Who are we?
Milli Archives Foundation is a collective of individuals and communities passionate about nurturing archives in South Asia. It is set up as a Section 8 non-profit company (CIN: U91010KA2023NPL172642), with its registered office at WS No.9, Golden Square, No. 403 Eden Park, 20, Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore - 560 001, Karnataka, India. It also has approval for 12A and 80G tax exemptions under the Income Tax Act, valid up to March 2026. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
What do we do?
Archives enable diverse stories. This aim guides the work of the collective, the purpose, form and content of an archive, and what environments it could nourish in the future. Milli helps individuals and institutions to build and sustain archives. It facilitates discussions among the community around issues of diversity, archival standards, conservation, physical and digital access, pedagogy, privacy and the development of inclusive description standards. And the open access digital platform that Milli intends to build will allow the public to find, connect, describe and share archival material and stories. It is a unique space not just in India, but anywhere in the world.
What are Milli’s objectives?
- COLLECT, build, preserve and nurture archives and protect endangered collections
- RESEARCH and develop public tools and resources for archives
- EDUCATE and build capacity, from high school to professional practice
- ENGAGE the public to reimagine the archives as part of their commons
Why does this matter?
Archives emerge from our collective stories, and they give rise to future intertwined stories. They should be seen as a vibrant core of the physical and digital commons, a place that citizens instinctively reach out to online, or over a weekend visit with their families. But that just doesn’t happen in India. Archives are very difficult to work with due to lack of visibility, unnecessarily strict regulation, and a great deal of apathy from all sides. We need wider awareness, education and engagement, and a strong push toward structured archives along international standards. Archives need to be examined not just by the fleeting research scholar, but also every member of the public, and also students in secondary or tertiary education, which is perhaps an archives’ biggest untapped potential in India. We want the community to see – and make – connections between their own lives and the disparate archival records flung across repositories. And through our activities, we intend to foster an environment of archival thinking through education and practice, civic awareness, and broadly, a sense of empathy, seeing a little of us in the other.
What is the origin of Milli, and what has it done so far?
The founding of the Milli Archives Foundation was the result of deliberations within ‘Milli’, a collective of individuals and communities who are passionate about archives. Over the last four years, the above mentioned ideas have gathered steam through collaborations and the free-to-public Milli Sessions, with over 1500 registrants, over 400 active participants from across India and other countries, and 40+ partnering institutions. There really has been no equivalent to this in the past, and it is a unique initiative even at a global scale. All material from the Sessions is publicly accessible: IAW2020 and IAW2021.
In January 2023, Milli also launched “Archives, Ethics and the Law in India: A Guidebook for Archivists in India”, in collaboration with the Archives at NCBS. The first draft of this open access guidebook can be reviewed at ethics-law.archives.ncbs.res.in. The project is perhaps one of the first of its kind in India. It brings together issues relating to archives, law, ethics, ownership, access, and privacy.
As of 2023, due to its wide reach and unique intent in nurturing archives, it is likely there is hardly any significant archival institution in India that is not aware of Milli. Interactions over the Milli Sessions and with participating institutions and individuals gave a clear need for setting up Milli Archives Foundation as a Section 8 non-profit company that can scale the ideas and bring about a systemic transformation in how we build and engage with archives in India.
Who is heading Milli?
Milli’s founding directors are Venkat Srinivasan (Head, Archives at NCBS), Maya Dodd (educator and professor at FLAME University), Jayaprabha Ravindran (Retired Assistant Director, National Archives of India). Director’s profiles are outlined at the end of this document.
What institutions have partnered with Milli in the past?
This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some archives that have been part of the initiatives or events hosted by Milli: Archives at NCBS, French Institute of Pondicherry, Ashoka Archives, ISI Kolkata, NID Ahmedabad, Keystone Foundation, IISc Archives, IIM Bangalore, Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology – AIIS, QAMRA – NLS Bangalore, OP Jindal Global University Library, WIPRO Archives, IFA Archives, IIT Madras Archives, APU Archives, South Asian Canadian Digital Archive and South Asian American Digital Archive
Who has been part of Milli?
Many people! Milli started as an informal tech group around 2017, and a broader archival collective in 2020. Prasoon, Janastu, Ojas Kadu and the Archives at NCBS have brainstormed over some ideas of the digital platform for Milli. The core group that has played a role in shaping archival discussions and the Milli Sessions, which started in 2020, include Aparna Vaidik, Bharat S, Deepika S, Faisal Rehman, Farah Yameen, Jaya Ravindran, Maya Dodd, Priyanka Seshadri, Ranjani Prasad, and Venkat Srinivasan.
Does Milli also have volunteers?
