The Mission emphasis on manuscript conservation stems from the clear problem of upkeep, care and preservation of the invaluable heritage of India. The knowledge of preservation is not new to Indians. Care of manuscripts was a major concern in the past and efforts were made to protect them from the different agents of deterioration. One of the most important of these deterioration agents was biological growth. The methods used to save the manuscripts were based on experience and knowledge of herbs and other natural materials and these practices were passed down from generation to generation. For centuries custodians of collections in India have used various natural materials for the preservation of their manuscripts. With the advent of new technologies in the field of conservation, and also with the changes in social and living systems the traditional practices and systems of conservation have fallen to disuse. At the same time, in spite of the advent of suitable chemicals for preservation, traditional methods of preservati on are in practice in some of the libraries and manuscript repositories in India.

Most of the modern materials used today to counter insect attack are relatively drastic and toxic. It is therefore important to re-evaluate the traditional materials which are in use and also to explore the possibility of using them with some modifications. If required. conventional insecticides, at the same time, should not be too readily dismissed in favour of non-chemical methods as it is better to work with products which have a long history and for which a lot of information regarding their advantages and disadvantages, is available.

Indigenous knowledge is important for several reasons because, local knowledge can help find the best solution to a development solution with fewer side effects and also indigenous knowledge represents the successful ways in which our ancestors have dealt with the rich heritage. The theme of utilizing existing knowledge to create appropriate solutions occurs repeatedly throughout the development literature. Using indigenous knowledge can help find the best solutions for a culture because, the solutions created must be economically and culturally acceptable to the society being aided.

The Mission organized a seminar in Delhi in the month of February, 2005, of a seminar series calledSamraksika, which dealt with the topic of Oral Traditions and Indigenous Methods of Preservation and Conservation of Manuscripts. Papers presented in the seminar therefore dealt with both the tangible and the intangible knowledge contained in the manuscripts and the need to preserve this rich cultural heritage. Apart from giving information regarding the age old techniques and methods of conservation, the papers also speak about the need to revive these methods as they are less hazardous and more beneficial. The seminar was spread over a period of three days and it gave ample opportunity for the experts in the field of manuscript preservation and conservation to interact, put forth their views and formulate plans for the future.

The ongoing research on indigenous methods of conservation in Regional Conservation Laboratory, Mysore, a regional branch of the National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property(NRLC), Lucknow will, throw some light on the merits and demerits of various Indigenous practices followed in various parts of India.