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Home > Indian Archaeology > History And Functioning Of Archaeological Survey Of India | Neera Mishra

History And Functioning Of Archaeological Survey Of India | Neera Mishra

To understand this topic we must understand what are the by laws, what are the conditions and what is ASI meant for. As I understand from the history of ASI, during the British times it was the CPW who would take up these, well not really, they were just exploring, Alexander Cunningham was the first person.

We need to know the Aims and Objectives of Archeological Survey, we need to know about the state departments and we need to know the politics that has been played with the Bhartiya Sanskriti over this period.

Basically four points I have understood:
1. There is a sectarian application of the rules.
2. There is biased conventions that have been created.
3. There is destruction of significant landmarks of history which I have seen as recently as 2018.
4.  And there is a misguided development for tourism attraction.
So, what is the Aim of ASI?

Basically it was started by Alexander Cunningham. Earlier there used to be in Bengal. The Bengal Asiatic Society which was actually asked to make rules and regulations because as Cunningham as exploring all the different parts of India, he realised the great cultural wealth there was and ASI was set up in 1861. The main objective of ASI was to explore, excavate, conserve, preserve and protect the monuments and the sites which were of National and International importance.

It regulates all the archeological activities all over the country, the monuments, the sites, it creates museums. There are these acts Act of Monument 1958. As they moved on they started evaluating the Act, or enhancing or deleting to the Act. How they do it? They have circles, almost all over India, they have divided into various branches and then they have each branch under which in bigger state two circles, in smaller state one circle.  They have museums, they work on numismatics on coins, they work on inscriptions. Through these state branches various schemes have been formulated.

And these branches are under the head quarter which is at Delhi. The organisation has a large work force, trained Archeologists, Conservationists, Experts, Epigrammatists, Architects, Scientists all these are supposed to be under ASI. If they have such a huge work force the question is why the condition of Archeologist is such that there is no say of an Archeologist in Archeological survey of India. The organisation meant for archeology has no place for an archeologist to raise his voice.

The reality is that these trained professional archeologists are only to explore and conserve area but the command us in the hands of outsiders, it is in the hands of Architects, it is in the hands of IAS officers. So, obviously if the situation is such, what do you expect of the archeological status of India today. Archeological Survey of India is notified by an Archeologist invariably under under IAS officials with remote control of vested interest supported by Architects. So, you can’t blame the Archeologists.

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