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Bringing alive India's struggle for freedom

Mandira Nayar

NEW DELHI: The country will get a coming of age present for its 60th year of Independence -- an "album'' of all those who fought long and hard for freedom.

Bringing alive this golden period of history that has inspired similar struggles around the world, India is all set to finally put together this valuable legacy under one roof in museum form.

Vice-President's suggestion

The idea of starting a museum devoted to the freedom struggle was suggested by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat about two years ago and seems to have struck the right chord with the Union Ministry of Culture. This museum will be located at the Red Fort that has had its share of association with the freedom struggle.

"This letter was written by the Vice-President after his trip to Africa. The idea was to have a museum of international standard. There was a lot of discussion about where the museum is to be located and then it was finally decided that it could be located at the Red Fort as there was already a museum, Swatantrata Sangram Sangrahalaya,'' says Archaeological Survey of India Director-General C. Babu Rajeev.

With the committee set up for commemoration of the upcoming anniversaries this year -- headed by the Prime Minister -- also approving of the idea, the preliminary plans have been drawn up. While the already existing museum also focused on the same period, the new Freedom Museum is expected to be nothing like its old "avatar''.

"We were planning to maybe add another structure to this museum building. We will also draw on the expertise of the National Museum. Since the ASI has only a few site museums under it, we will need experts to guide about the finer points of museumology,'' asserts Mr. Rajeev.

Taking the audience back in time, this museum will go beyond just the usual display. With comprehensive information about the big names in the freedom struggle as well as those who have been lost in the pages of history, there will also be a section focusing on the movements carried out by Indians abroad.

Contextualising history

"Museums have to contextualise history well and communicate better. Even if we don't go hi-tech, technology can go a long way in communicating,'' says museum designer Amardeep Behl who has submitted preliminary drawings for the museum.

Creating a time capsule for people to walk through, this museum will recreate the whole experience.

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