INTACH's first seminar in Mizoram draws huge response
May 21, 2007 - 4:22:26 PM

Aizawl, May 21 - A two-day seminar on protecting the tradition of the northeast and sectors suffering from neglect saw many speakers from the political class and artists debate fervently on what ails the region.

Titled 'Intangible Heritage: Protecting the Living Heritage of the North East' and organised jointly by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage - and the Mizoram government, the seminar held over the weekend here drew participants from various sections of society.

Mizoram Governor Lt. Gen - M.M. Lakhera, who inaugurated the seminar, pointed out to the difficulties faced by the region and 'mainland India' saying there had been problems in understanding each other.

He said this deficiency had resulted in the many problems that both the region and the union government now faced.

'Despite the rich cultural heritage that is to be found everywhere in India, there have been problems in preserving them,' he pointed out, 'Because of these difficulties, we have lost a lot of our heritage,' he added.

The challenge, Lakhera said, was balancing tradition with the modern.

'If we can take the best of both, we can use it to our advantage. Balancing the old with the new will create a better society.'

Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, who also has northeast affairs as his portfolio, promised a financial outlay to preserve the heritage of the region.

'While there is a need to preserve the diversity of the region, India as a whole is a diverse country whose heritage also needs protection,' Aiyar said.

Stressing on the need to protect the unity in diversity Aiyar said, 'It is impossible to be a Mizo if you cannot be a proud Chakma, and if you are not an Indian, how can you be a Mizo? You have to have multiple identities to be an Indian.'

The minister dismissed the view of the northeast people of being alienated and said that the people of the region were scattered all over the country.

'If the northeast is everywhere, what is this rubbish about alienation? I hate this cliche that we have made for ourselves,' he said, adding that his personal secretary was a Mizo and that the president of St. Stephen's College students' union in New Delhi was also a Mizo.

Aiyar assured the gathering that both his ministry and the North-Eastern Council would give financial support to INTACH's efforts to preserve the heritage of the region.

'Considering the amount of money that is coming to the northeast, a few lakhs that can be given towards exposing the northeast is chicken feed,' Aiyar said.

Also speaking on the occasion was INTACH chairman S.K. Misra who said his organisation had been trying to focus on some important areas that had suffered neglect and that one of these was the northeast region.

'A massive effort is needed to bring the northeast region to the mainstream. INTACH can be the catalyst for this as a result of which we had organised a series of seminars in the northeast,' Misra said.

'The region has a palpable sense of isolation sometimes bordering on alienation. Interpreting the northeast through a series of seminars on different facets of its tangible and intangible heritage is an extension of INTACH's catalytic role as an important stakeholder in the conservation of Indian art, culture and heritage,' Misra said.

Seminars have already been held in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, Kohima, Nagaland and Shillong, Meghalaya and an Aizawl declaration was adopted at the end of the two-day proceedings.

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