Eminent, young, all doors are open
The Tuesday seminars are about ongoing research and we cover the broad gamut of history and the social sciences. Our remit is the study of modern India in the widest sense. The effort is to retain history at the core but in a wider sense promote historically oriented ways of thinking. The lecture series reflects this. In 2013 we had India and the wider world. Next year, it’s India in transition. This year, rethinking history. Next year, cities in history. One criterion: speakers are scholars, eminent, young, all doors are open. Each of the 30 fellows speak once a year. We have had 6,500 people at our talks since January, about the number that came in all of 2012.
I have attended a number of public lectures and seminars at the NMML. The discussion could benefit from wider participation and a publication. While it was promised that public lectures would be uploaded in an audio/video format, this is still awaited.
Audio links of public lectures are up. Video will start soon. The NIC is taking over the website and you will see rapid changes. I might add that we will soon upload 30 plus papers and by year-end, twice as many. They are either by our fellows or by those who spoke at NMML and will be free with copyright of the author.
Regional universities in India also conduct important research on the Independence movement, sometimes using vernacular archives. Would the NMML consider holding its lecture and seminar series at these universities, if it has the funds?
No. There is one NMML and it will remain so. We are open to and encourage collaborations with scholars. Please note that of the 650 speakers since August 2011, one-third are from outside Delhi. We have done conferences with scholars from TISS, Mumbai, and IIT, Guwahati. Such tie-ups are the domain of other important organizations: we want people to come here. Our doors are open but we will focus on what we do best.
I am sure there are excellent regional and central universities across the country. There are very good platforms for them set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and in our own domain by the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) and Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR). There is no point duplicating that work. It is also best to work with scholars rather than go down a highly top-heavy route.
The museum has been the beneficiary of funds for a modernization programme. What are your plans?
There was an in-depth review completed in January 2012 of the modernization programme. It was found that it is better not to have a separate programme, it should be integrated fully with diverse aspects. Some key elements like digitization were revisited. Film restoration and digitization are complete.