Published on : Thursday, May 14, 2020
Unless the Karnataka state government fails to take control, one of the oldest archaeological departments in the country established in 1885 meeting the highest standards of excavation and conservation, may lose its identity or even cease to exist.
There is a plan for merging the Archaeology Department fully with the Department of Tourism for restructuring various branches of the government for streamlining the functioning and administrative procedure.
Senior officials in the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage said that such a move is regressive in nature as tourism focuses on revenue generation through leisure activities and destination marketing while the objectives of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage is academic in nature focusing in exploration, excavation and conservation.
The Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage was taken out of the influence of the Ministry of Kannada and Culture two years ago and tagged along with the Tourism Ministry, as the latter had more funding.
However, it functioned as a separate department. But the present move is to completely merge it with Tourism Ministry due to which the 135-year-old Archaeology Department will cease to exist as a separate entity, said the officials.
“Any future research publication will have the imprint of Department of Tourism and not Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage and hence will lack academic gravitas,” the officials said, opposing the merger.
Devarakonda Reddy, president, Karnataka Itihasa Academy, said that they do not only oppose the merger but want the Archaeology Department to be attached and tagged with Department of Kannada and Culture as it was until two years ago. “The proposed merger has more to do with revenue issues rather than promoting academic excellence and conservation,” said Dr. Reddy.
The department under B.L. Rice, R. Narasimhachar, and M.H. Krishna spoke about the ancient times of Karnataka history and culture and with it a slice of Indian history, to the rest of the world. Hence, it is unimaginable that such a department will have no independent existence, Dr. Reddy added.