For the year ending December 2015
Structure, Governance and Management: Established in 1976, BACSA has an ExecutiveCommittee (ExCo) that meets five times a year. Its members are the trustees of BACSA, supported by advice and help from 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. The BACSA Archives are in the British Library and are open to the public. BACSA has a website: www.bacsa.org.uk.
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 is governed by its Constitution and Rules.
Public Benefit: to guide 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: 17 cemetery projects received funds, for conservation or for maintenance. The total value of grants was more than £29,000, an increase of 15% over 2014. Maintenance grants will be a permanent element of support to cemeteries in future. A revised edition of the Burma Register of European Deaths and Burials was published. The membership adopted a revised Constitution. The association’s website continued to be upgraded to contain much enhanced information and images. Members visited Belmont House in April and Freemasons’ Hall in November.
Financial Review: The accounts for 2015 are published later in this Report. Provisional figures suggest an 8% drop in annual subscriptions to £4,295. There was however an enormous leap in donations and legacies to over £30,000. Following the Secretary’s letter to members sent during the summer about £6,000 were received from Life and other Members; these funds will support running costs. Other income streams from dividends, and sales of books and publications remained steady. In consequence it was possible to increase project expenditure to over £29,000 whilst administrative payments remained at a similar level to past years. The end of year surplus of income over expenditure was over £12,000. Whilst the value of investments dropped by around 5%, the total value of BACSA’s assets remained above £250,000.
During 2015, our bank, Lloyds Bank plc, made enquiries about our activities and at one stage said they would close our account. The bank was especially interested in payments made to Burma in 2014 and partially made for BACSA by the British Embassy. The implication was that BACSA might have been engaged in money laundering. Only after correspondence between our Chairman and the Chairman of Lloyds, and a meeting between the Treasurer and senior Lloyds officials, did the bank cease its intervention and apologise for the upset that it had caused.
The Indian Government’s Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, 1976 is creating difficulty in the remittance of monies to India – and Indian recipients are not always able to satisfy their Indian banks of their entitlement to receive foreign donations. BACSA project grants are not always promptly released to Indian cemetery committees or individuals. This problem has been especially prevalent for donations received from the Calcutta ‘Old Boys’ Group to be used for the restoration of memorials in South Park Street Cemetery, Calcutta, though by December such payments were once more being accepted in India.
Future Plans: continue to support work at Calcutta’s South Park Street Cemetery and the Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust’s restoration of the Scottish Cemetery Calcutta. Support increased recording and conservation work in Burma. Cooperate with the INTACH and the World Monuments Fund to restore and conserve the former Hyderabad Residency cemetery. Publish a Jhansi Cantonment Cemetery record book. Develop closer relations with the Families in British India Society.