Friday, December 30, 2011

Digital Preservation In India Needed

Digital preservation is an issue that has not received much attention in India. Digital preservation is a process in which materials are converted into electronic form for future uses. Digital preservation also ensures that the material has a longer life shelf than the original form.

Digital preservation in India is still in infancy stage. Although we have a Public Records Act 1993 that mandates a digital preservation usage, the same has remained abysmal in India. Public records keeping framework of India has by and large remained ignored. Of course, some institutions like Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have good public records keeping framework.

Digital framework and public records keeping are issues that have a direct bearing upon multiple legal frameworks. For instance, Intellectual property rights (IPRs) are commonly found conflicting with digital preservation initiatives. Technological issues of IPRs would also pose great challenges before the digital preservation initiatives of India.

Recent traditional knowledge digital library (TKDL) of India is one of the most innovative and much needed initiatives undertaken by Indian government. Being a digital library it must ensure digitalisation of contents as well as their digital preservation.

Similarly, cyber law of India also has a direct bearing upon records keeping and digital preservation. In fact, Public Records Act 1993 and IT Act 2000 mandates are very apparent and they cannot be ignored. Similarly, Right to Information Act 2005 and Public Records Act 1993 are also closely related.

Electronic delivery of services and Public Records Act 1993 are also correlated as in future archives and digital documents would be required to be provided to effectuate electronic delivery of services. The proposed Electronic Delivery of Services Bill (EDS) 2011 of India has proved this point.

Surprisingly, despite the importance of public records and digital preservation, Indian national digital preservation policy is still missing and there is no legal framework for digital preservation in India. Digital preservation initiatives of India need urgent reforms if we have to effectual electronic delivery of archives and public records. The sooner it is done the better it would be in the larger interest of India.