History is dominated by voice of the ruling classes; Delhi govt wants to record voices of Delhi’s aam insaans: Dy CM Manish Sisodia

– Delhi government’s Oral History Programme launched by Delhi Archives & Ambedkar University, Delhi

– 100 interviews will be conducted of Delhi residents over 2 years

New Delhi: Delhi Archives, in collaboration with Ambedkar University, Delhi, launched the Delhi Government’s ‘Oral History Programme’ at the India International Centre today.

The project spearheaded by the Deputy chief minister Sh Manish Sisodia, is an extension of its agenda to democratize knowledge. By recording the memories of 100 of Delhi’s ordinary residents from different strata of society over the next two years, the project aims to document the history of the city from the perspective of its inhabitants.

Dy CM Manish Sisodia who was unable to make it to the program sent his written message: “The historical narrative is dominated by the voices of the ruling class, excluding the experiences of ordinary citizens. This imbalance leaves a critical gap that fails to project the real picture. It is perhaps for this one-sided historical perspective that history becomes unrelatable to most people. The story of Delhi is not just about epic wars and the fall and rise of kingdoms, it is also about intimate details, the songs, festivals, weddings, the recipes, the businesses that will come alive for the younger generation.

The first phase of the initiative will map senior citizen’s connect with Delhi. The elderly are a treasure trove of stories and the custodians of our history.  Known for its composite culture, Delhi’s history will have much to offer to the country. Through common experiences and shared histories, people might realise we have more in common than what those wanting to polarise our society would want us to believe.  It is also essential to disseminate oral history as it will help tackle constant attempts to manipulate our past to advance a particular narrative.”

Today’s program began with a panel discussion on the topic “Oral History in the City: Potential and Possibilities” with noted historian Prof S. Irfan Habib, veteran chronicler Shri R.V. Smith, AUD Prof Dr. Denys Leighton, Cultural Advisor Ms. Abhinandita Mathur and archivist Ms. Usha Purie as participants, and noted researcher and historian Shri Sohail Hashmi as the moderator.

After screening two short films, distinguished guests such as Prof Anu Singh Lather (VC, Ambedkar University), Ms Rinku Dhugga (Secretary, ACL, Delhi Archives) and Mr Ajay Garg (Director, Delhi Archives) joined in the discussion. An MoU was signed between Ambedkar University and Delhi Archives as a formal beginning to the project.

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