History and civics are two major components of Social Studies. Both have an intimate link, but to explore this we have to think a little unconventional.
History is the subject of past whereas civics is the subject of present. So one may wonder how this is possible to establish a link between them. In this dilemma, we have to take the help of our built-in heritage structures, which are major sources of historical enquiries.
India is rich in heritage sites that are spread across villages, open or forested lands, towns and cities. Some of them are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India or state archaeology departments. As a part of learning students often visit them accompanied by their history teachers. But most of the time their objective remains with the understanding of the heritage structures, not their surroundings.
In India, there are only a handful of monuments, whose surroundings are found well-maintained. In contrast, a large number of monuments have filthy surroundings. They are used as garbage dump yards and even deification grounds. This is definitely a major civic issue, an investigation of which can provide much needed experiential learning to school students.
Upon investigation we have found that there are multiple issues.
The first issue is who are the people involved in spoiling the surrounding of these beautiful heritage structures. It is mostly the local people who are quite ignorant. Some of them are poor and don’t have toilets at their homes. As many of these heritage structures are built besides water bodies, they find it a heaven for relieving themselves. The second problem is throwing away domestic garbage and discarded materials of religious rituals.
Many times I have observed that the local people blame on authority, such as municipality or the archaeology department. There is also a mistake from their part and raising our voice is a civic right. The authorities also have answers to these blames. According to them, either there is staff shortage or negligible funds, or non cooperation of locals.
What students can do?
Students can do the following activities.
1. They can educate the local people about the importance of the historical structures and why they need to be kept clean. They can talk and influence the community leaders or to local school students.
2. They can make a write-up in the local language in form of posters and display it in public spaces and schools.
3. They can take pictures or shoot videos and spread them with the help of social media from time to time. They can also inform media and through the help of professional journalists start a campaign.
4. They can meet authorities, local MLA or MP and place their case for government interference. It will enrich their citizenship skill.
5. They can document the development of their project from time to time and finally make a compiled report which they can submit to experts and institutions working in heritage conservation.
By Jitu Mishra – Snr Educational Specialist
(Member of Test Development Team)
I am passionate about anthropology, archaeology and linking them with school education.