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Nalanda Mahavira makes it to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites

UNESCO announces 9 new world heritage sites to add to everyone's Bucket list

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Nalanda Mahavihara. Image Source: VOA News
  • Exciting news for India, Nalanda Mahavihara, a large Buddhist monastery in Magadha was announced one of the 9 New World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
  • Interestingly, this would be the second world heritage site in the country after Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya.
  • The committee is also reviewing 27 sites of cultural significance which have been nominated for the World Heritage List.

UNESCO has declared the much awaited Nalanda ruins in Bihar as a world heritage site. The decision came during the UN cultural agency’s ongoing session in Istanbul, Turkey on July 15.

The cultural agency UNESCO also tweeted on this matter:

Nalanda University is located in Rajgir, near Nalanda, Bihar, India and  was established during the Gupta Dynasty. It was earlier an acclaimed large Buddhist monastery in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. Interestingly, this would be the second world heritage site in the country after Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya.

Nalanda University. Image Source : Wikimedia commons
Nalanda University. Image Source : Wikimedia commons

The Nalanda site that comprises of the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution from the 3rd century B.C. to the 13th century A.D. is in fact one of the ancient seats of learning in the world.

Another interesting addition to the list has been the old city of Ani, in the Turkish province of Kars. Ani, near Turkey’s now closed border with Armenia, once served as the capital of the Armenian kingdom in the 10th century. Mostly abandoned after a devastating earthquake in the 14th century, the ruins include a relatively well-preserved cathedral and hold major significance for Armenians.

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Other sites announced on Friday include China’s Zuojiang Huashan rock art cultural landscape, Iran’s ancient aqueducts known as Qanat. A trans-boundary site located in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, and heritage sites in Greece, Spain and Gibraltar have also made it to the list.

The World Heritage Committee also zeroed upon Micronesia’s artificial islets of Nan Madol and simultaneously placed it on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Made of basalt and coral boulders, the 99 artificial islets of Nan Madol are home to ruins ranging from temple to tombs between A.D. 1200 and 1500.

Dating back to the 5th century B.C., Zuojiang Huashon rock art cultural landscape straddles steep cliffs in southwest China and represent the only trace left of the Luoyue people.

Iran’s Qanat system tapped into alluvial aquifer and transported water underground across vast valleys helping sustain agricultural life and settlements in arid areas.

The medieval tombstones and graveyards, known as stecci, combine 30 sites in Bosnia, central and southern Croatia, western Montenegro and western Serbia. Carved from limestone, they feature decorative motives and inscriptions.

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The Greek archaeological site of Philippi, founded in 356 B.C. by the Macedonian King Philip II, lies in the present-day region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace. It later became an important Christian site, following the visit of Apostle Paul, UNESCO said.

The Antequera Dolmens site, in Andalusia, southern Spain, is comprised of three megalithic monuments as well as two natural mountainous formations.

The natural sea caves – or Gorham’s Cave Complex – in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, also made the list, and provide evidence of Neanderthal occupation over a span of more than 125,000 years.

Gathered from July 10-20 in Istanbul, the committee is reviewing 27 sites of special cultural or natural significance which have been nominated for the World Heritage List. (With input from VOA)

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“Jazz: The Music of Freedom, Human Rights and Liberation”, According to UNESCO

April 30 is marked as the International Jazz Day

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International Jass Day is coming up. Pixabay

Terming Jazz “the music of freedom, human rights and liberation”, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay has given a call to turn to jazz now more than ever; to get closer to one another on this ninth International Jazz Day, marked on April 30.

Established by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2011 and recognised by the United Nations General Assembly, International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities worldwide every April 30, to celebrate jazz and highlight its role in encouraging dialogue, combating discrimination and promoting human dignity. International Jazz Day has become a global movement, reaching billions of people annually.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s annual International Jazz Day global celebration and the event’s flagship Global Concert, initially scheduled to take place in South Africa’s Cape Town will take place online. This will also be the case with the many other events planned around the world for the day.

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Herbie Hancock will be hosting the Global Concert this year. Wikimedia Commons

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue Herbie Hancock, is the host of the Global Concert this year, which features artists from across the globe, and will be streamed live on the Organisation’s site. Artists scheduled to perform at the concert include John McLaughlin, Jane Monheit, Alune Wade, John Beasley, Ben Williams, Lizz Wright, John Scofield, Igor Butman, Evgeny Pobozhiy, Youn Sun Nah, A Bu, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves and Joey DeFrancesco, among others.

Closer home, the popularity of jazz seems to be growing in India, as does its active listenership and practice.

