Historians, scholars call for strengthening epigraphy

Eminent numismatic A.V. Narasimhamurthy writes to PM

July 30, 2021 07:24 pm | Updated July 31, 2021 08:05 am IST - Mysuru

Scholars and historians across the country have taken exception to the short shift given to the epigraphy branch in the restructuring of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the issue has now reached the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

There are only 31 epigraphists for the entire country of which 10 are vacant and not a single additional post has been created for epigraphy during the cadre restricting of the ASI that took place recently. Though 758 new posts were created after abolishing 304 posts, epigraphy branch was not only ignored but even the existing posts were reduced as in case of Sanskrit.

A.V. Narasimhamurthy, scholar and Chairman of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mysuru, has taken the lead in expressing the dissent of the scholars and historians from across the country who have held placards, taken to social media and other forum besides speaking to elected representatives about the importance of epigraphy.

Prof. Narasimhamurthy, in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that he was shocked that the government could not create even a single post for epigraphy which is an important wing under the ASI. “Many scholars of national and international repute have worked in the epigraphy branch and their contribution to historical research is immeasurable. As an historian and an archaeologist, I strongly believe that without the data gleamed from epigraphic research, history would be just a bunch of folk tales and myths’’, said Prof.N arasimhamurthy.

He said not creating additional posts for epigraphy and reducing the sanctioned strength increases the burden of work besides resulting in a decline in standard of scholarship. “But above all it creates a sense of despair and disappointment to the serving staff due to the absence of growth opportunities’’, said Prof. Narasimhamurthy, urging the Prime Minister to create new posts, open regional centres, and restore the glory of the epigraphy branch.

Meanwhile, other sources said historians, PhD students and postgraduate students of history from different universities across the country will also urge the government to give epigraphy its rightful due and encourage epigraphical studies.

The epigraphy branch of the ASI was established in 1886 A.D. and thousands of inscriptions have been copied, deciphered and its gist published in the annual reports on Indian Epigraphy. However, due to paucity of staff only 50 per cent of the inscriptions discovered in detail so far have been published. But what is worrying the scholars is thousands of inscriptions which are a treasure-trove of information on history and culture of the country, were being destroyed owing to development works, mining, quarrying etc.

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