Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, recently inaugurated ‘Dharohar Bhawan’, the new headquarters building of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Tilak Marg in New Delhi. Dr Mahesh Sharma, minister of state for culture (I/C); Raghavendra Singh, secretary culture and Usha Sharma, director general, ASI were present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Modi said that the ASI has performed significant work over the course of last 150 years since its inception. He emphasised the importance of taking pride in our history, and in our rich archaeological heritage. He said that people should take a lead in knowing about local history, and archaeology of their towns, cities and regions. He said lessons in local archaeology could form part of the school syllabus. In this context, he also mentioned the importance of well-trained local tourist guides, who are familiar with the history and heritage of their area. The PM said that India should showcase its great heritage with pride and confidence, to the world.
Addressing the gathering, Dr Sharma applauded the efforts of ASI which is now taking care of about 3686 monuments across the country and has also been delivering conservation services in other countries in the world like Afghanistan, Myanmar and Cambodia. He said that the rich cultural heritage that our country is endowed with, is our identity and that the world has recognised India’s rich culture and heritage. He said that under the able leadership of Modi, since 2014 the ministry of culture has been successful in getting UNESCO recognition for several heritage properties, both tangible and intangible. He added that 40 antiquities from foreign countries have been retrieved and efforts to bring back eight to nine more antiquities are in place.
The new headquarters of ASI has been equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including energy efficient lighting and rainwater harvesting. It includes a Central Archaeological Library with a collection of about 1.5 lakh books and journals. The library is a unique and valuable treasure trove in India and the world for those who are keen to undertake research work in the field of Archaeology, religious and cultural perspective of India, India’s ancient past and allied subjects.
Rare portfolios related to Ajanta, Ellora and many sites of archaeological importance, Large collection of books on archaeology, epigraphy, indology, Indian culture and its past, etc make the library unique and distinct from others.