Response from Partha Chatterjee

I too warmly welcome the initiative taken by Mr Masood. On the one
> hand, we now have legislation on Right to Information which should, in
> principle, lead to the transfer to the official archives of all
> government records after a stautory period of time and open access
> there for all scholars. Secrecy should not be a consideration after
> the statutory 30 or 40 years.
> Bureaucrats have often told me that it is not secrecy that is the main
> problem, but lack of staff and resources to do the sorting and
> classification of old records in the departments before they are
> transferred to the archives. As is well known, unlike in colonial
> times, government in India is no longer run “by record”. Systems of
> filing and classification are utterly chaotic in both Central and
> State government departments. To put old records into some sort of
> order (classification, index, etc) for them to be made usable in the
> archives is clearly not a matter of priority. I suspect this is where
> a lot of effort and some resources will have to be put in.
> We might also remember that the days of paper records may be coming to
> an end, even in Indian government. These may be the last years for
> which historians of the future will have to leaf through dusty files.
> Partha Chatterjee

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