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The Hindi Library and the Making of an Archive: The Hindi Sahitya Sammelan from 1911 to 1973
Published in Routledge
Volume: 43
Issue: 3
Pages: 522 - 536
This article focuses on the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, founded under the aegis of the Nagari Pracharini Sabha in 1910 in Allahabad, and its active bid to establish what can be seen as the first archive of, and in, Hindi. While the Sammelan’s library functioned as a public-facing, community-serving space that housed and issued printed books, periodicals and newspapers in its reading room, the archive was imagined as an accumulation of all materials, print and manuscript, relating to Hindi, with access limited to critics and scholars. The article argues that infrastructure like the library and the archive critically contributed to the process of consolidation and legitimisation of the discourse on Hindi nationalism. It also traces the post-Independence assimilation of this library to the machinery of state bureaucracy, specifically to the institution of the Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sahitya Sammelan Act, 1956, and the central government’s Hindi Sahitya Sammelan Act, 1962, which declared the Sammelan ‘an institution of national importance’. How do these acts reflect tensions between the politicisation of Hindi as the national language and democratisation in post-colonial India? Here, the article shows that Hindi was not only being monetarily patronised in the 1950s and 1960s, but was also vigilantly monitored, drawing staunch resistance from the Sammelan, which saw itself as a moral alternative to the state. It traces the history of these legislative processes which ultimately resulted in a petition against the 1962 Act in the Supreme Court in 1973, which declared it invalid. © 2020, © 2020 South Asian Studies Association of Australia.
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