JU to publish about 5K digitised images of rare Santhali docus

KOLKATA: Jadavpur University (JU) is leading the way in digitisation and preservation of manuscripts and rare documents in Santhali and is all set to publish 5000 digitised images, which will be available in public domain, in August. The School of Cultural Texts and Records at JU has undertaken the project under the 'Endangered Archive Programme' through financial assistance from the British Library.

The various publications from 1890 till 1975 have been taken up for digitisation under this project. "There are many rare documents in Santhali but publications are rare and so research resources are limited. Moreover, the paper quality of the publications being poor even the available documents are on the verge of

destruction. Hence, we have taken up the challenging task of digitisation and preservation of such documents that throw light on the lifestyle and culture of the Santhali people," Rahi Soren, Assistant Professor at The School of Oceanographic Studies of JU who is leading this project said.

The collection of Dr. Dablu Soren who had travelled to remote places in search of drama and other literary genres in Santali will form the crux of the digitised images. Soren had done his PhD from JU on Santhali drama and his collection dates from the early 1900s.

The short stories, songs, poems collected by Mahadeb Hansda of Bandwan in Purulia also find their places in the monthly magazine 'Tetre' edited by him will also be digitised.

The National library of Oslo, in Norway is known to have a rich archive in Santali language but in India there has been rarely an effort to bring manuscripts in Santhali before public domain.

Apart from Bengal, eastern states like Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam have a good number of Santhali population.

Since the inclusion of Santali in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution in 2003, formal education in Santali language started and schools teaching in Santali medium have increased considerably. Especially in Bengal, from 2011, the state government has provided an impetus for higher studies among the Santhals.

The digitised documents will be a boon to those who want to take up research associated with this tribal community.

Printing press in Santali came much later so the works by the likes of Late Pandit Raghuram Murmu, Late Sadhu Ramchand Murmu, Mahadeb Hansda were mostly self-published and hence their immense contribution to Santhali literature have remained out of bounds.

The School of Cultural Texts and Records was set up at JU in 2003 to consolidate the activities of the University across the broad field of archiving, digitisation, bibliography, textual studies, editing and book history. Its activities extend to text, image and music archives, oral histories and audio-visual records.

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