26 May 2021
Protesting the Demolition of the National Archives of India
The Central Vista Redevelopment Project plan launched in New Delhi last year threatens the safety and security of an archival complex including the National Archives Annexe buildings. The proposed project, while leaving the main National Archive building intact for now, plans to demolish the annexe buildings where the bulk of the records are housed. The plan is rushed, lacks transparency and consultation with stake holders. The process of access to the material during the period of refurbishment has also not been specified. Many centuries of India’s history exist in the documents that make up these National Archives – including 4.5 million files and 25,000 rare manuscripts. These documents are central to academic research on South Asia, and demolishing the buildings in which they are housed will prevent scholars from accessing these records for an indefinite period of time.
The British Association for South Asian Studies joins scholarly associations around the world in urging a more careful and considered approach to the project and its timing, in consultation with various stakeholders, including the NAI’s primary users, its researchers. BASAS also requests that clear plans be published for scholars to have access to the archives during the period of transition so as to not jeopardise ongoing and future research on South Asia.