I'm contacting the list with some queries relating to accessing the National Archives of India (NAI), in Delhi, that I hope fellow list members can help with:
- firstly, is anyone aware of any news regarding the Indian government's plan to close the National Archives and destroy the annex, where most archival records are housed? I know there was considerable protest, last year, about the Indian government's plans to close the archive for up to 5 years and its lack of consultation with archivists and scholars about such plans, not least about the movement and storage of the archive's materials, but I've not come across any news on this matter since then. As I'm planning a six-month archival research trip to Delhi next year, I'm trying to figure out if I will actually be able to go;
- secondly, I'm wondering if anyone has encountered access issues in regard to the NAI? The new guidelines for access, issued in February, state that:
permission to access the archives can only be made, now, by sending a relevant form through email. This must include both proof of vaccination and of the applicant having had a recent Covid test, although the instructions provide no details on the latter (i.e., how recent the test needs to be, what tests are acceptable, etc.). Has anyone tried to do this, and was it relatively straight-forward, or are there potential hitches to be aware of? One potential hitch, for UK applicants, seems to be in securing the consular letter that is still, unfortunately, required as part of this process; when I checked the on-line booking portal for the British High Commission in Delhi, it had no available appointments for the next month, and has not yet released later dates, so the prospect seems to loom of having to wait months to get an appointment to get a piece of paper needed to re-register to use the NAI. I'm wondering, then, if any UK-based researchers have experienced any particular difficulties in securing a consular letter to complete this registration process?
furthermore, researchers must now also submit requisition slips via email - and only for up to 15 files or other items per day, down from the previous limit of 30 (a problem exaccerbated by the fact that photography is still not permitted in the reading room). According to the new guidelines, moreover, "Only those researchers who get confirmation mail would be permitted to visit RR on the date mentioned in the mail". While on-line documentary request systems generally speed up the research process, this one seems to be doing the opposite, since it is reliant on someone responding to an email in a timely manner. It also seems to pose the potential of limiting access to certain materials. I'm wondering, then, if anyone on the list has experience of how this process is working in practice - i.e., does it work effectively, and is permission being given to see all requested materials? As I will be working on a project to do with policing and sexual violence, this is an issue that I am considerably concerned about - not least since the new guidelines seem, in part, to be designed to further limit access to the NAI for researchers.
I'd appreciate, therefore, any feedback on these queries and concerns.