'Rani-ki-Vav', an 11th century stepwell in Gujarat, and The Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area, a rich biodiversity in Himachal Pradesh, were approved as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO under the cultural and natural categories respectively in July.

Gujarat's stepwell is the 31st cultural site in India to be declared World Heritage Sites and Great Himalayan National Park forms the seventh natural property in the country.

In an effort to popularise monuments among students, the culture ministry is tying up with the HRD ministry to help youths explore the country's heritage sites.

Besides, a special drive is also planned in this connection, in which children and youth would explore the treasure hunt of the country.

The government is also contemplating an idea to provide free entry for students, as part of its efforts to carry over the richness of Indian monuments among the next generation.

"No country in the world has the number of monuments India has... We are planning to bring some monuments into the education curriculum and provide free ticketing for students. We are working on it," Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said.

The ministry is also focusing on the aspects of cleanliness at the monument sites and safety of tourists thronging these sites.

The year also witnessed the exit of Samson as the chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi as she tendered her resignation from the post in September.

An eminent Bharatnatyam dancer, Samson was appointed during the UPA regime in August 2010 for a period of five years.

On the flip side, expressing its concern over losing hundreds of monuments to encroachers in the national capital, a parliamentary panel has raised apprehensions that areas adjoining Qutub Minar may also face the same fate.

In its report tabled in Lok Sabha, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture observed that nobody knows the exact number of monuments under the DDA and State Archaeological Department and how many are unprotected as some are on private own lands.

"This gives a very bleak picture about the whole thing. The Committee would like to have monument-wise position in respect of their protection either with ASI, DDA, state governments or unprotected.

"In this way, Delhi has already lost hundreds of old monuments to the encroachers and we are perhaps allowing same thing to happen in areas around Qutub Minar as well," the report had said.

The government during the year also announced that it is implementing two schemes to grant scholarship and financial assistance to artistes in the field of performing arts and fellowships to outstanding persons in the field of culture for research oriented projects.

On December 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a five-day cultural festival 'Sanskriti' at Varanasi.

The festival highlighted the rich cultural heritage of the country through performances of music, dance, drama, poetry, screenings of films on cultural themes, exhibitions of art and literary works.

The ministry released a sum of Rs 20 crore to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) for launching a Nehru portal on the lines of Gandhi Heritage portal, publication of selected works of India's first prime minister, renovation and modernisation of Nehru Museum and other activities. The ministry kicked off a year-ong commemoration of the 125th birth anniversary of Nehru.

October saw the national capital hosting the Delhi International Arts Festival, one of the country's most prestigious cultural festivals.

The ministry also signed an agreement with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport of UK on cultural cooperation. The agreement envisages collaboration in the field of museums, libraries, archaeology, performing arts, capacity building programs, skill development, joint publications, archives, cinematography and literature.

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