Calling for an out-of-the-box approach in the use of digital technology for preservation of India’s oral traditions using digital technology, former director of the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS) Kalyan Kumar Chakravarthy on Thursday said, “Digital technology has not been used to the optimal extent when it comes to preserving our oral traditions.
More needs to be done with digital technology than just recording them.” Chakravarthy, in an interaction that followed the inauguration of the two-day national seminar on ‘Essence of India: Unique Markers of Biology, Culture, Language and History of Indian Populations’ organised by the Anthropological Association at the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), called for the implementation of the Provision of Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA) – a brainchild of former President of APJ Abdul Kalam – to protect India’s diverse cultures and traditions.
“The unique feature of our culture is that it accommodates unity, and diversity,” said Chakravarthy. Diversity, he said, was a basic value in India’s cultural ethos which found reflection in art, religion and daily life. “It is essential that we protect it. A unitary philosophy based on development is not good for any society,” said Chakravarthy, making a strong case for a topical developmental model. “Development cannot be distinct from culture. Culture is not restricted to song and dance,” he added.
The former director of IGRMS said that oral traditions in India were a product of the local environment, which he said varied from one region to the next. Pointing out that national integrity in India was preserved because of its diverse traditions, Chakravarthy said, “Conservation of a culture in Ladakh will be different to doing it in Kerala. The same can be said of developmental projects.” Advocating for an integrated strategy to preserve the diverse cultures, Chakravarthy said that one must not underestimate the role of technology in preserving the past.
“One cannot reject technology. It is vital to preserving our manuscripts. It should also be used in the protection of traditions that have emerged as a result of local wisdom,” he added. Chakravarthy said that there was a need for a comprehensive approach wherein research and engagement with local traditions would be given precedence over priorities of the government, and demands of electoral politics. Delivering the inaugural address at the seminar earlier in the day, Chakravarthy exhorted researchers to make concerted efforts in preserving the unique traditions. CIIL director DG Rao spoke at length about the contribution of India to the world in all domains, and these should be preserved for posterity. As many as 25 scholars from different regions from across the country will participate in the two-day event.