Anita Joshua

Board of Trustees of Nehru Memorial Fund found the project a drain on its budget

The takeover entity has sought a substantial allocation

NEW DELHI: The Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML) has decided to take over the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru project of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund (JNMF).

Though the Executive Council of NMML took the decision in August 2007, the process for taking over the project has begun only now with a formal request being made to the Union Culture Ministry for necessary funds.

This has been on the cards for over a year now with the Board of Trustees of the Fund deciding in July 2007 that NMML should be requested to take over the project as it had become a “big drain” on its budget; resulting in “considerable deficit year after year.”

The proposal was accepted in principle by the Executive Council of NMML a month later.

The takeover of the project by NMML would also involve transfer of the 10 members who have been working on it. And, the Board of Trustees was also of the view that it would be only proper for the editorship of the project to be handed over to NMML’s present director Mridula Mukherjee from Jamia Millia Islamia Vice-Chancellor Mushirul Hasan.

Since 2004, the Board of Trustees of the Fund has been dissatisfied with the tardy progress of the work on the project.

The financial situation became a matter of concern as the Fund depends on the interest it earns from its initial corpus. This source of income has been dwindling with the lowering of interest rates.

40 volumes over

The Selected Works include the lectures, writings, letters and other literary works of Jawaharlal Nehru. Nearly 40 volumes have been brought out and now six-and-a-half years of his life remain to be documented as part of the project. Volume 39 covering the period from August 1, 1957, to October 31, 1957, was published last year.

Given the amount of work that needs to be completed, NMML has asked for a substantial allocation from the government. The annual expenditure on the project over the past couple of years has been in the vicinity of Rs. 30 lakh: It was Rs. 28.57 lakh in 2004-05, Rs. 33.48 lakh in 2005-06, and Rs. 33.01 lakh in 2006-07.

While deciding to transfer the Selected Works to NMML, the Fund was also guided by the fact that similar publications — including the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, besides the Selected Works of Govind Ballabh Pant, Lala Lajpat Rai, Moti Lal Nehru and Jai Prakash Narayan — were funded by the Government.