Published: 18th July 2020
This initiative led by DU students is on a mission to revive the love for India’s heritage and history
Recently, the group has started a campaign named #YehDeshHaiMera to promote those tangible and intangible heritages that have been forgotten with time or are on the verge of extinction
In a nation that is slowly forgetting its history, Karwaan: The Heritage Exploration Initiative, an independent student-led Initiative, which was started by a few undergraduate history students at Delhi University, aims to revive the love for India’s heritage and history. The initiative began their journey in September 2019, when they organised a heritage walk to Tughlaqabad Fort with one of the most famous history buffs in Delhi, Sohail Hashmi. Since then they have continued to conduct walks and lectures by historians at heritage sites around the national capital.
"For a better future, we need to preserve our past because when you are in the present you cannot escape your past and when you study history, you cannot escape the present. History is connected to us, it is what we are today. History shapes our future and it is important to promote it among the youth. Many students across universities in India, even the ones studying history are often not interested in the things that fall out of their syllabus. As students ourselves, the idea is to promote the knowledge of history among young minds and inspire them to be inquisitive and passionate about this diverse field and to make the youth understand the importance of history and heritage," says Eshan Sharma, the founder of Karwaan, who is currently a second-year History student at Dyal Singh College.
He started this initiative with his friends, Nishant Singh (Head Coordinator), Abhigyaa Mittal (Creative Head), Anurodh Singh Shakya (Content Head), Aditya Singh (Quiz Head), Nandesh Yadav and Mansi Rautela.
Arranging heritage walks in Delhi can often be quite costly, approximately Rs 600 per head, Karwaan ensures that they make these walks affordable for students so more people can attend. The group has organised over five heritage walks before the pandemic hit. They are also asking students from across the country to become volunteers for the initiative. "We have got an overwhelming response — Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata are some of the few cities where we have received enquiries from," adds Eshan.
Recently, the group has started a campaign named #YehDeshHaiMera to promote those tangible and intangible heritages that have been forgotten with time or are on the verge of extinction. "This will be a one-of-its-kind movement, that will help in making people aware of our history, lost heritages and may help us save some of the heritages that are on the verge of extinction. The basic motive of this campaign is to prepare a platform to document, preserve and promote our rich and diverse heritage. We can't always blame our government for not doing enough, it is equally important to prepare such a platform for the public, especially students so that they can become aware and help save these," adds Eshan.
To lead this movement, Karwaan is joined by famous historians and performers like Rana Safvi, Sohail Hashmi, Manimugdha Sharma, Danish Husain, and Professor Ali Khan Mahmudabad, Swapna Liddle, and Anubhav Sapra as Karwaan's ambassadors. Through this campaign, people can tweet or post on Facebook along with the hashtag about several historical places, monuments, architecture, etc for others to also be aware and learn more about such spaces.
The group had recently initiated a one-of-its-kind event — one of India’s longest-running online history festivals on Karwaan's Facebook Page. They invited over 65 speakers from three different continents to speak and give live lectures on Indian history and heritage, which was attended by over 100,000 people across the globe, The online History festival is still running. "We had some eminent speakers like Professor Catherine Asher, Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Harbans Mukhia, Richard Eaton, Professor Narayani Gupta, Ira Mukhoty, Supriya Gandhi, Rana Safvi, Akeel Bilgrami, and many others. For history buffs like us, there is no better way to spend a day than with our favourite historians. This has been going on for the last four months, specifically to keep people engaged during the lockdown," explains Eshan.
This series is set to get over in August, following which the group will start another series called the Karwaan Distinguished Lecture series where they will host live lectures by some eminent personalities like Romila Thapar, Kavita Singh, Sohail Hashmi, Ranabir Chakravarti and many more. "We have been receiving amazing responses, people even sometimes mark on their calendars with our live session dates. The attention we are getting from students is what really the aim was and we are glad that we are being able to get them the platform to interact with historians," says Eshan.
The group is also planning to start a podcast and a new YouTube series, which will speak about historical events among other things. "We will continue with the online lectures. We are planning to conduct a virtual heritage walk for students and others who want to join," concludes Eshan.