On archival wealth

It is a treasure that needs to be preserved

Srinagar, Publish Date: Jan 29 2018 11:37PM | Updated Date: Jan 29 2018 11:37PM

For past twenty days an exhibition showcasing some important archival material on Kashmir has been going on in New Delhi. The month-long exhibition curated by the National Archives of India, Ministry of Culture, has been titled as INDIA @ 70: THE JAMMU & KASHMIR SAGA. The exhibition is being held to ‘commemorate the 70th year of accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India. The exhibition besides highlighting the role played by Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in the freedom struggle has been held to portray through interactive sessions the historical narrative of the Kashmir Conflict. The exhibition generated a lot of debate in the newspapers and social media and brought into sharp focus a subject forgotten as good as dead, that is procuring and documenting the records of the state and preserving them for posterity. The state has had the distinction of setting up museums and establishing departments of archeology, archives and research much before other states. It also had the distinction of setting up bureaus for translating manuscripts from classical to modern languages and publishing the same for enabling those not conversant with the classical language to know their history, culture, and literature. The State, almost fifteen decades back, had set up the archives department with twin objectives. One, to identify and preserve the documentary material of long-term value. Two, by preserving public records ensure the accountability of government. The Maharaja's governments had made it mandatory for all the government departments to send all the essential documents that concerned the state to the state archives department. It also had launched a campaign for procuring and purchasing of manuscripts from the people. The practice was in vogue up to 1975. It was because of this drive that state has a great treasure of rare manuscripts in the Oriental Research Library and in other libraries. But, after 1950s the state department intriguingly stopped sending all essential documents to the State Archives department. The State Ministry of Culture needs to come out of inertia and make sending of all essential records to the archives department mandatory for all departments including autonomous organizations.


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