BELAGAVI: Several historic monuments in South India including Gol Gumbaz and Taj Bawdi of Vijayapura are being scouted by officials of the US Consulate in Chennai to carry out restoration works, if needed, with the help of `Ambassador Funds.'
The authorities of the consulate are keen to restore many historic and heritage structures in Karnataka that needed attention by partnering with local organizations. Speaking exclusively with The New Indian Express, Anne Lee Seshadri, Public Affairs Officer, Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, American Consulate General, Chennai, sheds light on several initiatives being launched by her office for "cultural preservation.''
"US Department of State provides funding to preserve cultural heritage under AFCP (Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation). It's a global fund provided to preserve cultural heritage all over the world. As far as India is concerned, we find that more projects are funded in North India. And so, we decided to do a survey to find opportunities in the south to see if there are any heritage structures that could be restored with local support."
Anne said she was looking at the heritage structures in Vijayapura, mainly Gol Gumbaz, Taj Bawdi, Ibrahim Roza and some other Adishahi monuments which needed urgent attention.
"Vijayapura is a place with wonderful monuments where we are identifying opportunities. Firstly, we will put an application to the US Embassy, and then the Ambassador will hopefully look into it and try to get the funds for restoration works by sending it to Washington for global competition. The historic Taj Bawdi which is one of the historical wonders will be able to supply water effectively to the people if it is restored with the help of the Ambassador Fund. Already, the survey of Jayalaxmi Vilas, another historic monument in Mysuru, has been surveyed for restoration and that some people in Bengaluru having technical expertise are keen to assist in its restoration," Anne said.
Record 55,000 Visas approved by US Consulate
Highlighting the educational programmes initiated by her department, Anne said, the US consulate approved a record 55,000 students Visas this summer. While calling the response from students for US Visas in India good, she said, the approval of a record number of Visas showed there was a lot of interest among students in India to go to the US for studies.
"To facilitate it, we have a free advising service called Education USA and we have specially one for Bengaluru which is in partnership with Yashna Trust. As all services are virtual, they are accessible to everybody now. We provide information about all accredited schools and institutes in America. We have 4500 universities in the USA which the students from India can choose from,'' she added.
About the famous education exchange programme `Fullbright'' she said, it provided the best opportunities for those heading to US under the programme and coming to India from the US as well.
Each of India, USA, and the private sector are funding 1/3d under Fullbright.
"Indians are the second largest population in the US after China. The Indian students are well prepared and do well academically in the US and bring diversity to our campuses. The colleges in the US are asking for more students from India on their campuses,'' Anne says.