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Ambassador's Interview with VOV World on Cooperation in Heritage Conservation (Transcript)

Posted on: February 19, 2021 | Back | Print

(VOVWORLD) - Vietnam and India are engaging in new development partnership projects in heritage conservation. They are working together to preserve the Temples at My Son; Dong Duong Buddhist Monastery in Quang Nam, and the Nhan Cham Tower in Phu Yen. VOV interviews the Indian Ambassador to Vietnam, Pranay Verma about this aspect of bilateral cooperation.

Reporter: Why do India and Vietnam take heritage conservation as a focus of their bilateral cultural cooperation?

Ambassador Pranay Verma: I would say that heritage conservation is an excellent way of reminding us how profoundly and deeply we were connected historically – as cultures and as civilizations. This is an area where India has lots of expertise because we have some of the oldest institutions in the world engaged in archaeological conservation. I mentioned to you about the Archeological Survey of India. That is an institution which is actually doing the work in Vietnam – in My Son – right now. So, I think it is something that has an element of partnership as well as an element of development – both for our future generation’s understanding of our cultural relations, and also for areas like tourism, where a monument which is restored to its glory can be a tourism attraction, especially for people, with whom it connects – like in India’s case, the Cham monuments here, which have a very important Indian cultural symbolism. 

Reporter: How do you evaluate our cooperation in cultural conservation?

Ambassador Pranay Verma: I think, it’s very good. We have taken a lot of measures already. If you look at the My Son monument itself and other monuments around that area, we have seen some very good work done by the Government of Vietnam there.  We are only trying to help wherever we think we can, depending on the interest and needs of the Vietnamese side...  I think it is an area in which we learn best practices from each other. When our experts come here and they try and do a project for heritage conservation, they also absorb elements of the practices that Vietnam adopts in terms of uses of material, about use of technology, about how to go about preserving old heritage so that it gels with its natural environment, and so on. All those things show that it is not just that we are giving to Vietnam, but also learning in the process from Vietnam.  It is an exchange of ideas which makes the heritage (conservation) work more successful.

The My Son temple complex in Quang Nam province stands as a glorious symbol of Vietnam-India cultural cooperation

Reporter: Can you give us more details of how the work is being done in My Son?

Ambassador Pranay Verma: The My Son complex is a very large temple complex. We have taken up three projects right now, which are on-going and not including the new ones. The existing cooperation is in Block-H, Block-K and Block-A inside the My Son complex. We have already finished (blocks) H and K. The picture you see here is the A-Block, in which they are working right now and where they have found the Shivlinga, the Indian cultural symbol. The new proposal is for the F block of temples inside My Son…  So, it’s not about building a modern building.  It is about preserving the heritage value. It still looks like a ruin.  The idea is not to build a building out of it, but to help it stay like that for a longer time so that it does not collapse, crumble and disappear. So, they have to clear the site around this place. There are a lot of foliage and plants which grow around. Lot of it was buried under the ground. So they had to dig and bring it out, clear the area and then repair the parts which are falling apart, by using the material which does not alter the original characteristic of that architecture or the building. So, it’s not about turning them into modern-looking buildings but actually preserving their antiquity and let them tell the story about their past. 

The (Encyclopaedia on) Vietnam-India cultural and civilization relations is a big project that we have to do. Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences is our partner in that project. We hope to be ready with it next year when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations.

Reporter: Thank you, Ambassador Pranay Verma for this interview!