of media & communications watchdogs and research agencies, there is little influence the government can have on national programming, and as a result the mainstream media remains entrenched in industry driven entertainment such as Bollywood and pop culture. Whilst the entertainment industry deserves its space in public discourse, it does also need to allow more space for research driven and fact based programming.
Indian life and ethos are perennially empowered by our deep sense of community. This sense of community is in itself a boundless resource that will salvage and bring forward lost information on our heritage. Internet based communications have opened up information highways that render geographic boundaries of countries meaningless. India as a country is no longer confined to this peninsula alone, it exists across the globe, in the Indians who live all over the world, and also in peoples of all nations who love India for it’s heritage, culture and history. It is our prerogative now, to connect the lovers of Indian heritage the world over and to leverage the advantages of modern digital information highways.
One can only imagine, the impact that uniting and engaging communities of heritage lovers will have on coming generations of Indians globally?
Effective and sustained governmental support towards heritage is understood by us, to be a matter of urgency today, in a time when India is rapidly gaining global visibility. Accumulation, digitisation and dissemination of Indian heritage research has become an undeniable necessity in this age of information technology. The need for a national discourse on Indian heritage is but obvious, in order to further fortify our identity globally and to participate as equals in the international community.
Currently one has to look often towards western research for information of Indian history. Perhaps it is time to de-colonise our history of the western canons of thought; and to promote our own understanding and interpretations of our culture.
The Indian Heritage Forum aims to fill this glaring gap by digitising Indian Heritage and offering it to the world through the lens of Indian scholastic research. It is needless to say, that while it is necessarily for us to continually appreciate and leverage the research done by past colonising powers, and by the international community; it is indeed as much a priority to document, evaluate and offer narratives from Indian research in the public domain, by undertaking the assimilation, digitisation and archiving the research done by Indian universities and cultural institutions.
It is our unflinching belief that heritage is not merely a cultural/ historical relic, but indeed a potent enabler of untapped economic opportunities, that are yet unexplored.
It is well known, that no culture in the world thrives on industrial development alone – a culture without its own heritage will engender a potentially frugal/ frivolous society. Moreover, it is also evident that Indian industrial and technological growth are in fact, the very enablers that we need for the preservation, conservation and appreciation of our heritage. It is therefore, the primary focus of the the Indian Heritage Forum to open up and sustain a national discourse on our heritage.