Inauguration of the Asiatic Society Conservation Lab

 In Urban Conservation (Asiatic Society)

The restoration of Asiatic Society’s Conservation Lab was spearheaded by RCB’s Urban Heritage Renewal Committee under the leadership of PP Dr. Sonya Mehta, with a view to restore, digitize and preserve the literary treasures that resided in the Town Hall of Mumbai.

Despite its competent team of conservationists, the Society was unable to meet its expected number of book restorations in a year due to constraints in infrastructure. In order to overcome this, an MOU was signed last year whereby the capacity of the Conservation Lab was doubled with greater floor space, increase in the number of drying platforms and shelves, and equipment to control temperature and humidity.

That’s not all! Rotarians have also pledged to restore the first 100 books setting a perfect example to the ideal of service. India! The front page of an average Indian newspaper is 66% about New Delhi, Mumbai comes 2nd amongst other metros because of Bollywood and Stock Market. And by the time you come to Tier 2 metros and Tier 3 metros, it’s gone“, he retorted.

“So what is it that we do cover? During my mapping I realized that India breaks up into 95 regions, by which I mean natural physical regions, or a historically evolved region or both. The data show us that no newspaper or channels in this country covers more then 8 to 10 regions in any significant manner! That is why we have generation after generation emerging from schools and colleges, or without education that know nothing about their country!“

“Rural India is in a period of great struggle, discontent, collapse and a huge battle. This has seen the largest movement of human beings (even greater than the partition) in the last 10 years. The level of migration in India, outstrips the movement  captured in the 1961 census.”

“Therefore, my friends and I, after having worked 35 years in mainstream journalism, started the Peoples Archive of Rural India (PARI). It is for me, an Archive of the past, a journal of the present and a textbook of the past, present and future. It is constantly updated. It is volunteer driven organization. We don’t have a single full-time employee, as we cannot afford it, but we have 1700 volunteers, including some of the finest journalists in the country.”

Every piece for us is multi media production – we have videos embedded in the text articles with slideshows of the images shot. We have an online library entirely dedicated to rural India which can be referred by young researchers and college students as even libraries don’t have this material.

“Remember, if we understand these various skills in a richer and a more civilized sense, we will have the most skilled society on earth. If not, we will end up demolishing those skills, letting them lapse, and ensuring they die!”

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