Travel Grant Series: Archival Research in National Archives of India

Summer Research Grant Report
by
Richard Forster
EWC Degree Fellow

Richard Foster

(EWC Degree Fellow Richard Forster)

This summer, with generous financial support from the EWC Alumni Association, I was able to spend two months conducting archival research for my Master’s Degree thesis in South Asian history at the National Archives of India in New Delhi. One of the aims of this research is to better understand the process by which India, at independence, came to adopt Hindi in the Devanagari script as its official language, despite the Indian National Congress’s longstanding commitment to a more inclusive formulation of Hindustani in both the Devanagari and the Urdu scripts. In order to pursue this and related questions I spent many hours in the Private Archives section of the NAI consulting files from the collections of senior Congress leaders from the 1930s to the 1950s, particularly those of the first President of independent India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, as well as stalwart proponents such of Hindi-Nagari such Purushottam Das Tandon and Sampurnanand. I believe my thesis has potential to offer new insights into the history of “communal” tensions between Hindus and Muslims in the subcontinent, an ongoing source of conflict that continues to destabilize the prospects of peace and prosperity in the region.

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