Archiving India: Developing sustainable local content
According to UNESCO, people are empowered if "they can access and contribute to information and knowledge flows." UNESCO suggests that a healthy digital infrastructure can enable such empowerment. Yet for most developing countries, "access" is constrained to receiving western content, with little or no indigenous reciprocity. This imbalance "undermines or overwhelms local cultural heritage and economic livelihoods" (Ballantyne, 2002). My paper asserts that, for India, to truly participate in the process of information exchange, develop its archival collections and increase the usage of its archives, it needs to focus on generating sustainable local content and making it accessible to the western world. "Local content" refers to the locally-owned or adapted knowledge and content in local languages, and viewpoints about global issues (Mutula, 2007).
This paper offers a sustainable digital archival model to empower local communities in Indian villages and cities to document and preserve their culture, languages and experiences through oral and video history interviews. The proposed project will not only generate indigenous content to create a more inclusive narrative of human life, experience, and knowledge, but also help foster civic pride and citizen engagement on a local level.