NCR-based The Piano Man Jazz Club founder and Fulbright music scholar Arjun Sagar Gupta believes that Jazz, like another other form of art and culture, needs exposure to grow and gain popularity.

“The last five-six years has seen a renewed push towards the promotion of jazz in India, which is creating an ever increasing base of patrons and lovers of theart form. We hope that in the years to come this continues to grow, spurred on by more and more artists performing the music and more people supporting and listening to it,” Gupta told IANSlife.

During the lockdown, The Piano Man is also live streaming an online six-artiste concert to mark the occasion. Featured artistes are Bhavya Raj, Vatsal Bakhda, Manta Sidhu, Tatyana Shandrakova, Arjun Sagar Gupta and Elena Friedrich. “Jazz, for me, is at a point in India, where it is growing and we have people who want to explore this art form, both as musicians and as listeners,” Bakhda said.

Read More: AIIMS Delhi Invites Advance Appointments for Tele-Consultations

Jazz as a genre has been in the spotlight, thanks to endorsements by music’s biggest stars like Kendrick Lamar, whose album “To Pimp a Butterfly” prominently featured contemporary names from the new-age jazz world.

In celebration of the International Jazz Day, social music streaming app Resso has added a station to their latest song tab channel eQuaranTunes’ called eJazz At Home’. In addition to that, they will launch 10 mood-based playlists for every hour curated as per the vibe and time of the day. The station covers the pioneers as well as new age artists in the genre that include Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery to Kamasi Washington, Snarky Puppy and Flying Lotus among others. (IANS)

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COVID-19 Crisis Affects Cultural Industry Negatively: UNESCO

People need culture more than ever: UNESCO

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As per the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the closure of heritage sites, museums, theatres and cinemas and other cultural institutions is jeopardizing funding for artists and creative industries. Pixabay

BY SIDDHI JAIN

The COVID-19 crisis is hitting the culture sector hard, says UNESCO, which has launched initiatives to support cultural industries and cultural heritage as billions of people around the world turn to culture for comfort and to overcome social isolation.

As per the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the closure of heritage sites, museums, theatres and cinemas and other cultural institutions is jeopardizing funding for artists and creative industries. It is also jeopardizing funding for the conservation of extraordinary places and the livelihoods of local communities and cultural professionals.

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COVID-19 has put many intangible cultural heritage practices, including rituals and ceremonies, on hold, impacting communities everywhere. It has also cost many jobs and across the globe, artists, most of whom rely on ancillary activities to supplement income from their art, are now unable to make ends meet.

“The global nature of the COVID-19 crisis is a call for the international community to reinvest in international cooperation and intergovernmental dialogue. UNESCO is committed to leading a global discussion on how best to support artists and cultural institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, and ensure everyone can stay in touch with the heritage and culture that connects them to their humanity,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.

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The COVID-19 crisis is hitting the culture sector hard, says UNESCO. Pixabay

“Now, more than ever, people need culture. Culture makes us resilient. It gives us hope. It reminds us that we are not alone. That is why UNESCO is doing all it can to support culture, to safeguard our heritage and empower artists and creators, now and after this crisis has passed,” said Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Culture.

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This week, UNESCO has launched a global social media campaign, #ShareOurHeritage to promote access to culture and education around cultural heritage during this time of mass confinement. It will also launch an online exhibition of dozens of heritage properties across the globe with technical support from Google Arts and Culture.

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The Organisation said that it will also make available information on the impact of, and responses to, COVID-19 on World Heritage sites, which are partly or fully closed to visitors in 89 percent of countries due to the pandemic.

On April 15, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Jean Michel Jarre, and the Organisation itself, will host the ResiliArt Debate online, bringing together artists and key industry actors to sound the alarm on COVID-19 impact on the livelihoods of artists and cultural professionals. (IANS)

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President of Egypt Calls for Collective Action Against Countries Supporting Terrorism

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The president of Egypt Urges world leaders to take decisive action against states supporting terrorism. Pixabay

Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.

The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.

Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.

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The President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. VOA

The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the U.S., Britain and Canada.

The Sahel region is home to al-Qaida and Islamic State group-linked militants. El-Sissi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.

Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.

Since Morsi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.

Upcoming conference

El-Sissi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He did not elaborate.

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This photo provided by the office of Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, dignitaries including Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, gather, for a photo during a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Egypt. VOA

He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”

El-Sissi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.

After the 2011 civil war, Libya split in two, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.

Maritime border agreement 

El-Sissi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.

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Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

Hifter has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital.  He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy. (VOA)