Despite all the general talk about the significance of conserving our national heritage, the budget of the ASI, the preceding institutional guardian of monuments, in 2021-22 has been lowered by more than Rs 200 cr.

How do you define heritage?

  • Heritage is the full spectrum of our inherited customs, monuments, objects, and culture. 
  • Most meaningful is the range of contemporary activities, meanings, and behaviours that we adopt from them.

Threats to Indian Heritage

  • Theft: The incidents of theft have been noticed usually from unprotected monuments, and ancient temples. The theft matters have also been noticed in the safeguarded monuments and museums as well. It is due to neglect of security guards in museums, monuments etc.
  • Smuggling: criminal traffic and smuggling in antiquities. Illicit traffic is encouraged frequently by profit and sometimes by the need for luxuries.
  • Tourism: Unregulated tourism, tourist movements run by touts, and private agencies have impacted the art heritage places. The Culture Ministry of India has reported that up to 24 Indian monuments have been declared “untraceable” or “missing” by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Issues with the security of museums: Most museums are inadequately protected due to a shortage of workforce directing to the theft of artefacts, fire accidents etc.
  • Duplication: Fakes paintings and art forms leading to the peril to the livelihoods of artists.
  • Poor Maintenance: The state of the wall paintings in Ajanta caves is constantly getting poorer, which can be attributed to humidity as well as to a shortage of care.
  • Encroachment on monuments: Another inefficiency of the ministry has been encroachments on monuments. Over 278 centrally safeguarded monuments have been encroached upon or have unlawful dwellers, as per government data.

Significance for protection of Heritage: 

  • The evolution of human consciousness is a continuous process: 
    • The history here acts as a laboratory and helps as a distinction to comprehend the regional laws and social structures. 
    • This interpretation benefits our advancement towards an exemplary society.
  • Pride of country: 
    • Art heritage is the essence and dignity of our country. 
    • It is the responsibility of every citizen to protect, preserve and perpetuate cultural spirit.
  • Tourism potential: 
    • For art monuments and museums it is very elevated. 
    • Tourism induces revenue for the state and private artists due to the money-multiplier grade. 
  • Infrastructure development: 
    • In general, conservation takes place in and close to the areas. Eg. Hampi, despite being a small town, has exceptional infrastructure.
  • Job creation: It produces employment for a lot of individuals from the art industry and tourism industry as well. 
  • Sense of belonging: It forms a sensation of oneness and a feeling of affection by improving a sense of belonging to a civilisation or a territory. 
  • Strengthen conviction: Every historical spot has a noteworthy tale to articulate and these stories have motivated many individuals to amplify their beliefs and adherence to resisting inequity and oppression. 
  • Soft power: Art and culture is also a piece of soft power in global politics. Example: Buddhism, Yoga in India has given India an opportunity to strengthen relations with bordering countries. Example India’s relation with SriLanka and Bhutan. 

About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

  • The ASI is an attached office of the Ministry of Culture.
  • It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who also became its first Director-General.
  • Under the provisions of the AMASR Act of 1958, the ASI aids more than 3650 ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national significance.
  • These can contain everything from temples, mosques, churches, tombs, and cemeteries to castles, forts, step-wells, and rock-cut caverns.

Initiatives by ASI for Conservation of Heritage: 

  • Museums: ASI’s museums are customarily found right next to the spots that their inventories are associated with “so that they may be researched amid their natural surroundings and not lose focus by being transported”. A reliable Galleries Branch bears a total of 44 museums spread across the nation.
  • Publications by ASI: Epigraphia Indica, Ancient India, Indian Archaeology: A Review (Annually) to promote Indian Architectural and Cultural marvels. 
  • Library: Central Archaeological Library in the National Archives facility in Janpath, New Delhi to conserve books. 

Issues and Challenges ahead of ASI

  • To restore or not: The problem is that technically speaking- ruins are rarely “repaired” in their authentic state. This is because of a lack of documentation- archaeologists are left to infer what structures may have looked like when they were initially constructed.
  • Personnel Management Issues: Higher Authorities of ASI are traditionally from IAS Cadre. The in-house expert must be upgraded for better coordination b/w technical and managerial elements of repair
  • Issues explored in CAG Report: 92 monuments are untraceable with no database on antiques. Flawed Documentation of Protected Monuments/Artifacts. The lack of funds (Eg- Red fort gardens lie unkempt).


Every resident must value and maintain the rich heritage of our blended culture. Preservation and conservation of India’s rich cultural heritage and advancement of all forms of art and culture, both concrete and ethereal, are critical and carry an excess of the essence.