[Prelims Spotlight] Arts & Heritage Institutions

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)


  • Founded by Alexander Cunningham, who is also revered as the “Father of Indian Archaeology”
    • He was the protege of James Prinsep <who was he, post in comments>
    • It was Lord Canning who helped pass a statute for ASI’s establishment in 1861
  • Post Independence, it’s a Statutory body that now works under Ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains act (AMASR Act), 1958
  • It works as an attached Office of the Ministry of Culture
  • ASI has 3678 protected monuments and Archaeology sites of National Importance + 29 cultural under the World Heritage List by UNESCO

Initiatives by ASI

1. Museums

ASI’s museums are customarily located right next to the sites that their inventories are associated with “so that they may be studied amid their natural surroundings and not lose focus by being transported”.

A dedicated Museums Branch maintains a total of 44 museums spread across the country.

2. Publications by ASI

  • Epigraphia Indica
  • Ancient India
  • Indian Archaeology: A Review (Annually)

3. Library

  • Central Archaeological Library in the National Archives building in Janpath, New Delhi



  • INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) was founded in 1984, is an autonomous NGO for preservation of Indian Art and Cultural Heritage
  • Its motto is “Dedicated to Conservation

Tasks undertaken by INTACH

  • Restoration of monuments that fall outside the coverage of Archaeological Survey of India and other government agencies <Remember that ASI hasn’t shown much interest towards working with INTACH>
  • Advocacy for heritage property conservation
  • Public awareness through heritage walks and buses <Just like Bombay Natural History Society does, its a common feature of these type of NGOs>
  • Establishment of heritage clubs in schools
  • Holding of awareness workshop for teachers of schools and colleges

Some notable works done by INTACH

  1. It had developed Raghurajpur, Orissa, a place famous for its ‘Pattachitra’ artists and ‘Gotipua’ dance troupes as a heritage village, which has now become a major rural tourist destination
    • Pattachitra is a cloth-based scroll painting of Odisha. Patta = Cloth and Chitra = Picture. Most of these paintings depict stories of Hindu deities of Jagannath and Vaishnava Sect. It has also been given a GI tag. To know more about GI tags, click here to read.
    • Gotipua is a traditional dance form of Odisha, and the precursor of Odissi. Its name comes from Gopi (Single boys), who dress as women to praise Jagannath and Krishna. The dance is executed by a group of boys who perform acrobatic figures inspired by the life of Radha and Krishna.
  2. It later used the same pattern to develop Padmanabhpur village, Ganjam district, Orissa, famous for its weavers and folk dancers, into another heritage destination.

3.Sahitya Akademi and Sangeet Natak Akademi

  • Its an Autonomous organization fully financed by the Government
  • Also referred to as India’s National Academy of Letters
  • Entrusted with promotion of Literature (“Sahitya” means Literature in Hindi) through following mechanisms:
  1. Literary dialogue, publication and promotion
  2. Undertakes literary activities in Twenty-four Indian languages
    • Trap Info: Note that it goes beyond 22 languages of the 8th Schedule to include English + Rajasthani
  3. Development of Indian literature

Awards and Fellowships

  • Sahitya akademi award (Plaque and Cash of 1 lac)
    • Poetry, Novel, Essay, Autobiography, Literary Criticism in 24 languages
  • Bhasha samman
    • Awards to writers for significant contribution to Indian languages other than the above 24 major ones
    • Contribution to classical & medieval literature
    • Given to writers, scholars, editors, collectors, performers or translators
  • Premchand fellowships (started in 2005)
    • Given to persons of eminence in the Field of Culture from SAARC countries <thus its scope extends to beyond (i) India and (ii) Literature>
  • Coomarswamy fellowships
    • Given to scholars from Asian countries <not just SAARC> to spend 3 to 12 months in India to pursue a literary project
  • Sahitya Akademi fellowship
    • Given to the “immortals of literature
    • Limited to 21 people at a time
    • First recipient was 2nd president of India Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
    • Other notable ones: Khushwant Singh, VS Naipaul

4.Sangeet Natak Akademi  (1953)


  • Another Autonomous Institution under Ministry of Culture
  • Promotion of performing arts– Indian music, dance and drama
  • Maintains a Gallery of Musical Instruments
  • Maintenance of standards of training in the performing arts
  • Teaching institutions
    • Kathak Kendra, Delhi (Classical Dance from Uttar Pradesh)
    • Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Akademi in Imphal
    • Sattriya Centre (Classical Dance from Assam)
    • Centre for Kutiyattam (Age-old Sanskrit theatre of Kerala; Also an Indian Intangible Cultural Heritage as per UNESCO)
    • Chhau Centre (Tribal martial dance in Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal)


  1. Sangeet Natak Akademi Award:
    • Highest national recognition conferred on eminent artistes.
  2. Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, Ratna Sadsya
    • To distinguished individuals for their contribution to the field of arts, music, dance and theatre.
  3. Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puruskar:
    • Given to young artists for their talent in the fields of music, dance and drama
    • Notable info about Ustad Bismillah Khan:
      • Known for popularizing the shehnai, a subcontinental wind instrument of the oboe class
      • Awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 2001, becoming the Third classical musician after M. S. Subbulakshmi and Ravi Shankar to be accorded this distinction.


  • ICCR is analogous to the British Council, France’s Alliance Francaise, Germany’s Goethe-Institut and China’s Confucius Institute
  • Founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, independent India’s first Education Minister
    • Maulana also helped establish other institutions that we’ve covered previously in this series such as Sahitya Akademi, and Sangeet Natak Akademi. He also founded Lalit Kala Akademi <promotes Visual Arts- Folk and Contemporary>
  • Soft power vision, ‘to promote a communion of cultures and a creative dialogue among nations.’
  • Its broad mandate is to develop relations with:
    • Other countries and peoples (Cultural agreements with 72 countries)
    • National and inter-national organisations in the field of culture

General assembly

  • Consists of representatives each of the Lalit Kala Akademi, Sahitya Akademi and Sangeet Natak Akademi
  • Eminent artistes from the fields of performing, fine and plastic arts
  • Representatives of universities or of institutions
  • President shall be appointed by the President of India and shall hold office for three years
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4 years ago

James Princep was the founding editor of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and is best remembered for deciphering the Kharosthi and Brahmi scripts of ancient India.

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4 years ago

There are 37 UNESCO world heritage site in India at this moment, Among 37,
1. Cultural-29
2. Mix-1
3. Natural-7
I think ” 20 cultural under the World Heritage List by UNESCO” is not up to date.
One suggestion from mine, if ‘Print Friendly’ option is available, it would be good for readers to download in a PDF format for later revision or there is any option for similar function in this website.


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