Atul Sethi, Charles Wallace Fellow 2010 at Cardiff University, is researching cultural heritage in the UK and the reporting of heritage issues in the media.
Cultural heritage is regarded as the soul of a country’s past and is a reflection of its people’s future sensibilities. But, is the quantum of reporting being done in the mainstream media enough for highlighting different streams of heritage?
Also, what is the quantifiable impact of media reports on conservation efforts? Do sustained reports at periodic intervals deliver the kind of momentum that is required for keeping the issue alive? Consequently, should news organisations consider carrying stories on such topics more frequently?
Since media organisations, both in the UK as well as India, have their own limitations - like restricted column space, preference for ‘hard news stories’ etc, Atul's overall objective is to create a road-map for reporting on cultural heritage topics, that is practical as well as effective.
Atul Sethi works with Sunday Times of India in New Delhi, as a Special Correspondent. He writes regularly on diverse topics, although the subjects closest to his heart are historicity and the reporting of heritage issues.
Among the history-centric stories that he has done are special reports on the 150th anniversary of the 1857 War of Independence, the cultural legacy of the unique classical band of Maihar and how many forts in central India are being plundered by treasure seekers.
Having been a student of history, I have had a keen interest in conservation issues for a long time. Being an ardent traveller as well, I have often tended to combine my two interests, by visiting old forts, palaces and ruins, many of which were located in remote areas.
I have often been appalled at the state of neglect that these places usually are in. Over the past few years, as a journalist with The Times of India, I have tried to highlight such instances through my articles. Here, I’d like to mention that cultural heritage in India encompasses a broad spectrum, that not only includes physical attributes like monuments, manuscripts etc but also intangible components like social customs, traditions, belief etc.
Accordingly, my effort has been to bring into focus little known facets of the country’s vast heritage, especially those that are struggling for survival. In this context, the challenge that I have often faced is how to address the issue in a way that can create the maximum impact and galvanize various stakeholders into adopting a pro-active approach rather than a reactive one.