Bangladesharchives


Report by Mohammad Samsur Rahman of ARM (Archives & Records Management Course) in Rajshahi (15 – 18 November 2009)
December 20, 2009, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

November 15, 2009 (Introductory Session).
The opening ceremony is started with the recitation from the Holy Quran by a fellow of the IBS named ‘Mr. Assaduzzaman Akondo’.
Afterwards, Dr. Mahabubar Rahman (Director, IBS) gave his speech thanking everybody present there, made people known of the BARM activities, recall the history of archives in Bangladesh context, and gave an introductory to the IBS.
Then came Prof. M. Abdur Rahman (Treasure, RU), gave some didactic notes on several things especially in the areas of historical importance. The importance of evaluation in the Archives and Record Management (ARM), need of ARM in different sector, importance of prayer room and library room in each and every home, and most importantly, accession to the reliable information is highlighted.
Then came Prof. Muhammad Nurullah (Pro-Vice Chancellor, RU) and made speech on different aspects such as necessity of archives. He also told that future development can be ascertained only by observing the dependence on the past. ‘As innumerous volume of information can be retrieved, and as the different changes were taken places throughout the society can be got only by using archives and the places as such, so the archives should be given importance’ – he enunciated.
Then came Prof. M. Abdus Sobhan (Vice Chancellor, RU), he started his speech thanking the people existing there and addressed Dr. Mahabubar as an energetic, enthusiastic – a young man of 57! He appreciated the organization of the events and recalled some of his past memories associated with preservation of materials. He told that here in Bangladesh there is a severe lack of preservation of historical materials. So there need to be developed an archival education system with personal entrepreneur or by some organization. He also suggested that we are supposed to discover new horizons acquiring the knowledge from the archives or the places as such.
Then came Prof. Dr. Sharifuddin Ahmed (Dept. of History, University of Dhaka, and President, BARMS), he thanked the people present there and addressed the event as a significant discussion as previous prominent personality had already gave their speech. He used example of pictures hanging in the room (one of very old, pale and faded looking picture, and the another one is of flowered field of Bangladesh with very brilliant colour, so far I can remember) saying that now at the present our archival situation is very poor like the formerly-mentioned picture, and we should be very aware of the importance and impact of archives and record management, thereby contributing in the development of archival sector, and one day will come when the archival and record management condition of the country will be like the latterly-mentioned picture of brilliant colour. He addressed the records as the accumulation of memory that drives the future generation in the right path. He introduced the BARMS and its activities and stated the present status of record keeping in Bangladesh mentioning a remark from Kelvin Smith – that ‘the record management system in general has broken down …’ ( So far I can remember the name and the quotation!). An example is given to make people known of the present circumstances, that is, now there is no use of Central Record Room in the Bangladesh Secretariat. And the news as such is not seemingly good for the – accountable, transparent, and democratic governance. He also mentioned that we can now write the history with the help of the records kept by the British government at their colonial period, but if the record keeping circumstances goes as it is now going, then there will not be produced any history by our future generation, thereby we may find our nation out of the world history in the year to come. At last he made some anticipatory comments saying that the creation of consciousness and raising of awareness of the Archives and Record Management among the people from all spheres will surely make the archival movement that is started now a successful one.
Then came Lt. Col. Lutful Huq, and gave thanks to all the people concerned with the organization of the training program and especially to the donors (from the advertisement sector) for the souvenir. After his speech, tea break had taken place, thus the end of the first session is declared.

November 15, 2009 (First Session)
This session is presided by Prof. M. Joynul Abedin (The president of the IBS seminar room).
Then came Prof. Mahbubar Rahman (Director, IBS and Dept. of History, RU) with his literature “Introduction to Archives and Record Management in Bangladesh”, and gave the speech. He told that archives are created for the need of future and of research. Archives can be defined both as a document and as a repository wherein the concerned document is preserved. He explained different levels of archives (Official, Institute, Organization, Area of Interest, Personal, etc.). He talked about DC Record Room; District Judge Record Room (wherein the judgements could be found); District Registers Record Room; National Archives of India, Delhi; National Archives of Pakistan, Islamabad; India Office Library and Records, London; British Museum Library; Bangladesh Film Archives; Family Archives; Land oriented records; Land Survey Documents. He concluded that archives reduce corruption, thereby strengthening real democratic governance. After he finished with his speech, participants enjoyed a video on ‘Malaysian National Archives’.
