In a significant initiative, Panjab University is all set to launch its “Oral History Project”, in Chandigarh on Sunday. Its website will be formally inaugurated by Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore.
The website, with Prof Rajesh Kochhar as administrator and editor, contains a brief history of Panjab University from 1947 till 1958, before it started moving to Chandigarh.
As a first step, the website is publishing reminiscences of three persons, eminent in their own fields. who received their degrees in mid-1950s.
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There are many rare photographs from the personal collection of the authors which are being published on the internet for the first time. Panjab University had begun as a refugee university barely 70 years ago and led a rather precarious existence for the first decade or so.
Oral history is now increasingly recognised the world over as a valuable complement to “official history”. Oral history permits us to appreciate the perspectives of persons who may not figure in official records. In the Indian context, it is not common for historical players to write diaries, enter into extensive personal correspondence or to preserve it. Oral history would provide these eminent persons an opportunity to tell their stories. Personal reminiscences can provide nuggets of information and insights which help place official facts in perspective, and permit us to develop history as a human experience rather than a mere directory of names and dates.
The project aims to spread awareness about the University’s heritage and encourage people to digitise/ donate/ preserve old documents, issues of college and university magazines, old photographs, etc. It is hoped that the website would enable the project to contact others who have been associated with the early University, in one way or the other.