For a publication that is often criticised as catering only to the elderly and the elitist, being obsessed with preserving the past, a recent discovery has boosted our conviction that we are on the correct path and need not deviate from it. This is based on the statistics of the number of downloads for the mobile application that we developed and launched for Madras Week. We see that the number of Android phone users alone exceeded a whopping 100,000! It is not often that we thump our chests, but this is certainly a cause for celebration as we consider it a vindication of our stance.
Our cup of joy runneth over. We take this as a sign that the current generation of youngsters are celebrating Madras that is Chennai in a big way, for it is well known that smart phones that support apps are used largely by people in the age group of 20 to 45. It also sends a strong signal that heritage is no longer for the old alone. In fact, it is the youth of Chennai that is showing the way, with photo walks, heritage tours, food festivals and other events that only they can come up with to highlight the city’s past and present culture. It also means that it is time that the Government stopped considering heritage to be a stumbling block for development. The new generation wants its heritage as much as it wants its future to be on the correct lines.
The success of the app also puts paid to the oft-repeated claim that heritage is elitist and is espoused only by a “handful of well-to-do people”. If 100,000 is a handful then we do not know what is a substantial number. We must also not forget that this figure does not include i-phone users for which statistics is not available. If that were to be included, it makes the number that much larger. And, so, is the heritage movement in Chennai becoming broad-based? It would appear to be certainly doing so.
For those who came in late, Chennai Heritage, along with Broadgate Technical Services, a software company, developed the Madras Week app to give the people of Chennai easy access to details of all the events that took place to celebrate the 375th anniversary of the founding of the city in August. This was launched on August 13th and carried event details till mid-September. The app was sponsored by Sundaram Finance Limited, one of the consistent supporters of Chennai Heritage over the years.
The app had a city map with events highlighted on it. Clicking on the location pin gave details of the event scheduled to take place there. In addition, the app had date and event category based searches as well. It also provided for users to set reminders and post details on Facebook and Twitter. These are routine run-of-the-mill features and we don’t think we have done anything earth-shattering. But the response certainly has been phenomenal. We believe that the success of the app was one of the reasons for there being excellent attendance at all Madras Week events this year.
We would like to thank all those who used our app and also sent us feedback on it. The response has been overwhelming and strengthens our commitment to adopt technology to highlight our heritage. We also hope that schools and colleges will see this as a sign that the younger generation is interested in heritage and is, therefore, seeking information on it. And, so, can we hope for more heritage clubs under the banner of INTACH? And can the powers-that-be stop harping on how heritage is a useless baggage from the past and need not be preserved for the future?