After viewing the video, came Prof. Sharifuddin Ahmed with his literature “Necessity of Archives”. He told that for some reasons we Bangladeshi are getting indifferent, and probably this is going on for the political reason. In the context, a question is made arisen by him that – why are we internalizing the notions of the politicians? He added that we should get the policy makers of the country (in that sense, the politicians or the associates) in our family. He said maintaining consistency with the real circumstances, the education system should be designed that would facilitate the learning process, thereby making the people in general literate. He regards the preserved materials in the archives as the nation’s memory, and this memory cannot be lost in any way. The records of today can be used in future as prove of the reality of the recent past. He enunciated that the over-population itself is not a problem to Bangladesh, but the population should be resourceful with skill and education. Technology should be brought in the workings of archives. Land records should be kept accordingly to eradicate illegal possessions. It is found that there is no annual budget for the DC office’s record room in Bangladesh, so it is to be asked to the authority concerned (here most probably the government of Bangladesh) for allocating annual budget in this sector. As well as the lack of time, technology, labour and financed should be brought to a considerable level, in this respect, the secretary of the ministry of culture Mr. Sharful Alam is remembered. We are suggested to be optimistic regarding the development of archival sector in Bangladesh bearing in mind the archival movement that is started now on. It is told that the record keepers should be part of the movement for the betterment of their health as there prevails a deteriorated environment in the record rooms. Skillful manpower should be developed to maintain an appreciable condition in the record management sector. He proposed digitization of the archival materials as well as there should be maintained a system for bringing records to the record rooms. While designing a record room, considerations are to be made not only in architectural sector but also in interior design sector, thereby building proper record room in future. The Bangladesh Laws that is after 25 years the records are supposed to be sent to the National Archives of Bangladesh is recalled. He observed that the RTI in BD is not implemented only by our endeavour but by the force from the foreign countries to maintain cultural agreements with them. He concluded telling that the researchers in Bangladesh should change their mentality of luxury regarding using archival materials as researchers may wish to consult a document without dust, but he / she might not be provided a document as such since there is no such cleanliness in archival sector in Bangladesh. After the end of Prof. Sharifuddin Ahmed’s speech, the floor is made open for discussion by the participants. And several questions arose at that period that was answered by the people concerned.
At the open-discussion session, Dr. M. Wazed Ali (Former Vice President of RU) has made his observation on the 1st session. He started his speech telling of his brain decay ironically as after 53 years, the brain is supposed to be decaying continuously. He used an example of bribery and presents some humourous facts. He also stated that archives can be built only if we save the money of 2 months that is circulated as bribes among the nation. He proposed the administrative and government officer to come forward and control the steer. He told that the archival and record-keeping movement should be successful, and, in this respect, people from all spheres of life are to be come ahead.
After Prof. Dr. Wazed Ali, came Prof. Moniruzzaman (Karmichael College), and proposed the concerned to produce a comparative study on archival management and administration, thereby facilitating tracing the distance, otherwise gap, between Bangladesh and India or Pakistan on archival sector. Afterwards, a break is given for Tea .

November 15, 2009 (Second Session)
This session is presided by Lt. Col. Lutful Huq.
At that moment, came Mr. Elias Mia with his title “Record Management”. He stated that he had got chance to visit several archives while studying in India, and to name a few, there are Gujarat and Rajasthan Archives. He also mentioned that in the Indian archives, there they acquire different technologies from different developed world, thereby serving the archives . He talked about several procedures maintained in the archives such as – file opening (Internal and external activities), giving name to the file. He mentioned that during the closing of a file is supposed to be classified (into A, B, C, D) according to a prescribed record manual, and a file is supposed to be destroyed after a certain period considering the retention schedule. Evaluation and appraisal are to be made before disposition of the records. Semi-current records are to be kept in the record room / centre, he added.
Afterwards, Dr. Sadek Reza Chowdhury (Deputy Librarian, RU) came with his title “Archives Classification”, he stated that while conducting his research on Archival Management for doctoral degree, he had got a chance of visiting 15 record rooms. He mentioned that all the archives are records but all the records may or may not archives. He made distinction between library classification and archival classification. He suggested that homogenous classification and accessioning are to be made to the archival materials.
