Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project

Axel Michaels axel.michaels at URZ.UNI-HEIDELBERG.DE
Wed Dec 3 17:52:38 UTC 1997

As one of the former Directors of the NGMPP I can only confirm what
Michaels Witzel wrote about the situation. The agreement between H.M.G.
Nepal and the German Oriental Society was and is for the copy right of
their (!) texts and for the (financial) benefit of Nepal that microfilm
copies have to be ordered directly from the National Archives.

However, to quicken the procedure one can send the order to the NGMPP
office in Kathmandu (present director: Dr. Klaus-Dieter Mathes), P.O.Box
180, Kathmandu, who will look after it. Usually it does not take more
than a few days to receive a copy in Nepal since the staff is well
trained and very cooperative. The rest of the procedure depends
on money transfer and mail service (Getting a microfilm copy from
Cambridge University Library took me two months recently.)

That's it. There are no nationalistic ambitions in it. The NRC and the
NGMPP has always been an international institution with no nationalistic
restrictions at all. Microfilms are available for anybody in the world,
but if the Nepalese side wants to reserve the copy right, one has to
respect it. Such are politics.

However one could think of an addition tothe agreement that copies can be
ordered from Berlin if it is guaranteed that Nepal will get what she
would get if the microfilms were send from the National Archives. I don't
think that the Nepalese side would object it.

I shall send a copy of this e-mail to Prof. Wezler.

Best wishes, Axel Michaels

Michael Witzel wrote:
> The Thanksgiving vacation allows for a somewhat detailed answer and
> clarification, and some history:
> Since there have been few answers, I venture one here.
> The recent question by D. Wujastyk has been answered about a year ago by a
> current member of the NGMPP, Anne Macdonald, who has corrected my initial
> reaction then (FO5A006 at It should be in the
> Indology archives.
> >> I ask for reactions from members of INDOLOGY who have more intimate
> connections with this project than I do myself?  What *is* the position?
> Is it truly, as it currently appears, a matter of sheer nationality?  <<
> It is unfortunate that, again, the question of the Nepal-DMG agreement and
> the use of NGMPP microfilms are confounded with nationality -- and this
> inside the EU!
> For example, the project has employed,throughout its history, besides
> Nepalese and Germans, some British, Canadian, French, Indian, Italian
> nationals and maybe others.
> More importantly, based on my five years as director of the NGMPP at the
> National Archives of Nepal (1972-77) and from what I have heard afterwards
> I can categorically state that we have always tried to help all who asked
> for assistance, irrespective of nationality.  <Incidentally, I come from
> Swiebodzin, which is in Poland>. And we have hosted them at home or in the
> Nepal Research Center (run under the aegis of the DMG), again irrespective
> of nationality.
> The problem of the films, if it exists, is one of the *original agreement*
> of a quarter century ago. And that was difficult enough to negotiate.
> The agreement clearly speaks about the use of the films by the "the German
> Oriental Society" (DMG) not "members of the DMG". I may dig out the exact
> wording from my basement if the file has not been destroyed in recent
> flooding. ("rescuing and preservation" also here, where even the floods
> are bigger and better!)
> But from my years at the NGMPP and at the National Archives I know that
> the *interpretation* of the agreement *at Kathmandu* depends a little on
> the winds prevailing there at the moment in question. (Therefore my
> initial more "liberal" reaction about a year ago). Mostly, the good
> relationship between the two parties will allow to speed up things. If
> some local political mischief intervenes, NOT. --- POLITICS, as
> everywhere.
> The only, and ALSO the *safest* and easiest way is to apply to the
> National Archives, pay the cost for the film & the "MS tax" (it used to be
> some 0.75 cents US$ per folio; I don't know the present rate).
> If you send a copy of your application to the Director of the project
> (NGMPP, POB 180, Kathmandu), the NGMPP has ALWAYS been happy
> and, I am sure, still will be willing to help you out and facilitate a
> quick turn around. (Not 2 or  more months as with many European
> libraries).
> However, the *offical* procedure has to go through the Archives. (Chief
> Research Scholar, National Archives, Ram Shah Path, Kathmandu, Nepal).
> All of that was stated clearly a year ago or so, by Anne Macdonald
> (FO5A006 at
> Therefore, H.O.  Feistel is right when he says:
> > that this is explicitly stated in
> > the Nepal-Germany agreement.
> But the reason, as stated by R.Torella, is not correct:
> > The reason is that the Nepalese Archives want
> > to reserve for themselves only the right to get money for providing
> > microfilm copies (to non-German scholars).
> They also want the "copyright". And Germans also have to pay at Kathmandu.
> I paid for a number of MSS when I was in station, as director of the
> NGMPP at the very Archives, and also after that, when visiting during the
> Eighties.
> Simply, the NATIONAL ARCHIVES retain the right to allow use of the
> microfilms, the "copyright" if you will. And they take a small tax.
> MW.
> ===========================================================================
> Michael Witzel                                  witzel at
> phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295 (voice & messages), 496 8570, fax 617 - 496 8571
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

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