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Yale project on S Asian Independence history

America's Yale University launches a project to preserve the historical record of the Independence struggle in India, Pakistan and other South Asian nations.
By Arun Kumar | IANS, Washington
UPDATED ON AUG 14, 2007 06:53 PM IST

A project to preserve the broadest historical record of the independence struggle in India, Pakistan and other South Asian nations has been launched by America's Yale University.

The South Asian Independence Movement (SAIM) project launched on Tuesday to mark the 60th anniversary of the two South Asian neighbours' independence is seeking physical or digital artefacts and memorabilia associated with events or people involved in the freedom movement.

The New Haven, Connecticut, South Asian Studies Council (SASC) of the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Centre for International and Area Studies at Yale is also looking for personal recollections and narratives describing experiences from the period to enrich the published and archival record.

In addition, the SAIM project aims to supplement the scholarly and historic collections of the Yale University Library by filling key gaps in books and other archival materials collections related to the independence movement.

Mridu Rai, associate professor of history at the Yale University, said: "These human insights are important to gather before they fade away because they can bring to life the published record of the era."

"We are asking people to help us write history by sharing with us their reflections along with any memorabilia they might possess relating to those momentous times."

Barin Desai, a US-based physician and Pravin Bhatt, a retired Yale research scholar and secretary emeritus of SASC, acted as catalysts behind the SAIM project to commemorate the actual people, the heroes of the independence movements across the sub-continent.

Bhatt secured the first pieces of the collection through his friend Vijayaben M Pancholi, a student of Mahatma Gandhi and an inmate of his ashram. She donated rosary beads, yarn for a sari spun by Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturba, and several letters written by Gandhi to Pancholi.

Phyllis Granoff, Lex Hixon professor of world religions and chair of the SASC, established a committee to provide academic oversight for the SAIM project.

The committee consists of Mridu Rai; Nayan Chanda, Yale Centre for the Study of Globalisation; Richard Richie, South and Southeast Asian Collection, Sterling Memorial Library; Nancy Ruther, Associate Director of the MacMillan Center; and Pravin N Bhatt.

The current SAIM project community liaisons (country represented) are Barin Desai (India), AG Abbasi (Pakistan), Rahima Chaudhury (Bangladesh) and Nihal C de Lanerolle (Sri Lanka).

SAIM and the council will also call on a group of expert advisers for the project including Rajmohan Gandhi of the University of Illinois, DR Sardesai of the University of California, Ela Bhatt of the Self-Employed Women's Association and Shashi Tharoor of the Afras Ventures among others.

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