Mitras Analysis of News : 22-7-2017

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1.Should urbanisation score over conservation? (The Hindu)

2.Gain in translation (The Hindu)

1.Should urbanisation score over conservation? (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the different views on the recent proposed amendment to do away with the prohibited zones around protected national monuments. (GS paper III)


Urbanization symbolizes the movement of people from rural to urban areas and the amount of industrialization of a settlement. Due to uncontrolled urbanization in India, environmental degradation has been occurring very rapidly and causing many problems like land insecurity, worsening water quality, excessive air pollution, noise and the problems of waste disposal.

  • According to the ‘The Cities and Biodiversity Outlook’ “India’s population is currently about 30 per cent urban and is expected to become 50 per cent by about 2044. This will have significant implications for the country’s environment, ecology and sustainability.”
  • Although it is impossible to restrict urbanization it has to be ensured that urbanization proceeds in the right path causing minimum impact on environment.

Should urbanisation score over conservation?


  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958 says that as per this amended Act every monument would be protected with a buffer zone of 100 meters in all directions, called the “prohibited area.” No new construction of any kind, either public or private would be allowed here. But the latest amendments to the act will do away with the prohibited zones around protected national monuments whenever it chooses to do so for some supposed “public” purpose.
  • Unfortunately most of our nationally protected monuments, some of which are absolutely unique in the world. They suffer not only from neglect and gradual disrepair, but sadly are also being encroached upon, ruining the ambience and aesthetics of these magnificent structures. The same attitude is now reflected in the Government’s stance, leading to a proposal to dilute the Act in order to allow public works, or construction undertaken by the Central Government inside the prohibited area.
  • Cases presented to the proposed amendment, are not enough to justify endangering the security and spoiling the surroundings of over 3,500 nationally protected monuments in the country.
  • Incidentally, the statement in the presented note mentions that, some hypothetical projects cannot be shifted away from the monuments because of constraints of “land-ownership” in the alternative area, leftist believe that this justification is really strange since this nation has on its statute book a law for compulsory acquisition for public purposes.
  • Leftist demands from all those interested in the defence of our heritage must do their best to oppose this proposal. Our members of Parliament, before whom the proposed amendments to the AMASR Act are being put, should be reminded of how in 1876 James Fergusson, a great Anglo-Indian student of Indian architecture, had the courage to describe such ill-treatment of Mughal monuments by the British government as “vandalism”. 


  • Rightist cited example of I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid, built in the courtyard of the Louvre in Paris could not have been built if a view had not been taken right at the top by the President of France to see the project through. There were heated debates, people protested but today the luminescent hi-tech structure enhances the experience of the stone facade museum and has become iconic to Paris’s heritage value.
  • Creativity and a vision for the built space cannot be left to bureaucracy. An urban arts commission in each city is needed as an empowered authority to direct appropriate mapping of its tangible and intangible heritage, to be followed by the preparation of a conservation management plan for each precinct. New buildings must come up even at the cost of old ones if absolutely needed and designed accordingly.
  • Knee-jerk reactions cannot be an answer to development and this is not just about a city. This is not about a monument or a builders’ lobby. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was supposed to be the civil society’s initiative answering questions on the nature of appropriate materials, local skills and contexts, serving as a bridge between conservation and urbanisation, but it did not develop teeth to challenge the government or initiate state-of-the-art research or conduct a seminal taking of stock. 


  • We need to act real fast to convince our lawmakers not to rush through with further amendments to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendments and Validation) Act, 2010.
  • If passed, it will shatter the much-laboured protective circle that was installed around our monuments only seven years ago, after centuries of indifference. The nation realised that it had to act tough if it was to save the part of India’s priceless built heritage that had not yet been mauled by urbanisation, greed or insensitive development projects.
  • We have the lessons and experiences of advanced countries and we found that more history-conscious nations too had to use very strict laws to protect their heritage that they could never rebuild without some critical loss.
  • Our collective heritage has been pooled in by several generations over many centuries and millennia. No one has empowered the present generation to destroy or endanger this bequest.
  • A recent parliamentary committee report pointed out that even with so much legal protection about 93 encroachments have actually come up in the Qutub Minar zone in the Capital. This could never have happened without the collusion of local leaders and officials.
  • It is difficult to believe that the world’s fastest-growing economy cannot spend a little more to skirt a road project around the tomb of the father of Indian secularism, Akbar, in Agra so that it passes beyond the prohibited 100-metre zone. Will we be so tolerant if a busy flyover or a ground-shaking train line rubbed past Kashi Vishwanath or the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple and disturbed their gravitas?

