BISHNU PRASAD ARYAL
KATHMANDU: An 18-month-old body formed with a view to working to preserve intangible cultural heritage has gone defunct, without delivering on its pledge, in what could reflect the culture of non-performance that has seeped into majority of government organisations.
“The body is defunct, and its targeted objectives are in a state of limbo,” said officials at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the line ministry that is responsible for preserving country’s cultural heritage. According to officials, the body failed to perform after it ran into controversy over vaguely defined roles. “The body was formed illegally — by then culture minister, not by the Cabinet — clearly against the rules that are enshrined in the policy,” said the officials.
Intangible Heritage Cultural Council in line with the
UNESCO Convention in a bid to preserve and promote the cultures and cultural heritage of Nepal.
“However, no significant activity has been carried out so far,” said Bharat Mani Subedi, Joint Secretary, MoCTCA. “We are formulating a new regulation — or a guideline — to set up an ‘eligible’ cultural body. We hope to complete it by the end of current fiscal year. It will then be sent to the Cabinet for approval and accordingly a new council will be formed.”
The government is yet to do any tangible work to safeguard intangible cultural heritage of the country, even though Nepal, which boasts diverse culture and heritage, is a signatory to the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage. There are about 90 ethnic communities with about 120 languages and different living traditions.
The government in 2010 ratified the UN Convention designed to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, such as folklore, oral traditions, social rituals and performing arts, according to MoCTCA. The nine-member IHCC is chaired by the culture minister.
The committee was given authority to carry out different activities on folklore, festivals, fairs, customs, traditional crafts, performing arts and cultural practices.
The committee had plans to prepare inventory of intangible cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley by the end of the last fiscal year and was to work in districts in the following fiscal years. But nothing significant has been achieved so far. The officials admitted that the past commitments were not translated into action by exploiting culture, the skeleton of booming tourism industry of the country.
By ratifying the UN Convention, Nepal committed itself at the international level to safeguarding the rich and diverse living heritage of the country. Nepal is the 125th State Party to the UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003).
The main purposes of the convention, which was adopted by UNESCO Member States in 2003, are to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, to ensure respect for it, to raise awareness on its importance and of mutual appreciation, and to provide international cooperation and assistance in those fields. Ratifying governments recognise that cultural heritage is not limited to material manifestations, such as monuments and objects, but must be extended to the traditions and living expressions inherited from ancestors.
Signing the convention binds the member states to acknowledge their roles in
and responsibilities towards implementing the provisions of the convention through adoption of necessary legislative, regulatory and other appropriate measures, according to MoCTCA.