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Centuries-old documents from Indian community in Oman digitised for posterity 

27 May 2024 Centuries-old documents from Indian community in Oman digitised for posterity By ANIRBAN RAY

Muscat – The Embassy of India, in collaboration with the National Archives of India (NAI), has completed a special digitisation project for the protection and compilation of age-old documents that give us a peek into individual anecdotes of the people of Oman and India. 

For the preservation of the rich history of the Indian community in Oman, this initiative aims to collate and safeguard valuable historical documents held by the Indian diaspora in Oman, many of whom have been residing in the country for generations.

A two-member expert team from the NAI finished the daunting task on Monday in just over a week starting from May 19.

The event concluded at the embassy premises with a successful digitisation of over 7,000 documents. 

Digitised contents include pictures, receipts, letters, certificates, passports, invoices and notes. These records, sourced from 30 families across Oman, trace back as far as 250 years, providing a unique window into the historical presence and contributions of the Indian community in the region.

Speaking at the event, H E Amit Narang, the Ambassador of India to Oman, said, “Our aim was to compile historical documents so that we can have a databank on the centuries-old relationship that the people of the two countries enjoyed.” 

The documents also showcase how Indians were at the centre of trade among the Arab and African countries. Digitised documents adequately prove how Muscat was always a trade hub for so many countries.

“They reveal a web of historical interactions and economic exchanges, illustrating the pivotal role the Indian community played in the trade networks linking Oman, Arabia and Africa. By preserving these records, the project ensures that future generations can access and learn from this rich heritage.”

A notable aspect of the project was the creation of an oral archive, a first for the NAI. 

Kalpana Shukla, an NAI representative, conducted long interviews with senior members of the community, some as old as 80 years. “This is the first time ever that the NAI has done this type of digitisation. Soon, all these records from Oman will be available for people to see. This digitisation is not only for preservation but also for research,” Kaplana said. 

She added that as these digital archives become accessible, they will serve as a valuable resource for historians, researchers and the general public, fostering a deeper understanding of the contributions of the Indian community to Oman’s development.

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