April 13, 2017 1:56:43 pm
Over 3,000 rare and near-extinct books and manuscripts, written in Sanskrit, Prakrit and Pali, will be housed in soon-to-be launched digital library. Some of these books, belonging to Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), date back to 1923. “Though this institute deals with age-old scripts, it is imminent that we move ahead with time and digitise these rare scripts,” chairman of BORI’s executive committee Bhupal Patwardhan told The Indian Express. The institute has entered its centenary year in 2017 and has constituted a special three-member committee to examine its collection of books — estimated to be over 15,000. The team has been tasked with scanning the rarest books.
According to the institute’s honorary secretary, Maitreyee Deshpande, the biggest challenge in digitising these century-old books is handling the delicate pages, particularly while scanning. For such books, BORI has procured a high-resolution German scanner, worth Rs 15 lakh. With just one scanner in their possession at present, researchers think the restoration process would take at least five years. Digitisation, which started in July last year, gained momentum only recently, after the central government approved the revised budget proposal. Though a lion’s share of the budget has been assigned for renovation, upgradation and infrastructural improvements at BORI, an estimated Rs 2 crore is being spent on digitisation. A part of the government funds will also be spent in digitising 28,000 manuscripts possessed by the institute.
These manuscripts were previously preserved at Mumbai’s Elphistone College and Pune’s Deccan College. They were handed over to BORI in 1918 for future preservation. The National Mission for Manuscripts has recognised BORI as the Manuscript Resource Centre in the country. So far, as many as 12,000 of the total manuscripts have been scanned and preserved.
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