Then came Md. Ali Akbar with his discussion title “Archives Acquisition”, and talked about Secretariat Directives 2000, Secretariat library and record room, Unwillingness of DC. He added that punishment should be given to the record creating agency if they do not send back the records after a certain time to the archives, and legislation regarding this must be brought into force in REAL sense. He also mentioned about national file system, giving an example, he presented Malaysian File System in archives. He exclaimed there are four types of files (i.e. Top-secret, Secret, Confidential, and General). He proposed to the authority to make such a file system in our country as well. Afterwards, question and open discussion session is carried out, in this session Prof. Sharifuddin Ahmed asked for feedback from researchers on retention schedule. On the other hand, Prof. Mahabubar Rahman asked for the decentralization of the record keeping system. Public records act was also given importance, and Lt. Col. Lutful Huq talked about his interest on Sports Archives. At last, conclusion was made by Prof. Mahabubar Rahman, thus the sessions for the first day ended.

November 16, 2009 (Third Session)
The third session, started on 16th November, 2009, presided by Prof. Sharifuddin Ahmed. And at that session Prof. Jinnatunnesa Talukdar (local Member of Parliament) was present. As this session is open for discussion so many personalities came and gave their respective opinion and remarks on archives and record management.
Addressing the MP, Prof. Sharifuddin Ahmed talked about several issues like climate change, record tracing system, collection and preservation methods in archives. He stated that there occurs fraudulence continuously in the Collectorate records room in Bangladesh by changing the records, thereby the original land owners are getting deceived. He talked about the lately implementation of the RTI act. He also mentioned the then Choto Katara and Boro Katara (of Mughal period) are made turning into modern market plaza, and suggested to save such historically important structure throughout the country. Before the MP, the closing of the records rooms at Bangladesh secretariat is recalled for the second time, and in that records room the classification and retrieval of records is given paramount importance telling that records management is the foundation of any social democratic nation and authentic history can only be written if there exists a real and impartial records management. As in a country, the government itself is the largest records creating agency, they are supposed to preserve cultural heritage, and as the libraries, museum and archives (the main keepers of records) come under the Ministry of Culture, the ministry itself is supposed to be the main custodian of records in Bangladesh. He appreciated the architecture of the Barisal Record Room and suggested every concerned people to build a record room as such. He emphasized on the decentralization of the archives management system. He propounded that the over – population is to be made turned into skilled – resources, thereby skillful work – force is to be built that would serve the nation properly in future. He concluded telling that record management system should exist in the family – level, say, making a family – tree, thus, making the record management fruitful throughout the country.
Afterwards came Prof. Mahabubar Rahman, and stated that ‘Mohafez Khana’ the Bengali term for the Archives came from the ‘Arabian and Persian Language’, hence it is concluded that the prevalence of archives is found in the then Indian-Subcontinent since the Mughal period. After the partition in 1947, there was found a great mishap in the archival sector of the Bangladesh portion (formerly East-Pakistan) as most of the trained employee (of about 80% – 90 %) belongs to Hindu Community, and they went on India. He suggested to the authority to create new post in the archives and records rooms throughout the country. He made conclusion stating that the records / archives manual should be made translated in Bengali, thereby having full understandings of it.
Afterwards came Prof. Wazed Ali, and stated that historical research is of two types, viz. (1) within macro level, and (2) within micro level. He also mentioned that the macro level research materials can be located easily (say, information on Mughal dynasty and the like), whereas the micro level research materials cannot be located so easily (say, information on a poor landless villagers and the like), hence it is viewed that it is only records keeping system that is supposed to be built in the family-level that would in future help us collecting information on the matter concerned. He put forward an example of record management telling that in 1970 a number of spans (most probably 3 in number, so far I can remember now!) of Vairab (a place in Bangladesh) bridge built in 1880 was about to collapse, and the blueprint of that bridge could not be located in Bangladesh (which is a great pity for a nation!) to repair that bridge, but in London where the office of the construction agency of that bridge is situated, who preserved the blueprint for almost 90 years for construction located in another country. Thus, the Vairab Bridge was repaired and saved. Uttering such example, he proposed for the development of the record keeping system in Bangladesh. He suggested to all the people to be aware of own duty and responsibility. He emphasized on the real implementation of the RTI Act in Bangladesh. He concluded telling that people concerned should speed up the softly started archival movement towards the development of the country.
