Ecclesia: a talk on ‘Understanding Archives’
By Varsha Rajput
The History Department of Venkateswara College organized a talk on ‘Understanding Archives’ in the conference hall on 28th October 2016 by a guest speaker Mr. Jishnu Barua. He is an IAS officer with relevant expertise and knowledge in the area of archives. He presented before the audience the manner in which archives function as an institution, their relevance, and the problems associated with the maintenance of the same.
Mr. Barua addressed the topic with special reference to theAssam State Archives, where he has been directly engaged. He explained how records are made, classified and stored at various levels, namely, district,state and national. In speaking about the condition of the archives, especially in the state of Assam, he drew attention to how pre-Independence records have greater accessibility as compared to records for the post-colonial period. He attributed this to the more systematic approach assumed in the former period of consideration. While talking of the state of affairs in Assam, he also spoke of the shift of the archives from Shillong to Guwahati, not altogether positive,in how records were stored. During the course of his talk, he stressed the instrumental significance of the archives as an institution in research in fields of history, sociology, anthropology, and allied areas. In addition, he drew attention to the process of digitization and its effect on documentation and preservation of records. His presentation included visuals of the renovation and upgrade of the Archives’ Library in Assam, in relation to which he highlighted the need for awareness and sensitization amongst the people in the area of preservation and documentation of their histories.
The talk, with the help of the specific case of Assam, lent valuable insight to all present on various facts of the archives- a significant component in the field of historical studies and research. The event was a great success as marked by the participation of an enthusiastic audience. A very clear message that the development of research environment in each state of India must go hand in hand was spread. The purpose of this event 'understanding Archives' was well served.