Ned Bertz on various archives in Gujarat

Ned Bertz teaches in the Department of History, University of Hawaii and his areas of interest are South Asia, Africa, Indian Ocean, World History. Bertz says that the uncategorised archives produce surprising finds: ‘An 1884 history of Gujarat will be next to the cinema rules of Bombay in 1953. Law court decisions will be next to a pamphlet on Kathiawad’s population problem.’

3 Aina Mahal

Ayana Mahal, which houses the district archives in Junagadh

PBR archives godown

Ayana Mahal, which houses the district archives in Junagadh

After Bombay State was bifurcated into Maharashtra and Gujarat, the latter found itself without a state archives, while the former inherited the Bombay State Archives (later the Maharashtra State Archives). Most of the records relating to Gujarat remained in Bombay, but Gandhinagar saw the need to create its own state archives to collect records scattered across the state as well as centralize other records held in the National Archives of India. The Department of Archives for Gujarat was formally founded in 1971. In the later 1970s and 1980s, the Gujarat State Archives (GSA) expanded to include several branches, varying dramatically in their size and organization. I have been working in several different branches of the GSA since 2009. My overall sense is that the archives are underused, although this is understandable given the uneven nature of its organization.

The headquarters of the GSA is in Gandhinagar, where a library exists but a full records office does not. At least for foreign scholars, permission must be taken here for access to any of the branch archives. The GSA is under the control of a state minister who is also in charge of a range of portfolios including Youth, Sports, Education, and Cultural Activities. All foreigner applications for research have to be cleared by the central state secretariat, as facilitated by the Director of the Archives, which can be an unpredictable process. Each permit is valid for one year. In-person visits and follow-up visits seem essential for clearance. Indian researchers I believe can gain access through a much simpler process.

The largest branches of the GSA are the Southern Circle Record Office in Baroda and the Western Circle Record Office in Rajkot. In working in Rajkot (I have not visited the Baroda office), I found a friendly staff and fair working conditions. There was an ongoing digitization process as of several years ago, and a fairly new building. There is no centralized index to the GSA, but Rajkot has an accession list of holdings in no apparent order. It was clear that not all items held at Rajkot were on that list. For example, a worker there located passport registers for me when I described what I might be interested in. The material held consists mostly of official records and reports dating from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, with a random assortment of books, some of them of historical value.

District Record Offices also exist in Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Junagadh, and Porbandar, all of which I have visited except for Bhavnagar. Jamnagar and Junagadh, like Rajkot, have accession lists. The latter is housed in the gorgeous old Ayana Mahal, which unfortunately has leakage issues leading to ruined records each monsoon, despite the layers of plastic tarp the dutiful staff deploy every season. Porbandar does not have an accession list, but from a few days working there appears to have a tremendous store of unindexed files, bundled up in a godown away from the main office. Staff in each location are very friendly, although not always trained to assist researchers. Local researchers were present in Rajkot when I worked there, and I assume Baroda as well, but the other branches seem largely unvisited. The District Records Office in Kutch, I have been told, is under the charge of the district and not in the domain of the GSA.

The holdings in the GSA appear to be varied, and are largely in English and Gujarati. Official files from British India are present, as is ample material from the princely states. Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar, and Rajkot have mostly holdings related to Kathiawad. These include administrative reports, law court decisions, legal notices, gazetteers, and statistical accounts. Some files from post-independence are also available. A range of printed books, pamphlets, documents, and other records are in the collection, although I have not seen any newspaper holdings.

No full survey of the GSA exists, to my knowledge. There is a publication called Gujarat State Archives at a Glance (1982), which I first found at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi. It is also in the archives’ library at Gandhinagar. In 1998, a short piece on the GSA was published in Indian Archives.



National Archives of India no less!

Thanks to the indomitable Maya Dodd, I found that the NAI actually has a searchable index of some files online – here’s a promising start:

A search actually threw up these entries:
Goa Military Means adopted for the protection of the British inhabitants of Goa during the insurrection. Foreign INTERNAL 1895 12 PART B Progs., Nos. 393-410, December 1895 Digitize on Demand (0)
Demand of the Goa authoities for the surrender of Igancio de Loyola and four others concerned in the Goa Riots. Foreign INTERNAL 1891 4 PART A Progs., Nos. 126-132, April 1891 Digitize on Demand (0)
remittances by Goanese nationals from India to Portuguese India, and number of persons entering India from Goa and leaving India for Goa each year. External Affairs EUROPE – I 1949 0 Progs., Nos. 19(132)-Eur-I, 1949(B) Digitize on Demand (0)
Assistance to Mr. Mascarenhas arrested in Goa, for publication of some articles on Goa. External Affairs EUROPE – I 1949 0 Progs., Nos. 19(122)-Eur-I, 1949 Digitize on Demand (0)
e CUSTOMS DUTIES 1932 0 Progs. No. 67 -CUS-I, 1932 Digitize on Demand (0)

And: Stared (sic) Question in the Indian Parliament to be asked by Lala Raj Kanwar regarding the transfer of records of Historical and political interest kept in the custody of the Punjab Govt. prior to Partition

Who are the Guilty 1984

Who are the Guilty ?
Report of a joint inquiry into the causes and impact of the riots in Delhi from 31 October to 10 November 1984


A fact-finding team jointly organised by one People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and people’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in the course of investigations from November 1 to November 10, has come to the conclusion that the attacks on members of the Sikh Community in Delhi and its suburbs during the period, far from being a spontaneous expression of “madness” and of popular “grief and anger” at Mrs. Gandhi’s assasination as made out to be by the authorities, were the outcome of a well organised plan marked by acts of both deliberate commissions and omissions by important politicians of the Congress (I) at the top and by authorities in the administration. Although there was the handiwork of a determined group which was inspired by different sentiments altogether.PUCL – PUDR Report: Who are the Guilty ?

An interview with Michael Fernandes

An interview with Michael fernandes

The emergency was quite a tumultuous time for their other brother Lawrence though. He was picked up under MISA too, tortured and was once even beaten up using branches of the banyan tree at the CID office in Bangalore. But more than the physical torment, it was the mental anguish he remembers. “He was taken to the railway tracks and they threatened to kill him and dump his body there,” says Michael. “I think at the time of my arrest the police weren’t so desperate, but with Lawrence they weren’t so patient,” he explains.

An interview with Michael Fernandes

How the Emergency Took my Mother Away – Nandana Reddy

snehalata How the Emergency took my mother away - The News Minute

Now on the 40th anniversary, there is suddenly a clamour to remember Emergency and we find that there are just a few who are still alive and wish to do so. But I am grateful that we are remembering at all; especially now that a silhouette of another dictatorship is eclipsing our fundamental rights and undermining democratic institutions. The time has come to gather our forces and protect our rights and our country from tyranny.

– See more at: :// the Emergency took my mother away | The News Minute

A time for renewal – some forgotten heroes of the Emergency

A time for renewal

An excerpt from the attached article

As we mark the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Emergency, we shall hear many politicians speak about their sufferings and sacrifices. L.K. Advani has already spoken, and no doubt other Bharatiya Janata Party leaders will follow. Perhaps we should remind them that Sanjay Gandhi’s wife, Maneka, is one of their cabinet ministers, while his henchman, Jagmohan, is also a senior BJP leader. Moreover, in BJP ruled states like Chhattisgarh, the bullying of the media, and the violation of the human rights of adivasis, are on par with what happened under Congress rule in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh during the Emergency.