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Established on 11 March, 1891 at Calcutta (Kolkata) as the Imperial Record Department, the National Archives of India is the custodian of the records of enduring value. It is the biggest archival repository in South Asia. It has a vast corpus of records viz. public records, private papers, oriental records, cartographic records and microfilms, which constitute an invaluable source of information for scholars/administrators and other users of archives. It is also the nodal agency for the implementation of The Public Records Act, 1993 and the Public Rules, 1997 in the Ministries/Departments/Public Sector undertaking of the Central Government and Union Territories. Presently, it functions as an attached office of the Ministry of Culture and has one Regional Office at Bhopal and three Records Centres at Bhubneswar, Jaipur and Puducherry.
The record holdings in the National Archives run into 40 linear kms. of shelf-space area and are in a regular series from the year 1748 onwards though there are stray records of the earlier period as well. These are in English, Arabic, Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit, Modi, Urdu etc,. Apart from records on paper, we also have records on palm leaf, birch bark, etc. The records are broadly of five categories: Public Records, Oriental Records, Cartographic Records, Manuscripts and Private Papers. These records throw light on the activities of the later Mughals, the East India Company and British Rule and the emergence and growth of the freedom struggle in India. They also shed valuable light on our social, political, economic and cultural life. In addition, there is a rich collection of Private Papers and more than 7500 microfilm rolls of records relating to India acquired from different countries such as Canada, Germany, Malaysia, Myanmar, United Kingdom, United States, France, Russia etc. The total holdings in the custody of National Archives of India comprise of : 38,75,332 files, 64,221 volumes, 1,10,332 maps and cartographic items, 3,601 Bills assented to by the President(s) of India, 1,065 Treaties, 2,442 rare manuscripts.
The Government of India had decided to declassify the files relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and make them accessible to public. This was announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on 14 October 2015 when he met a delegation of members of Netaji family at his residence in New Delhi. The first lot of 33 files which were declassified were handed over by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to National Archives of India on 4 December 2015. Subsequently, more declassified files relating to Netaji were transferred from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) , Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the PMO. As a first step, digital copies of 100 files relating to Netaji were released in public domain, by Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India on 23rd January 2016 to meet the long-standing public demand to access these files. These files also began to facilitate scholars to carry out further research on Netaji. The National Archives of India has subsequently released digital copies of 200 declassified files ( in all 300 files) relating to Netaji in the public domain in seven batches on 29 March, 2016, 29 April, 2016 , 27 May, 2016 , 29 June, 2016, 29 July.2016 and 30 August, 2016 and 30 September 2016.