Opposition’s monumental folly
“The responsibility of maintaining our heritage should not remain only with some babus, we want corporate, public/private individuals to take care of the monuments.” Tourism Minister explained
The Opposition, along with the Left-liberals, is working hard to expose itself as Pavlovian and petty. Pavlovian because whatever it says smacks of reflex action rather than reflection; and petty because it never rises above party politics. The case of sundry intellectuals and activists is not much dissimilar. The pathologies of the Congress and professional revolutionaries have once again come to the fore—this time in their pique against the Narendra Modi government’s ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project.
What do you make out of Rahul Gandhi, whose party leaders opened up the Indian economy 27 years ago, toeing the communist line?
This appears to be a good initiative. The project plans to entrust heritage sites/monuments and other tourist sites to private sector companies, public sectorcompanies, and individuals for the development of tourist amenities, says an official website. The entrusted entities thus become Monument Mitras and adopt the sites.
“The basic and advanced amenities of the tourist destinations would be provided by them. They would also look after the operations and the maintenance of the amenities,” the site says. Starting with 93 ASIticketed monuments, the project is aimed at including cultural and natural sites.
Another objective is to attract corporate social responsibility or CSR funding for heritage sites. “The Monument Mitras would associate pride with their CSR activities.”
Typically, the Congress has slammed the initiative, saying, “After handing over the Red Fort to the Dalmia group, which is the next distinguished location that the BJP government will lease out to a private entity?” West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC boss Mamata Banerjee also flayed the Centre on Twitter. She said, “Why can’t the Government even take care of our historic Lal Qila? Red Fort is a symbol of our nation. It is where India’s flag is hoisted on Independence Day. Why should it be leased out? Sad and dark day in our history.”
Then there is the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM, which has always enjoyed ideological and intellectual sway greatly disproportionate to its political strength. For instance, its general secretary Sitaram Yechury reportedly has more influence over Congress president Rahul Gandhi than senior Congress leaders have. Yechury tweeted, “The Parliamentary Committee that went into the issue of handing over heritage sites to private corporate had decided against this unanimously. Govt should reverse its decision of privatizing the Red Fort.”
Now a commie like Yechrury railing against privatization or private sector participation anywhere is understandable, for his ideology is predicated upon the suppression of the private citizen and private enterprise. But what do you make out of Rahul Gandhi, whose party leaders opened up the Indian economy 27 years ago, toeing the communist line? Why should the leader of the principal Opposition party accept the obsolete views of the diminishing CPM? Is it a case of the tail wagging the dog?
The adoption scheme is aimed at involving communitiesin the upkeep of heritage monuments.
Well, not necessarily, for the Congress that liberalized the economy in 1991 was not under the yoke of the Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty. The Dynasty has always loved the big state, socialism, public sector, etc. In the 10 years when Sonia Gandhi was effectively running the United Progressive Alliance government (2004-14), she reversed the reforms and revived socialist measures. Rahul is a mamma’s boy. Hence his bromance with Yechury.
The VIP radicals are no less pained at the involvement of private companies in the maintenance of historical sites. So, the eminent historian S. Irfan Habib told The Times Of India (April 29), “History, particularly medieval, is being dragged into unsavory controversies. ASI [the Archaeological Survey of India] need to keep a close watch if that works at all.” Another historian, William Dalrymple, is aghast that the government has been “auctioning [the Red Fort]… off to a corporate house”!
This is all emotional hogwash. In this context, Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons’ statement is quite sound: “The adoption scheme is aimed at involving communities in the upkeep of heritage monuments. The responsibility of maintaining our heritage should not remain only with some babus sitting in dusty offices. As community assets, we want corporate (sic), schools, public or private individuals to take care of the monuments and to take pride in them. There is no profit-making in this scheme, nor does it allow partners, public or private, to touch the monuments.”
The government would be well-advised to stay the course and disregard the rants of Opposition leaders and gilded rebels.