Yes! Volunteers for various Milli Sessions include Anjali JR; Aparna Vaidik; Arnika Ahldag; Athithya; Avarna Ojha; Avehi Menon; Bhanu Prakash; Bharat S; Deepika S; Devi Dang; Dharanee S; Dhatri S; Dibyadyuti Roy; Dinesh TB; Divij Joshi; Divina Ann Philipose; Faisal Rehman; Farah Yameen; Hari Sridhar; Indira Chowdhury; Ishita Shah; Joel Louzado; Kishor Satpathy; Maya Dodd; Micah Alex; Ojas Kadu; Padmini Ray Murray; Prasoon; Priyanka Seshadri; Radhika Hegde; Ranjani Prasad; Ravi K Boyapati; Samira A; Samyabrata Roy; Sangeeta D; Sanjna GY; Satakshi Sinha; Shafali Jain; Shalom Gauri; Sharanya Ghosh; Shreyasi; Shubha Chaudhuri; Shubhojeet Dey; Siddharth Ganesh; Siddhi Bhandari; Sindhu N; Spandana Bhowmik; Srijan Mandal; Tanishka Kachru; Vallabhi Jalan; Venkat Srinivasan; and Vrunda Pathare. As we think of future events, please do email us at email@example.com if you’d like to be part of the broader network.
Can I be a part of Milli?
Of course! You can volunteer, collaborate, work on a project with us, or all three! If you are part of an institution/community, organization, family, individual with an archive (or the potential of an archive) that likes the work we have done or have concerns about heritage material and archival records, do send us an email to take things forward: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where is this going?
Archives emerge from our collective stories, and they give rise to future intertwined stories. Based on our past work, we are confident that the public will see this critical and indispensable role for archives not just in their life stories, but in education, civic awareness and building community. Milli see five kinds of stakeholders: the archivist and the donor who work together to make these resources visible (including the citizen who simply wishes to create an archive of their family at their own residence), the community member who engages with the archive and sees themselves as part of this interconnected history, the researcher – academic, literary and artistic – who sees new avenues of knowledge production with such a nuanced archival network, the educator who sees new ways of teaching their material by delving into historical context, and most importantly, the student at various levels, who will really take the imagination of the archive forward in whichever field they specialize in the future.
Overview of current directors of Milli Archives Foundation
Venkat Srinivasan heads the Archives at NCBS in Bangalore, a public collecting centre for the history of science in contemporary India. In addition, he currently serves on the institutional review boards for the archives at IIT Madras, ISI Kolkata, and NID Ahmedabad, and on the board of the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation of the IUHPST (International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology). He is a member of the Encoded Archival Descriptions – Technical Sub-committee (Society of American Archivists), and Committee on the Archives of Science and Technology (CAST) of the ICA Section on Research Institutions (International Council on Archives). He graduated with a Masters in Materials Science from Stanford University, a Masters in Journalism (science) from Columbia University, and a Bachelors in Engineering from the University of Delhi.
Dr. Maya Dodd currently serves as the Director of the FLAME Centre for Legislative Education and Research at FLAME University, Pune, India. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and subsequent post-doctoral fellowships at Princeton University and JNU, India. She teaches digital cultures in the department of Humanities and has pioneered teaching Digital Humanities (DH) in the liberal arts at the undergraduate level, alongside supervision of doctoral students at FLAME. Through the Ownership of Public History in India grant from the British Academy she has been exploring tools for cultural archiving via techniques from DH. She serves as an editor for the Routledge series on Digital Humanities in Asia. She has also served on the board of the digital humanities association of India, the DHARTI collective.
Jayaprabha Ravindran retired as Assistant Director of Archives, National Archives of India. During a career spanning nearly three decades, she has been closely associated with various core activities of the National Archives of India like acquisition and accession of records (public and private), maintenance of records, facilitating access to the records and library, digital preservation of records and training programme for archives professionals and outreach programmes like seminars/workshops and exhibitions. In addition to heading the major Divisions of the National Archives of India, she has been a resource person in various Workshops on Records Management and archival sources organized by various Government Departments, Ministries, Universities and research centres. She has served as Member, Committee for ‘Study on Archives’, Government of Kerala (2017-19). Currently, she is a Member of the Kannur University Heritage Project, Expert on the Board of Studies, National Museum Institute, for a PG course being developed on Archival Studies; and Consultant, Archival Research, Confluence Media for their publication ‘Birth of a Nation’.
What does Milli mean?
Milli borrows from the Icelandic ‘á milli’ for ‘between’ or ‘in the midst of’ since it speaks to the way we think of the archives being the in-between space between stories, objects and future stories. Milli is also a way, as in Hindi, to have found something. Milli in Latin hints at a way of thinking about a thousand tiny connections. The name, Milli, came up in ~2017-19, during conversations within the initial Milli Tech team, including Prasoon, Janastu and the Archives at NCBS (Bangalore, India), a public centre for the history of science in contemporary India.