How many school and college goers know about the little historical monuments tucked away in their neighbourhood? Or for that matter about the rich literary and theatre traditions of India?
Blame this lack of knowledge on the "ill effects of globalisation", says the culture ministry which is planning to teach young students about Indian culture and heritage, be it monuments, art forms or literature.
The ministry has set up a Cultural Heritage Volunteers (CHV) scheme, submitted to the Planning Commission this month, under which about 12,000 senior secondary schools and 5,000 colleges will be covered.
They will be trained on the lines of the National Cadet Corps but in the field of culture, a ministry official told IANS. The training would inculcate in students the ability to appreciate art and culture and promote creativity, he said.
"This will result in a tremendous growth of creativity in the various forms of art. The students would get certificates which they can show when they are trying for jobs," the official said.
Under the scheme, student volunteers will be trained by scholars, educationists and artists. The students would also be engaged in recording and documenting the most threatened forms of cultural heritage.
"There is a need to protect young people from marginalisation and neglect by ensuring their social inclusion and involvement in civic and cultural programmes," the ministry said in its proposal.
"While looking at the present state of affairs or the prevailing conditions in India, it is seen that the ill effects of globalisation is slowly and gradually killing the basic tenets of our cultural ethos."
The students are expected to pass on their knowledge to the community. The ministry has recommended an outlay of Rs 1 billion for the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) and Rs 200 million for the annual plan 2007-08.
Under the scheme, master trainers - either teachers, lecturers or university officials - will be selected who in turn will select 100 student volunteers.
This volunteer group will then be asked to develop a district cultural map on the rich heritage of their area. The heritage could include oral traditions, music, dance and theatre, social practices, rituals and festive events, practices regarding nature and traditional crafts.
They could also list sites that bear witness to multiple cultural identities, list deteriorating monuments, artefacts, books, manuscripts and historical objects.