Mumbai: Asiatic Society Library goes to polls, fears government scrutiny

Mumbai: The Asiatic Society Library (ASL), affiliated to the Royal Asiatic Society, went to the polls on Saturday. However, this electoral exercise was fraught with anxiety as members apprehend closer scrutiny by the Union ministry of cultural affairs.

For the first time, the ministry has sought a detailed report, in Hindi, on the term just concluded and this is going to be mandatory from now on. For the last few months, a representative from the ministry has been overseeing ASL events.

One of the senior members, requesting anonymity, said, “All our communication and events are conducted in English, even the Marathi-speaking members do not communicate in Hindi. We had to outsource this report and it cost us one lakh rupees. This is an expensive task.”

The Asiatic Society Library regularly holds lectures by important literary figures. As in the case of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, members of the ASL have also alleged, their events too are being monitored by plainclothesmen.

“In the history of the Asiatic Society we have not seen such an occurrence, wherein a person is sent by the government to monitor our activities. This precedent is unnerving, to say the least,” said another member. There is growing concern about conservatives taking charge of the ASL.

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