Law, Development, and Heritage Preservation in India
In India – as in many parts of the world - economic growth and development have been key focus areas for successive governments. However, development often generates costs that force us to address difficult tradeoffs stemming from certain policies and reforms, such as the possible advantages to enhancing economic well-being versus the potential threats to the environment and heritage preservation. For example, although India has obtained substantial economic growth in the last two decades, there has also been deterioration in several aspects of India's heritage, as only a small fraction of pre-colonial monuments in India receive federal protection and many of these (including many iconic Indian sites) face threats from demolition, desecration, decay, pollution, and other perils. In this problem solving course, we will focus on these kinds of issues in the Indian context and explore what the role of the law and other disciplines are, and could be, in mediating and balancing these concerns in concrete contexts.
We will first survey the salient features of India's Constitution and polity and gauge the state of its economy and its environment. This will involve examining laws and policies related to property, judicial process, contract, tourism, historic preservation, and intellectual property amongst others. Along with this, we will examine theories and practices of historic preservation and consider the protection of, and pressures on, monuments and sites, as well as other aspects of India's heritage (e.g., traditional knowledge). Thereafter, we will focus on an imperiled landscape in western India where 500 medieval temples stand around the periphery of a reservoir. We will conceptualize solutions that might promote its holistic renewal and serve as guidelines for the preservation of other sites of historical significance.
Class time will focus on providing background information and discussion with topical experts, such as archaeologists, attorneys, top bureaucrats, environmentalists, journalists, urban planners, and other stakeholders. Students are expected to spend additional time outside class contacting experts and performing research. At the end of the term, students will present a proposal to an expert review panel.