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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approves policy on archiving, declassification of war histories

The policy also set clear timelines with regard to compilation and publication of war/operations histories.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approves policy on archiving, declassification of war histories-dnm
New Delhi, First Published Jun 12, 2021, 1:51 PM IST
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New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved the policy on archiving, declassification and compilation or publication of war and operations histories. 

Under the new policy by the Defence Ministry, it envisages that each organisation under it such as Services, Integrated Defence Staff, Assam Rifles and Indian Coast Guard, will transfer the records, including war diaries, letters of proceedings and operational record books, among others to its history division for proper upkeep, archival and writing the histories.

“The responsibility for declassification of records rests with the respective organisations as specified in the Public Record Act 1993 and Public Record Rules 1997, as amended from time to time,” the Ministry said. 

As per the new policy, the records should ordinarily be declassified in 25 years. 

Records older than 25 years should be appraised by archival experts and transferred to the National Archives of India once the war and operations histories have been compiled. 

“The History Division will be responsible for coordination with various departments while compiling, seeking approval and publishing of war/operations histories,” it said. 

The policy also set clear timelines with regard to compilation and publication of war/operations histories. 

As per the policy, a new committee should be formed within two years of completion of war and operations. The committee should be headed by Joint Secretary in the ministry and comprising of representatives of the Services, foreign ministry, home ministry and other organisations and prominent military historians (if required).

The collection of records and compilation should be completed in three years and disseminated to all concerned, it added.

Kargil Review Committee headed by K Subrahmanyam in 1999 as well as N N Vohra Committee in 1993 had recommended for the requirement of having war histories written with clear cut policy on declassification of war records. The aim is to analyse lessons learnt and prevent future mistakes. 

Post Kargil War, the group of ministers recommendations on national security also mentioned the desirability of authoritative war history.

“Timely publication of war histories would give people accurate account of the events, provide authentic material for academic research and counter the unfounded rumours,” the ministry said.

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