When he took charge of the National Archives of India in May 2010, Mushirul Hasan inherited a rudderless institution. The job of director general had been vacant for several years, and past directors had been bureaucrats. Mr. Hasan became the first scholar in 30 years to oversee an institution that contained a dazzling array of material from the Mughal, British and post-independence periods of Indian history.
“I wanted to provide a corrective to institutional malaise,” Mr. Hasan said.
Decades of neglect, underfunding, and bad preservation techniques have wrought considerable damage.
Mr. Hasan is himself careful to check his optimism about the state of India’s libraries and archives. While a few institutions are now capable of taking better care of their holdings, he observes, Western academic institutions and museums continue to acquire valuable collections of records, books, and artifacts from Indians who place greater value on immediate monetary gain. In spite of support from the current secretary in the Ministry of Culture, the Indian government still woefully underfunds the National Archives.
Direct to Part 1 (of 4): Repairing the Damage at India’s National Archives
Direct to Part 2: India’s Archives: How Did Things Get This Bad?
Direct to Part 3: “The Parsis, Once India’s Curators, Now Shrug as History Rots”