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Conservation Theory Exam
Part 1:
Keeping in mind the cultural context and the current situation of cultural heritage practice
and protection in India, kindly express the need for an Indian Charter and briefly explain
what it should contain?
Part 2:
What are the missing points in the INTACH charter?
Part 3:
Why has it failed to be incorporated and accepted as an Indian Charter? Kindly mention the
Part 1:
The diverse cultural heritage in the Indian context can be considered as:
The tangible cultural heritage as a resource with historical, archaeological and architectural
significance such as monumental structures, archaeological sites, paintings, coins,
manuscripts, etc; and
The intangible cultural heritage with respect to the integrated environment (which includes
cultural landscapes, physical forms, biological forms and geological forms based on various
intangible aspects such as people and their culture, oral traditions, performing arts, rituals,
India is blessed with the richest and the most diverse cultural and architectural heritage which
includes a great number of monuments and heritage sites. India has a huge number of
heritage structures, of which only around 3600 monuments are listed of national importance
with Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and State Department Archaeology (SDA). Several
other monuments with more numbers are still looked after various communities and local
endowments because of the religious aspects or personal benefits. More number of
monuments are not even listed and remain unaddressed with barely under any formalised
A huge number of monuments and cultural heritage sites are still in use either for some
uncontrolled purpose or tourism with hardly any proper system and discipline that needs to
be addressed and intervened according to the contextual challenges.
These are the resources that manifest the tangible and intangible forms of cultural heritage
with respect to the diversities they contain, eventually help to define the composite culture
in various time periods thereby showing the relativity of historic events in today’s date. This
makes it important to preserve them and have conservation procedures time to time
maintained throughout to pass on to further generations. Traditional construction materials,
practices and local culture are still under pressure of loss of information and knowledge as it
is stop practiced due to lack of funds, modernisation and lack of practice in day to day life.
The symbiotic relationship between such heritage sites and nature also plays a great role in
improving the quality of environment and further benefit to the local indigenous community
or societies.
These unprotected monuments and heritage sites are brought to public notice and protected
mainly due to the intervention of Non-Governmental Organisations such as INTACH (Indian
National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage). Today’s modernisation help us to understand
that the culture is liable to change but the legacy of a heritage remains the same along the
time. If respected and valued well enough to a have a positive approach and awareness about
it by documentation, preservation and conservation, we might be able to pass on the rightful
information with respect to old cultures to the next generations for better historical
Conservation of such sites should portray the meaning to the contemporary and modern
society through its authentic relevance as was in respective time period. The methodologies
for such conservation procedures may change with time and developing technological
advancements which may change the perception of local culture from time to time, as the
challenges vary time to time with respect to time and context. Such a process can be taken in
solely public and socio- cultural interest which must have a limitations on the interventions
that are carried out time to time. These interventions are supposed to follow certain rules/
regulations and guidelines which may differ as per the local contextuality and local challenges
due to the presence of huge communal and cultural diversities as mentioned earlier. Hence
rules, regulations and guidelines for the conservation procedures in India may not get on
similar terms as mentioned in western conservation theories and principles based on
colonialism perspectives. Therefore, the indigenous practices vary regionally and can not be
considered as a single system operating all over India. This necessitates the involvement of
local bodies, multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary that can form various rules and guidelines
to prior to the various regions considering the diverse challenges involved with it. Hence there
is need for such Indian Charter that may cope up with all the challenges including the varying
diversities in India.
