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Cultural Mapping Project Proposed in 2015


A cultural mapping project, National Mission on Cultural Mapping, proposed in 2015 is now all but dead.


GS-I: Art and Culture, GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors, Issues arising out of their design and implementation)

Mains Questions:

The notion of India being a cultural powerhouse might be on a rapid decline. Discuss. To what extent can the National Mission on Cultural Mapping help in supporting the preservation of cultural heritage? (15 marks)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Signs of Neglect of culture
  2. National Mission on Cultural Mapping of India
  3. About ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’
  4. What needs to done to change course and support culture?

Signs of Neglect of culture

  • An online resource for arts and culture, Sahapedia, recently ran the budget numbers for the Ministry of Culture (MoC) and it shows that budget allocations for culture have declined in the last five years (2016-2021) now standing at a mere 0.07% of the Budget.
  • To put into perspective: the annual budget of the MoC — which runs three Akademis, 70-odd museums, three national galleries, several national libraries and archives, cultural institutions of the size of the National School of Drama and Kalakshetra, zonal cultural centres, and more — equals 1.5 Rafales (budget for the MoC is just over Rs. 2,500 Crores while one Rafale jet costs around Rs. 1,600 crores).
  • When the pandemic struck in 2020 – instead of helping beleaguered artists and artisans, the government slashed culture funding by a further 21%. To put this into perspective: countries like China, Singapore, Australia and the U.K. increased allocations to culture, besides announcing billion-dollar relief packages.
  • Additionally, the Indian government’s cultural institutions are plagued by vacancies (ranging from 30% to 70%) and lack of trained manpower. This means fund usage has invariably been random and ill-planned.

National Mission on Cultural Mapping of India

  • The National Mission on Cultural Mapping, envisioned in 2015, but set up by the Ministry of Culture in 2017 – aims at converting the vast and widespread cultural canvas of India into an objective cultural map, designing a mechanism to fulfil the aspirations of the whole artist community of the nation and preserving the rich cultural heritage of this country in the form of a cultural repository of artists and art forms.
  • Specially designed data capture form with technical collaboration of National E-Governance Division (NEGD)/Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has been formulated for data collection.
  • National Mission on Cultural Mapping is a part of the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ umbrella.

What can mapping do?

At the least, it can create a database that anybody can plug into, thus becoming a resource for the media, researchers and funders. At its best, it can do so much more. It can, for instance, locate a derelict cinema and renovate it as an auditorium in a town where there are none, or create transport and tourism infrastructure around a declining crafts village.


  1. Mission encompasses data mapping, demography building formalising the processes and bringing all the cultural activities under one web-based umbrella for better results.
  2. Mission also seeks to open a direct channel of communication of artists with the Government and peer to peer communication among artists for talent honing and handholding of each other.
  3. Establish the cultural mapping (database of cultural assets and resources) via running nationwide cultural awareness programme called Hamari Sanskari Hamari Pachan Abhiyan for the development of all art forms and artists. This Abhiyan will take care of their aspirations and needs by providing a robust mechanism under “Design for Desire and Dream” project.
  4. The mission will run the Abhiyan also by arranging “Sanskritik Pratibha Khoj Samaroh Din” at various levels of this project.
  5. Establish a National Cultural Working Place portal for obtaining information, knowledge sharing, participation, performance and awards in the field of all art forms.
  6. Provide support in effective utilisation of financial and intellectual resources, minimising wastage of time in talent scouting and providing an opportunity for developing cultural inventory including artists and art forms.
  7. Ranking/Certification of attainments of any kind at any level acquired through formal or non-formal means in conventional art forms.
  8. Spreading Digital Literacy for teacher empowerment and encouraging teachers/Gurus to be available on the internet for guidance/mentoring for the artists along with online evaluation processes for artists.

Limitations of the mission:

  • Out of total outlay of 3000 crore only 42 crores were utilised in two years of its functioning.
  • Due to lack of IT infrastructure, artists identification data at block level could not be completed. 
  • The scheme focuses more on providing services rather creating the empowering the artists to perform better.

About ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’

  • “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” was announced by the Prime Minister in 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Subsequently, the Finance Minister announced the initiative in his Budget Speech for 2016-17.
  • Through this innovative measure, the knowledge of the culture, traditions and practices of different States & UTs will lead to an enhanced understanding and bonding between the States, thereby strengthening the unity and integrity of India.
  • All States and UTs will be covered under the programme. There will be pairing of States/UTs at national level and these pairings will be in effect for one year, or till the next round of pairings. The State/UT level pairings would be utilized for state level activities. District level pairings would be independent of the State level pairings.
  • The activity will be very useful to link various States and Districts in annual programmes that will connect people through exchanges in areas of culture, tourism, language, education trade etc. and citizens will be able to experience the cultural diversity of a much larger number of States/UTs while realising that India is one.

The broad objectives of the initiative are as follows:

  • To Celebrate the Unity in Diversity of our Nation and to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds between the people of our Country;
  • To Promote the spirit of national integration through a deep and structured engagement between all Indian States and Union Territories through a year-long planned engagement between States;
  • To Showcase the rich heritage and culture, customs and traditions of either State for enabling people to understand and appreciate the diversity that is India, thus fostering a sense of common identity;
  • To Establish long-term engagements and
  • To Create an environment which promotes learning between States by sharing best practices and experiences.

What needs to done to change course and support culture?

  1. The Government should focus on timely allocation of funds to all agencies and institutions, especially on a priority basis.
  2. As planned, a Nation-wide artists database should be made available at earliest to increase exposure.
  3. Self-declaration of art and art-forms should be promoted as it will help remove issues regarding representation.
  4. To secure the future, Schools and colleges could be encouraged to promote artistic facilities.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023