(Indian Art & Culture) Elements of Unity In Diversity, Archaeology, Antiquities & Art Treasures Act, 1972



In spite of the bewildering diversity in geographical features, race, religion and language of the people, there is a deep underlying fundamental unity in Indian culture. This unity has undoubtedly been nurtured in recent times by a uniform system of administration and spread of education.

(a) The conception of India’s inherent unity has been developed through the ages on the basis of undivided India stretching from Kashmir to Kanyakumari as a single country. its unity is writ large on its map. India has been planned by nature as an undisputed geographical unit sharply isolated from the world outside by natural boundaries.

(b) Racial: India has a great power of fusion and assimilation. Innumerable number of tribes and races coming to India were all absorbed in the broad cultural mainstream of the country. The founders of Indian culture never taught us racial discrimination or hatred and instead propagated the ideal of unity of mankind. Racial diversity gave a variety to Indian culture, which is its unique feature.

(c) Linguistic: Side by side with this linguistic variety operat4es the unifying influence of Sanskrit, the mother of most of the Indian Languages. Sanskrit has been acknowledged as the one sacred language by all sections of the people irrespective of their race, rank or creed. Most of the Indian Languages have been influenced by Sanskrit, which may be regarded as a ‘Mother Language’ of India. What Sanskrit had done in the past, the English and Hindi languages are trying to do now.

(d) Religious: There has been an under-current of religious unity among the various religious sects in the country . the basic unity of all religions has been the main theme of the Indian preachers, philosophers and thinkers, and therefore, religious diversity has prospered under the cover basic unity. The concept of ‘One in Many’ and of universal morality as essence of religion has provided the essence of religious unity.

(e) Social: The fundamental basis of the social life of the whole country is common. The concept of the joint family. Although essentially a feature of Hindu society , became a common feature of the Indian social life. The social values, festivals, special ceremonies, modes of live, etc. are also common to all the communities and sects.

(f) Political: The rulers of India tried to establish their way over the whole country and fostered its unity. The term ‘Ekrat’ is more significant as applying to the “Kins Ruling over the whole country”. The geographical conception of the identity and individuality of the country in all its vastness and variety led to the attainment of its political unification under various sovereigns. The concept of united India, both as a geographical and political unit, has received highest attention of the Indian people and they have been conscious of maintaining the unity of India.

(g) Cultural: A peculiar type of culture and civilisation utterly different from any other type in the world has evolved among the diverse communities in India. This culture has a fundamental unity. Inspite of different languages, customs, political disunity and geographical impediments, a uniform cultural stamp has been printed upon the literature and thoughts of all the different units of India. There has been a basic unity of literary ideas, philosophy, conventions and outlook of the people throughout the country. there has been close socio-cultural cooperation among the followers of different creeds and communities. Instances of their close friendship are abundant. Indian art, literature and music have greatly helped in strengthening this cultural unity. The composite culture of India is a living example of her fundamental cultural unity.


The archaeological wealth of ancient Indian culture started attracting the attention of officers of the East India Company form the last quarter of the eighteenth century. In 1784, under the initiative and guidance of sir William jones, the Asiatic Society was started in Calcutta, which provided a great fillip to Asian studies. In 1800, Lord Wellesley, the Governor General, deputed Francis Buchanan to survey Mysore. In 1807, he was again deputed to survey the antiquities of Bengal. Later James Ferguson conducted an architectural survey of India for eighteen years (1829-1847) and systematically classified the monuments. In 1839 James Prince Unravelled the Brahmi-script. This was followed by the decipherment of the inscriptions of Ashoka.

In 1921, under the Government of India Act, 1919, archaeology was made a central subject, so that the Survey became entirely a central organisation, the provinces being left merely with the power of declaring monuments and sites protected under the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, Even this power was transferred to the Centre by the Government of India Act, 1935

In 1944, Dr. Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler was appointed Director General of A.S.I During his tenure, the Survey witnessed an all round progress. He trained his staff in modern methods in his excavations at Taxila, Arikamedu, Harappa and Brahmagiri Each of these excavations brought forth significant results. Snce independence hundreds of historic sites, such as Kalibangan, Lothal, Dholavira (all Harappan sites), the famous Kushana site Sanghol, etc. have been unearthed and India’s rich culture has come to light.

The problem of preservation and conservation of ancient monuments in India is stupendous, on account of not merely the immense archaeological and architectural wealth of the country but also on account of climatic, environmental and human factors. It is indeed gratifying to note that the Archaeological Survey of India has as a result of its experience of well over hundred years, formulated a set of principles and devised an organizational set up to cope with this gigantic task.

Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972

Under the antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, no object which is more than one hundred years old (75 years in case of manuscripts, documents and the like) can be exported without a valid permit from ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). A permit also required for the export of works of arts of some of the renowned artists which have been declared as art treasures under this Act. At all international exit points, an expert committee functions to issue non-antiquity certificates.


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