"LALIT's rich documentation centre will be available to members and supporters in electronic form by the end of the year!" This is what came out of the Saturday 16 February meeting of the LALIT Documentation Commission. Cindy Clelie, who chairs the Commission, estimates there are 120,000 items in the "cuttings" and "documents" sections alone. The "cuttings" are essentially from the mainstream commercial press in Mauritius, selected on the basis of their political importance to LALIT. They have been carefully filed for easy retrieval, for the past 30 years, after a reading of the totality of the daily and weekly press. The "documents" are mainly LALIT documents from 1976 to date.
Each cutting or document will be allotted up to six of the 122 key-words, chosen by the LALIT Documentation Commission so to cover topics that interest our members. Each key-word has a short "definition" so as to indicate the sense in which the key-word is used, and this makes up what is called the archive's "dictionary".
A team of 18 LALIT members is doing the work of converting the archive to electronic form, on a voluntary basis. "It will in the long run be an ongoing process. But to kick off, we have to convert the entire existing archives," Cindy Clelie said.
"By the end of March all the LALIT documents and LALIT cuttings in the Archives will be both scanned and given key words for easy cross reference," she added. It is estimated that about 75 percent of this part of the work (i.e. the LALIT files) has already been done. CD files are already available to Central Committee members for their political research.
Parts of the archive will eventually be uploaded on to our web-site, for access by the public.
LALIT's main aim in keeping such a vast modern political archives, perhaps the only of its kind in the Indian Ocean, is to help members be scientific in their research, accurate in their ideas, and thus make our party more able to intervene effectively in the course of "present history". Eager members of LALIT's Youth Commission can read up very quickly what LALIT's position is on an issue, as well as what other political parties have said on the same point. The same resource is available for all other LALIT Commissions' members. Before our recent Congress, speakers spent hours in the archives, researching for their speeches.
The LALIT archives is also part of the party's internal democracy. Knowledge is, and has for 30 years, been available in archive form for ALL members to consult. The most recent one months' dailies and weeklies are available at the party headquarters (before cuttings are selected from them), and this "total press" encourages members not only to follow events, but to compare different editorial positions, take note of the role of capital (through ads) in the press, etc. It also means that, before a LALIT branch or regional meeting, members can easily inform themselves of past and recent developments on all the fronts the party follows. The original conceptualization of the Documentation Centre was based on the idea of symbiotic and inter-active categories (the ISIS system) for easy retrieval, which Ragini Kistnasamy studied during a course for women held in Geneva.
Any members who would like to give a hand this year can contact Cindy Clelie.