The State government entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Netherlands on Thursday for the Cosmos Malabaricus project that is aimed at shedding further light on the history of Kerala using 18th Century Dutch documents.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Dutch Ambassador to India Marten van den Berg.
The Cosmos Malabaricus project is being jointly implemented by the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR), the National Archives, and the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. The project will be completed in six years.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Vijayan said it was the State’s responsibility towards future generations to preserve historical events and documents. The government looked forward to collaborating with the Netherlands in areas such as floriculture and disaster management. He reiterated the government’s desire to transform Kerala into a quality hub for higher education.
Emphasising on the robust relation between the Netherlands and India, Mr. Berg expressed optimism that the Cosmos Malabaricus project would help understand more about the political, social, economic and cultural history of Kerala.
MA in Holland
As part of the project, students from Kerala would get an opportunity to pursue Master of Arts programmes at Leiden University, while those from the Netherlands would be allowed to take up an internship at the KCHR.
The project deals with the 18th century Dutch documents on Malabar which are considered the most extensive source of information about the period in Kerala between 1643 and 1852.
Dutch script of yore
According to KCHR officials, the material has remained underutilised by historians and researchers since it is written in the Dutch script prevalent in the 17th and 18th centuries. The signatories of the project have expressed willingness to make the digitised archival sources accessible to scholars.
In order to achieve the objective, they will focus on developing their digital Dutch and English language inventories and familiarising Indian archivists and historians with the historical context of the Dutch expansion overseas.
For the first three years of the project, two students will be sent each year to the Institute of History at Leiden University to obtain a MA degree that will involve Dutch language skills and palaeography. These researchers will continue to work under the project for two more years as KCHR fellows as part of a PhD project at Leiden University or an Indian university.
Two-week summer school
In addition to student and scholar exchanges, the KCHR and Leiden University will organise a two-week summer school each year on the history of Kerala. During the last three years of the programme, they will jointly publish five translated source publications.
Higher Education Minister R. Bindu, Labour Minister V. Sivankutty, Chief Secretary V.P. Joy, Officer of Special Duty for External Cooperation Venu Rajamony, Deputy Consul General of the Netherlands Hein Login, Additional Chief Secretary V. Venu, Labour Secretary Mini Antony, and KCHR chairman Michael Tharakan and director G. Arunima were also present.