Never too deep to dive

A scuba diver explores a shipwreck.

By Aditya Sudarshan - The Hindu

With many thousand kilometres of coastline, an ocean named after it, and maritime activity dating back to the Harappan era, there’s no question that a lot of India’s history lies underwater.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has had its eye on underwater explorations since the mid-1970s, with an Underwater Archaeology Wing (UAW) officially in existence since 2001.

But the significant findings, such as the discovery of man-made structures off the coast of Dwarka, have tended to originate from autonomous bodies like the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), where a handful of explorers have always borne a disproportionate workload.

In 1990, S.R. Rao, named the father of marine archaeology in India, who supervised the Dwarka dives, observed that ‘five diving archaeologists is too small a number for a country of the size of India.’

Almost 30 years later, even after the UAW sensibly shifted operations from land-locked Delhi to Goa about a year ago, that number is down to a paltry three.

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