In 2003, National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM), a Mission mode Project, was launched by the Ministry of Culture for documentation, conservation, preservation and digitization of manuscripts. A unique project in its programme and mandate, the Mission seeks to unearth and preserve the vast manuscript wealth of India.
Till date, the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) has documented 43.16 lakh manuscripts, conserved 434.56 lakh folios of manuscripts, digitised 283 lakh pages of 2.96 lakh manuscripts and published 44 rare and unpublished manuscripts. From its inception in 2003 to 31st March 2018, an amount of Rs 9,666 lakh was released by the Ministry of Culture and an amount of Rs 9,544 lakh was spent on it.
The manuscripts documented and digitized by the NMM will be made available to researcher and scholars through a trusted digital repository. The ultimate object of the Mission is to establish a Digital Manuscripts Repository at IGNCA in which researchers and scholars can view and consult the manuscripts to understand our past in its totality, according to Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent charge) for culture.
The budget allocation for the financial year 2018-19 has been increased to Rs. 1500.00 lakh against the budget allocation of Rs. 1200.00 lakh for the financial year 2017-18. As the copyright of the manuscripts is reserved with the owners of the manuscripts, at present, only 6 pages (first 3 pages and last 3 pages) can be viewed by the user.
To resolve the copyright issue, Ministry has constituted a committee to draft a Bill regarding accessibility of Manuscripts. India possesses an estimate of ten million manuscripts, probably the largest collection in the world. These cover a variety of themes, textures and aesthetics, scripts, languages, calligraphies, illuminations and illustrations.
The Mission has the mandate of identifying, documenting, conserving and making accessible the manuscript heritage of India. Former President R Venkataraman, Trustee of the IGNCA Trust, had said that of all the ancient civilizations the Indian civilization alone was live.
India had a huge wealth of knowledge on all subjects in these manuscripts as yet undiscovered. He emphasized on the need to approach individuals as a vast number of muscripts are lying in personal custody. These should be acquired, he said.