Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday approved the policy on archiving, declassification and compilation of histories of wars and operations by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
“Timely publication of war histories would give people accurate account of the events, provide authentic material for academic research and counter the unfounded rumours,” the MoD’s statement noted.
According to the policy, each organisation under the MoD such as tri-services, Integrated Defence Staff, Assam Rifles and Indian Coast Guard, will transfer the records, including war diaries, letters of proceedings and operational record books, to the History Division of MoD for proper upkeep, archival and writing of histories.
“The responsibility for declassification of records rests with the respective organisations as specified in the Public Record Act 1993 and the Public Record Rules 1997,” the MoD’s statement noted.
According to the 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,” it stated.
The History Division will be responsible for coordination with various departments while compiling, seeking approval and publishing of histories of wars and operations, it mentioned.
“The policy mandates constitution of a committee headed by Joint Secretary, MoD and comprising of representatives of the tri-services, MEA (Ministry of External Affairs), MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) and other organisations and prominent military historians (if required), for compilation of war and operations histories,” it noted.
The policy also set clear timelines with regard to compilation and publication of histories of wars and operations, it mentioned.
“The above-mentioned committee should be formed within two years of completion of war/operations. Thereafter, collection of records and compilation should be completed in three years and disseminated to all concerned,” it stated.
The requirement of having war histories written with clear cut policy on declassification of war records was recommended by the 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 in 1999, GoM (Group of Ministers) recommendations on national security also mentioned the desirability of authoritative war history,” the statement mentioned.