The article, “Our past is being moth-eaten” (April 19) by Dinyar Patel is a clarion call to the authorities of India's archives and libraries. The condition of the historical records and documents ‘preserved' in the State Archives should be seen to be believed. Let me recount my experience at the Jammu and Kashmir State Archives. It has two repositories; one in Srinagar and the other in Jammu. A research student is an unwelcome guest. When you visit the Srinagar repository, you are told there are no records ‘worth' consulting there and that you should go to the Jammu repository to access all ‘important' records. The documents are not even indexed manually. The Jammu repository is no better. You have to strictly abide by the self-made rules of the staff. A researcher is provided with only 15 files a day. Fridays are undeclared holidays.
AB Rashid Sheikh,
We are all to blame, not just the government, for the world's largest democracy's inability to preserve its illustrious past. The Indian populace seems to have an inherent disregard for public property. In a country which is fast embracing all that is modern and chic, it is not surprising that historical records and manuscripts are being neglected.
We should emulate the Vatican Archives which have preserved manuscripts like Galileo Galilei's letters. We can harness our IT potential to convert all documents into an electronic format.