The historians and students of history can leverage advancements in information and communication technology for producing original works and deciphering the enormous wealth of ancient inscriptions and manuscripts, said T.S. Sridhar, Additional Secretary, Higher Education Department, Tamil Nadu Government.
He was delivering the inaugural address at the 19th annual session of the Tamil Nadu History Congress held at Annamalai University, Chidambaram, on Saturday.
Mr. Sridhar said that digitisation of manuscripts had already started. The Neolithic tools found in Thanjavur had a symbolic resemblance to the Indus script, which is yet to be fully deciphered.
Similarly, the Chola period inscriptions on copper plates were rich repositories of information, tracing the socio-economic and cultural ethos of the ancient times.
From Tamil literature and folk tales, 3,000 historic sites had been identified for excavations, but in the past 50 years, only 300 sites had been excavated by the Archaeological Department, Tamil University and Pondicherry University.
These were incontrovertible evidences that give a peep into the past glory of persons, events, culture and tribes.
It is the historian who would find a common thread running through ages for the benefit of the society.
Mr. Sridhar said, “Though Tamil has attained the status of a Classical language, it is still vibrant and brimming with new ideas,”
He stressed the point that history ought to be unbiased and objective.
However, subjective elements too might peep in at times, depending upon the personality of the historians. More than the history-makers, the historians were remembered the best, because the era of any historical figure was confined to a particular period, whereas, the historians make them transcend the time factor.
He said, “History does not trace the past only. Since it chronicles events we can enrich our knowledge and draw a lesson. As such, history provides us a direction and helps us to predict the future to a certain extent.”
As the air was thick with the talk of entry of foreign universities, it was pertinent to note that India was home for internationally-reputed institutions, at places like Kanchi and Nalanda.
India had certain unique problems that could be solved only through unique solutions based on the socio-economic milieu. Therefore, he called upon the universities to equip themselves to stand up to international competition.
Mr. Sridhar noted that higher education was now passing through an interesting phase as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had put in place Vision-2023 programme to make the State a “knowledge capital.” The Right to Education Act would give thrust to literacy rate, he added.
Vice-Chancellor M. Ramanathan said that every field of study had got its own history, and by knowing it, the professionals would serve better.
History was not related to humanities alone but also to science and technology as well, or, in other words, it was nothing but recording the evolution of studies, Dr. Ramanathan said.
On the occasion, newly-installed president of the TNHC, C.K. Sivaprakasam, conferred the title “Distinguished and senior historian of Tamil Nadu” on M.S. Govindasamy, former professor and head, Department of History, Annamalai University.
N. Alagappan, Professor and Head, Department of History, and B. Sheela, TNHC local secretary also spoke.