Some of the top achievers in the country from diverse sectorsincluding some NRIshave come together to form the Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development. Formed a month ago,the Trust aims to use Indias heritage in rural areas as a growth engine to propel the local economy forward,and help villages cash in on the strong linkage of heritage to development.
The Trust is headed by S K Misra,one of the top bureaucrats of the country who served as the chairman of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), strengthening its administrative and funding base,and expanding activities and influence both within India and globally.
The other key members of the Trust who were in Chandigarh today included Lord Diljit Rana,who has set up a charitable trust of Rs 5 crore for a school and a college named Sanghol Education Complex,in his native village Sanghol in Punjab; J C Sharma,former secretary,Ministry of External Affairs; and UK-based Prof C Chatterjee,a consultant to international organisations and private corporations who also conducts capacity building training programmes in various countries.
Misra told The Indian Express that conserving and nurturing rural heritage,and recognising that it is a valuable asset,can provide a foundation for sustainable economic growth. Such an impetus will give rural residents the means and incentive to remain in their traditional habitat,and increase the pride and self-confidence of the entire community, he said.
The Trust has identified three villages in Uttar Pradesh with major heritage traditions,where it will launch its operations.
To build the linkage between heritage and development,the Trust plans to approach The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a grant of $1 million per year for five years.
Misra admitted that the Trust has taken on a daunting task,but said was confident they will achieve it.
We have taken on many challenges in the past,and successfully worked on them. When I started the Surajkund Crafts Mela 25 years ago,people said it wouldnt take off. Now,we will work in rural India to realise our goals. With membership and activities eventually encompassing the entire country,this will be an opportunity to create a truly national movement, he said.
Misra said the Trust will be funded through membership drives,donations,corporate sources and international agencies. Within its first month,the Trust has collected Rs 15 lakh through donations.
The Trust will work across the country through its Heritage Ambassadors for Rural Traditions (HARTs). Chandigarh-based Anil Malhotra,the first heritage ambassador for North Zone,said the team will identify heritage projects in northern states.
Our projects will focus at enhancement of rural economy and livelihood,through conservation of precious heritage assets that might otherwise be lost to future generations. They will then be submitted to the executive body,which will work on the funding required for these projects, he said.