Union Minister of Culture (IC), Shri Prahlad Singh Patel called on two senior archaeologists in the country, Prof. B.B. Lal former Director General (1968-1972), Archaeological Survey of India and Padma Bhushan awardee (2000) and Dr. R.S. Bisht, former Joint Director General, Archaeological Survey of India and Padma Shri awardee (2013) today at their home to pay his respect to them. This is the first time when a Union culture minister visited these great personalities personally at their home.
During the interaction with Prof. B.B. Lal the Union Minister discussed issues related to the archaeological sites of Kalibangan and Purana Qila, their conservation and preservation and showcasing them to the public. He also stressed on the contribution of Kalibangan excavations and the need for preserving the site for the larger benefit of the public and educating them to creating awareness. The Minister discussed on the mechanism of preserving the fragile excavated remains at Kalibangan in the form of suitably designed canopies over them and draining off the rain water through properly designed channels. This sort of providing canopies will preserve all excavated sites. The Minister further stressed the need for constituting a Task Force under a suitable leadership for providing conservation measures to the site of Kalibangan, so that the desired results are achieved in a time bound manner.
Prof. Lal stressed that the antecedents of Harappan culture in the Haryana and Punjab region is also important to understand in the context of overall development of earliest cultures. In this context, investigation of Mesolithic and microlithic cultures attains special importance to understand the emergence of sedentary agro-pastoral communities that could have ultimately contributed for the Harappan culture. Prof. Lal highlighted some of the earliest evidences of agricultural field indicating presence of multi-cropping pattern and earthquake from Kalibangan.
The discussions with Dr. Bisht were held mainly on the Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology, now located at a new campus at Greater Noida. The ASI has recently shifted the Institute from the present campus in Red Fort to Greater Noida in order to create state of the art lab facilities in various disciplines of archaeology like archaeobotany (for study of floral remains), archaeozoology (for study of faunal remains), geoarchaeology, anthropology, petrology, and other subjects. These labs will serve as teaching labs for the students to have a first hand knowledge.
The need for evolving a comprehensive culture policy for the overall development and implementation of matters related to culture, archaeology, and their various allied subjects was also stressed upon. The cultural vestiges spread across the country also need proposer study, research and showcasing for revealing our glorious past. In this regard, the study of inscriptions, their decipherment and interpretation also plays a crucial role.
Prof. Lal is presently 99 years old and is the senior most archaeologist from ASI, and served in various senior capacities in Government of India, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla; Professor in Gwalior University and member of various academic institutions. Prof. Lal was trained by Sir Mortimer Wheeler at Taxila in 1944 and later joined Archaeological Survey of India. Prof. Lal excavated several important landmark sites including Hastinapura (U.P.), Sisupalgarh (Orissa), Purana Qila (Delhi), Kalibangan (Rajasthan). From 1975-76 onwards, Prof. Lal investigated sites like Ayodhya, Bharadvaja Ashrama, Sringaverapura, Nandigrama and Chitrakoota under the Archaeology of Ramayana Sites. Prof. Lal has authored 20 books and over 150 research articles on various national and international journals.
Dr. Bisht had his basic education in Sanskrit and obtained degrees Visharad (1958) and Sahityaratna (1960), and later graduated in Ancient Indian History and Archaeology. Dr. Bisht is famous for his excavation at the Harappan site of Dholavira, one among the five largest Harappan sites in the Indian sub-continent. Dr. Bisht also excavated Harappan sites like Sanghol (Punjab), Banawali (Haryana) and other sites like Semthan (J&K), Chechar and Nalanda (Bihar).