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Initiative for Indus Heritage Centre

Global Heritage Fund has joined hands with the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda to incept a world class centre to be opened in 2008, writes Shalini Narang.

india Updated: Aug 03, 2006 15:53 IST

Global Heritage Fund (GHF), a California based non-profit international conservancy with the mission to protect and preserve important cultural heritage sites in developing countries all over the world has joined hands with the Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) of Baroda to incept a world class Indus Heritage Center to be opened in 2008 to showcase the rare and priceless artefacts of the Indus valley civilization.

MSU will provide the land for the museum site and loan the artefact collections related to the prehistory of Gujarat, the Indus civilisation and its legacy and access to its archives and research library. GHF will coordinate project leadership, international support and seed funding for the museum. Jeff Morgan, the GHF co founder says: "we hope to raise $1.5 million in the US and another $8 million in India for the centre."

GHF employs the Preservation by Design methodology to work with the local populace to create a cycle of success for its chosen sites with the potential for sustainable preservation, tourism and economic development. 
The need for the inception of a Smithsonian-class museum, research and education facility in India on par with similar centres in other nations like Egypt, Mexico, Turkey and China came to GHF's radar since currently India has no Smithsonian class centre to display the treasures of one of the oldest civilizations of the world. The aim of the centre on the Indus Civilisation would be to increase research, scholarship, excavation, and conservation of Indus and Harappan archaeological sites. The initial meeting and brainstorming for the inception of the museum took place in Delhi in January 2005. 

After securing stage one funding of $240,000 towards the design and construction of the centre from several individuals and families in the US, GHF has established the Indus Heritage Trust (India) to raise in-country funding in India for the Centre construction and operations. While GHF funding from the US will be towards leading and completing design, exhibits, conservation and planning, trustees in India from the corporate world and others will be tasked with securing funds for building construction and other expenses.

GHF is working with Gujarat and the central government to make the Centre the next major hub for tourism and Indus scholarship, while remaining an independent and thriving private institution.

Leading Indus scholars like Dr Kuldeep Bahn, Professor of Archaeology and Dr. Mark Kenoyer, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Co- Director of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project (HARP) have been roped in to spearhead the project and provide conceptual ideas and visionary leadership committing time, research and needed support.

To galvanize government protection and international support, GHF's Indus Heritage Programme is also expected to drive UNESCO World Heritage nomination for Dholavira and the Indus sites of Gujarat through Master Conservation Planning, an integrated research, tourism, education and publishing program and by providing new economic development opportunities for the least developed areas of Gujarat.

The other conservation project in India being run by GHF in collaboration with the state government of Karnataka, Archaeological Survey of India and Jindal Steel Corporation is the restoration of the Shiva temple and an adjoining bridge in Hampi- a UNESCO World Heritage Site.