Defence Minister Approves New Policy for Declassification of War History

What is the News?

The Defence Minister has approved a policy on archiving, declassification, compilation, and publication of war and operations histories.

Why do war histories matter?
  • War Histories give an accurate account of events, authentic material for academic research, and help counter rumours. Earlier, reports on wars and operations were never made public.

Committees on war history: The Committees that recommended on archiving and declassification of war history includes:

  • Kargil Review Committee: It was headed by K Subrahmanyam. It recommended the requirement of having war histories written with a clear-cut policy on declassification of war records.
  • N N Vohra Committee: It had said war histories should be declassified in order to analyze lessons learned and prevent future mistakes.
Policy on declassification of war histories:

Period of Declassification of War History:

  • According to the policy, records should ordinarily be declassified in 25 years.
  • Records older than 25 years should be transferred to the National Archives of India once the war/operations histories have been compiled. However, first, it should be evaluated by archival experts.
  • However, declassification of older wars like the Henderson Brooks report on the 1962 war with China and the Operation Bluestar of 1984 is not automatic. It is taken up on a case-by-case basis by a committee to be constituted under the policy.

 Nodal Body:

  • The History Division will coordinate with various departments for compiling, seeking approval, and publishing war/operations histories.
  • Each organisation under the MoD will transfer the records including war diaries to the History Division for proper upkeep, archival, and writing the histories.
Committee to be constituted under the Policy
  • The policy mandates the formation of the committee within two years of completion of war/operations.
  • The committee will be headed by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Defence (MoD). It will also have representatives of the Services, Ministry of External Affairs, Home Ministry along with prominent military historians for the compilation of war/operation histories.
  • Thereafter, the collection of records and compilation will be completed by the committee in three years and disseminated to all concerned.
  • The war histories will be for internal use first. Later the committee may decide to publicly release whole or parts of it, considering the sensitivity of the subject.

Source: The Hindu



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