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Launching and discussion of the book ‘Mapping of the Archives in India’

“India as a dynamic and vibrant amalgamation of culture attracts the world to it”: Mr. Hezekiel Dlamini

23rd November, New Delhi:

Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Kalanidhi Division held a book launch and discussion of the book ‘Mapping of the Archives in India’ in the Samvet auditorium, IGNCA. The book is authored by Prof. Ramesh Chandra Gaur and Vismay Basu and is published by IGNCA and UNESCO. On this occasion Descriptive e- Catalogue of ‘Aagam- Tantra- Mantra- Yantra, Khand- 3, Bhag – 1-5’ was also launched. The book launch session was chaired by Shri Ram Bahadur Rai , President, IGNCA Trust. The Guest of Honour of the event were Shri Satyananda Mishra, Former Chief Information Commissioner of India and Mr. Hezekiel Dlamini, Advisor Communication and Information for South Asia UNESCO, New Delhi Office. The distinguished speakers of the event were Dr. Sachchidanand Joshi, Member Secretary, IGNCA, Prof. Dr. Ramesh Chandra Gaur, Director (L&I) & Kalanidhi Division, IGNCA and Dr. Sanjay Garg, Deputy Director, National Archives of India.

In his welcome address Prof. Ramesh Chandra Gaur warmly welcomed the esteemed guests and expressed his delight regarding the collaborative publication of the book ‘Mapping of the Archives in India’ by IGNCA and UNESCO, along with the Descriptive e-Catalogue of ‘Aagam-Tantr-Mantr-Yantra, Khand-3, Bhag-1-5’. He highlighted that the project commenced in 2018 and formally initiated in 2019, although faced slowdowns due to the onset of the Covid pandemic. Through extensive literature surveys, they identified 600 institutions across the country housing archives, resulting in the creation of 424 directories within the book. These directories encompass comprehensive profiles of the contained archives, shedding light on aspects of conservation, digitization, and archival perspectives. Prof. Gaur stressed the dire need for Archival Science education in India, emphasizing that these archives represent our legacy and must be safeguarded. Referring to the ‘Panch Pran’ of the Prime Minister of India, he underlined the significance of preserving our heritage and urged for a mindful approach to ensure its longevity through effective archiving.

Dr. Sanjay Garg, in his address, emphasized the historical significance of archives in the country, highlighting the crucial need for continuous and diligent efforts in mapping these archives. He elaborated on the diverse dispersal mechanisms of archives, citing the pivotal role played by religious institutions, educational and princely estates, State archives, and corporate archives. Dr. Garg noted the presence of archives within Banks, judicial systems, and custodial establishments. He asserted that the vast heritage is at risk of being lost in absence of proper archiving mechanism in place. He hailed the book as a wonderful attempt to safeguard the nation’s heritage and legacy. Concluding his speech, he advocated for a unified approach, proposing the concept of ‘one nation, one portal’ for the benefit of preserving this invaluable heritage.

During his address, Dr. Sachchidanand Joshi expressed his satisfaction and pride in successfully bringing forth these publications despite the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic, attributing this achievement to the unwavering efforts of those involved. Illustrating the prevailing mind-set during the pandemic, he recounted an anecdote where society’s focus was on the reopening of cinema theatres or malls rather than museums or libraries. Dr. Joshi lamented the lack of inclination towards archival science, attributing it to the predominant focus on the present moment, resulting in inadequate archiving and documentation, leading to a scarcity of evidence concerning our rich historical knowledge. Emphasizing the need for greater awareness among students and the public, he advocated for the development of this science. He concluded by urging appreciation and support for professionals in this field, acknowledging their role in preserving invaluable literary treasures like the Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Bhagavad Gita through textual evidence.

During his speech, Mr. Hezekiel Dlamini expressed UNESCO’s continual pleasure in collaborating with IGNCA, highlighting their partnership in a collective mission. Emphasizing the historical significance of archives, he highlighted how knowledge and culture form the bedrock of history. “India as a dynamic and vibrant amalgamation of culture attracts the world to it,” remarked Mr. Hezekiel Dlamini. Acknowledging India’s vibrant cultural fabric as a magnet for global interest, he noted that the world values the diverse cultural landscape prevalent throughout the country, making India a focal point for UNESCO. Mr. Dlamini concluded by affirming that archives serve as repositories of knowledge, and UNESCO is keenly interested in India’s institutional and specialized archiving programmes. He expressed optimism that these endeavours would offer plausible solutions to contemporary challenges.

During his address, Shri Satyanand Mishra emphasized the significance of preserving and supporting archives, stating, “Recreation of history using archival material brings to us the past alive.” He lauded the book as a pertinent initiative, guiding individuals in the field and researchers toward the right direction. Mishra highlighted the profound impact of utilizing archival materials in reviving the past, underlining its importance in understanding and reconstructing history.

Shri Ram Bahadur Rai, in his remarks as the chairperson of the session lauded Prof. Gaur for his commendable work, highlighting the valuable information within the book and urging its reading. He further emphasized the necessity of reopening of closed libraries and questioned the accessibility of information within archives and libraries in the country. He expressed a sense of urgency, stating that the work accomplished should have commenced earlier, underscoring the need for easy access to information for the public. Concluding his speech optimistically, Shri Rai proposed that this promising start could evolve into a larger movement for wider accessibility and dissemination of knowledge.

Delhi Bureau: Virendra Mishra

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