India’s current approach towards addressing the challenges of urbanisation is focused on four broad objectives: (i) urbanisation must generate growth and enhance economic productivity and competitiveness; (ii) it should be inclusive and sustainable; (iii) it should aim at preservation and revitalisation of history, culture and heritage; and (iv) it should contribute to the development of rural areas and strengthen ruralurban interdependencies.
Cultural heritage of cities plays a pivotal role in meeting the above objectives by not only building a sense of belonging and of identity, but also in steering economic growth. Both tangible heritage and intangible culture and heritage, not only attracts tourism and brings investment but also promotes social cohesion, inclusion and equity. The conservation of cultural heritage and traditional settlement patterns is a key element for inclusive economic and social development and poverty alleviation, for improving the livability and sustainability of urban areas, as well as for the new development of surrounding areas.
Our culture and heritage and their preservation and conservation, are the key assets which we pass on to the future generation, not as museum relics but as living changing models of adaptability. Our planning instruments should explicitly recognize the importance of these issues. We also must recognize and celebrate places whose identity is the unique result of its characteristics—the geography, the climate, their materials and their habits. Protecting and safeguarding foundations, to build new future cities, is the key to sustainability. The sustainable development goals proposed for urban culture and heritage should be seen as critically important, not only for preserving and adapting our historic places but also serve as models for new urban settlements and redevelopment.
This issue is a collection of eight articles and two interviews related to cultural and natural heritage conservation in India. They highlight the need for a holistic understanding and assessment of the cultural and natural heritage across social, environmental, and economical aspects. The broad themes covered in the articles include: heritage buildings, conservation and restoration, protecting and conserving the biodiversity and natural heritage, heritage and natural conservation policies, and expenditure on conservation of cultural and natural heritage (by source of funding and level of government). NIUA is committed to help Indian cities perform better. To achieve this objective, along with our own resources, we partner with media, industry, academia and other government and non-government organisations for effective research, capacity-building and advocacy outcomes. This collaboration is demonstration of the same. Teams at NIUA and e-Gov magazine have enthusiastically worked to collate a diverse range of knowledge-base on the cross-cutting issues on heritage sector in India for this special issue. My sincere thanks to all the authors who have contributed to this special issue and shared their knowledge to make this issue possible.