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  • 14 Dec 2022 GS Paper 1 Indian Heritage & Culture

    Day 31

    Question 1. Culture is a source of identity, innovation, and creativity. Discuss how it is crucial for economic development and a vehicle for social cohesion and stability. (250 Words)

    Question 2. Discuss the major challenges facing India's heritage sites. Also, suggest how climate action can be linked with heritage conservation. (250 Words)

    Answer 1


    • Introduce by defining cultural heritage.
    • Discuss how culture is a source of innovation, and creativity and crucial for Economic Development, Social Cohesion and Stability.
    • Conclude suitably.


    Cultural heritage includes conventions, practices, places, artefacts, creative manifestations, and values. It is a representation of the ways of life that a community has established and passed down from generation to generation. The tangible cultural heritage includes buildings, monuments, landscapes, works of art, and artefacts. Folklore, customs, language, and natural heritage (including culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity) comprise intangible cultural heritage.


    Culture, in all its dimensions, is a fundamental component of sustainable development. As a sector of activity, through tangible and intangible heritage, creative industries and various forms of artistic expressions, culture is a powerful contributor to economic development, social stability and environmental protection.

    As a repository of knowledge, meanings and values that permeate all aspects of our lives, culture also defines the way human beings live and interact both at local and global scales.

    Culture Crucial to Inclusivity: Culture is precisely the medium through which individuals express their ability to fulfil themselves and is therefore an integral part of development.

    • Traditional livelihoods related to cultural forms and local practices whose skills and knowledge may be passed on from generation to generation.
    • Global ethics that celebrate cultural pluralism and dialogue while promoting human rights, equality for all individuals and groups including gender equality, and democracy.
    • Dissemination of knowledge that fosters creativity, innovation, and the intellectual development of individuals and groups while discarding harmful practices contrary to global ethics. Nurturing and safeguarding of the distinctive cultural forms as well as the processes of their production.

    Culture a Vehicle for Economic Development:

    • Culture Industries: Culture is a powerful global economic engine. Global cultural industries account for more than 7% of global GDP. However, infrastructure investments are needed to enhance and support cultural industries.
    • Traditional Livelihoods: Culturally embedded livelihood practices help retain local knowledge and generate employment while enabling local economic development. These may vary from building crafts to agriculture and natural resource management.
    • Opportunities for economic growth through micro-enterprises: Cultural goods and services often need low capital investment by building on materials and skills available within the community. The successes of micro-credit enterprises that benefit women have been especially valuable.
    • Cultural Tourism: Cultural tourism is 40% of global tourism revenue in (2007 UNWTO). UNESCO World Heritage sites, produces revenues from visits, sale of local crafts, music and cultural products generating employment for communities.
    • Cultural infrastructure and institutions: Universities, museums, cultural centres, cinemas, theatres, craft centres, and other such institutions are significant generators of employment and revenues.

    Culture a Vehicle for Social Cohesion and Stability:

    • Mutual appreciation of diversity among cultures creates positive and constructive engagement. Dialogue promotes mutual understanding, knowledge, reconciliation, and peace, which are essential for social stability.
    • Reconstructive force of culture: Intercultural dialogue brings peace and possibilities of reconciliation in the event of conflicts. Following a disaster, culture in all its forms helps communities reconstruct their disrupted lives and restore psychological well-being.
    • Symbolic force of cultural heritage: Culture is a well-spring of hope, enabling a deep sense of belonging. Social cohesion through cultural tourism. Cultural heritage not only generates income, but also builds social cohesion, mobilizing communities around its care and management. Cultural festivals enhance dialogue.
    • Empowerment of women: Intercultural dialogue with its focus on the respect of difference rather than standardization empowers women by acknowledging their role as both ‘value carriers’ and ‘value creators.’ Women are also empowered by an acknowledgment of difference and reinforcement of their identities.
    • Create an enabling environment to achieve the SDGs: By preventing conflict, building peace, protecting the rights of women and marginalized groups, intercultural dialogue can help create conditions for achieving the MDGs.


