Kudos to The Asiatic Sub-Committee!

 In Urban Conservation (Asiatic Society)

The Town Hall which houses the Asiatic Society of Mumbai is a heritage building, located deep in the city’s historic Fort area, shaped by colonial geography, architecture and sculpture. The Asiatic Society of Mumbai forms part of the network of institutions created by the British to generate, systematize and disseminate knowledge of India and the Orient: a vast and cumulative body of information, learning and knowledge which became constituted into the field of Indology. RCB’s Asiatic Sub- Committee has been making a big difference to this historical landmark by supporting the crucial and monumental task of ‘Restoration, Conservation and Preservation’ of the books and manuscripts and prolonging their life.

Collectively, the team members of the Asiatic Sub-Committee, each of whom has committed to at least a three-year stint, work on various fronts, comprising both – short-term actions and long-term projects. They have been working through the main challenge of operating within the semi-government organizational structure at The Asiatic, which slows down decision-making and action. Even so, good progress has been made on several fronts. An overview of the activities implemented includes the complete cleaning and maintenance of the Asiatic premises, in partnership with Forbes Facility Management (thanks to Rtn. Suresh Goklaney, Executive Vice Chairman of Forbes Facility), since October 2015. A comprehensive pest control programme will also be introduced to reduce risk to the books and premises.

To aid preservation of Maps, storage cabinets have been provided (thanks to Rtn. Samir Chinai) and other relevant requirements are being ascertained to protect 1,600 maps in the library’s collection. In order to popularize the venue and get more footfalls, a series of programmes have been undertaken. For instance, a unique presentation marked the inaugural meeting and signing of the MOU between the RCB and The Asiatic – a recitation of famous speeches and articles from the archives of the Asiatic. Another equally unique and exclusive event is slated to take place on the 16th of February, 2016, where the famous dancer, Astaad Deboo will perform an enthralling sequence at the Asiatic on the theme of Tagore’s poetry.

Long Term Projects include expansion plans for The Book Conservation Centre, where plans have been approved and work is likely to start in April 2016, at a cost of approximately Rs. 30 lakhs. Additionally, in keeping with the need for urgent restoration and digitization of The Asiatic’s valuable collection of ancient books, funds to restore 88 old books have already been raised. Generous Rotarians are requested to come forward and make good the shortfall of 12 books for this year’s target of 100. The Asiatic Sub-Committee looks forward to all Rotarians participating enthusiastically and supporting their plans in sustaining Mumbai’s rich and irreplaceable heritage at The Asiatic.

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