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What are Time Capsules?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Time capsules

Mains level: NA

Ahead of the laying of the foundation stone for a temple, claims and denials have emerged about plans to put in a time capsule, or ‘Kaal Patra’.

Do you know?

A rubidium standard or rubidium atomic clock is the most inexpensive, compact, and widely produced atomic clock, used to control the frequency of television stations, cell phone base stations, in test equipment, and global navigation satellite systems like GPS.

What is a Time Capsule?

  • It is a container of any size or shape, which accommodates documents, photos and artefacts typical of the current era and is buried underground, for future generations to unearth.
  • The time capsule requires special engineering so that the contents don’t decay, even if pulled out after a century.
  • Material such as aluminium and stainless steel are used for the encasing, and documents are often reproduced on acid-free paper.
  • While the term “time capsule” was coined in the 20th century, among the earliest examples of one dates back to 1777, found by historians inside the statue of Jesus Christ in Spain during its restoration.

There’s a global society:

International Time Capsule Society

  • The International Time Capsule Society (ITCS), based in the US and formed in 1990, is now defunct but continues estimating the number of time capsules in the world.
  • As per its database, there are “10,000-15,000 times capsules worldwide”.

Are there any time capsules in India?

  • There have been a number of prominent examples.
  • One time capsule, outside the Red Fort and placed underground in 1972 by then PM Indira Gandhi, was dug out by the subsequent government.
  • Other time capsules are at a school in Mumbai, IIT-Kanpur, LPU in Jalandhar, and Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar.
  • The Red Fort time capsule was supposed to be dug out after 1,000 years.

Significance of time capsules

  • Historians often criticize the idea of being motivated.
  • This exercise is inevitably a subjective exercise, geared towards glorification not to construct the real picture.
  • All historians look at this time capsule exercise with suspicion.
  • It’s not a valid historical method — who decides what matter, what artefacts, written documents are going into it?

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