Friday, August 27, 2010

On a trail of the First War of Indian Independence

S. Suresh, convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Tamil Nadu, first made a mark with his Roman Trail some years ago. He then went on to take visitors around Fort St George and on a couple of other local trails during Madras Week and also began making himself visible on the lecture circuit.

Now, backed by retired but active history professor Prema Kasturi, Suresh has come more into the public eye. Most articles on heritage written from Chennai are likely to have some quote or the other from him.

All that is well and good, but I wish Suresh and Prema, who is co-convener, INTACH-TN, find a little more time to organise regular meetings and ensure that more proactive steps are taken on the heritage front in Chennai and Tamil Nadu. The INTACH-TN office operates from Suresh’s residence, but the one-room office has been furnished adequately, with enough room for all INTACH files and a computer, scanner and printer.

Credit must go to Suresh and Prema for organising several programmes in schools during Madras Week this year. More of that later.

Some months ago, Suresh took five visitors from the UK on a tour of sites that saw action during India’s Great War of Independence. It was while lecturing about cultural tourism in South India at the India Tourism Office in London in May-June 2006 that Suresh made contact with the overseas visitors.

In 1997, on his way back to Chennai from a Rotary cultural exchange programme in North Carolina, Suresh had made a stopover in London to visit the British Museum. His first visit to London and to the Victoria Albert Museum was in 1990 as a PhD student on an INLAKS scholarship. Four years later, he would visit the Coins Department at the British Museum as a Nehru Visiting Fellow to conduct research on the Roman finds in India. Yet, none of those visits had sowed the seeds of opening out a whole new world for him as the one in 2006.

Read more about the Mutiny trail here: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/life/2010/08/13/stories/2010081350060200.htm

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