Saturday, July 7, 2007

Taj Mahal is still a Wonder

Taj Mahal is still among the seven wonders of the world. According to the WSJ article:

Brazil's Statue of Christ Redeemer, Peru's Machu Picchu, and Mexico'sChichen Itza pyramid were chosen alongside the Great Wall of China, Jordan'sPetra, the Colosseum in Rome and India's Taj Mahal....

Among the places left out were the Acropolis in Athens, Greece; the Statuesof Easter Island, Chile; Cambodia's Angkor; Turkey's Hagia Sophia; and Russia'sKremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral....

The Great Pyramids of Giza, the only surviving structures from the original seven wonders of the ancient world, kept their status in addition to the new seven.

Glad, I am. But, who is attesting the status of these wonders? According to the wikipedia article, it is organized by a Swiss corporation called New Open World Corporation (NOWC). Why should the whole world, including you and me, crave for this attestation by a not-so-established organisation? Taj Mahal was given the world heritage status in 1983 and no private organisation can strip it of the status. In fact, according to UNESCO:

In order to avoid any damaging confusion, UNESCO wishes to reaffirm that there is no link whatsoever between UNESCO's World Heritage programme, which aims to protect world heritage, and the current campaign concerning "The New 7 Wonders of the World"....

UNESCO's objective and mandate is to assist countries in identifying, protecting and preserving World Heritage. Acknowledging the sentimental or emblematic value of sites and inscribing them on a new list is not enough. Scientific criteria must be defined, the quality of candidates evaluated, and legislative and management frameworks set up.

To me, the seven wonders of the world are like the ivy-league institutions. It is not about whether there are new institutions that have surpassed the imposing nature of the older ones - it is about a rich history, with splendid credits - both of which can never be stripped from institutions that have been proclaimed to have the status.

Again, I'm very happy to learn that Taj Mahal still stands as an edifice that evokes awe from the majority of the world, but I'm not so sure I would have been disturbed if it had not made the list. Whether or not it made this list, Taj Mahal would have always retained its sheen - officially too.

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