Afterwards came in Parimal Kumar Deb CEO, Rajshahi District Council and proposed that he would be very much pleased if the District Council Record Room is made in trim. He suggested to people to be conservative regarding preserving our own history and culture for the sake of ourselves.
Then A.T.M. Hamidul Huq (PhD fellow in IBS) proposed to make up team for providing archival and record management training by reaching several institutions, and made themselves realized of the importance of the true and impartial record management system, thereby serving the nation.
Then Prof. Moniruzzaman (retired, Islamic History, Karmichael College) gave his observation mentioning that the magistrates of our country consider records room nothing else but only a means of getting land records. Telling this he added we should change our mentality regarding the notions of records room. He concluded stating that persuasion should be given priority over the Act.
Then came Fazlul Huq (a retired teacher) and suggested that a law should be passed and thus enacted so that future distortion or destruction of records cannot be made. He concluded suggesting involving a subject-specialist in the phases of evaluation of records.
Then came Md. Abdur Rahim (probably a fellow in IBS) and asking about how a records’ fate is determined meaning – how to ascertain which records is to be gone to record room and which records is to be gone to archives. He suggested that there should have some governmental policy in the management of records and the implementation of proper indexing system is to be brought into consideration.
Then came Ms. Humayra (Assistant Librarian, Rajshahi Primary Teachers’ Training College) and she talked about the use of Naphthalene, and Mr. Wabaydul Huq (Record Keeper, Capainouwab Gonj Collectorate Record Room) was talking about raising awareness of archives and records management.
Afterwards came Lt. Col. Lutful Huq and addressing the policy makers he proposed for the real implementation of the RTI Act in Bangladesh, and requested to the policy makers to not leave a disabled child to a nation as RTI is in presence in Bangladesh now.
Afterwards Prof. Jinnatunnesa Talukdar (as a guest) made her speech telling that she appreciated the workshop, and archaeologists for bringing up the history and culture to the society. She made her conclusion stating that learning should be carried on from cradle to funeral dirge.
After the guest’s speech, Prof. Sharifuddin Ahmed made a little speech emphasizing on the collection, preservation, and decentralization of the records and archives. He suggested that records room and archives should be built in each and every district. Thus the end of the third session is made and tae-break is given.

November 16, 2009 (Fourth Session)
The fourth session is presided by Prof. Dr. Wazed Ali, and in this session, there were 3 persons with their discussion.
Firstly came Mir Fazle Ahmed Chowdhury (retired NAB) with his topic “Archives Preservation” and stated that by means of archives a complete picture of country is got. He discussed about several preservation methods are being used throughout the world. He emphasized on the fumigation and use of Naphthalene for the preservation of records for a longer period.
Afterwards came Mrs. Salma Islam (NAB) with her discussion topic “Accessioning of Archives”, and stated the procedures that are followed for the accessioning of records in the archives.
Then came Mr. Ali Akbar (NAB) with his discussion topic “Introduction to Bangladesh National Archives”, and “Bangladesh National Archives Ordinance 1983”. To make understand the record management condition in Bangladesh, he exemplified that once upon a time here in Bangladesh was a list for fare of Rickshaw, thus it evident that from the very early period there exists the record management system.
At last, the president of this session Prof. Wazed Ali made conclusion to the events summing up the topics previously discussed.

November 17, 2009 (Fifth Session)
The fifth session is presided by Dr. Sorochis Sarkar and gave thanks for bringing to him such an opportunity to utter some lines to the audience.
Afterwards came Lt. Col. Lutful Huq with his discussion topic “Right to Information Act 2009 in Bangladesh”. Firstly, he made some introductory piece of talkings regarding RTI Act in Bangladesh and discussed several seemingly important sections from the RTI Act 2009 of Bangladesh and left a copy of the Gazette to Prof. Mahbubar Rahman for the consultation by the IBS fellow and the people who would like to. He made the audience understood of the importance of RTI Act 2009 in the country stating that RTI Act can change the administrative system in a country. He recalled a title of a book “Tottho Odhikarer Sworup Sondhane (translated ‘In search for Information Rights’)” by Robayet Ferdous ( Dept. of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Dhaka) while stating that transparency and accountability can only be brought into governance or into administration by the RTI Act 2009. He emphasized on the creation of pressure group, which would advocate for the real implementation of the act throughout the country. He suggested the government to publish the official note sheet based on which every decision of the government is made. He concluded discussing the Article 27 of the RTI Act 2009 as it discusses the fines (though very little for the corrupt people!) and forces the authority to accord with the Act brought into force from 1st July 2008 in Bangladesh.
