The National Archives of India, an
attached office of Ministry of Culture, Government of India, celebrated its 110th
Foundation Day on 11th March
2010. To commemorate the event, a Foundation Day Lecture on the topic ‘What
are the Archives for?’ was delivered here today by Prof. Sabyasachi
Bhattacharya, a renowned historian, who
till recently was also the Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research.
The Chief Guest of the function was Shri Jawhar Sircar,
Secretary, Ministry of Culture, who, in his inaugural address, stressed upon
the need to liberalize access rules of National Archives of India. Emphasising
the importance of the archival wealth as the memory of the nation, Shri Sircar
announced the new initiative taken by the Ministry of Culture of providing
technical and financial support to all the State Archives with a view to
bringing them at par with the best professional practices in the field. Shri
Sircar informed the audience that on the recommendations of the Archival
Advisory Board, a Committee headed by the Joint Secretary, Dr. T.Kumar is
expected to submit its recommendations in this regard shortly. Shri Sircar
shared with an enthused audience another initiative taken by the National
Archives of India to augment its collection by acquiring archival records of
Government of India pertaining to post-independence period in a special drive.
He expressed hope that this step will go a long way in meeting the aspirations
of the users of archives.
The Inaugural Foundation Day Lecture by Prof. Sabyasachi
Bhattacharya chronicled the development of Archiving under the colonial
rule. He stated that the records of the
colonial Government served as an apparatus of the Empire and, for this very
reason, for a very long time, the British bureaucrats kept them beyond the
access of their Indian subjects. It was
only as late as in 1939 that the Government archives was thrown open to the
Indian users, and in a strange co-incidence, the British Rule in India was
abolished within a decade.
Prof. Bhattacharya stressed
upon the need to redraw the agenda for the premier archival institution of the
country so that it plays a wider role in national life. He stated that in the
post-independence India there had been a gradual
evolution of a Welfare State and as a result, there has been phenomenal
increase in the records created by the Government. These records throw significant light on the
conditions of a great mass of Indian people which were never reflected in the
Government archives of the colonial India.
concluded his lecture by expressing hope that the National Archives would
pursue a vigorous outreach programme through popular lectures, exhibitions and
civil education initiatives. He also
called upon the community of archivists and historians to get together and
design an archival system which will meet the expectation of post independence India in respect of
preservation and use of our documentary heritage.