    Cultural diversity creates a rich and varied world, which increases the range of choices and nurtures human capacities and values, and therefore is a mainspring for sustainable development for communities, peoples and nations.

    Answer 2


    • Introduce India’s cultural richness.
    • Discuss major challenges facing India's heritage sites and how climate action can be linked with heritage conservation.
    • Conclude suitably.


    India has a rich heritage that is a storehouse of archaeological assets and mind-blowing monuments. They represent a unique legacy of civilization and therefore the conservation of built heritage is generally perceived to be in the long-term interest of society.

    But the majority of India’s architectural heritage and sites remain unidentified and largely unprotected, and even those that are protected are facing challenges related to climate change and unsustainable tourism practices. Therefore, the issues related to Indian Heritage must be carefully identified and solved in a comprehensive manner.


    Indian cultural heritages are facing several challenges regarding their conservation, like:

    • Pollution and Climate Change: Pollution is a problem faced by our heritage sites and India is still struggling to save its wonder, the Taj Mahal from pollution.
      • Of late, India is seeing a spate of floods due to climate change in various parts of the country including in those locations where heritage sites are located.
      • Puri in Odisha and Hampi in Karnataka are some of the latest examples of heritage sites getting damaged due to natural calamities which in turn is said to be the result of global warming.
    • Heritage Encroachments: Many ancient monuments have been encroached upon by local residents, shopkeepers, and souvenir sellers.
      • There is no harmony between these structures and the architectural style of monuments or the surroundings.
      • For instance, according to the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) Report, 2013, there was an encroachment on the Taj Mahal's premises near Khan-i-Alam's Bagh.
    • Exploitation over Excavation: Development activities have exploited many archaeological sites in India with rich deposits of artefacts.
      • Also, there is no provision for Cultural Resource Management before developmental projects, which adds to the problem.
    • Lack of Database for Heritage Sites: There is no comprehensive national database with state-by-state distribution of heritage structures in India.
      • Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has inventoried about 60,000 buildings in around 150 cities, but that's still just the tip of the iceberg since there are estimated to be over 4000 heritage towns and cities throughout the country.
    • Lack of Human Resource: Lack of adequate numbers of qualified and competent human resources to look after the monuments and carry out conservation activities is the biggest problem faced by agencies like ASI.

    Climate action can be linked with heritage conservation in following ways:

    • Reimaging Excavation and Conservation Policy: In light of the changing scenarios with the advancement in technology, ASI needs to update its Excavation Policy.
      • Using new technology such as Photogrammetry & 3D Laser scanning, LiDAR and satellite remote sensing surveys should be used for documentation, surveys, excavation and conservation.
    • Smart City, Smart Heritage: It is necessary to consider the Heritage Impact Assessment for all large infrastructure projects.
      • The Heritage Identification and Conservation Projects need to be adjoined to the city master plans and integrate with the Smart City Initiative.
    • Innovative Strategies for Increasing Engagement: The use of monuments that do not attract a large number of visitors and not have cultural/religious sensitivity can serve as venues for cultural and wedding programs that can fulfil twin objective:
      • The promotion of the associated intangible heritage
      • Increasing visitor numbers to such sites.
    • Corporate Heritage Responsibility: Companies should be encouraged to take on restoration and preservation of monuments as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) obligations.
    • Linking Heritage Conservation with Climate Action: Heritage sites can serve as opportunities for climate communication and education, and research on historic sites and practices to understand past responses to changing climate conditions can help adaptation and mitigation planners develop strategies that integrate natural science and cultural heritage.
      • For example, coastal and river communities such as the island of Majuli in India have been living with and adapting to changing water levels for centuries.


    Heritage is a legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes through the generations that are inherited, preserved and passed on. They have been woven into the fabric of Indian society with spiritual, religious, social, and political significance. To embrace Indian diversity of different types, communities, customs, traditions, religions, cultures, beliefs, languages, castes and social systems we have to adopt the best practices across the globe to preserve and conserve cultural heritage in line with evolving times and changing techno-ecological scenario.

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