The historical cores of most Indian cities can be restored through conservation efforts
Tourists at Humayun’s Tomb. Between 75% and 80% of the money spent on the conservation of the tomb was paid to craftsmen. (REUTERS)
Having lived for more than 40 years in the South Delhi colony of Nizamuddin I naturally feel great pride in the conservation of Humayun’s Tomb and its surroundings by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Central Public Works Department. I take great pleasure in walking in the newly laid out Sundar Nursery garden, particularly enjoying the combination of formally laid out areas and wilderness. I am delighted by the improvements in the quality of life that my neighbours living in the basti clustered round the tomb of the 13th century sufi saint Nizamuddin Aulia now enjoy. But last week as I listened to Shriraj Alibhai, director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, lecturing on strategies for urban regeneration and describing how a massive rubble dump had been turned into a park in Cairo, I wondered about India. How, with all the emphasis on reducing the percentage of people living below the poverty line, constructing infrastructure, improving education and health, creating jobs, could spending money and effort on conservation be justified here?
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