The Archaeological and literary sources are the backbone of the histography. From these sources, historians explore and try to understand what happened in the past. India has an ancient civilisation with a deep historicity and possesses an estimate of ten million manuscripts, probably the largest collection in the world. These cover a variety of themes, textures and aesthetics, scripts, languages, calligraphies, illuminations and illustrations.
Before moving on to the discussion about the National Mission on Manuscripts, we must understand the term Manuscript.
What is Manuscript?
Manuscript is a hand written records of the past on the surfaces of palm leaves, the bark of birch tree, vellum, papyrus, parchment, etc. For Example- Veda, Purana, Works of Kalidasa, Sangam Literature, Arthshastra of Kautilya etc.
What is National Mission on Manuscripts?
The National Mission for Manuscripts was established in February 2003 under Ministry of Culture, Government of India to survey, locate and conserve Indian manuscripts, with an aim to create national resource base for manuscripts, for enhancing their access, awareness and use for educational purposes.
This mission is working towards fulfilling its motto, ‘conserving the past for the future’. It has emerged as a movement, undoubtedly the most popular and effective among all the heritage conservation initiatives in the country.
Objectives of the National Mission on Manuscripts
1. To facilitate conservation and preservation of manuscripts through training, awareness and financial supports
2. To document and catalogue Indian manuscripts, wherever they may be, maintain accurate and up-to-date information about them and the condition under which they may be consulted
3. To promote ready access to these manuscripts through publication, both in book form as well as electronic form
4. To boost scholarship and research in the study of Indian languages and manuscriptology
5. To build up a National Manuscript Library at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)
Hence, we can say that the mission is a National level comprehensive initiative which caters to the need of conserving manuscripts and disseminating knowledge contained therein.