Wishing Mughal emperor Akbar happy birthday Thursday, a clutch of
local conservationists got together here to recall his contribution
to the enrichment of Hindustani culture and his secular concepts.
They said Agra would have been a different place had he been alive.
While the Archaeological Survey of
India (ASI) perhaps forgot all about it, the Braj Mandal Heritage
Conservation Society made it a point to mark the occasion. After
all, it was in Agra that Akbar had spent many years of his life.
Conservation Society president
Surendra Sharma, claiming to speak on behalf of Akbar, read out a
decree listing what all needed to be done to restore the Taj city's
lost glory and historical importance.
Had Akbar been alive, we "would not
have been helpless spectators to the torturous killing of the city's
lifeline Yamuna", Surendra Sharma said.
Historian Ramesh Chandra Sharma said:
"Akbar's experiments in governance, his ideas relating to
coexistence and mutual tolerance of each other's faith and
recognition of talents like the nine jewels, have to be seen as part
of a rich legacy he left behind."
Akbar's commitment to freedom of
expression and respect for contrary views should be taken note of by
the fundamentalists, Sharma added.
Akbar, a popular ruler of his time,
was known for his intellectual contribution and advocacy of a
composite culture through his Din-e-Ilahi, a concept that is of
relevance in the present context of terrorism and religious
intolerance, said retired wing commander H.S. Sisodia.
Other rulers like Shah Jahan were
famed more for their architectural ideas whereas he is widely
considered the greatest of the Mughal emperors and has been
christened "Akbar the Great", Sisodia said.
Talking about the sad state of urban
planning in Agra, speakers accused government agencies of destroying
the ethos of this Mughal city.
V.P. Singh said politicians of all
hues were hell bent on rampaging the grand Mughal city with Quixotic
ideas that had resulted in haphazard planning.
Eco-activist Ravi Singh said the
historical monuments in Agra city were in a bad shape. "The
conservational efforts were poor. While developing new areas, no
care was taken to ensure that the new structures were compatible
with the Mughal ethos of this city," Singh said.
Others said Akbar's tomb in Sikandra
and the Agra Fort needed urgent conservational efforts. They also
suggested that the city be made home to a Mughal museum and special
arrangements be made for tourists to experience authentic Mughlai
A 10-point charter of demands relating
to infrastructure development and improvement in civic amenities was
presented as a 'firman' or decree from Akbar for implementation by
the district authorities.