Preserving art and culture!

Feb 17, 2022, 11:54 AM

It is only of late that there has been a surge in efforts to retrieve stolen artefacts. Now and then, we are reminded of something of historical and cultural significance being retrieved from some other corner of the world.

Recently, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York announced that it would return two of the relics currently in its possession. At a glance, it seems to be a gesture of goodwill on the part of the museum to return valuable relics. In comparison, questions can be raised to show how such historical artefacts are added to the collection without careful due diligence. Instead, we as a nation need to shoulder the responsibility of not preserving our historical artefacts.

It couldn’t have found its way halfway around the world without the willingness of corrupt individuals within Nepal who aided in the smuggling of such relics. Despite having a rich culture to showcase, we have an abysmal track record of preserving it. After the devastating earthquake of 2015, along with the loss of precious lives, it was equally painful to witness the destruction of monuments that had seen various historical events. But the truth of the matter is that most of those monuments stood in derelict condition.

And when it came to talks of rebuilding and reviving monuments destroyed during the earthquake, it conveniently entrusted to the care of foreign donors. The authorities to whip up sentiments of national pride talk about self-funding projects in rebuilding and preserving historical monuments. Still, in reality, they will stop short of nothing to access foreign funds. And if anything funding does come from state coffers, the project usually experiences lengthy delays. We need a concerted effort to inculcate a sense of ownership amongst people of all ages. School trips to museums could be introduced in the curriculum as a mandatory affair rather than a casual trip. Children need more direct visual inputs from the actual artefacts rather than limiting them to visuals from textbooks.

Preservation of historical monuments and heritage sites should also be undertaken from stopping any form of encroachment. Why do we need laws to constrict ourselves from encroaching on heritage sites? Something that essentially represents our past and something we should be proud of should be protected by instincts. And no personal gain should be seen in trying to preserve something for posterity. Governments should spare no expense in ensuring that any acts of encroachment should be meted out with harsh consequences.

The rewards of protecting and preserving our artefacts have boundless financial returns for a nation that thrives on tourism. But importantly, the benefits transcend mere economics. It that the ability to instil pride. Reflections on a glorious past would undoubtedly provide an impetus for the people of today to achieve something for the future. At the same time, endeavours are being made to bring back artefacts from countries and sold worldwide. We need to concentrate our efforts on preserving what has been left to neglect here at home.

Guest Editorial

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