In a country like India, the paradigm of development takes place in various forms, with entangled complexity and enmeshed priorities. The emphasis on development always supersedes considerations of historical aspects. The peculiarities of geography and the very act of conservation of historical events, acts, narratives and artifacts are often thought of as an academia and not often for action. The attitude that is largely embedded within the general psyche is that abundance is always relegated to be secondary and especially when it is attributed to geography, that has manifested variety of ideas on existence and in abundance architectural forms. This manifestation is perceived as not necessary condition to move forward, or a model for sustenance or the thought on development. The progress is generalized as an act of dissolution of historical thought.
Such attitude brings back the classical argument that the role of history is purely a recreation of nostalgia and romanticism of the past. The position of conservation is very precarious in contemporary times especially when there is a strange absence of discipline that brings about philosophy on history of thought or history of ideas or reflexive history. Hence the entire domain of conservation is singularly focused on material based restoration. The construct of conservation philosophy needs to decoded within the act of conservation. The understanding of history should be an act of embracing tools that enabled the progress of continuity.
The conservation domain has been monolithic-ally a new discipline which was understood predominantly by the primacy of materials and less of intellectual aspects. The subject of conservation still exist in its old domain of materials and motifs. This is perhaps the reason that everything that is ‘heritage’ is often interpreted singularly in academics, no matter how rationally or ideologically one is positioned in a given institutional framework.
The argument is quite similar when we talk about modern heritage. The word modern, modernism and modernity are not the same yet they cannot be discussed in isolation. First of all, modern architecture needs to be interpreted in generic and specific contexts, especially within the realm of Indian modernity and modernism. Secondly, the question and the argument on whether the notion of modern comes around as an implied project of global or Indian modernity which has necessitated such an idea on modern architecture. Thirdly the question of modern is often in contradiction to the thought on conservation, at least in its conventional avatar. It means that the bandwidth of conservation and ideological position of Indian modern needs academic research for philosophical continuity, perhaps such an argument can also fracture the myth of Indian modern that has been re-created institutionally, which itself is so monolithic.
The modern is a school of thought, a philosophy and is bounded by limitless space of interchangeable ideas. It exist or existed by sheer knowledge that has prevailed over its predecessor and the circumstances that has necessitated for its emergence and maturing. Otherwise the conservation of modern heritage shall succumb to being a tactless faux pas.
Photo Credit: Manoj Parmar Architects