The government of India has a curious habit. It spares no effort on buying documents and personal effects of Gandhiji and storing them in its lightless archives. At the same time, it is most reluctant to grant access to scholars to any papers it remotely considers “sensitive”.
The latest example is its purchase of the Gandhi-Hermann Kallenbach papers. Kallenbach, an architect, was a close collaborator of Gandhiji in South Africa. The two issues may appear distinct, but they are not. The history of a country can’t be divided into what is acceptable to the government and what is not: that is not history, it is hagiography.
No Indian scholar has access to papers on vital post-1947 events such as the 1962 war with China, let alone recent matters such as our involvement in Sri Lanka after 1987. India’s archives access policy is perhaps one of the most illiberal anywhere in the world. It should be discarded fast.