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The Scottish connection

Staff Reporter
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The restoration project at Humayun's Tomb was influenced by the pioneering work done by Scottish town planner Patrick Geddes.Photo: Shanker Chakravarty
The restoration project at Humayun's Tomb was influenced by the pioneering work done by Scottish town planner Patrick Geddes.Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

The Scottish Minister of External Affairs Humza Yousaf is visiting Hazrat Nizamuddin basti here over the weekend. It is expected that his stopover would encourage cultural collaborations between the two nations.

The Minister was curious to know how the Nizamuddin urban renewal initiative, a project to revitalise the Mughal Emperor Humayan’s tomb, has helped improve the socio-economic conditions of the local community, whose forefathers have been living there for centuries.

The Minister was all ears as Ratish Nanda, project director at Aga Khan Trust for Culture, explained how the initiative has been influenced by the pioneering work done by renowned Scottish town planner, sociologist, and philanthropist Patrick Geddes (1854-1932), who believed it was important to consider how the people relate to places.

The Minister said: “It was amazing to see first-hand the excellent conservation work being carried out at the urban village of Nizamuddin and understand how it is bringing together a range of capabilities to establish a model for participatory conservation-led development of historic cities.”

Noting that this visit was a great opportunity for Scotland to share knowledge about their own building conservation work,

Mr. Yousaf said his country was committed to sourcing local materials whenever possible and training apprentices in traditional building skills so that they can preserve their precious historic environment.

“It has been truly remarkable to come to one of the world’s ancient heritage sites to see a project of this scale and ambition and to learn that it is founded on advice that came from someone so significant in Scotland’s own rich history. The Scottish Government shares Patrick Geddes’ belief that preserving historic buildings and urban renewal is vital for the vitality of our communities.”

Renowned for his work to improve the slums of Edinburgh in the 19{+t}{+h}Century, Mr. Geddes was invited by the then Governor of Madras to help in urban planning in Indian cities. His theories are still being followed by those involved in the Nizamuddin urban renewal initiative.

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