Delhi govt to archive oral history of locals
NEW DELHI: The Delhi government on Monday signed an MoU with Ambedkar University and launched an "Oral History Programme" to record historical events from the memories of Delhiites — elites and commoners alike. Delhi Archives, in collaboration with the Ambedkar University, will record 100 interviews of the city's senior citizens in two years.
To fill unwritten maps of history and make knowledge more inclusive, the project in its first phase will include author-historian RV Smith, photographer Raghu Rai, musician and head of Dilli Gharana Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan, senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, and journalist Salma Sultan. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the project will offer much to the country owing to the city's composite culture.
He said the first phase of the initiative will map senior citizens' connect with Delhi. "The elderly are a treasure trove of stories and the custodians of our history. Through common experiences and shared histories, people might realise we have more in common than what those wanting to polarise our society would want us to believe," he said in a statement. "It is also essential to
disseminate oral history as it will help tackle constant attempts to manipulate our past to advance a particular narrative," Sisodia added.
Speaking at an event held here, Abhinandita Mathur, cultural advisor to the Delhi government, said archiving oral history should solve issues as there are more similarities than differences. "While talking to elders, my community members and people belonging to different communities, I realised that their experiences were more similar than different," she said. "And I think in today's time it's a really important lesson. Delhi can boast of a composite culture but what it actually means is not very clear to someone young. When we live in a city we have common experiences," Mathur added. A panel discussion was held on "Oral History in the City: Potential and Possibilities". Noted historians S Irfan Habib and R V Smith, professor at Ambedkar University Denys Leighton, archivist Usha Purie and researcher-historian Sohail Hashmi also attended the event.