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Vyasa Maharshi to go hitech!

If a computer was available, perhaps even Vyasa Maharshi would not have employed Ganesha to write down his epic narration, 'Mahabharata'. The great sage might have missed the computer the modern man is today is so much obsessed with, but at least his works in manuscripts will go digitalized.

Today we are intensely feeling and experiencing that knowledge is power and right to information is as fundamental as any other fundamental democratic right. The main constituent of knowledge being information, we are to be cautiously diligent in preserving information through compatible technological means. Archival contents and information cannot be an exception to this. In fact, it is vital that all the archival contents, wherein hidden the glory of the land of India, that is Bharat, is preserved, and preserved through the most modern technology for the sake of posterity. They have to be preserved through either microfilming or digital means or its extenso traditional publication. When that is done our documentary heritage will live for ever, as it has lived through during these thousands of years.

Realising this vital aspect, The Department of Culture of the Government of India has joined hands with the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Electronics for digitalization of all available manuscripts in the country. The National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore has already started digitalization work in the National Museum, Salarjung Museum, Kanchi Math and National Archives.

Union Minister of Tourism & Culture Anantha Kumar disclosed this at the 57th session of the Indian Historical Records Commission in his presidential address, read in his absence. He further added that the National Archives of India is now linked with a website system so that its archival heritage could be consulted for information and research work. With the expansion of the computer network, information about the records of Home Political (1907-1968) and Home Public (1748-1800) can be accessed on line in the Research Room of the National Archives. Archives Director-General Dr. S. Sarkar added that the Archives was also examining the possibility of networking its Regional Office, Bhopal and Record Centres at Bhubaneswar, Jaipur and Pondichery. The excellent collection of manuscripts preserved in the Oriental Research Institute of the Mysore University would also be digitalised.

Though connected with preserving the past, the Commission has not ignored the modern and the need to preserve that past for the sake of the future. In its 50th session alone, held in Lucknow in 1987, it had adopted a resolution urging that the work of computerisation be initiated urgently by all the States. The National Archives itself has made good progress in this behalf. The first phase of computersiation of reference media of the Home Department Records has been completed, and work on the Foreign Department records is in progress. Computerization of the Library holdings is also going on and it would be possible to provide increased facilities to users of records and books in the National Archives. The staff members are being deputed to the National Informatics Centre and Electronic Trade and Technology Development Corporation to make them computer literate. Some states like Kerala, Maharashtra and West Bengal have taken steps for computerization of their holdings. When other States take up computerization of their collections, for the first time a network at the national level of all our cultural past treasured in manuscripts and records may become a reality.

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