India Seeks to Save Its Treasure of Manuscripts


18th c. Rajasthani

May 18, NEW DELHI, INDIA (WEBINDIA) — With over five million manuscripts present in several parts of the country, the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) has launched a massive survey program across the country to find out, document and preserve manuscripts within five years.

Because only 20 percent of the manuscripts have been found and documented so far, the Mission has set up 48 Manuscript Resource Centers across the country for the purpose.

After participating in costal districts manuscripts surveyors meeting in Rajahmundry, earlier this year, the National Coordinator of the NMM, New Delhi, N.C. Kar had said that they have located 5 million manuscripts in the country and 500,000 in Andhra Pradesh alone. The Mission has collected one million databases in its Delhi headquarters and expects to collect one more million by the end of this year.

According to the NMM officials, they have preserved rare manuscripts, including palm leaves on ancient medical practices which have contemporary values, ship breaking know how, construction of monuments and other ancient method of practices in different fields.

The manuscripts would be collected only for digitalizing and preserving the data, after which they would be returned. The biggest difficulty NMM officials find while searching for manuscripts is that they are simply everywhere--in a local temple or mosque, in a big library or state archives, in the private collection of a Nawab or in the small home of a villager. Nevertheless, these surveys have given way to a rich haul of manuscripts from the various States in the country. For a document to be classified as a manuscript, it has to be over 75 years old and handwritten.


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