ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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An Appeal to Protect the Archives

Andhra Pradesh State Archives and Government Oriental Manuscripts Library

We, the undersigned, express our deepest concerns over the troubling method and manner of division currently being initiated at the Andhra Pradesh State Archives and the Andhra Pradesh Government Oriental Manuscripts Library. The dissolution of Andhra Pradesh state and the formation of the new Telangana and Residuary Andhra Pradesh States has created the need to apportion state administrative functions at all levels, including these research institutions.

Background: The Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act ("Telangana Bill") to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh into two new states, "Telangana" and "residuary Andhra Pradesh," was finalized on March 1, 2014. The new state boundaries are scheduled to take effect on June 2, 2014. The Act stipulates that the governor will administer Hyderabad as the joint capital of both states until a new capital is named for residuary Andhra Pradesh. This is a period not to exceed ten years. Following the State Chief Minister’s resignation in February, Andhra Pradesh has been under “President’s Rule.” At present, many details of the separation have not been formalized and there is significant uncertainty and confusion surrounding the responsibilities of government officers and employees, including at government-managed research and archival institutions. Both the Andhra Pradesh State Archive and the Government Oriental Manuscript Library are slated for bifurcation and their collections will be divided between Telangana and Residuary Andhra Pradesh.
 
An Appeal from Research Scholars and the Broader Intellectual Community
 
We, the undersigned, express our deepest concerns over the troubling method and manner of division currently being initiated at the Andhra Pradesh State Archives and the Andhra Pradesh Government Oriental Manuscripts Library. The dissolution of Andhra Pradesh state and the formation of the new Telangana and Residuary Andhra Pradesh States has created the need to apportion state administrative functions at all levels, including these research institutions. We recognize that the manuscripts, printed books, and records preserved in the State Archives and the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library are invaluable and irreplaceable sources of regional, national, and global history. In particular, the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library deserves special attention as the heir to the historical Asafiya State Central Library collection, which is an invaluable record of Hyderabad’s cosmopolitan history.
 
The Asafiya Library was founded in the final decades of the Hyderabad princely state thanks to the efforts of Maulvi Syed Hussein Bilgrami, the Nawab Imad-ul-Mulk. His personal library formed the seed of this collection, but it soon became one of the largest and richest collections in the whole of India. In 1967 the oldest and most valuable part of the library, more than 17,000 volumes in Telugu, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit dating from the 7th century through the 19th century, was shifted to the care of the Andhra Pradesh Government Oriental Manuscript Library. This collection reflects the richness and diversity of Hyderabad’s Deccan heritage and should not be carelessly divided. We urge the authorities to treat these materials with the proper sensitivity and consideration they deserve.
 
In this regard, we humbly petition the governor of the state with three requests:
 
1. Transparency: We request that the directors of both institutions communicate to the public their overall vision and plan for the separation of these historical materials. This should include a timeline, a list of responsible actors along with their duties and responsibilities, and justifications for the proposed separations.
 
2. Temporary Advisory Committee: The separation of materials should not be arbitrary or guided by contemporary political concerns. We request the governor to appoint a temporary advisory committee of research scholars and librarians who have expertise on the materials housed in the State Archives and the Manuscripts Library. This committee will be responsible for ensuring the integrity of particular collections and providing its informed and unbiased opinion during the separation process.
 
3. Funding: Both the State Archives and the Manuscripts Library have suffered from underfunding and a shortage of qualified employees for many years. The collections at both institutions are in a fragile condition and much of the material remains either entirely uncatalogued or minimally catalogued. Without a clear sense of the content and value of their holdings, any bifurcation undertaken will be arbitrary and the materials selected for shifting will be at risk of being destroyed or lost. We request that a special budget be prepared for this project so that both institutions may temporarily expand their skilled staff to meet the requirements of this sensitive undertaking. Given that Hyderabad will remain the joint capital for the next ten years, we hold that there is no need for the immediate separation of these materials. This is a process that will require time and careful consideration. We look on this historic moment as a unique opportunity to re-catalogue and re-assess the holdings of both institutions. This will ensure a proper accounting of their inventory and lead to the informed separation of these invaluable and irreplaceable materials.
 
This petition represents the concerns and interests of leading research institutes, learned societies, scholars (both local and international), students, journalists, social activists, and concerned members of the public at large. We are in the process of taking an appointment with the governor and this petition will be personally submitted to him by a group of concerned citizens.
 
Please voice your support by contributing your signature to the list below by clicking here
 
Signed,
 
Mukta, A Telangana Women’s Collective: K. Vimala, K. Kirankumari, S. Sandhya, A. Sridevi
Telangana Resource Center: M. Vedakumar
Center for Deccan Studies: Dr. Oudesh Rani Bawa, Sajjad Shahid
Hyderabad History Society: Dr. Anuradha Reddy
Telangana History Society: Sangisetti Srinivas
Telangana Vidyavanthula Vedika: Sridhar Rao Deshpande
Anveshi, Resource Center for Women: Dr. Sunita, Gogu Shyamala, Shahjahana
Muchukunda Foundation: P. Srisailam
Telangana Senior Citizens Association: C.H. Ramulu
Telangana Netizens for Social Justice: K. Jaswanth, K. Karunakar Reddy
Forum For Better Hyderabad: Omim Maneckshaw Debara, M. Vedakumar
INTACH (Hyderabad): Dr. Anuradha Reddy
Former Director, Andhra Pradesh Government Oriental Manuscripts Library: Professor Jayadhir Tirumala Rao
Former Director, Andhra Pradesh State Archives: Dr. Vasant Bawa

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