Preservation and access to manuscript heritage in India

Ramesh C. Gaur
The glorious past of Indian culture lies in more than five million ancient manuscripts, making India the largest repository of manuscript wealth in the world. These manuscripts are the historical evidence and have both great research and heritage value. Though our ancestors had tried to preserve these manuscripts by using various traditional methods of preservation, thousands of such valued unpublished Indian manuscripts on varied subjects are still laying scattered, some of these no longer accessible to research scholars and are under threat. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), established in 1987. Kala Nidhi, a National Information system and Data bank, consists of the Reference Library of print collections, a large library of Microfilms/Microfiche, collection of slides, Cultural Archives and photo documentation in the disciplines of Arts and Archaeology. In this paper the efforts have been made to present various initiatives under taken by IGNCA and NMM for preservation and access of manuscript heritage of India, and also various other institutional and individual efforts in the fields of preservation and access of manuscripts in India. The emerging scenario in the 21st century and a proposal for setting up National Manuscripts Library at IGNCA have also been discussed.