Heritage and Culture are the two pillars of human development. The two terms can be combined to mean both effectively and also assess the development of human mind across the ages. Thus cultural heritage can be called as the legacy of human development. There are two apects of cultural heritage. The first one is tangible like buildings, temples, monuments, landscapes, books, work of art and artifacts. The second is intangible like the language, ancient knowledge, traditions and folklore. The common feature of both is that they have been created in the past, preserved through the ages and handed down to the present generation. It also indicates the responsibility of the present generation to continue to preserve it and hand it over to the next generation. Heritage and culture reflect human development. For example, due to the extraordinary efforts taken by the Vedic Indians to preserve the Vedic texts from corruption and mutilation through oral tradition, before they were committed to writing we still have the texts in pristine pure form, in the same status when they were compiled several centuries ago. Thus they have become oldest literary monument of the world. Therefore, preservation and conservation of the culture and heritage are the most important points in the history of human development. Hence the Global Academic Research Institute has come out with the present topic ("Heritage and Culture as the basis of Human Development") for the current conference.
Cultural development is an integral component of the national development process as it is the vehicle for inculcating the love of the arts, aesthetics, moral values, and helping to build national unity and the patriotic fervour. While economics and industry drives material development culture develops and nurtures the development of the mind which is equally important as the former. Equally important is the environmental aspects of culture, where traditional uses of natural resources or events symbolise local cultural ties to environmental processes (solstice festivals, harvest festivals, agriculture progress days).These efforts serve as a basis for development, but also serve to maintain cultural traditions and ways of life. Furthermore, such forms of development highlight the importance of rural cultures and identify their role in shaping wider society. Finally, through such development, community and cultural identities are reinforced and collective identities strengthened. Such interaction can lead to an improved state of community and social well-being.
What is the need to possess knowledge and preserve the heritage and culture of the past? If we don’t then we lose history; if we lose history we do not learn; if we do not learn there is no human development. Heritage artifacts are the proofs of advancements made in human history. The lofty temples of South India which are standing there for more than one thousand years speak volumes of the ancient Indian architecture. Similarly the pyramids of Egypt are a standing testimony of the ancient Egyptian civilization. Cambodia’s Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. The Great Wall of China, the Statue of Liberty in USA, the historic centre of Rome, the Acropolis of Athens and of course the Taj Mahal of India – all speak in glorious terms the history of human endeavour. The concern for the knowledge and preservation of heritage monuments arises from several angles. The first one is the vagaries of weather. In addition to extreme conditions of heat and humidity, natural disasters like cyclones and earthquakes have caused damages to the heritage sites. More serious than them is the damage caused by human beings over the years. Wars, vandalism and religious quarrels have damaged monuments. Greed and avariciousness have caused pilferage at the sites. In the name of development man has caused environment pollution and this has affected the artifacts adversely. It is said that the fumes from the chemical factories in and around Agra is causing the decoloration of the once pure white marble of the Taj Mahal. Lack of values and a mad rush to ape the foreign cultures have destroyed many an art form all over the world. Aspects and disciplines of the preservation and conservation of tangible culture include Museology, Archival science, Archaeological conservation and Architectural conservation.
Intangible cultural heritage includes knowledge of the behaviour of the cultural society at different periods of time. These include social values and traditions, customs and practices, aesthetic and spiritual beliefs, artistic expression , language and other aspects of human activity. To understand this, one has to possess knowledge of the different socioeconomic, political, ethnic, religious and philosophical values of a particular group of people at different times of history. The conference proposes to address these issues from various angles during the deliberations. The conference also proposes to create an awareness regarding World Heritage Movement sponsored by the UNESCO. As of 2011, there are 936 World Heritage Sites: 725 cultural, 183 natural, and 28 mixed properties, in 153 countries. Each of these sites is considered important to the international community. Broad philosophical, technical, and political issues and dimensions of cultural heritage include Cultural heritage repatriation, Cultural heritage management, Cultural property law, Heritage tourism and Virtual heritage.
The scholars participating in the GARI conference will highlight several such issues concerning heritage, culture and human development. Salient features of the points discussed in the conference will be forwarded to organisations like the UNESCO and the heritage departments of the various countries for suitable action for furtherance of knowledge in the areas of heritage and culture.