National Archives of India

Established in 1891 as the Imperial Record Department, the National Archives of India is the custodian of the records of enduring value of the Government of India. It is the biggest archival repository in South Asia.

Why is it in the news?

The National Archives Museum located in New Delhi was speculated to be demolished under the Central Vista Redevelopment Project of the Government of India. This has created a spur among the people as it is a heritage building.

However, the Museum of National Archives will be relocated and a new building shall be constructed for the Archives Museum. The heritage building will not be demolished and only the artefacts will be shifted. 

In this article, we shall discuss at length the history and evolution of the National Archives of India, a brief background of the National Archives Museum and the role and responsibilities of the organisation. This topic comes under the art and culture part of the IAS Exam syllabus.  

National Archives of India [UPSC Notes]:-Download PDF Here

UPSC aspirants can refer to Art and Culture related links below:

UPSC IAS 2021

National Archives of India – History & Background

  • The genesis of the National Archives of India may be traced back to the year 1860 when a Civil Auditor had emphasized the need for an organisation to manage the official records 
  • After a strong plea was made by Professor G.W. Forrest of Elphinstone College, Bombay, for transferring all records of the administration of East India Company to a Central Repository, Imperial Records Department (IRD) came into existence. He was known as an Archivist for his work in the Bombay Records Office
  • IRD was established on March 11, 1891, and was located in Imperial Secretariat Building at Calcutta
  • NAI is the nodal agency for the implementation of the Public Records Act, 1993 and Public Record Rules, 1997
  • The Imperial Records Department shifted from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1911
  • The present building of the National Archives of India was constructed in 1926 which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens
  • After India’s independence in 1947, IRD was rechristened as the National Archives of India and the Head of the Organisation was designated as Director of Archives from Keeper of Records
  • It was after independence that the real growth of the organisation had begun and new roles and responsibilities were handed over to the NAI
  • Accession of public records, acquisition of private papers/ collections, publication, training, conservation, reprography,  digitalization outreach programmes, expansion of offices had all begun in the archival field of the entire country
  • In the year 2020, the National Archives of India celebrated its 130th anniversary. To mark the 130th Foundation Day of NAI, an exhibition of “Jallianwala Bagh” was inaugurated, to mark the Jallianwala Bagh massacre centenary.

Objectives of Indian National Archives

  • The National Archives of India envisions to help in spreading a feeling of national pride in our documentary cultural heritage and ensuring its preservation for posterity
  • It aims to encourage the scientific management, administration and conservation of records all over the country
  • Another key objective of NAI is that it aims to foster close relations between archivists’ and archival institutions, both at the national and international levels
  • To encourage greater liberalization of access to archival holdings
  • To help in developing greater professionalism and a scientific temper among creators, custodians and users of records for proper care and use of our documentary heritage

At present National Archives of India is an attached office under the Ministry of Culture its headquarters are located in New Delhi. To get the List of Indian Government Ministries, Departments & Other Agencies, UPSC aspirants can visit the linked article. 

Daily News 2021

About the National Archives Museum

  • The Museum of National Archives was set up in the department in 1998 with an aim to promote archival awareness among the masses
  • It was on July 6, 1998, that the Museum of National Archives was formally opened for the public by the then President of India, K.R Narayanan
  • The Government of India intends to make the museum more interactive and user friendly to enable the people all over the country to understand the rich heritage of the Nation
Also Know:

What is Abhilekh Patal?

Abhilekh Patal is a full-featured web portal to access the National Archives of India’s reference media and its digitized collections through the internet and was launched on March 11, 2015, on the occasion of 125th Foundation Day Celebrations. 

Abhilekh Patal is a Sanskrit term, wherein Abhilekh means records and Patal means a board platform.

National Archives of India [UPSC Notes]:-Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about National Archives of India

How are the records in the National Archives of India categorised?

The holdings in the National Archives are in a regular series starting from the year 1748. The languages of the records include English, Arabic, Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit and Urdu, and their materials include paper, palm leaf, birch bark and parchment. The records are in four categories: Public Records, Oriental Records, Manuscripts and Private Papers.

What is the additional function of National Archives of India?

The National Archives of India functions as an Attached Office of the Department of Culture under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India

Visit the UPSC Syllabus page and get acquainted with the detailed topic-wise syllabus for the prelims and mains examination. 

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