In 1984, a nonprofit and philanthropic structure registered under India’s Societies Registration Act was established in New Delhi with the intention of cultivating awareness and preservation of heritage in India. Known as the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the operation is currently regarded as one of the largest heritage organizations in the world. With more than 190 Chapters spread across 215 cities in the nation, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage even has branches extending to Belgium and the United Kingdom. INTACH also received global recognition from the United Nations in 2007 by receiving a unique ‘consultative’ status with the UN Economic and Social Council. The same year, they also entered a collaborative initiative with the Australian heritage department to cooperate on South Asian and Southeast Asian ideas.
In accordance with the rules and regulations of the Memorandum of Association, an electoral process is conducted through a ballot system to elect the governing council of INTACH. Over the past three decades, INTACH has paved the way for the conservation and preservation of both our built environment, as well as intangible cultural heritage. INTACH is headquartered in New Delhi, with operation control via multiple departments, including Architectural Heritage, Natural Heritage, Material Heritage, Intangible Cultural Heritage, Heritage Education and Communication Services (HECS), Crafts and Community Cell, Chapters, INTACH Heritage Academy, Heritage Tourism, Listing Cell, and Library, Archives and Documentation Centre (Intach.org, n.d.).
The Structure and Overview
A 3000-year-old humanlike copper figure – initially discovered in Shahabad, Uttar Pradesh – which resides at the Mathura Government Museum has served as the inspiration for the emblem of INTACH. The figure is believed to have been a part of Ganga Valley’s Copper Hoards (c. 1800-1700 BC). The simple composition of the figure advocate’s the creative brilliance of prehistoric man.
The functional responsibilities of INTACH rest with its Governing Council (GC) and its Executive Committee (EC). The Governing Council can either have as few as 11 members or as many as 42 – the maximum, with an applicable term of up to three years. Meanwhile, the Executive Committee includes nine positions, namely – Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Secretary, and the remaining six members are selected by the Governing Council from existing members possessing advisory capabilities and connections in legislative or financial sectors.
INTACH consists of an executive committee and a core committee. To maintain a streamlined workflow, there are seven specialized core committees situated at the Central Office. These include five advisory committees for their respective divisions – Architectural Heritage, Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), Heritage Tourism, Natural Heritage, and Chapters Advisory Committee. There is also a Finance Committee and Membership Committee. Each group is tasked with its individual roles and responsibilities.
INTACH’s duties include restoration and management of monuments, supporting the conservation of and raising awareness regarding heritage sites. This also includes buildings that are excluded from the Archaeological Survey of India and other governmental organizations or entrusted to INTACH directly. It conducts various workshops, events, and heritage walks to do so. INTACH has also participated in various demonstrations against the obliteration of heritage architecture, including hospitals in Hyderabad and bazaars in Bangalore. Additionally, prior to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Delhi government – in agreement with INTACH – motioned a memo for the preservation of 92 monuments.
Besides receiving funding from the default established Chapters within and foreign to India (Belgium and UK), the legacy of Anglo-Indian entrepreneur Charles Wallace contributed to the cause as well. In 1987, he set up a charity – INTACH UK Trust – for funding initiatives in India and grant grants for heritage research to British academics in India.
The primary goal of INTACH is to preserve history as they are of the opinion that it is the responsibility of every Indian citizen, as well, as they believe that doing so alleviates the standard of life. Moreover, these missions are highlighted in INTACH’s Mandate and Vision. Some of the missions include informing individuals of India’s rich cultural history and their societal obligation to protect and preserve it with pride and action. Also, they understand that the first phase in drafting conservation policies is to create an inventory of unprotected structures of aesthetic, archaeological, architectural, and cultural importance. Another important aspect of INTACH is networking. This is done by cooperating with governmental, national, and international organizations and finding sponsors for educational and preservation reforms. Last but not least, INTACH also dispenses knowledge and skill-building through training programs in the fields of conservation and restoration.
To conclude with a statement by politician and Parliament member Shashi Tharoor, “India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one.” With that, let us always recollect, respect, and preserve our rich heritage with pride.
Intach.org. (n.d.). INTACH | Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. [online] Available at: http://www.intach.org/.
Wikipedia. (2022). Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_National_Trust_for_Art_and_Cultural_Heritage.