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National Archives of India Acquires Late Rafi Ahmad Kidwai’s Private Papers

New Delhi: In a significant development for archival preservation, the National Archives of India (NAI) has acquired the private paper collection of the esteemed Late Rafi Ahmad Kidwai. This invaluable collection comprises original correspondences between Kidwai and eminent leaders such as Pt. Nehru, Sardar Patel, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, and P.D. Tandon, among others. The papers were formally handed over to the Director-General of NAI by Faiz Ahmad Kidwai (IAS), Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, in a ceremony attended by dignitaries including Tazeen Kidwai, daughter of Late Hussain Kamil Kidwai, and youngest brother Rafi Ahmad Kidwai’s daughter, Sarah Manaal Kidwai.

As the custodian of the non-current records of the Government of India, the National Archives of India holds these invaluable documents in trust for administrators and researchers, as mandated by the Public Record Act 1993. Renowned as a premier archival institution, NAI plays a pivotal role in nurturing archival consciousness and safeguarding the nation’s historical heritage. In addition to its extensive collection of public records, NAI boasts a rich repository of private papers belonging to eminent Indians from diverse backgrounds, who have made significant contributions to the nation.

Late Shri Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, a man of extraordinary charisma and intellect, dedicated his life to India’s independence struggle and the eradication of communalism and superstitions. Born on February 18, 1894, in Masauli, Uttar Pradesh, he hailed from a middle-class zamindar family. His political journey commenced with active participation in the Khilafat Movement and the Non-Cooperation Movement, leading to periods of incarceration. Kidwai served as the Private Secretary to Motilal Nehru and later held prominent positions in the Congress Legislative Assembly and the United Provinces Congress Committee.

His political acumen saw him become a Minister in Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant’s cabinet, where he efficiently managed Revenue and Jail portfolios. Post-independence, he assumed the role of India’s first Minister for Communications in Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet, spearheading pioneering initiatives such as the “own your telephone” service and night air mail. In 1952, he assumed charge of the Food and Agriculture portfolio, effectively addressing food rationing challenges with his administrative prowess.

Rafi Ahmed Kidwai’s unwavering dedication to India’s liberation and nation-building endeavours earned him widespread acclaim and recognition. His contributions were commemorated with the establishment of the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in 1956. Renowned as a magician and miracle man, his leadership in the Communications and Food Ministries underscored his ability to navigate crises and implement innovative solutions for the nation’s welfare.

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