INSA was established in January 1935 with the object of promoting science in India, safeguarding the interests of Indian scientists, establishing formal linkages with international bodies, promoting international collaboration, harnessing scientific knowledge for the cause of humanity and national welfare and giving opinions on national issues after debate and discussions.
The Academy recognizes outstanding contributions of Indian scientists by electing them as Fellows. It confers medals, prizes and lectureships upon eminent scientists in various disciplines. Apart from these, 15-20 young (below 32 years of age) men and women of extraordinary promise and creativity are considered for the INSA Medal for Young Scientists. It also awards INSA Research Professorships and INSA Honorary Scientists in recognition of oustanding research contributions of Indian scientists.
The InterAcademy Exchange Programme aims at establishing collaborative scientific research, exchange of ideas and information with different countries of the world through arranging visits of scientists. It also coordinates special programmes for the neighbouring countries(under the Federation of Asian Scientific Academies and Societies (FASAS), programme) and the countries of the Third World with the Third World Academy of Sciences, (TWAS). The Academy is also a member organization in India for the International Foundation for Science (IFS).
The Academy has instituted the INSA-JRD Tata Fellowship to encourage scientists and technologists from other developing countries to pursue research in Indian scientific research institutions. The Academy is the adhering organization in India for the International Council for Science (ICSU). For discharging its responsibilities to ICSU, the Academy has set up an ICSU National Committee which, in turn, is guided by the respective National Committees of each Union/Committee.