Rare maps, illustrated manuscripts take centre stage at Festival of Libraries - Hindustan Times
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Rare maps, illustrated manuscripts take centre stage at Festival of Libraries

PTI | | Posted by Krishna Priya Pallavi, New Delhi
Aug 07, 2023 12:11 PM IST

Ministry of Culture is organising the Festival of Libraries to promote the development and digitisation of libraries and cultivate the culture of reading.

A chronologically placed series of maps, some of which seem like that of a distant land, at the 'Festival of Libraries' here shows the slow and tedious progression of India's map to its current form. President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the Festival of Libraries at the Pragati Maidan here on Saturday. It is being organised by the Ministry of Culture with the aim to promote the development and digitisation of libraries and cultivate the culture of reading.

President Droupadi Murmu with Union Ministers Arjun Ram Meghwal inaugurated the Festival of Libraries 2023 at Pragati Maidan. (PIB)
President Droupadi Murmu with Union Ministers Arjun Ram Meghwal inaugurated the Festival of Libraries 2023 at Pragati Maidan. (PIB)

The exhibition "Mapped: Great Trigonometric Survey" by the Asiatic Society of Mumbai and Past Present Heritage Management has put on display a selection of maps of India, created before and after the great trigonometrical survey by the East India Company in 1802.

Murmu said the development of libraries is correlated to the development of society and culture. It is also a measure of the progress of civilizations, she said. She stated history is full of references in which the invaders considered it necessary to destroy the libraries.

"This shows that libraries have been considered a symbol of the collective consciousness and intellect of a country or society. Such incidents do not happen in the modern era but there are incidents of disappearance of rare manuscripts and books," she said.

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"In ancient and medieval periods, people of many countries carried books from India, translated those and gained knowledge. At the heart of such efforts is the thought that books and libraries are the common heritage of humanity. A small book has the potential to change the course of world history," she said.

Through a series of 10 maps, the earliest dating back to 1700, the exhibition has shown how the current Indian map came to existence since colonial powers started taking active interest in the country.

"Mapped" is but one part of the larger exhibition on rare maps and cartographic material by the National Archives of India which has displayed a number of maps series, including 'Historical Map Series', 'Forest Map Series', 'Map Records and Issue Office Miscellaneous Maps Collection', 'The Revenue Map Series', and 'Printed and Published Map Series'.

The two-day event aims to initiate a dialogue on "the modernisation and digitisation of libraries" and is also a treat for book lovers with several exhibitions, author sessions and other interactions lined up.

"The festival aims to initiate a dialogue on the modernisation and digitisation of libraries and ignite a resurgence of the reading culture in India. By facilitating advocacy for action-oriented policies, the festival seeks to develop model libraries even at the village and community levels, ensuring that knowledge reaches every nook and corner of the nation," said Mugdha Sinha. joint secretary, Ministry of Culture.

Apart from the exhibition on rare maps, the visitors can also witness collections of rare books from the Museum of Word from Kolkata, ancient encyclopaedias, cultural archives, tribal fonts, literature proscribed during the British rule, calligraphy, cursive writing, and illustrated manuscripts.

Another section of the event focuses on rare manuscripts composed in the Indian subcontinent from the 5th century CE to the 20th century.

The manuscripts in the collection deal with different subjects encompassing Indian philosophy, spirituality, yoga, medicine, language and grammar, religious texts, Sufism, and legislation.

A collection of illustrated manuscripts, dating between 14th-19th century, contains pages from the Ramayana translated in Persian by Sumer Chand in 1715 CE, pages of Razmnama, a persian translation of Mahabharata commissioned by Akbar in 1580 CE, and pages from the various Ragamala paintings that depict a range of musical melodies in the form of Ragas and Ragini.

The event will also facilitate panel discussions among organisers of about eight literature festivals, publishing houses, young authors, representatives of literary residencies and retreats as well as librarians from G20 and SCO countries.

The festival will culminate with a valedictory function chaired by Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, who will release the first volume of the Directory of Libraries and ‘Biblio-on-Demand’ scheme as part of the ‘One Nation, One Subscription’ policy.

Dhankhar will also attend the virtual ground-breaking ceremony for the modernisation of the Delhi Public Library.

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.
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