Lok Sabha watches historic speeches by PM, foreign heads, senior leaders on YouTube

New Delhi: India’s eighth prime minister Chandra Shekhar’s tenure lasted just 233 days, but in a new YouTube channel, his speeches in Parliament, even though they were delivered after his tenure as PM, have attracted more attention than some of his predecessors. Have done

To be sure, the number is still in the hundreds, but online archiving is still in its infancy and not many people know about it.

The channel, Parliament of India Audio Visual Archive, has published important speeches of Prime Ministers, Presidents, senior politicians and visiting heads of state in Parliament for the first time on YouTube. Historic moments from India’s parliamentary history – taped in old video cassettes and gathering dust in store rooms – have been digitized and released on YouTube for all to see.

Thus far, 943 videos have been published in the month the channel has been live. More videos will be released in the coming days as part of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s initiative to open up the rich resources of Parliament to the public. The videos are also invaluable archival material, useful to researchers and academics.

“The Speaker wanted all available parliamentary speeches of Presidents, Prime Ministers and foreign dignitaries to be published online. They also asked us to put important debates in the public domain,” said a senior Lok Sabha official on condition of anonymity.

Video clips of speeches in the current Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are readily available, but old recordings are almost impossible to find. Doordarshan started telecasting the proceedings of Parliament live in 1992. “It was a partial telecast of important events like the presentation of the general budget. Two years later, during the 14th Lok Sabha, before Lok Sabha TV was launched, DD started full-fledged broadcasting,” said another Lok Sabha official, on condition of anonymity.

“There are no audio-visual recordings of parliamentary proceedings before 1992,” said the second person. Chandrasekhar was PM between November 1990 and June 1991, but remained a member of parliament until his death in 2007.

Digitization and publication of the recordings will continue for several more months. Till now all the speeches of Chandra Shekhar available on tape, 183 speeches of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 12 speeches of his predecessor Narasimha Rao and all Lok Sabha speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been uploaded. Among other senior politicians, 280 speeches of former Defense Minister and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Late Mulayam Singh Yadav are also available in the channel. There is even a video of young Yogi Adityanath taking oath in 1998.

“Since the technology has become obsolete, a need was felt to digitize all such records. The project was launched in February. Digitization of video recording of proceedings of Lok Sabha has been started in the initial phase. Digitization of video recording of Rajya Sabha proceedings is proposed to be done in the second phase,” said a third Lok Sabha official who did not wish to be identified.

The speeches of US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the joint sitting of both houses are available on the channel. The third official said, “Upcoming uploads include special sessions on GST, 50th year of Independence, Constitution Day celebrations, discussion on Pokhran nuclear test and video records of all PM Modi’s speeches in Rajya Sabha.”

The upload includes debates by Inder Kumar Gujral, PV Narasimha Rao, George Fernandez, Sushma Swaraj, KR Narayanan, Pranab Mukherjee, Manmohan Singh and others.

A fourth official said the digitization process is being done internally and there is no major cost involved. The Lok Sabha Secretariat is also tracking the analytics, although with only a month’s worth of data, it is too early to draw any conclusions.