A private citizen’s effort to preserve India’s rich but crumbling heritage
Crumbling vintage mansions, ill-maintained forts and ruined temples are sights that all of us encounter from time to time. A closer examination, however, reveals vestiges of artistry and stateliness that are hidden by the subsequent lack of care. We tut-tut and go our way thinking somebody ought to do something about it. Dr T Satyamurthy, formerly from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Archaeology Department of Kerala, set up REACH Foundation at Chennai. His team of volunteers at REACH believe that each of us is the ‘somebody’ who must reclaim our heritage with pride.
It all began after Dr Satyamurthy’s retirement. He says, “Young techies in the 25-35 age group sporadically approached me, wanting to learn more about scripts they had noticed on temple walls or the history of particular edifices. I realised there was a felt need for the study of history in a modern context and the adaptation of modern technology to preserve the ancient. We owe it to the next generation not to squander our collective legacy.”
REACH’s aim is the renovation and preservation of India’s heritage of buildings which is varied yet unique to each region, influenced by and constructed to suit local conditions. Only a fraction of it is preserved; much of it is dilapidated and requires urgent attention.
Many heritage buildings are in villages whose populations are alarmingly ignorant and alienated from their surroundings. The modern Indian educational curriculum also lays emphasis on career development courses rather than on culture-development that fosters heightened awareness of the society we live in.
REACH wants to stem this rot and increase heritage awareness. To begin with, REACH focused on Tamil Nadu’s 70,000 to 80,000 temples of which around 30% are ancient. Its diverse and well-qualified team comprises epigraphists, history enthusiasts, restorers, lime & mortar experts, ASI-trained workers and scholars in disciplines like mathematics, geology, temple architecture, painting and sculpture. The intent is to involve villagers in renovation as well as maintenance of the edifices in their vicinity. Training in preservation and restoration techniques is imparted through practical demonstrations and computerised presentations. Once the blueprints are prepared, traditional, time-proven methods and materials as in the original structure are used for renovation; not sand-blasting, cement, acrylic paints or enamels.
Since 2006, 14 temples have been cleaned and restored with budgets ranging from Rs20 lakh to Rs2 crore. Villagers contribute a proportion of the corpus in kind or labour towards asset-building for the community. The rest comes from donations. The restoration of the Kailasanathar temple at Uttaramerur, built in 742 CE, is being done in collaboration with the civil engineering department at IIT Madras. It will be completely restored and re-dedicated in April 2010.
REACH now has a team of 60 volunteers working in Karnataka and Kerala. It also offers training through the Academy of Archaeology and Sciences of Ancient India (AASAI), including regular classes on reading inscriptions in ancient Tamil.
It has conducted a symposium for Heritage Wardens and also held an international seminar on remote sensing of archaeological sites in collaboration with ASI-Chennai circle and Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli. Itinerant devotees forming local Uzavarappani groups traditionally undertake temple cleaning and are co-opted into the effort after training them. Interested villagers have also trained as guides. REACH conducts heritage tours in and around Chennai and proposes to introduce audio guides to important heritage sites in Tamil Nadu. It needs volunteers to make the movement pan-Indian by taking it to varied heritage sites.
26/43 Janakiraman Street
Chennai 600 033
The Tata group company has restored its website tcs.com after hackers allegedly changed its domain name and put it up for sale
Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, (TCS), India's largest software company, has restored its website tcs.com after hackers allegedly changed its domain name and put it up for sale.
The Internet Protocol (IP) address of TCS's website is 126.96.36.199. However, the hackers changed it to 188.8.131.52, re-pointing the name server (NS) records of the company's website which may have been done by breaking into the NS or the registrar account, said a cyber-security expert.
The most prominent types of name servers in operation today are the name servers of the Domain Name System (DNS), one of the two principal name spaces of the Internet. The most important function of these DNS servers is the translation (resolution) of humanly memorable domain names (for example tcs.co) and hostnames into the corresponding numeric IP addresses (216.15.xxx.xxx), the second principle Internet name space, used to identify and locate computer systems and resources on the Internet.
