AS reported in Express News Service Monday June 30 2008 11:18 IST
THRISSUR: THE micro-films of 1238 rare books from the library of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi were taken and sent to the US Congress library without the approval of the general council or the executive committee of the Akademi.
According to the details provided to former publication officer of the Akademi C K Anandan Pillai by the Public Information Officer of the Akademi under the Right to Information Act, micro-filming of these selected rare books from the library of the Akademi was done at the archives of Tamil Nadu from July 17, 1996 to March 26, 1998 for an Indo-US project.
In his letter dated March 6, 2008 to Anandan Pillai, the Akademi official has stated that the Tamil Nadu Archives had send the positive copies of the micro film to the Akademi and the US Congress Library while retaining one copy of the positive with the Archives.
The negative of the micro film was sent to the Union Government. Anandan Pillai said that the Akademi official had not disclosed either the details of the Indo-US project or the reason for the US Congress Library seeking the microfilms of these rare books, in his letter to him. The letter has stated that the Akademi records do not show that the work had the approval of the Akademiís general council or the executive committee.
He said that he has written to the higher authorities for further details in the matter.
Anandan Pillai said that during the period of micro-filming of these books, K L Mohanavarma and M T Vasudevan Nair were the secretary and president respectively of the Akademi.
I do not understand the outrage about sending copies of rare books to US Library or for that matter any library. It is in the interest of everybody to have the greatest dissemination of the writings of the scholars. These writings are very old and have no copyright protection under any law. All the holdings of US Library of Congress are open to public, US citizen or not. So hopefully having copies in US library, will make them accessible to anyone interested in these works. That should be commended. not criticized.
The issue is NOT the good or bad in greatest disemmination of the writtings of eminent Indian scholers. It is how the interested parties in the US Congress managed to get the micro-films of 1238 rare books in the custody of an Indian Library without the approval of the General Council or the Executive Copmmittee of the Accademy. Micro-filming of 1238 rare books of the library is not a simple task. It cannot be done in secrecy. How come that none of the members of the General Council or the Executive Council is not aware of it ? The Librarian cannot be let off if he has failed to apprise it to the Executive Council. In case they are aware, how come they did not rise the issue so far. The entire episode smell too fishy.
It is worth finding out as to who approached whom with the above requirement, who was the middle man , how much was the payment made by the US Congress Library and where the money has gone. I don't think that we are that magnanimous to give it free.
The most serious concern is that if certain interested parties of a foreign couuntry can get what they need and take it out of India without the knowledge of the general public of this country and without the permission of the authorities concerned, there is something very seriously wrong in the system. This issue defenitelyneed probing.
This information would not have expossed authentically but for the Right to Information Act. This is defenitely an achievement. I am anxious to know whether Mr.CK Ananthan Pillai could get the information easily from the PIO or has to struggle for it.