The University Grants Commission has formed a special panel which would develop model syllabi for courses in manuscriptology and paleography in various colleges and universities across the country.
Manuscriptology is the study of history and literature through the use of handwritten documents, while paleography is the study of ancient writing systems, mostly that of the classical and medieval periods.
The eleven-member panel would be headed by Prafulla Mishra, former Director of the National Mission for Manuscripts, and include Malhar Kulkarni, professor at IIT-Mumbai; Vasant Bhatt, former Director of the School of Languages, Gujarat University; and Jatindra Mohan Mishra, professor of Sanskrit in NCERT, Delhi.
In a letter to the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM), which had sent a proposal for the same in line with the National Education Policy 2020, the UGC said, “The committee has been set up “for standardising the postgraduate diploma courses in manuscriptology and paleography in various colleges and universities”.
“The committee is expected to develop a model syllabus for courses in both the subjects which can be offered to students either specialising in them or as open electives to students in other branches of study,” the letter dated July 10 said.
UGC Chairperson M. Jagadesh Kumar told The Hindu that as part of promotion of Indian Knowledge System recommended in the NEP, universities can use the syllabus to offer various courses.
He said preserving Indian manuscripts sustains and enhances the country’s diversity and contributes to a deeper understanding of its heritage. Different States of India are repositories of centuries-old knowledge, reflecting the thoughts, beliefs, and practices of the past.
The manuscripts, available in different Indian languages and scripts, encompass a diverse range of subjects such as philosophy, science, literature, religion, and more, the UGC Chairperson said.
He added: “These manuscripts provide invaluable insights into the history, intellectual contributions, and traditions of India. We must support Indian manuscriptology for its potential to safeguard cultural treasures, foster academic research, and inspire future generations”.
According to the NMM, India possesses an estimated 10 million manuscripts in 80 ancient scripts. These manuscripts are written on materials such as palm leaf, paper, cloth, and bark. While 75% of the existing manuscripts are in Sanskrit, 25% are in regional languages.