Historical records & their proper care:
Having worked in Archives for more than three decades I have experienced the following difficulties acquisition, preservation and publication of historical records enshrined in archives and elsewhere.
Archives claims to be custodian of all non-current, historical records and its establishment in the result of Indian Historical Records Commission’s recommendation. But due to lack of interest of historians in the working of archives no proper staff is there to look after the records. The archives records, having no proper care are on verge of decay.
The huge records of 1857, running into at least 50 thousands files of each district needs inventory which was left incomplete. The post 1857 records have hardly ever been touched by archives staff since most of them are in Persian and Urdu script. Each district headquarter contains, records of historical significance. They are kept in every district in “Criminal confidential section”. Thus history of freedom struggle is still locked in the criminal confidential section of records rooms of each district collectorate. For example in around 1970 an effort was made by Allahabad archives to shift some records of Allahabad collectorate. There were eight Thanas in Allahabad and from only one Thana Colonelganj, 110 select files were transferred. These files are relating to Pt. Nehru, Maulana Azad, Mrs. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Salig Ram Jaiswal, Muzaffar Hasan and others Since most of the proceedings in these files and titles of the files are in Urdu, this shifting of further records to archives was stopped. Hardly 5% records were shifted to archives. Since shifting of records of all eight Thanas of Allahabad would have taken much spaces and further Urdu-Persian knowing staff would have needed, these efforts were stopped.
This is the story of one district. Each district has got huge historical records un-cared for. How long these records would be safe in each district, it is a matter of great concern. At district level the officials do not know the importance of the records since they do not know the language. Except archives, each museum has got historical documents. At Allahabad Museum, there are more than one thousand manuscripts and documents in Persian and Arabic including Farmans of Mughals, Wajid Ali Shah’s letter from Matia Burj and other historical manuscripts. But there is no qualified Persian-knowing staff to tell the worth of invaluable collection.
In the same way Lucknow Museum has got valuable Farmans numbering 46, being kept in oblivion. Perhaps there is no Persian-knowing staff also to look after significant manuscripts and documents. At national level, the condition of Persian manuscripts and document is not good. The solitary incharge of oriental section in National Museum is hardly available to show manuscripts and documents. The entire collections have no detailed catalogue. The same is position of Indian museums at Calcutta.
At Red Fort Museum, manuscripts and Farmans have been displayed with incorrect captions, since the Incharge is quite ignorant of the language. The significant manuscripts and documents are lying there without care.
In Agra, close to Taj Mahal on the western side, there is small museum, having displayed manuscripts and Farmans etc. One of the manuscript’s fly-leaf contains the writing of Emperor Shahjahan running into Six or Seven lines which finds no mention of the Emperor in the caption. There are its several incorrect captions. A number of Farmans regarding Taj Mahal are still kept in the headquarters of Archaeological Survey of India at Mall Road Agra.
The same is the position of Jaipur Palace Museum, Patiala, Udaipur Museum, Patna Museum. The other museum institutions may be assessed likewise. Thus, till Persian knowing staff is not posted at these institutions, the work of research on history will suffer greatly. While posts are created, qualified staff is appointed, a good working can be expected.
In Allahabad archives there are 3 to 4 lakhs files of Rampur state and its inventory was left incomplete. I myself have prepared a press list “Mutiny of Rampur” which was submitted for publication but never saw the light of the day A Second copy of this work is held by me and can be published with little efforts if so desired.
These records & manuscripts contain the story of each section of society our heritage our freedom struggle the great deeds of the great sons of the motherland are enshrined into them. A few Hundred Persian Urdu knowing staff can do justice to un-earth the true story of past still un-known. In these days of micro studies and thorough search and research of these historical documents must be made available before to is too late to be destroyed forever.