Two major cities in India have missed out on their chance to be a part of the prestigious UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) this year. While the dossier to support Chennai has been submitted by the government, dossiers for Mumbai and Lucknow could not be sent to UNESCO ahead of the June 16 deadline. As per UNESCO guidelines, each country can nominate up to three cities every two years to be considered for the list. The next opportunity for submission of dossiers for UCCN comes only in 2019.
The Ministry of Culture, during a meeting in March with officials from Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) — nodal agency for coordinating India’s nominations for various lists under UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage — had proposed to send dossiers for Chennai (for music), Mumbai (for films) and Lucknow (for gastronomy), according to those present in the meeting. Sources say the proposal for Lucknow was mooted on the basis of the city’s worldwide fame for Tundey Kebab, Handi Chicken and other such delicacies. While the idea was approved during the meeting, it was later shot down by the ministry “for reasons unknown”.
SNA secretary Rita Swami Choudhary confirmed that the dossier for Chennai was submitted just ahead of the deadline. “We have done the needful in submitting the dossier to recommend Chennai as the creative city for music,” she says, adding that no other dossier was sent this time.
Sources said while the proposal for Mumbai was approved by the ministry, it could not fructify because the final dossier was not ready before the deadline. A senior official from the ministry explained, “While there were two months between the decision and the deadline, the dossiers could not be completed, mostly due to administrative reasons. Even Chennai’s nomination was sent on the last day.”
The UNESCO Secretariat advises the interested parties on its website to “prepare your application as early as possible. The UNESCO Secretariat will be only able to provide assistance with your application should sufficient time allow.”
The results for UCCN 2017 will be declared on October 31. Once a city is included on the list, it holds cultural events for four years to highlight its USP and this is monitored by the UNESCO. The inscription is known to vastly impact “creative tourism” in the member cities.
Created in 2004, UCCN currently has 116 member cities from 54 countries, covering various fields. So far, Varanasi (music) and Jaipur (crafts and folk art) are the only two Indian cities on the network — their nomination came about in 2015.