Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I have been in receipt of the following comments from a reader of my article in rediff.com in the US:

"Several of us in the scholarly community have been commenting on your piece on sources, I thought you’d be interested in the remarks of one young scholar who’s done extensive archival work in several countries:

"I agree with his premise though he's not entirely correct that there has been no declassification at all. A number of MEA files from the 1950s have been declassified--though MOD has declassified almost nothing. And one can find other documents in ministers and senior bureaucrats' papers (incl from the 1960s and 1970s) at Teen Murti. At this point, for example, all the memcons from the Sino-Indian border talks are available in these collections (they were not included in the white papers); files re the Korean War, correspondence between Delhi and the Indian agencies in Tibet re Tibet and the Sino-Indian border, and reports from the Indian embassies in Beijing and Washington in the 1950s are available at the National Archives. Re the reports Raman mentions, while the Raghavan committee report might not be available, one can find primary material on the formation of R&AW in the Haksar papers.

"The bigger challenge I think is making the declassification process more systematic and transparent. At the moment it's very ad hoc and arbitrary and this allows MEA/MOD to keep anything it can deem "in the interest of national security" classified. The Right to Information Act doesn't really serve as a work-around because of its national security exemption (which the MEA has learned to use better post-fracas over a RTI filed for the Sharm-el-Sheikh statement files)."