Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Culture
20-December-2011 15:54 IST
Archaeological Survey of India Celebrates ITS 150th Anniversary
PM Launches Year Long Celebrations
Kumari Selja Announces Centrally Sponsored Scheme for assisting State Departments of Archaeology, Universities and Institutions
The Archaeological Survey of India completes 150 years of its existence as the Nation’s premier organization for archaeological research and protection of cultural heritage.

The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh launched a year-long programme to commemorate the sesquicentennial anniversary of the ASI at a function here today.

On this momentous occasion the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh expressed his pleasure to be present on this event to commemorate and celebrate the 150th year of the Archaeological Survey of India. He said that this historic institution has made an outstanding contribution to revealing our country’s rich historical and cultural heritage and protecting it for our posterity.

The Prime Minister further added, “We owe much of our understanding of our pre-modern past to the extensive exploratory works, excavations and careful documentation done by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Harappan Civilization would have remained unknown but for the extensive work done by this organization”.

“The Archaeological Survey of India has, over the years, developed high capabilities in exploration, excavation, conservation, environmental upgradation and research and publication. Yet, archaeology today, more than ever before, is expanding its frontiers - both in terms of its philosophy and in terms of methodology”.

Dr. Manmohan Singh said, “We are committed to giving the maximum professional autonomy in the working of the ASI. We have introduced rules and procedures that will help to bring about greater professionalism in the organization”.

Releasing a set of 12 books Dr. Singh said, “I am very happy that the ASI is implementing some of the recommendations made by the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology relating to epigraphy, archival management and record keeping publications”. “The Epigraphia Indica (Sanskrit & Dravidian and Arabic & Persian) has been published again after two decades. The Ministry of Culture has also introduced a National Professorship of Epigraphy with the Archaeological Survey of India. I understand some distinguished epigraphists would soon join the organization and contribute substantially to publication of as yet unpublished inscriptions and to training of young epigraphists. I understand the ASI has also started organizing special training programmes in Epigraphy for young scholars.”

“I commend the ASI for reviving its prestigious journal ‘Ancient India’ after a gap of almost 50 years. We need many more such initiatives”.

Welcoming the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Minister of Human Resources Development and Telecommunications Shri Kapil Sibal, the Minister of Culture and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Kumari Selja said that it was in 1861 that the then Government assumed responsibility in respect of archaeological monuments in India and we gather here today to mark the Ses qui centenary of that event.

She further added that during all these long years, the ASI has accomplished several momentous tasks in explorations, excavations, research and conservation through its dedicated endeavours and professional skill. Today ASI protects more than 3677 monuments within the country and, with its expertise, is working at Ta-Prohm in Cambodia and at Vat Phou temple in Lao PDR and is now likely to take up conservation work at Ananda temple at Bagan, Myanmar and also at Myson (Mee-sone) group of temples in Vietnam. ASI has done us proud within the country and abroad.

The Minister also announced that the Ministry of Culture and ASI have planned a year-long calendar of events and initiatives, including organizing international conferences, conclave of culture ministers of the world, regional level seminars, exhibitions, series of publications and citizen centric outreach programmes throughout the country and informed that the ASI is bringing out the long awaited Centrally Sponsored Scheme for assisting State Departments of Archaeology, Universities and Institutions with better financial assistance to carry out their work.

As part of 150th anniversary celebrations of ASI, the Minister said that we are also proposing to launch a scheme of financial assistance through Fellowships to young archaeologists and to non-Indian Visiting Fellows from Central, South-West and South-East Asia. The proposal includes a special assistance programme to institutions, for conducting research and the analysis of archaeological materials.

The Ministry has also taken an initiative to launch a scheme of Tagore National Fellowships and this has assisted in engaging some of the finest experts in different fields of archaeology.

The Minister raised the issue of unlawful constructions and encroachments around protected monuments and in regulated areas that have been posing severe threats to built heritage. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendments and Validation) Act of 1958 was amended in 2010. The Minister said “we need to work closely with the State Government authorities in order to implement it. This is one of the prime tasks that ASI and the National Monuments Authority are now gripped with”.

The Prime Minister also released a set of commemorative postage stamp to mark the occasion in the presence of Minister of Human Resources Development and telecommunications, Shri Kapil Sibal, who said that India Post has been happy to do its bit in generating awareness, the stamps released today depict some of the images associated with the excavation. The first day cover depicts some of the icons of Indian architecture and cultural heritage. These stamps and first day cover will play the role of paper ambassador.

The Prime Minister also unveiled the foundation plaque for ASI’s permanent headquarters, which will come up at 24, Tilak Marg.

Five eminent archaeologists were also felicitated.

Present on the occasion were Secretary Culture Shri Jawhar Sircar, DG ASI Dr. Gautam Sengupta and other Distinguished Scholars.