India is one of the oldest civilisations in the world, known for its rich heritage, myriad traditions and cultural ethos. However, this heritage - the collective wealth of our society - hadn’t received due priority under the previous governments - neither in their policies, nor in their intentions. Our ancient monuments and centres of faith are a mute witness to the step-motherly treatment given by the previous governments. Most of our historical heritage sites lay in a dilapidated condition, grossly neglected and uncared for. This is something that
PM Modi sought to change, and he started to remedy it as soon as he took over the reins of the Government in 2014.
PM Modi is acutely aware of his civilizational duties, and he has been diligent about protecting Indian culture, traditions and values. In the last nine years, the Modi Government has focused on the restoration of India's rich centres of spirituality, reinvigorating the kaleidoscopic variety of our heritage and revitalising the treasure trove of Indian art, culture and traditions. Accordingly, he is helping rebuild our spiritual centre in their full splendour.
Under the PRASAD scheme, effort has been made to rejuvenate our pilgrimage destinations and places of faith. Swadesh Darshan scheme was approved for the development of 15 thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritized manner – such as the Buddhist Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Sufi Circuit, Tribal Circuit etc. To showcase India’s rich cultural heritage, the government launched Bharat Gaurav Trains. As a result of these initiatives, pilgrimage to religious centres is getting easier.
PM Modi is taking the lead in renovating our iconic ancient temples. Under his watch, many of our spiritual centres like Somnath, Mathura, Ayodhya and Ujjain, are regaining their lost glory. Special attention has been paid to the holy city of Varanasi, and the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. In Ayodhya, PM Modi himself performed the bhoomi-pujan for the grand Ram Mandir and launched a rejuvenation project for the entire city. Multiple development projects are going on to enhance the pilgrimage experience for those visiting the Char Dham, in Uttarakhand. After the abrogation of Article 370, the work of reviving Hindu temples in UT of Jammu & Kashmir has also started.
PM Modi has made huge efforts to promote and preserve the Buddhist culture and places associated with Lord Buddha. Buddha Theme Park, where Lord Buddha taught his first sermon has been sanctioned at Sarnath.Kushinagar, the place of Lord Buddha's Parinirvana has been placed on the global map with International Airport and Expressway connectivity. In Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Gautama Buddha, India International Centre for Buddhist Culture is being established.
PM Modi has been a proponent of honouring the cultural heritage of our Sikh Gurus. Be it the celebration of auspicious occasions like the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji or the 350th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the construction of the Sri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor or making Jallianwala Bagh a national memorial, PM Modi has always
Not only that, but PM Modi has the unique ability to take inspiration from India’s great heroes and icons and infuse their teachings and philosophy into government policy. Accordingly, special occasions and birth anniversaries of our national icons were made an occasion for public participation. For example, a mass movement was mobilised by linking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi with the Swachh Bharat campaign. 26th December was declared as Veer Bal Diwas in the memory of Guru Gobind Singh. November 15, the birth anniversary of the popular tribal leader, Birsa Munda ji, is now being celebrated as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas.
PM Modi has also done unprecedented work to celebrate and showcase India’s tribal culture. The National Tribal Festival 'Aadi Mahotsav' was launched to showcase tribal handicrafts, culture, traditions and food. A searchable digital repository of tribal culture with more than 10,000 photographs, videos and publications has been set up online. 10 Tribal Freedom Fighters Museums have been sanctioned to acknowledge the heroic deeds of tribal people and exhibit the rich tribal cultural heritage of the region.
Efforts have also been made to give our national heroes their due recognition, be it Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Thiruvalluvar, Guru Adi Shankaracharya, Subhash Chandra Bose, Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar, Veer Savarkar or countless freedom fighters who made great sacrifices towards the national cause. Whether it’s the National War Memorial and the National Police Memorial, it was also up to the Modi government to ensure that the valour and supreme sacrifice of India’s soldiers and policemen is recognised.
What also makes PM Modi stand out is that unlike many leaders before him, PM Modi is rooted in Indian culture and is not hesitant about showcasing it. His gifts to global leaders such as copies of Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita reflect this. He takes pride in taking Indian craftsmanship to the world by gifting world leaders artifacts made by Indian artisans. He also tries to ensure that world leaders visiting India experience the beauty, vibrance and culture of the country. Nowadays, when foreign leaders visit India, they are taken to places like Kashi, Ayodhya, Mahabalipuram, Amritsar and other such culturally vibrant sites.
PM Modi not only projects, but also protects Indian culture. In just the past nine years, 238 ancient artefacts, antiquities and relics stolen from India have been recovered and brought back. Compare that to the return of just 13 such items since the time India became independent in 2014!
PM Modi has also called for shedding India’s colonial baggage - as one of the ‘Panch Pran’ (five pledges) in the ‘Amrit Kaal’ of Independence. He has taken numerous steps to shed India’s colonial legacy - from eliminating British symbols in the Indian Navy to repealing archaic British laws, from ending the red beacon culture to renaming Rajpath as Kartavya Path.
All of this reflects the emergence of a New India standing proud with its identity. The New India is not only acknowledging, preserving and restoring, but also developing, promoting and celebrating its immense cultural heritage. A shift of this magnitude could only have been possible with a visionary leader like PM Modi at the helm.