The Telegraph - Calcutta: Nation
November 27, 2004

PM in heritage call

New Delhi, Nov. 27: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for evolving more public and private partnerships for maintaining India’s heritage and termed the first privately-funded restoration of a world heritage site here “an unqualified success”, reports our correspondent.

Singh was speaking at a ceremony to announce the seven winners of the 2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture — a triennial prize fund of $500,000. The ceremony was held this evening on the gardens of Humayun’s Tomb complex, whose waterways and fountains were restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

The ceremony was held in India for the first time, since the award was instituted in 1977, and was address by Price Aga Khan — the spiritual leader of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.

New Delhi came alive with special lighting, waterfalls and fountains strewn with rose petals and the smell of rajnigandha on the evening that Agra prepared to view Taj Mahal by moonlight.

The foreign dignitaries and several Union ministers were treated to a cultural evening, including classical music from Afghanistan, Armenia, Tajikistan and Romania. The backdrop was formed by the tomb on which extensive restoration had been carried out.

The beauty of the work at Humayun’s Tomb was not lost on the Prime Minister. Singh observed that many monuments were at risk and facing extreme neglect. “Perhaps because of our embarrassments of riches, we have forgotten to take care of our ancestor’s belongings. We must remember that these belong to succeeding generations, not merely in India but the world over.”

Prince Aga Khan observed that the process launched by the Aga Khan Award for Architecture had “become a self sustaining and unstoppable force for change in human habitat not only in the Muslim world but in much of the developing world as well.”

The seven winners of the 2004 award were Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt), Primary School (Burkina Faso), Sandbag shelter prototypes at various locations, Restoration of Al-Abbas Mosque (Yemen), Old City of Jerusalem Revitalisation Programme, B2 House (Turkey) and Petronas Towers (Kuala Lumpur).