rescuing things (maybe the last time)

Robert J. Zydenbos zydenbos at BLR.VSNL.NET.IN
Thu Dec 4 10:26:20 UTC 1997

On Sun, 30 Nov 1997, Bijoy Misra wrote:

> Anyone thinking of so called "rescue" of documents
> from India or the subcontinent is utterly on
> the wrong track.  ....

> ...respect to a country's heritage and her people.

> I agree people have to get more serious to be protected against
> being "rescued".  I will do my bit.

"People" should be "protected against being rescued"? (Is this is new

> But on the point in question, the assumed guardianship of material
> on "rescue" missions should be abandoned.  One very easily sees
> the shallowness of such missions.

No, sorry, I don't see it. "Shallowness"? "Guardianship"?

"RESCUE - save or bring away from danger or harm" (Oxford Learner's
Pocket Dictionary, 1992). I do not think of this as a shallow matter.

> I agree that the conditions
> in the subcontinent are not the greatest, but it's reasonable
> to speculate that the material would survive longer than anything
> else on the planet.  Don't people agree?

That speculation is quite unwarranted. In other postings on this topic,
evidence of the contrary has been mentioned. You also seem inconsistent
in arguing "shallowness" while at the same time you propose to do
something in this direction yourself.

Forgive me if I have difficulties in following your train of thought.
There is also the mention of "ethics" in an earlier posting of yours,
and perhaps a clarification is in place here. Does your last quote above
indicate that you find it more "ethical" and more respectful towards
India's heritage that the international scholarly community does nothing
to help stop the loss of historical materials? (Mind you, we are speaking
about materials unlike your stars and planets and other things far away,
of which there are innumerable specimens anyway.) If you think that all
this is maya and will ultimately merge in some nirguna brahman anyway,
just go ahead and believe that; but I do believe that you should allow
others, both in and outside the subcontinent, who (unlike you) are
committed to these studies, the liberty to believe and act otherwise.

Most fortunately, the IGNCA, the DFG, the Nepali government and, I
dare say, the overwhelming majority of academics committed to the
study of Indian culture do not agree with you -- for the simple reason
that if the materials are no longer in existence, a good deal of the
cultural heritage, and all research, stop there. Anyhow: evidently, and
fortunately, what you think about this issue does not really matter,
because the work is continuing anyway.


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