Have you heard of Kuti, Devara Kadu, Davli art forms? Chances are you haven’t, and probably won’t.
Seven years after ratifying a UNESCO convention on preserving intangible cultural heritage (ICH) — which includes languages, performing arts, rituals, festivals, social practices and traditional crafts — India still has no laws to do this. And spends less than 0.2% of its annual budget on this sector.
In the year ending March 2012, India spent 0.106% of its annual budget on ICH, a fall from 0.108% the previous fiscal and below the 0.11% spent the year before that.
Now, a book titled Masked Identities: Safeguarding India’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, to be released next week by Mumbai-based public policy think tank the Observer Research Foundation, examines the situation and the challenges through quantitative and qualitative data, drawing comparisons with Japan, China and Indonesia.
“China and Japan have laws to safeguard their forms. India still doesn’t,” said Shubha Srinivasan, author of the book, who spent a year researching it. “Other countries are way ahead and far more aggressive in protecting their forms.”