An architect of the
The word 'Archives' is derived from the Greek word archcion which has been defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as 'a place in which public records or other historical documents are kept' and as 'a historical record or document so preserved'.
The term is also used to designate the agency charged with the custody, preservation and administration of archival material after it has become non-current. A person engaged in the administration of archival material is called an archivist.
Dr B S Baliga, late Curator, Madras Record
Office (now Tamilnadu Archives), deserves to be
remembered on account of his outstanding contribution to the Madras Record
Office. During his tenure for nearly 25 years, he made the Madras Record Office
an efficient instrument of service not only to the Government but also to all
the research scholars from different parts of
Nor can there be any doubt that the archives recording as they do all the achievements and aspirations of past Governments contain a mine of information on all sorts of administrative, economic and social schemes for reforms. In them are treasured up the most considered views and ideas of the most experienced statesmen, administrators and legislators of the past on a variety of vital matters of public interest'.
Dr Bantwal Surendranath Baliga (popularly known as Dr B S Baliga)
was born on 11.11.1908 in Bantwal, a little town
about 8 miles east of Mangalore. He took his BA degree in History and Economics
He became a specialist in South Indian History. He was appointed as
Probationary Curator of the Madras Record Office (today known as Tamilnadu Archives) in August 1934. He worked under P Macqueen, ICS and later replaced him as Curator of the
Madras Record Office in 1935. During his probation period he was deputed to the
Public Record Office in
This training benefited him greatly because it later stood him in good stead
when he was entrusted with the care and custody of the records of the Madras
Government which in terms of volume was the largest in
During the II World War, when there was a threat of Japanese attack on
As an archivist, administrator and scholar, he was noted for his efficiency and thoroughness in assisting all the departments of the Government and other administrative agencies by supplying them the required records with detailed explanatory notes on subjects like 'Separation of Judiciary from the Executive', 'Abolition of Zamindari', 'Rural Indebtedness', 'Rural Development', etc. The notes prepared by him were noted for their brevity, lucidity and authenticity.
The Government of India came out with a scheme for the revision of all the old
District Gazetteers of British India in 1954. Long before this scheme was
introduced, Dr B S Baliga had taken special
initiative to revise all the old Gazetteers in the old Madras Presidency. He
personally revised and wrote the District Gazetteers of Thanjavur
(with the title Tanjore District Handbook),
Another very important publication of his was done in 2 volumes under the title 'Studies in Madras Administration'. This is an outstanding book not only for historical research but also for practical administrative work by District Collectors and others at higher level in Tamilnadu.
He was a Member of the Indian Historical Records Commission, its Research and
Publication Committee, the Indian History Congress, the National Committee of
Archivists and Convener of the Regional Committee for collection materials for
the History of the Freedom Struggle in
He was a personal friend of all the great historians of his time like Prof. Potdar of Pune, Prof K A Neelakanta Sastri, C S Srinivasachari, P T Srinivasa Iyengar and Dr K K Pillay. All of them acknowledged the work of Dr B S Baliga in the field of promotion of historical research. They called him an 'Architect of Archives in Tamil Nadu'.
Baliga by his work and example succeeded in spreading a feeling of national pride in our documentary cultural heritage and creating a climate for ensuring its preservation for the posterity. He encouraged every member of the staff in the Madras Record Office to contribute his best towards the scientific management, administration and conservation of all the records in the Madras Archives.
As a team leader, he succeeded in developing greater professionalism and inculcating a scientific temper among creators, custodians and users of public records. He saw to it that the Madras Record Office during his tenure was totally committed to providing maximum assistance to scholars, administrators as well as the common man who approached him or his office in connection with their work. Indeed his was a life of complete dedication and devotion to the welfare and development of Archives and the Archival Profession.
When he died in September 1958, the Government of India paid tribute to him in
the following manner: 'His standing among historians was very high and his work
has won for him respect of several great scholars round the world. The
association of a scholar of his reputation and standing was a great asset in
the revision of the District Gazetteers undertaken by