ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Postcolonial Predicament

Archives and Archival Consciousness

India is poor in record-keeping and has a just as poor awareness of the importance of records. This situation primarily arises due to our faulty archival education system, and the separation of archives as a practical discipline from archives as a topic for epistemological and discursive deliberation. What we need is a fair balance between the practical aspects of archival keeping and its conceptual and theoretical aspects.

The history of archival consciousness is an area less studied and least documented in postcolonial India. The country, with its recorded past of thousands of years, has always had some forms of records administration in place – the earliest documentary evidence of it being the Buddhist sangha records of circa 600 BC. However, many records of ancient India were lost during conflicts and very few have survived the passage of time due to the poor record-keeping practices of those days. The Public Record Office of Britain was in place as early as 1838. The beginning of archives as an institutional repository of non-current records as we know today began with the foundation of the Imperial Record Department on 11 March 1891 in Calcutta. The British brought the modern practices of archives and records management to India. The colonial government was not interested only in records for dayto-day administration, but was also interested in creating an intrusive domain of information on the people whom they ruled.

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