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Saviours of heritage

education Updated: Jan 04, 2012 10:50 IST
Jeevan Prakash Sharma
Jeevan Prakash Sharma
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

While the nation celebrates 150 years of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the mood at the Institute of Archaeology (IoA), the academic wing of ASI, seems rather downbeat.

For the 30-odd students who are driven by their passion to preserve the heritage of the nation, the celebration means nothing but to worry about their career prospects.

Despite the fact that the institute maintains the academic excellence of international standards in teaching post-graduate diploma in archaeology, the poor placement and limited scope frustrates students more than anything else.

“When it comes to jobs, we have avenues in the ASI, around 900 museums across the country and various universities as the teaching faculty. But it’s an irony that ASI runs this institute but we aren’t given any preference in jobs. Many students who have passed out from here in the last few years are jobless. Even the last recruitment done by the Staff Selection Commission is under litigation,” complains a student.

But outgoing director PBS Sengar defends the selection process and says, “Even after doing the PG diploma from (IoA), students have to compete with students from other universities who apply for jobs at the ASI. The diploma course is just desirable and not essential for the Staff Selection Commission, which runs the recruitment process.”

USP: Situated inside the historic Red Fort, it’s the only institute across Asia that provides such specialised and in-depth study and training in archeology. The institute conducts an entrance test followed by an interview to admit 15 students. The institute bears all study and accommodation costs. Apart from that, students are paid Rs 1500 as monthly stipend. Many foreign students also join the institute under various cultural exchange programmes.

Faculty: Though the institute doesn’t have any permanent faculty, it invites eminent scholars from all over the world in a scheduled manner every semester to teach students.

Programmes: The institute offers a two-year diploma in archaeology, divided in to four semesters. The course contains principles and methods of archaeology, anthropology, prehistory, protohistory, art and iconography, and architecture among other subjects. Besides theory, professional workshops, explorations, excavations and study tours to various historically relevant places in the country are also conducted.

IT Quotient: The institute has a well-maintained computer lab where students are taught how to utilise the latest technology to preserve monuments and artefacts.

Infrastructure: The institute is housed in a British-era building, which is more than 100 years old. It has spacious class rooms, separate hostels for boys and girls, and a huge library with many magazines, periodicals and books by distinguished archaeology experts.

Student Speak: “There is no doubt that this institute is one of the best for archaeology but our prospects are very bleak. The institute is run by ASI but when the latter has vacancies, we don’t get any preference. Earlier, ASI used to recruit the entire graduating batch, but now rules have been changed which has defeated the whole purpose of running the course,” said a student who didn’t wish to be named.

Factfile
Started as the School of Archaeology in 1959, it ran a one-year PG diploma, which was later upgraded to a two-year course and the school renamed Institute of Archaeology in 1985

Wishlist
“I wish we would get proper placement after comp-leting the course. All 15 of us deserve to be recruited by the ASI,” says Prabhas, a second-year studen