Commentary: Exhibition - India at 70 and the Jammu & Kashmir Saga

On the occasion of 70 years of Jammu & Kashmir’s accession to India, an interactive digital exhibition was organised by the National Archives of India from January 11, 2018. The exhibition has been organised at the National Archives of India, Janpath, New Delhi, and is open for free public viewing on all days including Sundays till February 10, 2018.

Through the digital exhibition National Archives of India aimed to sensitise the youth of the country who are born in Independent India and sensitise them about the heroism, valour and sacrifice of the valorous souls of Indian Armed Forces and civilians. It is one of those rare opportunities provided by the National Archives where common citizens of India were able to step through the passages of official communications likes letters, telegrams and various archival rare documents pertaining to the Kashmir imbroglio. For this exhibition, History Division of the Ministry of Defence have contributed by providing rare inputs in the form of operational records, war diaries, dispatches etc. The exhibition was characterised by the rare expose of documents such as the Treaty of Lahore (March 11, 1846), Treaty of Amritsar (March 16, 1846), Standstill Agreement between Independent Dominion of India and Pakistan and Princely States of the British India prior to the integration of the new dominion, and the Instrument of Accession of October 27, 1947. It is a very significant initiative by the Ministry of Culture to sensitise the masses through the details of the accession of Jammu & Kashmir in such an interesting and lively manner.

The state of the art digital exhibition can be considered as a bridge to evolution of today’s India and a historical foundation for integration which builds the Union of India. Along with documents, an audio-visual digital display of rarest of the rare photographs, documentaries, soldier’s maps, newspaper reports of 1940’s and 1950’s, and number of books unfold the saga of dramatic yet humbling moments. During the exhibition one would span through the circumstances that led to the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to subsequent actions that protected integrity and restored peace in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Qualitative use of audio-visual means of communication enable the citizens of India to understand the social and cultural legacy of Jammu and Kashmir in true perspective.

In the exhibition, one steps through landmark events, well preserved in archival records to understand the idea of India and its legacy of democratic existence. It gives the first-hand view of developments achieved by India in 70 years of Independence and gives a factual account of challenges faced by India in maintaining its sovereignty. The beautifully curated exhibition provides a valuable insight about historical facts as to how various princely states were integrated into the Union of India.

(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)

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