Way ahead 

  • The environment should not be considered a great obstacle to development, but natural assets should be preserved to complement the social and cultural environment. Built heritage is a significant public good and is recognised as such in the Constitution’s Seventh Schedule. 
  • It nurtures our collective memories of places and is a significant constituent in the identity of cities. It has invaluable potential to contribute to our knowledge of not just history and the arts, but also science and technology. Unlike other intangible forms of cultural inheritance, our built heritage is an irreplaceable resource.
  • There should to be the healthier way out, certainly a law originating from a colonial outlook needs review, given our current depth of knowledge on heritage. However, doing away with protection without survey and documentation, can be catastrophic.

Question What do you mean by urbanisation? What strategies should be employed to overcome its negative impacts? 

2.Gain in translation (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the importance of languages to maintain the legacy of diversity of languages in India. (GS paper III)


  • The ability to speak is not nature’s gift. Human communities had to spend several millennia to acquire it through an enormous amount of experimentation and an unparalleled amount of mental work.  It would be entirely appropriate to view language as a cultural production and not god-given. A given language, therefore, needs to be seen as cultural heritage, an intangible possession.
  • It appears not just strange but even shocking that the information related to language data continues to be kept away from the public gaze. The language data of the 2011 have still not been made available to the citizens who use those languages. The concealment of language data by the Census office is not a new phenomenon.

Language as cultural possession

  • From cultural possession perspective, the community’s right to its language becomes a non-negotiable right. Similarly, the state’s obligation to secure and protect this right too becomes a non-negotiable duty. 
  • UNESCO has been promoting the idea of language as an inalienable cultural right. It has already built it into the charter of sustainable development goals. India is a formal signatory to the charter. 
  • During the colonial times, language was treated as a ‘sensitive’ subject and was seen as a cause for breakdown of law and order. 

The concealment of language

  • The last time a complete list of languages claimed during the Census as ‘mother tongues’ was disclosed in 1961.
  • From 1971 onwards, the Census decided to disclose names only of those languages which had more than 10,000 speakers. The result was that the list of 1971 had only 108 language names, as against the 1,652 a decade ago.
  • There are believed to be around 6,000 living languages in the world. This estimate is made by various international agencies and research bodies by counting 500 languages to India’s credit. A simple calculation will show that the Census decision of 1971 affected the fate of nearly one-fifth of the world’s languages.
  • The 2001 language data have a mixed list of 22 scheduled languages and a hundred other languages. The list is mixed as several languages are lumped together to produce it. The 2011 data are not known even when we are now getting close to the next Census, of 2021. 

Implication not knowing language data 

  • The one who belongs to the communities that are linguistically minority communities, the implications are far too serious to be ignored. When a community knows that its language has no future, it starts neglecting its language and prepares for a language migration, accelerating the demise of that language.
  • The findings of the People’s Linguistic Survey of India indicate that between 1961 and 2011, nearly 250 Indian languages disappeared altogether. If the neglect of our smaller languages continues, it is likely that within the next two to three decades another 300 languages will disappear.
  • The neglect of a community’s language and its language loss are among the most important reasons for induced migration. Out cities are already groaning under the burden of excess population and lack of a proportionate infrastructure. Linking livelihood opportunity with the language of the region should have long back been accepted by us as an element in planning our development.
  • Imparting education to children through the language used in their homes or in their community is scientifically considered to aid full development of their cognitive and emotive faculties. Such rapid and severe shrinking of diversity shall certainly amount to an increased cultural pauperisation of India.

Comprising democracy 

  • By trashing the languages of the coastal communities, the nomadic communities, the hill communities, the Adivasis and the minorities in every State, we are at once violating the UNESCO charter, vandalising the future of the post-2010 generation, denying citizens their linguistic citizenship and pauperising India culturally.

Way ahead

  • Despite the efforts by the central government minority languages are under threat of extinction due to multiple causes. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the death of Boa, the last speaker of Bo language is one of those instances that have lead to extinction of Bo language with the history of 70000 years.
  • In recent years the language diversity is under threat as speakers of diverse languages are becoming rare and major languages are adopted after abandoning the mother tongues. The problem needs to be addressed at societal level, in which the communities have to take part in conservation of language diversity that is part of cultural wealth.

Question What provision are available in the constitution regarding the promotion of languages?

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