REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDING DECEMBER 2018
Structure, Governance and Management: Established in 1976, BACSA has an Executive Committee (ExCo) that meets five times a year. Its members are the trustees of BACSA supported by the President and Vice-Presidents. ExCo monitors such ongoing risks as may arise. Two general meetings are held each year. BACSA has no paid staff and no office; all work is done by volunteers both in the UK and South Asia. It is governed by its Constitution and Rules. The BACSA Archives are in the British Library and are open to the public. BACSA has a website – www.bacsa.org.uk – and a Facebook page.
Objects and Activities: BACSA is an institution for the recording, preservation and conservation of former European cemeteries and isolated monuments in South Asia prior to 1947. It promotes education in the history of all places associated with European residence in the area from the Red Sea to the China coast – wherever the East India Company set foot.
Public Benefit: BACSA is the only established organisation helping to care for an historic part of the United Kingdom’s built heritage in South Asia. It guides the public into researching and increasing its understanding of European lives and deaths in South Asia before 1947 through specialist help from BACSA members and others.
Achievements and performance: Grants were made for 12 cemetery projects to a total value of £37,635. The Association’s work in partnership with the Deccan Heritage Foundation (DHF) to conserve the graveyard of the former British Residency in Hyderabad made steady progress. The Delhi Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) began work to conserve the Nicholson Cemetery in Delhi. The Association held a well-attended series of lectures on the theme ‘Reconsidering the Raj’ in cooperation with the Institute for Historical Research, University of London. A second series, ‘The Raj Re-examined’, opened in November in association with the South Asia Centre, London School of Economics. Available as podcasts on BACSA’s website, the talks raised the Association’s profile. Members visited the East India Company archive at the British Library and the exhibition Splendours of the Raj at the Queen’s Gallery. A group of members toured India in November. Sales of second-hand books donated by generous members raised £4,877. The Spring and Autumn issues of Chowkidar, edited by Dr Llewellyn-Jones, was published. This house journal up to the autumn 2017 edition is now available on the internet. A page on the Facebook social network site was set up. A brochure for travellers to India using cemeteries as a way of increasing awareness of Britain’s contribution to the sub-continent’s heritage and to raise BACSA’s profile was published in co-operation with Indus Experiences. Life membership was re-introduced. Arrangements were set in place to ensure the Association complied with the General Data Protection Regulation.
Financial Review: The detailed accounts for the year to 31 December 2018 are published later in this report. The world economic environment seemed to have deteriorated sharply in 2018 and yet BACSA’s finances remained in a good position for the forthcoming year. This was largely the result of several generous donations totalling £62,354 against £7,350 in 2017. Other income streams also increased: subscriptions from members rose to £7,377 from £5,550 in 2017. This rise largely reflected the three new life members each of whom subscribed £500. Book and publication sales similarly increased significantly – net sales amounted to £5,766, almost double the £3,000 net sales in the previous 12 months. Dividends from BACSA’s investments contributed £8,885 against £8,650 in 2017. Together, the various income streams provisionally total £90,784 against total expenses of £56,479 giving the Association a surplus for the year of £34,305. However, the value of BACSA’s investments fell for the first time in several years. The value at 31 December 2018 was £255,488 against £272,246 a year earlier – a decrease of £16,758. This substantially reflects the extreme volatility in the markets across the world in November and December 2018.
BACSA made 12 grants totalling £37,635 for repairs and conservation of cemeteries in India and Pakistan. The balance of the expenditure was made up of administrative expenses including almost £7,500 towards setting up a new website for the Association.
Looking forward, BACSA needs to continue to increase its income streams, largely to offset the significant rise in the costs of conservation in the subcontinent. In India in particular, labour costs are rising fast and inflation is high. The uncertainties of Brexit have inevitably resulted in a weak pound and it may deteriorate further in 2019.
Plans: Bring into operation a new website with enhanced facilities for both members and visitors. Consider introducing a category of corporate membership. Continue to support work at Calcutta’s South Park Street Cemetery and the Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust’s restoration of the Scottish Cemetery Calcutta. Maintain cooperation with the Families in British India Society. Examine whether some of BACSA’s documents might be deposited with another library due to an increasing lack of space at the British Library. Take responsibility for the cemeteries endowment fund held by the British High Commission, New Delhi. Publish a conservation manual.