Chennai gets Unesco recognition for music

Chennai often called the cultural capital of South India, joined the elite club of world cities on Tuesday when it was included in Creative Cities Network of Unesco for its contributions to music.

The city joins two other cities in India – Jaipur and Varanasi – to have figured in the prestigious list for their contributions to music and folk arts. The dossier to nominate Chennai for the CCN was submitted a few months back to the Unesco by the Union Culture Ministry.

Once a city is included on the list, it holds cultural events for four years to highlight its USP and this is monitored by the Unesco. CCN currently has 116 member cities from 54 countries, covering various fields.

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Srirangam temple wins UNESCO award

The massive renovation and restoration effort at the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam has won the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award of Merit 2017 for cultural heritage conservation.

It has become the first temple in Tamil Nadu to be given the prestigious award from the UN body. The Times of India reported that the use of traditional methods in renovating temple structures and re-establishment of rainwater harvesting and historic drainage system, to augment water and prevent flooding, were the main reasons for the temple to achieve the award.

The temple is situated on an islet between Cauvery and Kollidam rivers. It has seven prakaras and 21 towers, including the 236-feet-high rajagopuram.
According to reports, the renovation of the temple started in June 2014 and the project was carried out in several phases. The renovation costed about Rs. 25 crore, and was done with the help of government and donors.

60,000 tonnes of construction waste/debris were removed during the renovation. The hundred-pillar and thousand-pillar mandapams and various other mandapams, have been restored. Moreover, many sculptures in the numerous sub-shrines were also restored.

The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) had applied for the award in May. There were about 42 applications from 43 countries for the 2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The other monuments which received the award in India are Mumbai’s Christ Church and Royal Bombay Opera House under Award of Merit category.

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Israel to join US in quitting UNESCO

Israel has said it will join the US in pulling out of the UN’s cultural organisation UNESCO after US officials cited “anti-Israel bias”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US decision as “brave and moral”, a statement said.

The agency is known for designating world heritage sites such as Syria’s Palmyra and the US Grand Canyon.

Unesco head Irina Bokova earlier called the US withdrawal a matter of “profound regret”.

Why is the US withdrawing?

The US and UNESCO have actually been at loggerheads since 2011.

The key issue now, as with many US-UN disputes, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In October 2011, UNESCO admitted the Palestinian territories to the organization as an independent member-state called Palestine. This triggered a US law which cut off American funding for any organization that recognized an independent Palestine. The US had previously paid for 22 percent ($80 million) of UNESCO’s annual budget.

Finally, in 2013, after the US missed several rounds of payments to UNESCO, the organization suspended US voting rights in its core decision-making bodies. So the US hasn’t been a real UNESCO member for a while.

About UNESCO:

UNESCO is a United Nations organization that helps preserve historical and cultural sites worldwide.

It is a special multi-country agency, formed in 1945 and based in France, that promotes sex education and literacy as well as improving gender equality in countries around the world.

It is also known for its work to preserve cultural and heritage sites such as ancient villages, ruins and temples, and historic sites such as the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq, which at one point came under threat of being destroyed by the Islamic State.

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International Conference on Dialogue of Civilizations – IV

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Ministry of Culture, Government of India, in collaboration with National Geographic Society is hosting an international conference on “Dialogue of Civilizations – IV” from 8th – 15th October 2017 at Delhi, Gandhinagar and Dholavira.

This conference is fourth in this series of ‘dialogues’ initiated by National Geographic Society in 2013 with an objective to encourage scholarly and public discourse about the five ancient, literate civilizations of the world, i.e. Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia, China and Mesoamerica and how the study of the past can shape our present and future towards the right direction.

The first conference of this series was inaugurated in Guatemala in 2013 followed by Turkey in 2014 and China in 2015. The present conference is the fourth in this series, with the final dialogue planned in Egypt.

The inaugural function was followed by a lecture by Prof. B.B. Lal, Padma Bhushan awardee on ‘Harappan Civilization’, which introduced the earliest civilization of South Asia to the scholars working on other ancient civilizations and others.  The lecture of Prof. B.B. Lal traced the Harappan Civilization and its history of discovery and highlighting on town planning, agriculture and animal husbandry, art objects, crafts, trade, both internal and external, script, disposal of dead, religion, political set up.  He gave a brief account of all these aspects.

Besides, Prof. Lal also briefed on some of the new breaking news, and some unique features which are not found from other parts of the world. For example, he highlighted on the earliest ploughed field from Kalibangan in Rajasthan; evidence of earliest datable earthquake from Kalibangan (Rajasthan); earliest dockyard of the world which was found at Lothal (Gujarat); unique water management system that has been found at Dholavira (Gujarat).

Prof. Lal also talked about the evolution of Harappan Civilization and traced its history to the indigenous cultures only and not from any external influences. Prof. Lal tried to emphasize on the authorship of the Harappan civilization and he presented evidence related to, and while stating this he concludes that it is high time that the Aryan Invasion Theory has to be written off.

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