The governing local bodies along with various private agencies or Non Government
Organisations which are associated with the conservation of heritage sites must first identify
which sites can actually be considered as cultural heritage sites under various guidelines and
regulations that are to be emphasised with respect to the contextuality. These guidelines may
refer to one common charter or region oriented rules and regulations through which the
conservation procedures maybe assigned to the local bodies with more discretionary powers
under the expertise check from time to time in order to catalyse the procedure and in faith
of various public interest. But it should simultaneously have some hold on the procedure and
be checked whether the decisions taken and implemented as per multidisciplinary expert
advice in order to maintain the authenticity of the heritage sites. The private sector involved
in India, majorly emphasise on aesthetic maintenances of the cultural heritage sites and the
issue of safety often remains unaddressed. Measures and rules should be mentioned to have
a check of multidisciplinary experts appointment along with new tools and devices for
analytical study with respect to the challenges faced on the contextual basis. Adaptive use
of modern engineering methods and traditional engineering/ construction methods and the
maintenance equipment’s for safety and control must be carefully addressed for every kind
of project and intervention. It will help to preserve the cultural heritage site with the needful
authenticity using minimum interventions as per the need. Post -disaster and Pre-disaster
management work of heritage sites must be taken seriously as it may result in a threat to the
near by community growth nearby and may cause a huge loss in terms of cultural loss. New
methods must be thinked of, along with labour oriented workshops to promote and enhance
the speed and quality of work with respect to traditional construction techniques.
Part 2:
In 1984 the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was registered as a
society (hereinafter referred to as Society/Trust) under Section 12AA of the Income Tax Act.
Today it is recognized as one of the world’s largest heritage organizations, with over 206
Chapters across India. The role, activities and programmes of INTACH conforms to its mission
and to the objectives and goals enshrined in the Memorandum of Association. But various
points were not considered and it could not hold up to the changing challenges and issues
arising day by day for the conservation procedures. The missing points in INTACH charter are
described below:
Limitations over new materials, was not addressed properly. Rules with respect to the
adaptability of modern construction tools, techniques, devices, machineries, etc are not
briefly considered in order to assure the safety and precise intervention strategies while
working on site. Adaptation reuse, restoration and visual impact limitations are not set with
respect to the varied contextual perspectives.
Sustainability with respect to climate change and changing time is not addressed as the
materials resources keep changing with respect to the cultural heritage type, its construction
time period and contextuality.
No policy is mentioned for measures with respect to pre disaster and post disaster structure.
It does not help to understand about the revenue generation and its benefits for the societal
growth for various contextual growth.
INTACH should make an inventory of architectural heritage. They should develop ways and
means to conserve local architectural heritage in consultation with INTACH’s Regional and
Central offices and update with respect to changing challenges, socio-economic issues and
interventions methodologies with developing technological advancements.
It may get assigned with various discretionary powers to the multidisciplinary field experts by
forming a panel for betterment of the interventions and maintaining the authenticity of the
heritage as per its time and construction knowledge. It might also have conditional and
limited public involvement in order to catalyse the procedure. INTACH’s Regional and Central
offices should compile this data to produce an annual national “State of the Architectural
Heritage Report” which should highlight heritage in danger and formulate conservation
strategies for its protection. To further facilitate its goal of protecting architectural heritage,
INTACH should establish inter-disciplinary Advisory Committees at the regional and national
level. These Committees should act as clearing-houses for awarding grading for listed
buildings and sites, conservation plans, assessment reports, scientific studies, funding
proposals, legal and administrative measures for conserving the unprotected architectural
INTACH focuses more on the education and sustainability of special crafts and less
Information is provided related to the Heritage site/ Structure and the relevant importance
of the cultural heritage with respect to community and urban issues. It does not explain in
detail the type of training required by the local Public towards their Responsibilities for the
protection of a heritage site. Like the ICOMOS charter 2008 it does not maintain information
on Interpretive Infrastructure. It does not talk about the fees of professionals teaching the
special crafts that can help with the conservation of a place.
Part 3:
The Charter is only limited for the local or regional level and is unable to meet on common
points as needful to be acted on national level, keeping in mind all the diversities and as the
title includes the term “Unprotected” give an impression that the protected sites by ASI can
not be included in the list of development. Also it does not talk about inclusive intervention
for national governance and the methods maybe defined with various levels on minimum
preservation methodologies, adaptive reuse, and restoration.