Feedback | Thursday, June 13, 2024

National Archives of India Undertakes First Overseas Digitization of Diaspora Records in Oman

In a collaborative effort, the Indian Embassy in Muscat and the National Archives of India (NAI) successfully completed a first-of-its-kind project to archive historical documents of the Indian diaspora in Oman.
 
Titled “The Oman Collection – Archival Heritage of the Indian Community in Oman,” the project ran from May 19th to 27th, 2024. It saw enthusiastic participation from 32 prominent Indian families from Gujarat, whose presence in Oman dates back 250 years.
 
Marking a significant step for the NAI, this was their first overseas venture in digitizing diaspora documents. Over 7,000 documents in English, Arabic, Gujarati, and Hindi were digitized under this project, with the oldest dating back to 1838 and most from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
 
These included personal diaries, account books, ledgers, telegrams, trade invoices, passports, citations, letters, correspondences, and photographs, offering insights into the Indian community’s lives, cultural practices, social activities, trade, commerce, and contributions to Omani society.
 
The digitized collection will be uploaded to the NAI’s online portal “Abhilekh Patal,” making it accessible to researchers and the public. The project also included recording oral histories from elder members of the community. These firsthand accounts capture personal stories, migration experiences, and the community’s evolution over time, enriching the archival records.
 
“This marks a historic milestone for the NAI and a significant step towards preserving the rich heritage and narratives of the diverse overseas Indian community” said Arun Singhal, Director General of the NAI.
 
Indian Ambassador to Oman, Amit Narang, highlighted the project’s alignment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of strengthening diaspora ties ; “We are rekindling a vital part of our shared heritage,” he said.
 
Sheikh Anil Khimji, head of the Indian community in Oman, expressed gratitude to PM Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar for their diaspora engagement efforts, stating that the archiving initiative will preserve the Indian diaspora’s history and showcase the enduring India-Oman friendship.
 
The initiative was supported by Oman’s National Records and Archives Authority (NRAA).This project not only safeguards historical records but also fosters deeper engagement with the Indian diaspora in Oman. It serves as a valuable resource for researchers and future generations, promoting a better understanding of the longstanding India-Oman friendship.
 
Oman hosts nearly 700,000 Indians today, with Indians having resided in the Sultanate since the late 18th century CE, primarily as merchant families from Mandvi, Surat, and other parts of Gujarat. These families have integrated into Omani society, with many becoming citizens, while maintaining strong ties with their motherland.
 
Vinod Kumar (UAE)
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Last Updated: 13th Jun 2024