Incidentally, the changed domain ID, 184.108.40.206, shows the ISP name as Network Solutions LLC, which is the registrar of tcs.com as well. So primarily, it appears that someone might have entered into TCS's registrar account; possible using a compromised password, added another expert.
According to a report from plugged.in, the hackers had put up the domain name 'tcs.com' for sale and even provided their e-mail id 'email@example.com', besides displaying a whos.among.us widget to display how many people are on the site at any given point. Although TCS has now restored its website, this incident has raised many questions on the alleged breach of security as well as the expertise of Indian engineers.
Moneylife Knowledge Centre set up by the Moneylife Foundation in Mumbai will supplement the efforts of regulators and providers of financial services at spreading financial literacy and redressing grievances.
Sanjay Nirupam, Member of Parliament, on Saturday inaugurated the Moneylife Knowledge Centre—a seminar-counselling-and-free reading room— set up by the Moneylife Foundation at Dadar in Mumbai, on Saturday.
Introducing the Congress MP from Mumbai, Moneylife Foundation’s Founder-Trustee Sucheta Dalal said, “Mr Nirupam is among those politicians who empathise with the need for financial literacy initiatives and has always made an effort to understand issues and take them up in Parliament. He has been especially concerned about the lack of understanding among borrowers of concepts such as floating interest rates. With teaser loans being offered by the biggest banks, these issues will come up again. At that time, investors and consumers will need a valuable voice like Mr Nirupam in the Lok Sabha.”
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Nirupam said, “I congratulate the Moneylife team for taking this wonderful initiative. I am happy that the Moneylife Knowledge Centre is being launched on my birthday. I would like to give my best wishes to Moneylife Foundation’s Knowledge Centre.
Talking about the need for financial literacy among the masses, Mr Nirupam said, “India’s middle-class population is set to reach nearly 80 crore. The entire world is eying to capture this huge market, which has highlighted the need to teach economics to the population, especially the middle-class. There is a deluge of schemes in the market that lure investors into buying them. That is why it is important that the masses are educated about various financial and economic aspects.”
Earlier, Debashis Basu, Founder-Trustee of Moneylife Foundation, said, "The need for Moneylife Foundation and the Moneylife Knowledge Centre arises from the stark reality that the ordinary person with money to spare is staying away from capital markets and is also wary about mutual funds. This is evident from very poor subscriptions to Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and also mutual funds, which is in sharp contrast to the vaulting stock indices, frequent public issues of equity and extensive media coverage of investments. There is also very poor knowledge about basic financial products such as credit and debt cards, insurance, mortgage or housing loans etc, and the precautions required while using electronic transaction systems.”
The Moneylife Knowledge Centre will supplement the efforts of regulators and providers of financial services at spreading financial literacy and redressing grievances. The Centre would aim at creating deeper interest in financial markets, increase financial literacy and protect investors and consumers through information, counselling and grievance redressal.
The Moneylife Knowledge Centre is stocked with a range of books, magazines and financial literature—starting from the basic comic books produced by the Reserve Bank of India (and contributed to ML Foundation)—to reference books for students and market experts. There is also a range of corporate biographies and books on business, economics and finance. Members of the public can access the reading room free of charge.
Moneylife Foundation is registered as a not-for-profit trust and intends to engage in spreading financial literacy through workshops, round-table meetings and awareness campaigns; advocacy to crystallise policy and bring about regulatory changes to protect investor rights and grievance redressal, counselling and research. The Foundation is offering free inaugural membership. Those who wish to become members can contact 022-24441060 or visit www.moneylife.in/foundation.
While the initial focus of the Moneylife Foundation will be on Mumbai, it has plans to extend its reach to other cities where investors are deprived of opportunities to access unbiased information about financial products and are unaware of the cares to be exercised while borrowing or investing.
Moneylife Foundation is also looking for experts who are willing to volunteer their time (for a small honorarium) to conduct workshops and to translate this effort into regional languages.
For more information contact:
Moneylife Foundation: Deepa: 022-24441059-60
Or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: Moneylife Foundation, 304-05, Hind Services Industries Premises Limited,Off Veer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park Seaface,
Dadar (W), Mumbai 400 028 (near Chaitya Bhumi)
Pictures of the event