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Some hope on World Culture Fund

By Mandira Nayar

NEW DELHI, SEPT. 21. There might be a "Greenpeace" for the world's vast intangible legacy soon if the conservationists and heritage lovers in India have their way. With experts from the country travelling to Barcelona for the "International Dialogue on Intangible Heritage'', it is being hoped that they will come back with a "gift" -- a possible roadmap for a World Culture Fund.

"Until now the fight has been about heritage, which can be felt or touched. However, intangible heritage is more vulnerable and threatened by so many factors. It is not only about conservation and preservation, but nurturing with intangible heritage. It is a new movement for the Masterpieces of Intangible Heritage,'' says the Chairman and founder trustee of the Asian Heritage Foundation, Rajeev Sethi.

The first step to safeguard this invisible heritage, the World Culture Fund will function like a watchdog for culture. "It would take about six months to get UNESCO to call a meeting of all the member-States in situations like the Bamiyan Buddhas incident. It is essential to have an organisation like the Red Cross or Amnesty International to supplement what UNESCO is doing. Governments might not want to highlight issues like the Bamiyan Buddhas and an organisation like the World Culture Fund, supported by eminent scholars and thinkers from all around the globe, is important to network and strengthen the apex'', adds Mr. Sethi.

And hoping to showcase some snippets of intangible heritage from India, the Asian Heritage Foundation has put together a little "taste" of the country. From women chanting mantras from the Vedas to Sufi singers and Baul singers from Bengal, the idea is to explore this vast diverse heritage. Bringing together experts in the field of culture, the Indian team also has the environmentalist Vandana Shiva and psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakkar.

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