It was recently revealed that five Indian cities were declared as tentative entries in UNESCO’s World Heritage List as proposals were filed at UNESCO World Heritage Centre to check with the criteria for consideration.
The tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites mentions places in five Indian cities of Ahmedabad (Gujarat), New Delhi (Delhi), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Bhubaneswar (Odisha) and Mumbai (Maharashtra).
The 41st session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will be held in Poland from July 2 to July 12. The fate of the enlisted five Indian cities will be decided during this session. Ruchira Kamboj, India’s ambassador to UNESCO, left subtle hints through her tweet.
— Ruchira Kamboj (@RuchiraKamboj) March 21, 2017
The information for inclusion was given in a written reply by Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge) in a Rajya Sabha session.
What does it imply for India?
While India is devising strategies to increase revenue from tourism, the decision will determine whether it will benefit immensely if these five sites are granted the status of World Heritage Sites.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972-states the official UNESCO website.
In addition to being a source of pride for the nation, the World Heritage status attracts international attention to the sites, thereby ensuring a steady growth of tourism and travel related sectors. It also makes the sites eligible for being funded for maintenance and preservation and grants the host nation access to ‘global project management resources’. The special sites are also protected from war inflicted damages or misuse in accordance to the Geneva Convention.
In related news, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2347 for the protection of heritage. UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova publicly announced, “Maintenance of international peace and security: destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage by terrorist groups and in situations of armed conflict.”
In 2016, 3 Indian sites made it to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim and Bihar’s Nalanda Unniversity were granted the coveted status at the 40th session of The World Heritage Committee meeting in Istanbul. A tweet from UNESCO read:
— UNESCO (@UNESCO) July 17, 2016
The UNESCO official website lists 35 World Heritage Sites in India that are recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of July 2016. These include 27 cultural, 7 natural and 1 mixed category enlisted sites.
Incidentally, a petition was started by a Sikh student in Belgium to remove Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar from the tentative list in 2015 fearing ‘loss of control.’ The fear however is unsubstantiated as UNESCO does not claim ownership or right of administration over World Heritage Sites.