Caves to be made international rock art museum

Both the Union and State governments seem to be in agreement about bringing in more community participation and private investment in the conservation of cultural heritage.

This was stated by Kumari Shelja, Union Minister for Culture, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation as well as K.C. Joseph, State Minister for Culture, at the plenary session on ‘Conservation and preservation of socio-cultural heritage of Kerala’ at the Emerging Kerala 2012 summit on Thursday.

Corporate help

In his special address, Mr. Joseph said that there should be a paradigm shift in the conservation drive. More corporate help and community participation is required and options like branding of heritage sites could be considered.

This is relevant as the government contribution in these sectors is comparatively low.

Rock art museum

Efforts will be taken to convert the Edakkal cave into an international rock art museum and steps to secure Unesco World Heritage status are under way.

The State government will also initiate steps to evolve an automated audio system to make up for paucity of professionally qualified guides in museums in the State, Mr. Joseph said.

In her inaugural address, Ms. Shelja said that zonal cultural centres will be considered to conserve and promote tribal art forms which were facing the threat of being eliminated.

The present condition of tribal arts called for urgent intervention. On its part, the State government could work on the lines of setting up a corpus similar to the National Culture Fund for preservation of built and tangible arts.

She expressed her support to the State’s demand for securing classical status for Malayalam.

In his special address, Shashi Tharoor, MP, explained the unique characteristics of the Malayali society, which retained the individual nature of its constituent elements even while maintaining a collective identity. As against the Western notion of a cultural melting pot, the Malayali society could be treated like a ‘thali’ where different dishes mixed to give the special flavour.

A recent study showed that the Kerala society matched the U.S. society in all vital factors like life expectancy, but had 170 times less cost of living, he said.

Mr. Tharoor also highlighted the inquisitive nature and enterprising mentality of Malayalis that helped them to travel across the world and stamp their presence there.

Heritage sites

Historian M.G.S. Narayanan, in his special address on ‘Survey, protection and display of heritage monuments’, called for more intensive efforts in studying and preserving heritage sites like Muziris. Rathi Vinay Jha, chairperson of the Indian Heritage Cities Network Foundation, talked on ‘Investing in heritage itineraries for urban and territorial development’ and Jean Paul Solaro, Vice-Mayor of the French city Lorient, made a presentation on ‘Heritage – a vector for international networking and economic development’.

P.K. Jayalakshmi, Minister for Museums and Zoos and Welfare of Scheduled Tribes and Youth Affairs, spoke and Sajan Peter, Principal Secretary, Home, Vigilance and Cultural Affairs, made the concluding remarks.