Secretary, Ministry of Culture Shri Ravindra Singh on 20th June, 2014 presented ‘Mausam’, a Ministry of Culture project to an international audience at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee at Doha, Qatar. One of the main deliverables of this project is nomination of maritime cultural landscapes across the Indian Ocean as a trans-national property on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
Director General UNESCO, who was present at the launch function, expressed a great interest in this project. Ambassadors of several countries including China, UAE, Qatar, Iran, Myanmar, and Vietnam also expressed keen interest in the multifaceted cultural project.
The endeavour of Project ‘Mausam’- Mausam: Maritime Routes and Cultural Landscapes is to position itself at two levels: at the macro level, it aims to re-connect and re-establish communications between countries of the Indian Ocean world, which would lead to an enhanced understanding of cultural values and concerns; while at the micro level, the focus is on understanding national cultures in their regional maritime milieu.
The central themes that hold Project ‘Mausam’ together are those of cultural routes and maritime landscapes that not only linked different parts of the Indian Ocean littoral, but also connected the coastal centres to their hinterlands. More importantly, shared knowledge systems and ideas spread along these routes and impacted both coastal centres, and also large parts of the environs.
Preliminary works on this new project has already been initiated. A monthly lecture series has been organized at India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi in collaboration with IGNCA, National Monuments Authority (NMA), New Delhi and IIC. The first international conference, scheduled in February 2015, would be organized with national and international research partners and collaborators. The central theme of this conference is Great Centres of Learning: Knowledge Societies and the Making of the Indian Ocean region. This workshop proposes to focus on great centres of learning in the Afro-Asian world and their function in creating syncretic forms of religious and secular knowledge in the Indian Ocean region (IOR).
Project ‘Mausam’ is an exciting, multi-disciplinary project that rekindles long-lost ties across nations of the Indian Ocean ‘world’ and forges new avenues of cooperation and exchange. The project, launched by India in partnership with member states, will enable a significant step in recording and celebrating this important phase of world history from the African, Arab and Asian-world perspectives.