A Protocol of Cooperation was signed between the National Archives of India and the Minister of Culture of the Portuguese Republic in the field of archives on 17th May, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal. As a first step under this agreement, the Torre do Tombo (National Archives of Portugal) handed over to the National Archives of India digital copies of 62 volumes of the collection known as ‘Moncoes do Reino’ (Monsoon correspondence).
These volumes were originally part of over 456 volumes that cover the period from 1568 to 1914 and form the largest of all record collections in the Goa State Archives. The collection consists of direct correspondence from Lisbon to Goa and is important primary source for the study of the Portuguese expansion in Asia, their trade rivalries with the Arabs and European powers and their relations with neighbouring Kings in South Asia and East Asia.
In 1777, these 62 volumes, consisting of over 12,000 documents, pertaining to the period from 1605 to 1651 were shifted from Goa to Lisbon where these were subsequently printed in under the title ‘Documentos Remetidos da India’(Documents sent from India) by the Academy of Science at Lisbon between 1880 and 1893. The original volumes had remained in Lisbon ever since.
After 240 years, this gap in the record series in the collection of the Goa State Archives was filled when on 17 May 2017, in a ceremony attended amongst others, by K. Nandini Singla, Ambassador of the Republic of India to Portugal, and Teresa Artilheiro Ferreira, Chief of Division, Cultural Agreements and Cooperation Programmes Unit, Camoes, Silvestre de Almeida Lacerda, Director General of Books, Archives and Libraries, handed over a set of digital images of the missing volumes of the Moncoes do Reino series to his counterpart Raghvendra Singh, Secretary to the Government of India and Director General of Archives, who led a two-member delegation to Portugal from 15-17 May 2017.
Speaking on this occasion Singh expressed his desire to work in close cooperation with the archival fraternity in Portugal and in India to make the centuries old relations between the two countries, more vibrant and meaningful. The Indian Ambassador added that ever since the very successful visit of the Portuguese Prime Minister to India in January this year, there is a lot of synergy between the two countries in diverse fields ranging from technology to education and from civil aviation to football – to name a few. Cultural being an important part of the lives of our people, is an important area where cooperation in the areas of shared heritage and legacy is greatly cherished by one and all.