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Allow scholars access to declassified documents: PM

By Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 18 (UNI)Observing that serious scholarship in the country on government policy was hampered by a lack of access to official papers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today suggested that the country should think in terms of having at least a 50-year rule, if not a 30-year rule, that would allow researchers and scholars access to declassified official papers for making effective decisions in future.

''I think the time has come for us to have at least a 50-year rule, if not a 30-year rule, that allows scholars and researchers free access to declassified official papers,'' Dr Singh said and suggested that this issue should be examined in all its earnestness for taking ''an early and informed decision.'' Dr Singh made this observation at a function where he released the former Foreign Secretary Jagat S. Mehta's book, entitled ''Negotiating for India: Resolving Problems Through Diplomacy".

The Prime Minister said such a rule would make it possible for the government to draw appropriate lessons from the past and make effective decisions in future.

He said in the absence of a policy on making government files publicly available, the best records of policy-making and thinking at the highest levels in government were to be found in personal memoirs of men in public life.

''However, I do hope that we do not have to depend only on memory and personal notes for a record of policy-making,'' he said, adding that the time was opportune for such a rule.

He also said that in other democracies, after a specified period, scholars and researchers were given access to official papers, which had encouraged professional study of contemporary history and policy-making.

In this connection, he quoted the famous lines of phiposopher George Santayana: ''Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'' MORE UNI SKS RP KN2020

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