It is indeed disheartening that our historical documents are preserved in a sorry state. (“Our past is being moth-eaten,” April 19). Celebrated authors like William Dalrymple and Abraham Eraly have produced works of historical fiction relying heavily on the records available at the National Archives, Delhi. The Last Emperor by Dalrymple on the life of the last Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar was compiled from official and non-official records, spy letters, love letters and tomes of other historical documents belonging to the 19th century.
We should learn from our western counterparts, who have mastered climate-controlled preservation techniques to safeguard documents belonging to the medieval centuries. Scanning and digitising documents are some other ways of maintaining a backup of historical data. The government should address the issue seriously before we lose the precious documents forever.
The state of our museums is no better. A visit to museums in many cities will reveal that artefacts are not labelled, and there is no responsible official to take care of procurements from excavations. Also surprising is the fact that libraries still use the old lamination techniques, which have been dead for so many years. Even private newspapers have now abandoned lamination when it comes to maintaining their old issues.
Historians lament the unavailability of many texts and epigraphs which were known to have been written but have now been lost. Preserving our archives and documents is the least we could do for them.