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JULY 21, 2017


Should urbanisation score over conservation?

  • The latest amendments to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958, have been placed before Parliament, to do away with the prohibited zones around protected national monuments whenever it chooses to do so for some supposed “public” purpose.
  • To justify this, we are offered a note for the Cabinet prepared by the Ministry of Culture. Significantly, the ministry here speaks not on behalf of our cultural heritage, as it should, but pleads the cause of roadways, railway tracks, and unknown private landed interests.
  • Nowhere is it stated in it that the Archaeological Survey of India (under the Ministry of Culture) has cleared the proposal or that the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology has been consulted about it. Nor does even the ministry’s note itself care to consider the probable effects of the intruding structures on the security and appearance of the protected monuments concerned, or the effect of heavy traffic on the structures of the monuments (as in Sikandra, Agra).
  • Our members of Parliament, before whom the proposed amendments to the AMASR Act are being put, should be reminded of how in 1876 James Fergusson, a great Anglo-Indian student of Indian architecture, had the courage to describe such ill-treatment of Mughal monuments by the British government as “vandalism”.


Retrospective comfort

  • A comparative study between the demonetisation exercise of January 16, 1978 under The High Denomination Bank Notes (Demonetisation) Ordinance, 1978 (1 of 1978) and the recent one of 2016 which was later given statutory recognition under The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act.
    • The Centre reasoned that compared to the 1978 exercise, the 2016 made only “extremely reasonable” demands from the public.


1978 2016
People were allowed over-the-counter exchange of their demonetised notes only if they did not have a bank account The public was allowed to do such exchanges up to a limit. This limit was monitored closely and was modified according to the prevailing situation.
Only the RBI offices and few branches of State Bank of India/designated nationalised banks were allowed More types of banking establishments were allowed to exchange demonetised banknotes.

·         The notes could be exchanged at any issue office of the RBI or any branch of public sector banks, private sector banks, foreign banks, regional rural banks, urban cooperative banks, State cooperative banks and banking companies as defined in the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

No transactions with demonetised banknotes were allowed immediately on declaration of demonetisation Various essential goods and services were allowed to be available on tendering of the specified banknotes for a limited period.
Electronic media and social media played a major part in disseminating information to the masses
People were given just six days to exchange their demonetised notes They had 51 days’ time