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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
Email: [email protected]
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 184.108.40.206. However, the hackers changed it to 220.127.116.11, 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, 18.104.22.168, 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 protected]', 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.