War history declassification policy: India Friday approved a policy for archiving, declassification, compilation and publication of war history by the ministry of defence. Under the policy approved by defence minister Rajnath Singh, the war history will be compiled within five years and records of wars and key operations will be declassified within 25 years.
The policy envisages that each organisation under the Ministry of Defence such as Services, Integrated Defence Staff, Assam Rifles and Indian Coast Guard, will transfer the records, including war diaries, letters of proceedings and operational record books etc., to the History Division of Ministry of Defence (MoD) for proper upkeep, archival and writing the histories.
The responsibility for declassification of records rests with the respective organisations as specified in the Public Record Act 1993 and Public Record Rules 1997, as amended from time to time.
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As per the new policy, records should ordinarily be declassified in 25 years. Records older than 25 years should be appraised by archival experts and transferred to the National Archives of India once the war/operations histories have been compiled.
The History Division will be responsible for coordination with various departments while compiling, seeking approval and publishing of war/operations histories.
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The policy mandates constitution of a committee headed by Joint Secretary, MoD and comprising of representatives of the Services, MEA, MHA and other organisations and prominent military historians (if required), for compilation of war/ operations histories.
The policy also set clear timelines with regard to compilation and publication of war and operations histories.
The Committee should be formed within two years of completion of a war or operations. Thereafter, collection of records and compilation should be completed in three years and disseminated to all concerned.
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The requirement of having war histories written with clear cut policy on declassification of war records was recommended by Kargil Review Committee headed by K Subrahmanyam as well as N N Vohra Committee in order to analyse lessons learnt and prevent future mistakes.
Post Kargil War, GoM recommendations on national security also mentioned the desirability of authoritative war history.
“Timely publication of war histories would give people accurate account of the events, provide authentic material for academic research and counter the unfounded rumours,” said the government.