Over 15 lakh print and digital documents, over 75,000 still images, 500-odd audio and video recordings, paintings, awards such as Bharat Ratna, medals, citations and collections of memorabilia spanning over many decades — all these and more can be found in the collection of Tata Central Archives (TCA), which is hosting an exhibition to commemorate 25 years.
The exhibition, which starts on Saturday, will go on till January 31 at the TCA, Mangaldas Road. It will feature key milestones in the TCA’s journey, including panels on its formative years and the various moving exhibitions hosted across the country, among others, depicting the journey of the Tata Group.
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Talking about the inception of TCA, Farokh N Subedar, chairman of Tata Services, said, “The need and importance of such an entity was felt through the years, before its actual establishment. J R D Tata, the then Tata Group chairman, first felt the need to set up an archive when Tata Airlines was nationalised in 1953 and Tatas lost all records to the government. He never anticipated that a day would come when he would not be in a position to access his own records. The need was also prompted by the paucity of an official repository of records, while compiling a book to mark the centenary celebrations of the Empress Mills at Nagpur, a flagship venture of founder, Jamsetji Tata.”
The proposal to establish a business archive was mooted by Russi M Lala, the Tata chronicler who understood the importance of protecting and preserving written and spoken words, before they were destroyed. In 1978, JRD Tata had said with history adding new chapters ever so frequently, the need to capture the passing moments was essential.
On September 5, 1990, it was finally decided by the Board of Tata Sons to establish Tata Central Archives. It was inaugurated on January 7, 1991.
As it is the corporate business archives of the Tata Group, thousands of documents, letters, photographs, memorabilia, press clippings, audio-video recordings and other material related to the genesis and development of the Tata Group, its leading personalities and manifold activities, are stored and preserved in its state-of-the-art facilities.
Over the years, TCA has become the custodian of over 16 lakh non-active Tata-related archival records of evidential and historical value.The TCA has worked proactively to protect the historical legacy for future generations through appropriate preservation and conservation methods in climate-controlled repositories with sophisticated security and surveillance systems, said Subedar.
So far, the TCA has curated and organised over 20 thematic exhibitions on various personalities, companies and institutions in the Tata Group across the country. Talking about the future plans of the TCA, Subedar said, “We will be focusing on digitally born records and their archiving, oral/video history projects and increasing our outreach programmes — through moving exhibitions — to reach out to different sections of society.”