Manuscript Repositories in India – 2

‪#‎Manuscripts‬ Narendra Modi Smriti Zubin Irani
There is a manuscript repository which is not government-funded. The organization somehow get some precious manuscripts.

When I approached, they said that only specific administrator is authorized to grant access to manuscripts.
When asked about that person, it was told that he comes only two days in a week, that too for 2-3 hours.
When we managed to meet him and gave an application, he asked to come after a few days because the person who looks after manuscripts comes only when asked.

When I went after some days, the price-list was shown which was very different from that of any other repository. I was shocked!! Add to it, they didn’t show me manuscripts so I couldn’t check if they are actually needed!!

When asked about such rate-card, the answer was that they have saved manuscripts for so many years and since they were not government-funded, so they are charging in this way.

But, that was only handling charges. The price to get a xerox or scan is to be given separately.

I asked if they had these manuscripts scanned, just to save me from labor of taking snaps. BTW, who will prefer to give so much money and stand hours to take snaps.
They have scans. Thanks to NAMAMI(, a Government of India enterprise.
But, they insisted that it is impossible to find desired scans in DVD-s because there is no proper list on DVD-s and the number of DVD-s is very big. Thanks to NAMAMI for doing their work so unprofessionally. In a way Government of India is wasting money with such unprofessional IT companies(those who scanned for NAMAMI).

I offered that I’ll sit on PC to find desired books on DVD-s, yes 400+DVD-s.
I was asked to come after few days, for the person who takes care of them comes only when asked.

I went after a few days and met the person. The person started to say me that it is impossible to find books in DVD-s, they don’t have name, etc. Then he showed me two of them. I checked and found that they were labelled. When I showed it to them, they said that each DVD has many books and all of them are not on label.

I said it is fine. At least we have some clue to find books.
They agreed hesitantly. But, they said that there is no person to check DVD-s for me, so I should spend some more money to get them xeroxed.
Calculating my budget and number of books I wanted(which may need a million), I said that I will go for scans.
They repeated same argument. I offered to sit and do the work myself. They agreed.
But, next problem is there. When I asked to give a PC to sit and check DVD-s, they said that there is no person to sit with you. 😛  (God! save me.)
Anyway, I suggested them to copy all DVD-s to a Hard Disk, because any small scratch on DVD-s can make them unreadable and hence useless. They agreed to raise the request to administrator.

I said that I’ll meet the senior administrator again regarding present problems and need of HDD.

I called on the day to confirm presence of administrator. He was there but ready to leave(there is no fixed office hour).
I asked the person on phone to give the call to administrator. He didn’t give!! He said that he will not tell ad I have to call on other number to talk to the person. (I can’t say if this is helping attitude).
I called again and asked him to wait and went to meet him.

He repeated that there is no person to sit with me. And, then he said that if you directly copied from DVD-s, the quality of scans will be degraded. He said that they will copy them to their hard disk and then I should copy for best quality!! (Do they think I’m dumb just because I’m in traditional cloths).

I agreed, just to avoid any useless debate with such people.(remember that even an idiot administrator is an administrator and can harm/obstruct you in many ways.)

I asked the approx time after which I could call them. They bluntly said 2 months.

I’m waiting. 😛

Manuscript Repositories in India – 1

‪#‎Manuscripts‬ Narendra Modi Smriti Zubin Irani
I’m frequently visiting manuscript repositories in Pune and Chennai. Some of these are Government funded, while some are not.
Government controlled ones have not seen any appointment in near past and are struggling for manpower. Non-government repositories are struggling for funding.

Irrespective of controller of these organizations, scanning of manuscript is not completed in many of these repositories.
Libraries where people from Government went to scan manuscripts, it was seen that they were handling manuscripts carelessly in unprofessional way and hence damaging manuscripts. So, some organizations stopped scanning. Scanners were also putting scans 1

Some manuscript libraries don’t have any option to allow independent scholars like me, a monk of-course. They only allow PhD 1
students, which I’m not.

Some libraries have rate cards so absurd that you can only laugh on them and then cry on your lack of money.

I think that these repositories took these manuscripts from our ancestors and maTha-s(मठ , आश्रम), etc. assuring that they will be saved from moths, etc. and will be provided to scholars easily, so that they could study and research.
I can’t see any trait of this idea in many curators/rules of libraries.

I’ve seen that many palm-leaves are decaying from decades, and people sitting in libraries are not even trying to transcribe to paper.
I’ve seen paper manuscripts falling from hand and turning to dust, while people handling them don’t seem to have any shame/pain.
I’ve seen ink of paper manuscripts fading to extent of illegibility, and people who are there to save it do not care to transcribe/scan it.
I’ve seen that after damaging them or losing them, libraries just mark them misplaced, so that they could use it as eternal excuse for future generation of researchers/ scholars.

It must be noted that many manuscripts have/may have a single copy left in this world. In that condition, any type of damage/decay is just ensuring that it will be lost for ever.

Palm-leaf manuscript give you very small chance to recover any work in it’s entirety.
And, about every manuscript has been missing a page or two or two hundred of them.
So, you can never recover a work with manuscript in many cases.

So, I request all people to go to manuscript libraries you know, use your camera/scanner, use your money to take pictures/scan of these manuscripts or get a xerox copy of them.

These libraries are themselves poor or lack manpower/or have irresponsible persons in power; so let us try to get most important/most interesting/most decayed manuscripts first.

Some libraries have scanned manuscripts, but they sell them on such a high price that only an art-collector could buy them.
Government has them scanned, but it doesn’t appear that it will be sharing with us easily.

Please, help us get our thing back from these libraries and save them.