India uses technolgy to preserve past

Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 06:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: India is going tech savy in an attempt to preserve rare and priceless ancient manuscripts lying forgotten in temples and museums across the country. The country has launched an online database of one million of an estimated five million such known documents-

Launched by tourism Minister Ambika Soni, the database proclaimed 45 selected manuscripts - Vijnananidhi - as the manuscript treasures of India, a country with a 5,000-year-old recorded civilisation. The manuscripts can be accessed on the basis of title, author, script, language, subject and material online.

Among the 45 are 17-centuries-old - one of the oldest manuscripts in the world - Gilgit manuscripts (kept in the National Archives of India, New Delhi, and the Sri Pratap Singh Museum, Jammu and Kashmir), Chitra Bhagavat (illustrated Hindu holy book in the Krishna Kanta Handiqui Library, Guwahati), Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri (the biography of Mughal emperor Jahangir in the National Museum, New Delhi), Sharadatilaka (the essence of tantras kept in the Oriental Institute of Mysore) and Ramayana (in the Rampur Raza Library).

India has an estimated five million manuscripts, most of which lie unknown and neglected. The National Mission for Manuscripts, under the cultural ministry, would locate, preserve and promote the manuscripts.The mission will contribute 100,000 for the preservation of each of the 21 places where the manuscripts are kept."Its (mission's) activities range from conducting nationwide surveys to unearthing each manuscript, the documentation and cataloguing of manuscripts and their conservation, training personnel in manuscript studies, publishing important research on manuscripts to organising lectures, seminars, debates for students and workshops for children," an official said.

The mission has already documented 1.8 million manuscripts. The data pertaining to these will shortly be made available online through the use of a software developed for the purpose - the e-granthavali (e-documentatio).

According to the officials, the proclamation of 45 manuscripts as national treasures would enable the mission to provide "suitable financial assistance to the repositories of the manuscript treasures towards facilities for their proper storage and treatment, digitise each of them as well as consider applications towards research grants concerned with the study of these manuscripts".
Source: IANS
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