State Archives in dire need of funds

A document relating to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s era at the Telangana State Archives and Research Institute in Hyderabad.

A document relating to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s era at the Telangana State Archives and Research Institute in Hyderabad.

With the largest repository of historical records in terms of volume in the country, the Telangana State Archives and Research Institute (TSARI) was not allocated funds for projects and maintenance of the millions of records in its custody for the past five years, and while a small allocation was made this FY 2021-22, this has not been spent thus far.

The TSARI premises in Tarnaka was inaugurated by then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1965. Once known as the Daftar-e-Diwani , it houses documents from 14 departments of the Asaf Jahi Dynasty. Archival records here number approximately 43 million, and include records from 1406 CE. Other documents in its custody include lakhs of marriage certificates, the oldest of which dates back to the early 18th century.

According to an RTI response, while no funds were earmarked for projects and maintenance of records from FY 2016-2017 to 2020-2021, in 2021-2022 a paltry sum of ₹ 4.68 lakh was allocated. However, this has not been not used. The RTI response states that a total budget of ₹ 3 crore was sanctioned from FY 2012-13 to FY 2017-17 for digitisation of records; a total of 60 lakh folios have been digitised. However, this is only a fraction of a staggering 4.3 crore folios which exist.

The TSARI has also been hit by paucity of staff. The RTI response shows that the institution has a sanctioned post strength of 72. Out of this, as many as 33 permanent posts are vacant. TSARI Director Zareena Parveen, an expert of the Persian language, has been discharging her duties on a contractual basis. According to sources, while digitisation of records is an important facet of preserving archival records, equally important is mending damaged folios, and preserving existing records. The sources said that there is a need for annual budgetary allocations for this.

“While several files have been digitised, a huge number including those from the Nizam’s Secretariat, Home Department, Army, Finance Department, Revenue Department, and Commerce and Industries Department, are untouched. The Archives needs permanent archivists and research assistants who are well versed with Urdu and Persian as a majority of documents here are in those languages,” the source said.

As was reported in these columns, portions of plaster of the roof and walls gave way. Workers pointed out that the building requires immediate attention. While a building proposal was submitted to a government agency in 2018, no concrete steps were taken to ameliorate the situation.

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Printable version | Aug 24, 2022 9:05:36 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/state-archives-in-dire-need-of-funds/article37372113.ece