For most people outside the country, India is a land of antiquity, of ancient wisdom and knowledge. The preservation of said antiquity and the wealth of cultural heritage, however, has proved to be a challenge in our country. Locating the original material is itself a task but by no means the largest hurdle. Worn, yellow and tattered pages need careful supervision and expert handling of the material. Apart from the expertise required in traditional preservation of antique documents, the digital age calls for the preserved material to not just be digitized, but also be accessible to users of all ages, at all places and at all times. In the West, institutions like the British Library and the US Library of Congress have been digitally preserving cultural artifacts for a while now.
Closer home, National Digital Library of India (NDLI) – an MHRD initiative executed by IIT Kharagpur – is set to deliver 21st Century solutions to age-old problems of preservation of cultural artifacts for posterity. Proud hosts to original digital copies of Kheror Khata – Satyajit Ray’s handwritten screenplay manuscripts, NDLI has carefully archived a series of cultural wealth that narrates the nation’s story of being and becoming. Digital copies of Jugantar and Amrita Bazar Patrika newspapers are available in NDLI, which have fascinating recordings of India’s history during and post Independence.
However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. India’s wealth of knowledge heritage is as diverse as the inter-web is vast.
Presidency University Kolkata is a 203 years old heritage institution that started its journey in 1817 as Hindoo College. In the year 1855, Hindoo College was transformed to Presidency College by the then British Government. The alumni and teachers of this great institution have helped shape the nation in the fields of economics, science, arts and every nuance in between. Some priceless and antique publications like the Presidency Register of 1934 comprising historical reports, data and a list of students since 1817 of Hindoo-Presidency are the prized possession of the Presidency Alumni Association with no other copy available. These records, data, reports, and articles have been digitized and hosted by an alliance of the Presidency Alumni Association and the National Digital Library of India. In a symbolic coming together of a National knowledge platform with a heritage Institution to pave the way for India’s knowledge heritage, these documents, reports, articles are now available at zero-cost on National Digital Library of India site: https://www.ndl.gov.in/ for anyone, anywhere to access freely to learn, share and grow.
Registration to NDLI is free.
The platform is also available as an android as well as an iOS app.