Local distinctiveness keeps heritage talks alive

Dhaka,  Thu,  20 July 2017
Published : 11 Jul 2017, 13:34:32 | Updated : 11 Jul 2017, 13:38:19
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Local distinctiveness keeps heritage talks alive

Mohiuddin Babar
Local distinctiveness plays an important part for sustaining heritage. It is local distinctiveness that brews a sense of pride among the people. Local distinctiveness can also help in drawing tourists and thus contribute to the growth of localised economy.

Much talked about in the early eighties, the concept of local distinctiveness grew from the sporadic socio-economic development around the world that somehow eclipsed the traditional outlook whether in architecture or in natural landscape or in social behaviour or even in lifestyle. True, modernism has touched all facets of our living so much so that unique features in almost places have been totally lost. However, there is good news that there is a renaissance of local distinctiveness amongst some people in some parts of the world.

Local distinctiveness is all about feeling special. Whether in archaeology or in social traditions or in economic activities - this commands a unique feeling of a particular place and its people. It differentiates them from others.

In our country too, there had been a plethora of examples of local distinctiveness. The hand-woven Jamdani or Dhakai saris, the sweets of Natore, the intricate architecture of temples and mosques or Zamidar's mansions and so forth. Local pride also expanded to agriculture and fisheries like the mangoes of Rajshahi or lichis of Dinajpur or Hilsha of Chandpur.

It is undeniable that the compelling momentum of modernisation has run over the stock of local distinctiveness everywhere. Nevertheless, it has also stipulated the rise of conservation movement all around. People have begun to feel the necessity to conserve the indigenous culture, architecture and even socio economic habits.

With the revolutionary development in communication technology and the unprecedented outreach of social media in particular, local distinctiveness is now poised for encompassing its value. Whether in the developed world or in developing economies, people are trying trail back to conservation of the sources of their local uniqueness. Of course, there is an emergence of a compromised solution that keeps alive the heritage specimen with the need of modern thoughts. In some cases though, there is stubborn attitude to conserve the past and lost glory.

In the wake of robust growth in tourism worldwide, local distinctiveness is playing a domineering role. Tourists are mainly induced to sight-seeing adventurism but many of them could have exploratory mind to access the local distinctiveness of a place. Thus, this could be a new opportunity for flourishing the tourism industry in the country with the prospect of sustaining the areas of local distinctiveness.

With local distinctiveness deeply pegged mainly in rural areas, there is need to adapt a proper cultural planning that should keep abreast the heritage aspects. Many would debate and throw the thought to "ancient" or "non-progressive" but then this can be the golden goose. As evidenced in many countries, proper conservation of local distinctiveness can add value to raising community and national morale. It keeps alive the heritage talk.

(The writer is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) consultant and national TV/Radio broadcaster. mohicsr@gmail.com)
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