Manuscripts Mission to launch digital network

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New Delhi, Nov 1 (UNI) Tasked with preserving the country's estimated five million manuscripts, The National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) today decided to launch a digital network and web-link for the study of manuscripts in a historical perspective.

This was decided by the NMM, a unit of the India Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) under the Culture Ministry, which concluded its four-day brainstorming session here to take stock of work done towards manuscripts' preservation.

The meeting-cum-workshop of experts on manuscriptology was attended by the representatives of 80 Manuscript Resource Centres and Manuscript Conservation Centres of IGNCA.

The representatives came from museums, universities, government and private libraries, Oriental Research Foundations and Indological Institutes and monasteries.

Briefing reporters on the deliberations, IGNCA President Chinmaya R Gharekhan said the National Electronic Manuscript Library would be set up at the IGNCA, with an in-built provision for scholarly access, e-publishing and cyber teaching; for building a digital resource network with significant repositories of manuscripts; and to work for the collation and reconstruction of material on specific themes and subjects.

Mr Gharekhan said a major objective of the organisation would be to ensure easy access and legibility of manuscripts by standardised transliteration of manuscripts, written in the same language but in different scripts.

IGNCA would also create a multi-media exhibition based on illustrated manuscripts, generated by the epic, literacy and scholarly traditions in the country, he said.

''The exhibition, based on digitised material, can travel easily from place to place for enhancing awareness and encouraging efforts in conservation,'' he pointed out.

Dr K K Chakravarty, Member Secretary, IGNCA, who has been guiding the workshop with the help of scholars from all over the country, said the manuscript resource and conservation centres would be strengthened for reanimating the cultural landscape that lay behind the vast body of Indian textual and oral traditions.

He also said IGNCA plans to correct the excessively chemical emphasis of conservation laboratories in favour of indigenous materials and techniques for preservation of manuscripts.

In addition, efforts would be made to explore the location and culture-specific applications of the knowledge systems embodied in the manuscripts from different zones.

Set up by the Culture Ministry in 2003, the NMM's mandate is to locate, preserve and promote the manuscript wealth of the country.

Its activities range from conducting nation-wide surveys to unearthing, documenting and cataloguing each manuscript.

The NMM has so far documented over two million of the five million manuscripts, and the data pertaining to these will shortly be made available online through the use of a software -- e-granthavali -- developed for the purpose.

UNI

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