Afterwards the floor was made opened for discussion and questioning, and a short break was given. After the break, all the audiences and participants visited the Heritage Archives, Rajshahi District Council Record Room, Rajshahi Collectorate Record Room, and Rajshahi District judges’ Record room and observed the real circumstances of the record management in Bangladesh. Thus ended the fifth session.

November 18, 2009 (Sixth Session)
At the sixth and last session of the 4-days-long training program, we were shown a presentation on Japan Archives. The sessions presided by Prof. Mustafa Kamal and he had some introductory piece of talking.
Afterwards came Prof. Mahbubar Rahman with his topic “Introduction to BARM society”, and made comparison among the archives of Bangladesh, Malaysia, and the Japan. He mentioned that they had attended ICA Congress in Malaysia in 2007/2008. He also stated that Prof. Sharifuddin Ahmed works as a director in NAB (1996 – 2006); BARMS opening ceremony held on February 24, 2009. He discussed about BARMS’ objectives and its executive committee. He proposed to promulgate archives policy and suggested to organize training program on archives. He told about collecting national heritage.
Afterwards came Lt. Col. Lutful Huq with his topic “Digitization of Records”, and stated that some pictures of the football game (in which a player from Rajshahi participated) held in 1972 in Malaysia were requested, and the Malaysia was capable of providing the pictures, whereas in Bangladesh it might not be possible which is a nation’s pity. He mentioned some definition of the ERMS (Electronic Record Management Software). He classified the digital records under 2 groups – (1) digitally – born records, and (2) otherwise – born digitally – converted records. He also mentioned the merits and demerits of digitization of records, components needed to digitize the records, and the like. He concluded proposing the government to make a digitization policy, and also emphasizing on the making of Index and Catalogue to the records preserved.
Afterwards, some person talked about the consistent temperature and humidity in archives and records rooms. After that, a video on Ghost Busting (in Sierra Leone) was presented. Afterwards, Mr. Hafizur Rahman (Divisional Commissioner, Rajshahi) was given a warm welcome in the IBS seminar room as he entered and took his seat.
Then Prof. Mahbubar Rahman informed him of the participants / trainees and the trainers (such as who they are, where they from are, and the like information) as well as of what were done in the 4-days-long training program by summing it up.
Afterwards, a fellow of IBS shared his experience and observation, and one of the assistant professor of the IBS evaluated the whole program throughout from first to last.
Then, the certificate giving ceremony was observed.
After the end of the ceremony, Divisional Commissioner of Rajshahi, Hafizur Rahman made his speech by evaluating and the program and discussing several issues, which are barriers to the development of the archives in divisional level. He mentioned that there are many administrative provisions to make divisional archives, if there was not any provision he would announce at the seminar that he would make archives in Rajshahi. He also stated that the research persons are very promising, whereas the archival system in our country is not up-to-mark. He proposed to the researchers to conduct need – based and vigorous research. As giving an example, he mentioned a research’s conclusion that is some of the country will need more human power in future to manage their country, and they would import human power from country like Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, and the like, hence it is observed that if the people of our country could be made resourceful and skillful, there is a real prospect of developing our country. He made his conclusion stating that he would like to do something for raising awareness for the archives and record management, thereby ensuring development of this sector in the near future. He distributed certificates among 53 trainees afterwards.
Afterwards came Prof. Mahbubar Rahman as the last person in the event to deliver speeches. Firstly, he thanked the Rajshahi Divisional Commissioner for making time and paying visit to the certificate giving ceremony. He appreciated the help of the IBS fellow without whom the whole functions would not be a success and gave thanks to them. He concluded observing how to speed up the archival movement and asking for helping hand (here it means the participants or the trainees) to develop archival and records management sector, thereby satisfying the user – population of the archives, and instituting change in the administration of the country, thus giving a transparent and accountable governance to people of the nation.
Thus, the 4-days-long training program on archives and records management ended with fruition.