The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

Ashoka Acquires Coveted Papers of Dr. S Radhakrishnan

The former President’s family will donate all his papers to the Ashoka Archives of Contemporary India.

Surabhi Sanghi, Class of 2020

Ashoka University recently acquired the prestigious papers of Dr. S Radhakrishnan, in its archive — Ashoka Archives of Contemporary India. The donation includes Dr. Radhakrishnan’s books, manuscripts, lecture notes and correspondence, philosophy journals he subscribed to and more.

Photograph of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan presented to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1962

The archives of Dr. Radhakrishnan have had a history of their own. About 15 years ago, the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), one of the best known archives in India approached the former Presidents family to acquire the various documents and papers of Dr. Radhakrishnan. These set of documents are extremely important as they provide insights into Indian history and political scenario of Dr. Radhakrishnan’s times.

At that time, the family did not part with the archives. Even when Sahitya Academy approached them, the papers were not moved from the family house back in Chennai. But, it was getting tougher for the family to preserve the papers.

Indira Gopal, Radhakrishnan’s daughter-in-law and custodian of the papers with the Radhakrishnan Trust started looking at ways of preservation and decided to make this significant donation to Ashoka University. This was not a choice that was made arbitrarily but had reason behind it. For starters, there was a personal, intellectual bond shared by Dr. Radhakrishnan’s family and Ashoka University. The chancellor, Prof. Rudrangshu Mukherjee had been a student of S. Gopal, son of Dr. Radhakrishnan.

“There is obviously immense historical significance to the works and papers associated with a former President and Vice President. He lived a rich public life and these papers reflect that. The archive has just started and we have started acquiring papers from several individuals,” Chancellor Rudrangshu Mukherjee told The Economic Times.

The documents have already made way to the University in several trenches. The last few parts of the documents are in the process of being shifted from Mylapore in Chennai to Sonepat.

“We only had two concerns: one, they should be protected and preserved for posterity in the best possible manner and that they should be used for reference purposes by scholars, not as library material. Ashoka agreed to both and hence the decision to donate to the new but rather impressive university in terms of scholarship,” said Keshav Desiraju, a former civil servant and grandson of Radhakrishnan.

Surabhi Sanghi is a staff writer at The Edict.

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