A committee of historians has been constituted to oversee the transport and arrangement of invaluable records from Hyderabad to Vijayawada.

More than five years after bifurcation AP govt closer to having its own archivesImage for representation
news History Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 08:42

More than five years after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states, the division of historical assets between the states has commenced with the shifting of archival material from Hyderabad to Vijayawada. With the appointment of a Director and other staff to the Andhra Pradesh State Archives division, the transfer of archival material, which began a couple of months ago, is almost halfway near completion.

An expert committee has been constituted by the Higher Education Department to oversee the transfer of the invaluable records, The Hindu reported on Sunday. The four-member committee, which was officially set up a week ago, comprises retired academicians and history scholars, and the Director of Andhra Pradesh State Archives V Ranga Raj.

In fact, soon after the bifurcation, both the state governments appointed their own committees, comprising historians and scholars, to work out the division of historical assets, including archives, archaeological material and library resources. Though the committees had arrived at an understanding and handed over their reports to the respective state governments, administrative delays and shortage of funds hindered the process for a long time.

History scholar V Ramakrishna, who has formerly taught history at the University of Hyderabad, has been at the forefront of the demands from history enthusiasts to carefully preserve and transfer the archives to Andhra Pradesh, and ensure their upkeep and accessibility to researchers. “The archives will be used in the future by those who will write the history of the region,” Ramakrishna told TNM.

Ramakrishna, who is part of the expert committee overseeing the transfer, said that the material mainly includes important documents from government records like census records, government orders, land revenue records, judicial proceedings etc. “If someone conducting research on the region wants to consult an old newspaper report, or say a government order from the ‘70s, it should be made easily accessible to them.” The material also includes important and delicate old manuscripts of district administrative records, he said. 

The Telangana archives presently contain old and important records, like those from the Mughal era. Such records pertaining specifically to the region, part of which is in Telangana, will naturally remain in Hyderabad. While records pertaining specifically to the 13 districts, which are now part of Andhra Pradesh post-bifurcation, will be physically transferred, material, which is common to both states, will also be retained in Telangana.

“For common records, like Assembly debates and proceedings, and combined government orders, from the formation of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh until bifurcation, the Andhra Pradesh archives will only have the digitised copies,” said Ramakrishna. 

The archives also contain several books and films. Some of the material has been moved across multiple administrative regions, having been transferred from the Madras State archives to Kurnool in 1953 and then to Hyderabad in 1956, as the capital cities were changed. While they are now being moved to Vijayawada, the government order creating the expert committee only talks about transporting and arranging the records at the ‘New Capital Region’. 

While some of the material has already been shifted, grants are awaited for completing the rest of the transfer. The government is also expected to hire outsourced staff to carry out the project, as the division is currently understaffed. The archives will be properly made accessible to the public once all the records are transferred, preserved and arranged according to chronology, geography and subject areas.