India’s Liberal Treasure Chest

A one of its kind online archive saves rare historic documents

Promoting debates about liberalism and upholding what we believe is a proud history of liberal discourse and activism in India, is an important objective of the project work of the Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). With the proliferation of the digital media, much of this effort has moved online. We are particularly fond of the website, a one of its kind online archive of historic liberal documents threated to be buried into oblivion if not for the spirited engagement of curator and editor Kumar Anand and the determination of our partners at the Centre for Civic Society (CCS).

For all those interested in the history of India’s liberalism, the website is a treasure chest. There you will find a huge number of liberal writings, lectures, articles and other documents. Audio and video materials add to the richness of the site. The portal contains liberal material dating back to the early 19th century and reaching to the present. “You have to understand the past to determine how to tackle the future”, says FNF’s Regional Director Dr. Ronald Meinardus.  So, in a way it’s far more than a mere academic or historiographic exercise. “The portal reminds us that there has been a tradition in India for a liberal polity. It is almost a civilizational principle facilitated by the fact that we are such diverse country”, says prominent journalist and author Arun Shourie at the launch of the website.

While the bulk of the curated material is in English, the editors have started to record historic documents also in Marathi. Other vernacular languages are to follow. The online archive is a work in progress.

Check it out –you’ll be surprised how rich India’s liberal tradition is.