Address by Governor at the Acceptance Ceremony of UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation for the Restoration of the University of Mumbai’s Rajabai Clock Tower and Library Building
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the Acceptance Ceremony of UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Consrevation for the Restoration of the University of Mumbai’s Rajabai Clock Tower and Library Building at Rajabai Tower Library, University of Mumbai, Fort, Mumbai at 5.00 PM on Wednesday 21 August 2019
Shri Vinod Tawde, Hon’ble Minister of Higher and Technical Education, Shri Ravindra Waikar, Minister of State, Prof Suhas Pednekar, Vice Chancellor, University of Mumbai, Mr Eric Falt, Director UNESCO (India), Smt Anita Garware, Chairperson, Indian Heritage Society, Shri N.G. Subramaniam, COO, TCS, Dr Brinda Somaya, Principal Architect, Dr Ajay Deshmukh, Registrar, distinguished invitees, heritage lovers, ladies and gentlemen,
As Chancellor of the 162- year old University of Mumbai, I deem it a great honour to accept the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation for the Restoration of the Rajabai Clock Tower and the University Library. I accept the award on behalf of the University of Mumbai, citizens and on behalf of the heritage lovers.
I congratulate the University, Vice Chancellor Dr Suhas Pednekar and to all those associated with the University.
The Indian Heritage Society has played a significant role in carrying out the repairs and restoration work and I convey my appreciation to Smt Anita Garware, Dr Brinda Somaya and others for carrying out the excellent work.
I understand from Smt Anita Garware that many individuals and organizaitons lent their support to the work of the Restoration project in different ways. It was interesting to note, for instance, that the doyen of the Hindustani Classical Music, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi had given his live performance to support the cause of restoration.
The Tata Consultancy Services has commendably extended the much needed financial support to the repairs and restoration of the Clock Tower and the Library Building, and I convey my deepest appreciation to TCS.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Inaugurating the 150th year celebrations of the Archaeological Survey of India, prime minister of India Shri Narendra Modi had said, “Unless we feel proud of our heritage and culture, we will not feel the urge to preserve it.”
During the last five years, since I took charge as the Governor of Maharashtra, I noticed that Maharashtra is a treasure of vast heritage. Many countries in the world possess one or two such heritage sites. Yet, they preserve and develop those sites, market them aggressively and attract thousands of tourists. Through heritage tourism they create wealth and employment opportunities for their people.
My question is why can’t we do this? There are two things. Either we do not feel enough proud of our heritage and culture and therefore lack the urge to preserve it. Or, we are too preoccupied with their day to day life, to think of any other thing.
This district of South Mumbai alone has the potential to become the Heritage District of India.
We have got the world heritage sites such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the BMC headquarters, the Elephanta Caves, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, the David Sassoon Library, Synagogues, Churches, mosques and temples. Then we have got the old Government Houses, the port, the forts, the docks, the Asiatic Library, the Custom Houses, the Ballard Estate, the High Court building, the Library building and such other wonderful edifices. Many of these buildings are neglected or are in need of urgent repairs. We must identify some of these buildings and develop a heritage- tourism circuit within the city. Taking the help of modern media, we must advertise our heritage and reach out to the world.
Many Corporate and business organisations will happily support preserving heritage through their CSR funds. However they will need assurance of good people managing the affairs of restoration. This is where the role of organizations like Indian Heritage Society assumes significance.
As important as financial support, is public participation in the heritage conservation project.
In my small humble way, I initiated the work of restoration of the Raj Bhavan Bunker, taking the help of experts from many fields including that of Smt Anita Garware.
The first thing we did was to open the Raj Bhavan for citizens. My simple argument is that if we invite people to witness our heritage, they will become willing supporters of its conservation. We are in the process of creating a decent museum – not very hi – fi or expensive – and we are going to open the same towards the end of the year.
In the same manner, the University and other organisations having heritage buildings, should make citizens stakeholders in the heritage. The University must involve students in the heritage movement. The University should think of starting a Certificate Course on the history and heritage of the city. Successful candidates will become the best tourist guides.
Every heritage building in our city is our own heritage. It may have been created by the colonial masters, but it is our heritage. Every brick and every stone used in the heritage building is ours. The land on which the heritage buildings stand, belongs to us. And therefore let us not feel guilty of owning up the colonial heritage. It is our heritage. We must have a chapter about City Heritage to be taught in schools. It will create a sense of pride and ownership about the urban heritage among the students.
It is not enough to preserve the Library building. We must digitize the entire library and make it available to all.
With these words, I congratulate the Vice Chancellor, the Indian Heritage Society, TCS and to all of you on the joyous occasion of granting of the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation to the University and wish you all success in your future endeavours.
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra !!