TRAVANCORE STATE MANUAL Volume One
V. NAGAM AIYA
Dewan Peishcar, Travancore kingdom
6. History - Section C: Modern History - SIR RAMA VARMA-(Mulam Tirunal)
SIR RAMA VARMA-(Mulam Tirunal) G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E.
Ascended the Musund, 5th Chingam 1061 M.E / 19th August 1885 A.D
The late Maharajah was succeeded by his nephew, His Highness Rama Varma the present Maharajah, who had already been recognised as heir by the Madras Government in their Proceedings No. 257 dated the 10th June 1830. His Highness accordingly ascended the ancient musnud of his ancestors on the 19th August 1885, at the early age of twenty-eight. A Public Installation was held with due ceremonies and amidst the rejoicings of the whole population.
His Highness was born on the 25th September 1857, under the star Mulam. His father was Raja Raja Varma, a member of the family of the Changanachery Koil Tampurans, and a cultured and polished nobleman and an eminent Sanskrit scholar. He was the uncle and guru of the present Valia Koil Tampuran, Kerala Varma, C. S. I. His Highness’ mother Rani Lakshmi Bayi, the only sister of the late and penultimate Maharajahs was a most talented and accomplished lady. She died at the early ago of twenty-eight, a few days after His Highness was born leaving only two infant sons, the present Maharajah and his elder brother the late Hastam Tirunal.
After the usual Vernacular studies, the two Princes were placed under the tuition of one Mr. Annaji Row, B. A., and then under that of the late Mr. Raghunatha Row, B.A., a singularly able man who subsequently became one of the Dewan Pieshcars of the State. The tutor was fully alive to the importance of his charge and he performed his duties with zeal and intelligence. Prince Hastam Tirunal had to give up his studies in 1870 A.D., owing to ill-health and the present Maharajah, then Third Prince, remained the only pupil under tuition. Regarding the progress of the two Princes’ studies, Sir Madava Row writes in his Administration Report for 1044 M.E. (1868-1869):—
“The Royal pupils manifest great natural intelligence and by no means inconsiderable application to study. Besides their regular lessons, means of general information are placed in their reach, of which they fully avail themselves. They take more exercise than before and are being familiarised with European manners by occasionally attending the social gatherings of their English friends. They are supplied with some newspapers, of which the London Illustrated paper has particular attraction for them. A small but neat country-house, amidst a garden, is being built for their use, on a prettily situated hill in the environs of the town; which promises to become their favourite resort for health and recreation............. With continued and perhaps somewhat increased care and attention, they are sure not only of comparing favourably in moral and intellectual attainments with any Native Princes of their age in India, but of proving themselves worthy scions of the Royal Family of Travancore.”
In his Report for the following year 1045 M.E (1869-1870), Sir Madava Row wrote —
“The studies of the young Princes embraced during the year.
History — Goldsmith’s Rome, 130 pages (from the creation of the Decemviri to the establishment of the first Triumvirate).
Geography — of Europe and Asia, 113 pages.
Arithmetic — Examples in Decimals, Single and Double Rule of Three, and the rules for finding the Square root.
Grammar — a portion of Sullivan’s.
“They read also several miscellaneous works calculated to instruct and amuse them and to keep them informed on current topics, the “Illustrated London News”, the “Madras Mail”, and a couple of local newspapers have been supplied. In the beginning of the current year, Mr. Ross examined the Princes by means of written papers in Arithmetic and History and viva voce in other subjects. The result was on the whole satisfactory. The elder Prince has unhappily not enjoyed good health, and under medical advice was obliged to suspend his studies for a time. In the study of Sanskrit, both Princes appear to have progressed favourably. They now mix more than before in European society and are thus brought under the influences calculated to expand their minds. Physical Education has not been wholly neglected. The Princes ride and walk a good deal more than previously. Mr. R. Raganatha Row, B.A., the English tutor to the young Princes, is using his best endeavours in the important work confided to him. In general knowledge and in principles of conduct, they manifest a marked improvement pregnant with gratifying promise for the future.”
Further progress was reported next year 1046 M.E (1870-1871).
“His Highness the Second Prince has unhappily not been in the enjoyment of health, and had to give up his studies during the year under Medical advice, and His Highness the Third Prince (present Maharajah) alone remained under instruction. The work done during the year was both greater in quantity and superior in quality. Several new subjects were taken up, comprising Euclid, Algebra, Indian History and Poetry. In addition to the set lessons of the day, the Prince went through a good deal of miscellaneous reading both out of books and newspapers.”
Long before his regular studies commenced, the Prince’s intelligence was noticed by Sir William and Lady Denison when they visited Travancore in 1862. He was then quite a child and had perhaps just been initiated into the alphabet. Lady Denison writes in her journal: —
“They (the Ranis) were followed into the room by two little boys, nephews of the Rajah; one eight years old, the other five. These were dressed, the elder in yellow, the younger in white satin, a good deal embroidered, and came in attended by a man servant.........................the younger was a nice intelligent little fellow, who spoke three or four words in English very well.”*
NOTEs: * Varieties of Vice-Regal Life, Vol. II. Page 213.
‘The present Maharajah was the “nice intelligent little fellow” referred to as having spoken “three or four words in English very well”; he then was a child of five years of age. The tuition continued until January 1874 when Mr. Raghunatha Row was appointed District Judge at Quilon. It was then deemed unnecessary to continue the office of tutor, the Prince having attained his majority and having made sufficient progress to pursue his further studies without a mentor. He had acquired a good knowledge of English and Sanskrit and a good grounding in political studies. Mr. Griffith in his India’s Princes (published in 1894) thus refers to His Highness’ early studies and accomplishments —
“His Highness the present Maharajah was principally educated under a private tutor (now holding the position of Dewan Peishcar — Deputy Dewan) assisted by the then Principal of the Maharajah’s College. Under the zealous care of these gentlemen, His Highness received a thorough training in all the ordinary branches of an English education; provision was made at the same time for acquiring a knowledge of Sanskrit, which is considered an essential part of a Hindu liberal education. The Maharajah writes English with ease, and with a very creditable knowledge of idioms. He has long shown a taste for music, including English instrumental music, and at times has the brigade band at one of his suburban residences to play European pieces to him. The band is entirely composed of natives, with the exception of the bandmaster, who is of European descent, and whose family, for three generations, has held the appointment. His Highness, before he assumed the responsibilities of government, used to be very fond of lawn-tennis, and was a fairly good player, and even now enjoys a quiet game in the courts of the British Resident, or of the officer commanding the Brigade; he has also been known to find pleasure in being conducted by a European lady partner through the figures of the lancers or the Sir Roger de Coverly.”
The Public Installation took place on the 19th August 1885. A full dress Darbar was held on the occasion in the old Audience Hall in the Fort, at which the British Resident, the Commandant of the Subsidiary force at Quilon, and many European ladies and gentlemen and Native officials were present. In congratulating His Highness, Sir M.E Grant Duff, the Governor of Madras wrote: —
“I have already had the pleasure of congratulating you on your succession to the high dignity you are now assuming, and I embrace the present opportunity of again felicitating you, and expressing the earnest hope that your reign may be long and happy, honourable to yourself and a blessing to the people committed to your care.”
On that auspicious occasion His Highness addressed the assembly as follows: —
“I little expected that at the early age of twenty-eight, I would be called upon to undertake the grave responsibilities of a Ruler; and coming as I do after an illustrious line of ancestors — not the least eminent and wise of whom have been my two lamented Uncles, His Highness the late Maharajah and his immediate predecessor — I feel all the more my own unworthiness to fill a position to which they have done so much honour. But when thus filled with a sense of my own incapacity, I must confess to a feeling of thankfulness that I see not a little in the circumstances in which I am placed to encourage and cheer me.
“This ancient kingdom under the fostering care of my predecessors has entered on a career of material prosperity never before known; the finances are in a flourishing condition, and the foundations of future prosperity have been laid broad and deep. I have therefore only to work on the lines chalked out for me; and in endeavouring to do this, it is no small consolation to me that I shall have the cordial aid and counsel of the British Representative at my Court, and the support and protection of the Paramount Power, to whose fortunes those of my House are fortunately indissolubly linked from whom in the long course of our happy connection we have never experienced anything but uniform kindness and friendship, and to whom we have always owed and will continue to owe unswerving loyalty. And above all, I am full of faith and hope and devoutly pray that the Author of all good, who in His infinite and inscrutable wisdom has seen fit to cut short a most useful and valuable life in the midst of a bright and successful career, may ‘what in me is dark, illumine, what is low, raise and support’; guide me in the straight path of my duty; give me the will and power to follow in the footsteps of him whose premature loss we all deplore, and enable me, to the best of the light vouchsafed to me, to strive to promote the well-being and happiness of the nearly two and a half millions of peaceful and industrious subjects so unexpectedly committed to my care.”
The two-and-a-half millions of twenty years ago have now increased to three millions. On that same day His Highness issued a Neet or Royal warrant remitting old arrears of assessment to the extent of three-and-a-half lacs of rupees, also another authorising an annual grant of Rs. 1,500 for the repair and construction of wells in localities where drinking water was scarce and a third directing attention to be paid to the timely repair of religious institutions.
The five years’ reign of his illustrious uncle which came to a close in the third quarter of 1885, had raised the State to a high standard of excellence, and it was therefore no small merit in His Highness, young as he was, to have taken up the reins of Government where they were left, and carried on the duties of his high trust with that ease and efficiency which would have done credit to one of maturer years.
The genuine tributes of praise officially recorded by successive Dewans and British Residents and the highly eulogistic compliments paid from time to time by Viceroys and Governors and other distinguished authorities who have personally known His Highness and have had opportunities of judging of his rule, added to the repeated encomiums passed by the Madras Government on the Travancore Administration during these twenty years, relied upon in this narrative will bear testimony to this fact, a testimony which I am sure is not likely to be surpassed in the near future.
For the first year and a half of His Highness’ rule, Mr. Ramiengar continued to be Dewan and vigorously carried on the Survey and Settlement work he had begun. In 1061 M.E. (1885-1886) two important Royal Proclamations were issued, one sketching out the general plan of the Revenue Survey and Settlement and laying down the principles and procedure to be observed in carrying out these operations, and the other providing for a searching enquiry being instituted into the condition of the holders of the Viruthi or Service-tenures and for the rearrangement of the service itself in consonance with the altered economic conditions of the country. The other reforms of the year were chiefly concerning the Judicial Department. They were: —
1. Regulation 11 of 1061 was passed by which a single Judge of the High Court was authorised when sitting as a Vacation Judge to dispose of applications for staying execution of decrees of the Civil Courts and to suspend sentences of Criminal Courts. This was found necessary in order to avoid two Judges sitting during the vacation.
2. Regulation IV of 1061 authorised the execution in Travancore of the decrees of the Civil Courts in British India and the Cochin State, His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General and His Highness the Rajah of Cochin having granted similar concessions to the decrees of the Travancore Courts. A set of rules was framed by the High Court prescribing the mode of execution of such decrees.
3. A set of rules was also passed prescribing the qualifications for Munsiffs and Vakils, the British Government and the University legal tests being adopted for the purpose.
In January 1887, Mr. Ramiengar retired on a handsome pension of Rs. 700 and proceeded to Madras to enjoy a well-earned repose. Mr. Ramiengar was Dewan of Travancore for six years, during which he worked with zeal and ability. His Highness the Maharajah on accepting his resignation wrote to him a highly eulogistic letter in the following terms:—
‘You brought to hear upon the administration of Travancore all the experience acquired during a long and distinguished service under the British Government and of association with the most prominent men in the Madras service. Combined with a firmness of purpose and an untiring energy, you have been able to lay your plans in material wisdom, and carry them out with vigour undaunted by the obstacles which beset your path. I need not recount the various measures of reform you have carried out; how almost every branch of the Public Service has been improved, and how the finances had prospered and been placed on a secure footing during the last six years of your administration; your last and greatest work, the Revenue Survey and Settlement, so full of promise alike to the public exchequer as well as to the landholders when successfully carried out on the lines laid down by you, will, I am sure, ever remain a lasting monument of your administration. You have, in fact, during the past six years imparted an impetus to the national prosperity the full force of which remains to be felt.”
The British Resident Mr. Hannyngton thus referred to his work in Travancore —
“On the occasion of the retirement of Mr. Ramiengar, I desire to express my high appreciation of the important services he has rendered to the Travancore State during the period of over six years’ tenure of the office of Dewan. The record of his administration is before Government, and it only remains for me to express my admiration of the ability, firmness and zeal with which he steadily carried out, in the face of no little ignorant opposition, measures which experience has shown to be generally beneficial. The measures introduced by Ramiengar by which he will be chiefly remembered in the State, are probably the inauguration of the Revenue Settlement and Survey and the establishment of a sound system of Police. One very important effect of his administration which does not appear on the surface, and which I will here mention, is that under his firm administration, the general tone as well as the efficiency of the Public service has considerably improved.”
Mr. V. Ramiengar, C.S.I., came to Travancore as Dewan after retirement from the British service, where he had distinguished himself as a very able and practical official. His Highness the late Maharajah (Visakham Tirunal} had known him for twenty years and had formed a high opinion of him. This is what His Highness himself wrote of him (of course anonymously) in the Calcutta Review of April 1883, in connection with the Travancore-Cochin arbitration: —
“The new Maharajah earnestly wished to strengthen his hands by securing the services of the ablest and most reliable available man as his minister. He had known Mr. V. Ramiengar for nearly twenty years, and was on intimate terms with him. Mr. Ramiengar had risen by dint of his eminent abilities and force of character to the highest rung of the service under the Madras Government yet open to natives; and he deservedly stood highest among natives in the estimation and confidence of that Government. Apart from other considerations, Mr. Ramiengar’s intimate acquaintance with the spirit of the Madras Government at their very headquarters commended itself to the Maharajah, and he sought and obtained the services of Mr. Ramiengar as his Dewan.’’
He was fifty-five years old when he was called to the Dewanship of Travancore.
Career of V. Ramiengar, C. S. I.
Ramiengar was one of the six students that entered the Government High School when it was first established in April 1841 by the Government of Lord Elphinstone. The class fellows of Ramiengar were Rajah Sir T. Madava Row the Statesman, Shadagopacharulu the First Native Pleader of the Madras High Court, and the First Native Member of the Madras Legislative Council; Mr. Basil Lovery the well-known Eurasian educationist; Mr. M. Sadasiva Pillai the distinguished Native Judge who presided over the Chief Court of Travancore for several years, and that great scholar Dinadayalu Naidu who lived a life of indifferent health and died a premature death owing to over-study and consequent mental derangement. All these six obtained their Proficient’s Degrees with honours. Ramiengar studied diligently spending the midnight oil, and earned one of the stipendiary scholarships founded fortunately at this juncture by the trustees of Pachaiyappa’s charities in the Government High School with a view to encourage the higher education of deserving youths.
About the scholarship which enabled him to prosecute his studies without requiring the assistance of his parents, he always spoke in grateful terms in after-life. When the time came for him to repay the help he had thus received, he instituted a scholarship in the Science branch, which is offered to this day to an under-graduate prosecuting his studies for the B. A. Degree in Pachaiyappa’s College. When his school course was over, the late Sir Thomas Pycroft, Secretary to the Board of Revenue, appointed him a Translator in the Mahratta Cutchery. The position of Translator in the Revenue Cutchery gave him numerous opportunities of studying the history of the system of Revenue administration in the Madras Presidency, and prepared him for active life in the higher grades of the Revenue and Financial departments of the Public service. By his ability and diligence he soon won the confidence of the European Collectors and Secretaries. He soon became Head Moonshi at Nellore and then Deputy Registrar under the Chief Secretary to Government.
In 1855 he became Naib Sheristadar in the Nellore District. In March 1857, he was appointed the Head Sheristadar of the District of Tanjore, when Mr. F. B. Elton the Collector of Nellore wrote of him: —
“Such men are the true friends of their country, and in their several spheres do much to raise it in the scale of nations and in the estimation of all good men.”
From the Head Sheristadarship he became Deputy Collector, and in 1839 he was advanced by Sir Charles Trevelyan to the place of an Assistant under the Inam Commissioner, Mr. G. N. Taylor. He was again sent to Tanjore to carry out the Revenue Settlement of a portion of the District, then taxed under the old system called the Olungu Settlement. Sir Charles Trevelyan speaking at the Presidency College Anniversary in 1860 referred to Ramiengar thus—
”Another Native officer who belongs to the same class has just carried through a work of the highest consequence in the Revenue department in the Province of Tanjore, and his sterling ability and personal integrity are highly honourable, not only to himself, but to the nation to which he belongs.”
In 1870 he wrote to Ramiengar —
“We have reached another stage of the great question of the extended employment of the Natives of India. I shall be disappointed if you are not among the first to profit by the enlarged powers conferred upon the local Government. If you were employed in important public situations for a hundred years, you could not be charged with a more difficult or responsible task than the Olungu Settlement in Tanjore. You were recommended to me for the duty as being better qualified for it than any other person European or Native in the Presidency, and you acquitted yourself of it to everybody’s satisfaction, without a breath of suspicion on your previous high character, although you had the fortunes of half the province in your hands.”
After some further service in the Tanjore District, Ramiengar was appointed Acting Sub-Collector at Namakal where he remained three years. He was then appointed Assistant Commissioner of Paper Currency at Trichinopoly and then First Assistant to the Chief Secretary in January 1866. In 1867, he was appointed by Lord Napier’s Government to the post of Stamp Superintendent on a salary of Rs. 1,000. In 1868, he was appointed an Additional Member of the Madras Legislative Council, which position he held for twelve years. His work in the Legislative Council was much appreciated. Sir Alexander Arbuthnot, sometime Acting Governor, spoke of him thus on a public occasion referring to the College founded by Lord Elphinstone’s Government —
“It was during that period that there was being educated a Native member of our Local Legislative Council — an institution at that time unthought of, who, I am bold to say, whether as regards the uprightness of his character, the excellence of his judgment, the honesty of his purpose, or the independence of his action, has not his superior in any one of the legislative bodies now at work in this great Indian Empire.”
Ramiengar was Municipal Commissioner for the town of Madras for eight years. In May 1871, he was appointed a “Companion of the Order of the Star of India.” His Excellency the Governor (Lord Napier of Ettrick and Merchiston) wrote to him —
“I believe that the Insignia of the Order of the Star of India will shortly be forwarded to you by the Chief Secretary to Government in the usual official form. I avail myself of this occasion to convey to you once more my sincere congratulations on the honour which Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to confer upon you, and to assure you that my colleagues concur with me in a cordial feeling of satisfaction that you should have been selected for this mark of Her Majesty’s favour, so well deserved by your high character, abilities and services to this Government.”
In 1875, Ramiengar was appointed Inspector-General of Registration by Lord Hobart’s Government. In January 1877, he had the honour of receiving the commemoration Medal from His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General. He sat on various committees on important public questions, such as those for the organisation of the Department of Public works; for revising the Madras Municipal Act; for preparing the Report on Vaccination in connection with the Municipality; for the revision of school books in use in the Madras Presidency; for preparing a Bill for regulating the administration of Hindu Religious institutions; for the reorganisation of the Municipal establishments; and for revising the establishment of the Sheriff’s office and the Assay office, and the Village Munsiffs’ Regulations of Sir Thomas Munro. He was besides Trustee of the Pachaiyappa’s Charities in which capacity he rendered valuable service by judicious advice which the trustees gratefully acknowledged.
In 1880 he was called by the late Maharajah to the Dewanship of Travancore where his services for over six years had been highly appreciated, as shown in the testimonials of His Highness the present Maharajah and the late Mr. Hannyngton quoted above. The various improvements he was instrumental in bringing about have been already referred to. The most important of these was his scheme of Survey and Settlement, which defined the extent and value of all landed estates, gave an elasticity to the revenue and perceptibly improved the public exchequer so as to facilitate all measures of progress in the “Model State”, besides being a reliable record to appeal to in every case of dispute about lands and boundaries. His masterly memorandum on the Travancore Settlement, dated 14th April 1885, is still an authority often referred to on questions connected with our land tenures and taxes.
Ramiengar died soon after retirement from Travancore, which deprived Madras of the fruits of his leisure, varied knowledge and experience. He was fond of reading and constantly enquired of his literary friends to suggest to him the latest publications in the book-world of real interest and value. I have seen him diligently make entries during intervals of business in a voluminous scrap-book which he kept, and out of which he used to read to friends bits of reading which he had noted and thoughts of the most eminent writers in English literature, containing some of the choicest expressions. He was a strong and earnest man, very conservative in matters of religion and social usages, but as an official, liberal in politics and decisive in action. He was rather brusque in manner and irritable, but at heart a good-natured man.
His official despatches were of a high order. They were terse, accurate and powerful, very clearly and elegantly expressed — an excellence which he reached by writing and rewriting them times without number, and when finally issued from his pen they were masterpieces of thought and diction rarely surpassed by even the best of his compeers and collaborateurs of the day. He had a fair knowledge of Sanskrit and of most of the South Indian Vernaculars. He had a musical voice which was seen to advantage in the recitation of Sanskrit slokas; he enjoyed music whenever opportunity afforded. He was a disciplinarian and a very active official during his whole life.
T. Rama Row, Dewan (1887—1892). Mr. Ramiengar was succeeded by Mr. T. Rama Row the Head Dewan Peishcar, an officer of ability, rectitude and experience.
Chief events. Rama Row’s administration was happily ushered in with the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty the late Queen-Empress of India. This unique event was celebrated with due pomp and splendour throughout the State on the 16th and 17th February 1887. A Public Durbar was held on the 16th idem to receive the Viceroy’s Kharita in connection with the historic event. His Highness subscribed Rs. 10,000 to the Imperial Institute in London and Rs. 2,000 to the Technical Institute in Madras, started in commemoration of the event. Two memorials were also founded in Travancore, the ‘Victoria Jubilee Town Hall’ at the Capital, and the ‘Victoria Medical School and Hospital for Women’ in Quilon.
The Kharita was felicitously expressed in the following terms—
“It is with sincere pleasure that I have heard of the preparations which Your Highness has made in order to commemorate, in a manner befitting the occasion, the fiftieth year of the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, Empress of India. I shall not fail to inform Her Majesty of this spontaneous expression of loyalty and affection on your part. Queen Victoria’s long tranquil rule has been marked throughout her wide dominions by the ever increasing prosperity and happiness of the millions entrusted to her charge. In India, it has established an uninterrupted and unbroken peace and under its protecting shelter, the Ruling Chiefs of this country, undisturbed by the fear of invasion from without or of revolution from within, have been able to devote their time and attention to the welfare of their subjects and to the moral and material advancement of their States. I am happy to learn that Your Highness has so readily taken the opportunity afforded by this auspicious occasion to show your just appreciation of the great benefits you have experienced under the benign and beneficent rule of Her Majesty the Queen. I can assure you that it is our Gracious Sovereign’s desire to extend to you, on all occasions, her warm sympathy and hearty assistance, to support your authority, enhance your personal consideration, and to maintain unbroken the cordial relations which have at all times subsisted between Her Majesty’s Government and Your Highness. “
At the Durbar after the Kharita was read, His Highness addressed the assembly in a speech from which the following may be extracted —
“I need hardly say how grateful I am for the kindly assurances of good will contained in the letter which I have just had the honour of receiving from His Excellency the Viceroy, and for his appreciation of my humble efforts to celebrate this day in a manner befitting the occasion. I request his Representative, my friend here, to convey to His Excellency my warmest acknowledgements. It has pleased the Almighty to extend to half a century, a reign at once beneficent and glorious, and while we unite in thanks-giving for this great mercy, we likewise pray that He may vouchsafe to prolong it to the longest span.
“We are justly proud of our liege Lady — sitting enthroned on the four quarters of the globe and islands in every ocean — sending forth her ships to collect and distribute the material blessings of the earth, and her agents to carry everywhere the still higher blessings which humanise and elevate mankind — herself endowed with every virtue which can adorn a Sovereign or grace a woman. Her armies have marched to victory over forces mightier than her own, but never for vain- glory — her flag, wherever it flies, is the symbol of protection to the good and a sign in the air warning the wicked from his evil course. My House has been fortunate enough to ally itself to the great British power in India from the earliest times, and to that alliance I owe the Musnud on which I sit; for it saved the country at a critical time and has maintained it in peace ever since. To the influence of Her Majesty’s supremacy is due also whatever of prosperity and enlightenment Travancore has attained to; for her Representatives have guided our footsteps in the path of progress, and her countrymen have contributed largely to raise our people and develop our resources.”
The year 1062 M.E (1886-1887) was also marked by the visit of the Elaya Rajah of Cochin.
In 1063 M.E., Lord Connemara the Governor of Madras visited Travancore and stayed three days in the capital as His Highness’ guest. In honour of this visit, a Central Town market known as the ‘Connemara Market’ was opened in his name. In the course of his Banquet speech His Excellency said —
“Travancore has been very happy in its rulers and for a very long time, I will not say how long, they have been distinguished by enlightenment and devotion to public duty. I have no doubt whatever that the present Maharajah will in these respects endeavour to excel the virtues of his predecessors. ...I know very well that in the administration of affairs His Highness has been of late extremely successful. I have had occasion during the last few days to read accounts of almost every branch of His Highness’ administration and to visit many of the public institutions of the State, and I can tell you that almost every one seems to be in a prosperous condition. I think he has every reason to be satisfied with the advancement that his State has made during the last few years, and every reason to be thankful to the Almighty for the blessing and success that have attended his rule.”
In the same year (1063 M.E), His Highness the Maharajah went on a tour to Bombay and Madras. Starting on the 19th January 1888, His Highness reached Bombay on the 11th February after halting at Pondicherry and Poona. At Bombay he had the pleasure of meeting Their Royal Highness the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, Lord and Lady Reay, and His Highness the Maharajah of Mysore who happened to be there at the time. After a pleasant stay of nearly a fortnight, His Highness started from Bombay and reached Madras on the 29th idem, where he exchanged visits with His Excellency the Governor, and starting thence on the 8th March, His Highness and party reached Trivandrum on the 16th March via Shoranore and Cochin.
In 1064 M. E. (1888-1889), Her Gracious Majesty was pleased to nominate and appoint the Maharajah as “Knight Grand Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India”. In response to the invitation of His Excellency the Governor of Madras who had been authorised to invest the Maharajah with the Insignia, His Highness left for Madras on the 23rd November 1888, accompanied by the Dewan and other officers. The investiture ceremony took place in the Banqueting Hall on the 4th December, and His Highness and party left Madras on the 9th idem and reached Trivandrum on the 17th.
The visit of His Royal Highness Prince Albert Victor of Wales to Travancore, which took place in December 1889, was a memorable event in the annals of Travancore, as in the words of His Highness, “this is the first occasion on which any Ruler of Travancore has been privileged to receive and entertain a member of the Royal family of England”. Grand preparations were made to give His Royal Highness a fitting reception. His Highness the Maharajah attended by the Dewan and other officers left Trivandrum on the 28th November and arrived at Courtallam to receive His Royal Highness there just beyond the frontiers of his dominions. The Prince arrived at the Residency on the 3rd December and was received by the Maharajah with all due honour. His Highness then received the visit of his distinguished guest in his own palace. After visiting the large pagoda and the celebrated waterfall which was brilliantly illuminated for the night, His Royal Highness accompanied by the Resident and party started early next morning in search of game for their camping grounds on the hills, where every facility was afforded by the Travancore officers under command of His Highness the Maharajah. They returned to Courtallam on the 10th idem and returned to Tinnevelly the next day. Meanwhile His Highness started for Trivandrum. His Royal Highness the Prince was much pleased with the visit and wrote to His Highness the Maharajah to say so, expressing his acknowledgments of the attention shown.
In January 1890, His Highness the Maharajah undertook another long tour to Benares, Calcutta and Upper India. The Presidency capital and other important towns, historical places, and places of pilgrimage and of great religions sanctity were all visited and His Highness returned to his capital on the 23rd March. This was the longest tour undertaken in this period and was accomplished without any mishap or accident. In November-December of the same year, His Highness went on a pilgrimage to Ramesvaram, and this completed the religious tours throughout India undertaken by His Highness. On the 19th Medam 1067 (April 1892), His Highness performed the Tulapurushadanam; and the other coronation ceremony, viz., Padmagarbham was performed in Makaram 1069 (January 1894).
The first place must be accorded to the establishment of the Travancore Legislative Council, in accordance with Regulation II of 1063 passed for the purpose. A Council was formed composed of eight members, five official and three non-official, with the Dewan as Ex-officio President. All Bills should in the first instance be introduced into and passed by the Council and then submitted to His Highness the Maharajah for sanction. Provision was also made for inviting public opinion by the publication of the Bills before they passed the Council. On an emergency, a Regulation might be passed without reference to the Council, but it would have force only for six months. The first meeting of this Council was held in September 1888. It has worked for these sixteen years and on the whole with great success — a fact testified to by its late President, Mr. Krishnaswamy Rao, C.I. E., who spoke thus on the day he bade farewell to it (27th February, 1904):—
“This being the last meeting over which I preside, I beg to thank you most heartily for your invaluable services to the State, and for the uniform courtesy and consideration shown to me by one and all of you. During my long connection with this Council extending over thirteen years, what impressed me most is the perfect harmony that has characterised the relations between the official and non-official members. This is mainly due to the intimate knowledge of the manners and customs of the people and of the real needs of the country, which all of you possess in common and your intense solicitude towards the protection of the interests of the public without unduly hampering the action of the Government and its officers. Judging from the smooth working of the Regulations passed by the Council, you and your predecessors have every reason to be proud of the good work you have done in providing the State with laws on many subjects in a form best suited to its requirements.
“The late lamented Resident Mr. H. B. Grigg observed that the progress of a country depended upon its legislature and the educational policy of its Government. I have no doubt that if he had lived he would have felt gratified with the progress hitherto made in legislation to which you have devoted your intelligence, industry, experience, judgment, and above all your sympathy with the public weal. On the perusal of the proceedings of this Council connected with the much contested Religious Endowments Bill introduced by our friend Mr. Nagam Aiya and carried oat successfully, a very competent authority complimented the Council on the high level of debate maintained by the official and non-official members. The Council has fully justified its establishment under the auspices of His Highness the Maharajah, who, with his characteristic foresight and solicitude for the public good, has provided the State with a regular constitution for enacting laws.”
Several beneficial enactments were passed in this period tending to the advancement and prosperity of the people. In 1062 M.E (1886-1887), a Proclamation was issued relieving the people from the obligation to pay penalties on documents executed on unstamped cadjans at a time when cadjans bearing a Government stamp were required to be used. Though the use of stamped cadjans was abolished in 1043 M.E., (1867-1868), still the penalties incurred for breach of that law in previous years continued to be levied whenever documents written on unstamped cadjans were produced in evidence. Another Proclamation was passed in the same year relinquishing the right of Government to the arrears of fees due on transfers of Sirkar Pattom lands effected prior to 1060 M.E (1884-1885).
The Stamp law was amended in 1063 M.E. (1887-1888). Under the old Regulation I of 1059, the penalty for non-payment of stamp duty was very high and was found to be a source of hardship to the public. The penalty was now reduced from ten to five times the unpaid duty, and the Division Peishcars were empowered to remit or refund the penalty in particular cases. Regulations VI, VII and VIII of 1063 provided for the better administration of the Opium and Salt monopolies and the revenue from Tobacco, as the law relating to them was hitherto indefinite and unsatisfactory, causing inconvenience to the people and loss of revenue to the State.
A Royal Proclamation was issued in the same year (1887 A.D.), relinquishing the right of the Government to an adiyara or succession fee, equal to one-fourth of the property left by a person under the Marumakkathayam law of inheritance, when he died leaving no heirs but only distant kindred to succeed to the property. The Proclamation also relinquished the fee leviable in the case of persons belonging to certain Makkathayam classes such as the Kalachetties, dying without issue but leaving children of their sisters to succeed them. This impost was an unequal burden pressing only on certain classes of His Highness’ subjects, while all others were exempt from the payment of any succession duty.
A peculiar usage by which a Jenmi (landlord) was deprived of some of his rights in property through no fault or failing on his part was also abandoned during the year by a Royal notification. When a tenant holding lands of a Jenmi died heirless., the Government under the law of escheat succeed to the rights of the deceased not as tenants but in the position of sovereign; the land was assessed with full Pattom minus the rent due to the Jenmi, converted into Sirkar Pattom tenure and sold by public auction, thus depriving the Jenmi of his rights as landlord to the fees payable on periodical renewal of the lease, to enhanced rent at certain periods and other customary dues payable by the tenant on occasions of marriage, death, &c. This was a serious injustice towards an important class of His Highness’ subjects and was therefore removed by the above notification. The notification declared that the Sirkar could step into the rights of the deceased tenant not as sovereign but as tenant only in its relations with the Jenmi, and to whomsoever the land was transferred, the transferee stood in the same relation to the Jenmi as the deceased tenant.
By far the most beneficent measure of the year was the relief granted to the Viruthikars from the duty of supplying provisions at certain fixed rates considerable lower than those ruling in the market, and of rendering certain gratuitous services in connection with the tours of His Highness the Maharajah, the members of the Royal Family, Tampurans, &c. In regard to this measure, the Resident Mr. Hannyngton wrote in his Review dated 24th May 1889:—
‘’Under the head of disbursements on account of religious and charitable institutions, I am glad to notice a most commendable effort has been made to remedy what has been a source of oppression. The Vritticars are persons to whom lands are given on condition of their supplying vegetables, milk &c. on the occasion of certain ceremonies. These persons were not allowed to give up their lands and were compelled to give these supplies at a fixed rate, which was very far indeed below the market value of the goods. These are now paid a fair price and the goods are as far as possible purchased in the open market. This is only one of the many instances in which it will be observed that the present administration is carefully attending to the interests of the poorer classes of the population.”
And he concluded his Review with the following observations—
“In paragraphs 584 to 614 inclusive, the Dewan sums up the administration work of the year pointing out the objects and results of the various measures adopted, and a perusal of this summary cannot, in my opinion, lead to any but the most satisfactory conclusion regarding the beneficial intentions of the Maharajah and his minister, and their careful, intelligent and successful conduct of the administration. The financial condition of the State, is in every way satisfactory, and the conduct of business in all departments has been carefully attended to and has made commendable progress.”
The Madras Government in their G. O., dated l2th July 1889, reviewing the Administration Report of Travancore for 1063 M. E. (1887-1888) observed: —
“The year 1063 was from a financial point of view very notable. The general condition of the country was prosperous, trade was active; and the revenue of the State exceeded the amount realised in the preceding twelve-month, by about five lakhs and was at the same time much the highest on record.
“... In conclusion the Right Hon’ble the Governor in Council has much pleasure in once more congratulating His Highness the Maharajah and his Dewan M. R. Ry. Rama Row, on a prosperous and successful year. The large revenue and activity in trade which characterised it may soon be followed by diminished receipts and comparative depression, but no fears for the continued prosperity of the State need be entertained so long as its Ruler and his Minister are heartily anxious for the public weal, sensible of defects and ready to profit by advice. These qualities are manifested in many passages of the Report now before Government and bespeak a wise and enlightened administration.”
In 1064 M.E (1888-1889), a Regulation was passed for the better management of the Anchal service and for the regulation of postage duties. Postage labels of the values of one, two, and four chuckrams and post-cards of the value of half a chuckram were introduced, greatly to the convenience of the public.
A Royal Proclamation was issued in the same year by which the grain portion of the assessment on paddy lands was fixed at a uniform ratio i.e., 25 per cent of the total assessment in the Quilon and Kottayam Divisions, and 50 per cent in the Trivandrum and Padmanabhapuram Divisions, with the exception of a few Proverties in the latter Division where the proportion of grain had to be slightly enhanced. Hitherto the proportion in which tax was received in kind was not uniform, varying not only in different Taluqs but also in different Proverties and villages in the same Taluq. Several petty and personal but oppressive taxes were also abolished. And with a view to induce capitalists to increase the cultivable area of the country by reclaiming the shores of backwaters, a notification was issued in the same year permitting the ryots reclaiming such lands to enjoy them free of tax for five years and on a moderate tax of about Rs. 1½ per acre thereafter till the time of the Survey and Settlement.
With a view to give a stimulus to the study of Native medicine in which the bulk of the population, especially in the rural parts, have great faith, and as an encouragement to Native practitioners, His Highness the Maharajah was pleased to sanction grants-in-aid to a few select Native Vydians to enable them to dispense medicines to the poor free of charge.
The female Normal School at the capital which was experimentally started in 1063 M.E (1887-1888) was established on a permanent basis. The Government Industrial School was thoroughly reorganised and placed in charge of a Graduate Superintendent who had been sent to Madras at Government expense to study in the School of Arts there, and had undergone a successful course of training practical as well as theoretical. An annual expenditure of Rs. 15,000 was sanctioned by Government towards the maintenance of the institution, the chief object being the development of the industrial resources of the country. The Dewan Peishcars were also instructed to summon the best workmen in their respective Divisions and induce them to turn out really artistic work in wood, metals &c. on approved patterns and send the articles to the School of Arts for public exhibition and sale. A Sanskrit College at Trivandrum was also established with a view to resuscitate and encourage the study of Sanskrit
The Government Press was improved and arrangements were made for the more extensive introduction of printing in the correspondence departments of the Public Offices. A set of rules was passed on the lines of those in force in British India to protect public servants against being arbitrarily dismissed or suspended. Rules were also passed for the guidance of the Revenue officers in the appointment of Tadastars or assessors in connection with Revenue matters.
Regulation I of 1065 (1889-1890 A.D.) revised and amended the enactment constituting the High Court. The number of Judges was reduced from five to four, three of whom being competent to constitute a Full Bench, and a single Judge was empowered to hear and dispose of first appeals in Civil Cases, where a second appeal lay to the Royal Court. But this intermediate appeal was abolished in 1067 M.E, and a Full Bench of three Judges of the High Court was empowered to hear and determine all Civil appeals from the decisions of the District Courts in suits of the value of Rs. 2,500 and upwards, subject to the confirmation of their decree by the Royal Sign Manual. By Regulation II of 1065, the law relating to the Civil Procedure and Criminal Procedure was revised and re-enacted on the lines of the British Codes, but with some necessary adaptations.
The Medical Department also received its due share of reform in the year l065 M.E. The Department was reorganised, the salary of the medical subordinates was increased and provision was made for recruiting the local service with men passed out of the Madras Medical College. More hospitals and dispensaries were opened. The office establishment of the Durbar Physician was strengthened, as also the menial establishments of some of the hospitals. The formation of a class of compounders was sanctioned. A Vaccine Depot was opened at Trivandrum and the number of vaccinators was increased and their salaries improved.
In 1066 M. E. (1890-1891) the Civil Courts’ Regulation (I of 1057) was amended by enlarging the small cause jurisdiction of the Munsiffs from Rs.20 to 30 and the final appellate jurisdiction of the Zillah judges from Rs. 50 to 60. The salaries of the officers and the clerical staff in the Huzur Cutchery were considerably raised. A rearrangement of work was effected in the work of the Taluq Cutcheries, the Deputy Tahsildars who were hitherto simply in charge of the account section, being put in charge of the revenue branch under the orders and control of the Tahsildars. The Forest Department was strengthened with trained hands from the Imperial Forest School, Dehra Dun. An Honorary Director was appointed to the Government Observatory and a trained Superintendent was secured for the Museum and the Public Gardens.
New lines of roads were opened in several places; new Cutcheries, Courts, school-houses, hospitals, customs-houses and Police stations were started, and several irrigation tanks deepened and repaired. In the same year 1066 M.E, the negotiations for financing the construction of the Railway from Tinnevelly to Quilon were concluded, the Travancore Government guaranteeing interest at four per cent on the capital required to construct the line within the Travancore limits for a period of fifteen years.
Dewan Rama Row continued as Dewan for the whole of 1067 M.E, and retired at the beginning of 1068 M.E. (August 1892) for a well-earned rest. In concluding his last Administration Report he observed: —
“As in the previous years of my administration, so during the one under Report (1066), I have most gratefully to acknowledge the cordial support extended to me by my Gracious Sovereign, than whom no one has taken a deeper and more watchful interest over the welfare of the people of the beautiful country which he rules. If from advancing years, I have to seek rest from the duties and cares of office, I shall ever in my retirement look back with pleasure and pride to the five years during which under his own eye and guidance, I served the Sovereign who called me to office as Dewan ——service which I humbly trust has not been altogether barren of beneficial results to the subjects whose prosperity is so near his heart.”
His Highness the Maharajah thus testified to Dewan Rama Row’s worth on the eve of his retirement (14th August 1892): —
“I have received your letter of this day resigning the high office which you have held with much distinction during the last 5 years. Though I am very sorry that the State should lose the benefit of your valuable services and long experience, I cannot bring myself to retain them and deny you the repose which your advancing years demand, and which you have so well earned by continuous hard and responsible work for upwards of forty years.
“In accepting your resignation, I wish to place on record my high appreciation of the zeal and fidelity with which you have served me and the country as my Dewan. It was the great esteem in which my predecessors had held you and the high reputation you had acquired as Dewan Poishcar in charge of the most important Divisions of the State, that induced me to select you as my minister, and place in your hands the interests of the State with so much confidence. How well you have fulfilled my expectations is evidenced by the impress of your administration which you leave on the country. I shall not recount here the various measures of reform introduced during your administration and with what unremitting zeal and devotion to duty you have worked for the public good, and how with your ever watchful care and exertions you have raised the finances of the State and placed them on a sound and satisfactory footing.
“Thoroughly loyal to your Sovereign, true to the best interest of the State and deeply interested in the welfare of my subjects, you have done all that could be done to serve those interests and advance that welfare to the best of your means and power. The work you have done will live long after you. The Paramount Power has recognised your services in a marked manner and you are aware how highly I value them myself. It must be comforting to you to feel that you resign office leaving the country prosperous, the treasury replete, and the good wishes of the people following you into your retirement. Though your official connection with me ceases with this day, I may assure you that I will continue to take the warmest interest in all that concerns the welfare of you and yours. In wishing you peace, health and uninterrupted happiness, I pray that you may be long spared to enjoy the honours you have won and the reputation you have earned. In conclusion, I may assure you that I will always treat you with the same consideration and confidence as I have done hitherto.”
The Resident Mr. Grigg concluded his Review of the Administration Report for 1067 M. E. (1891-1892) in these terms:—
“The report, the review of which I now close, bears additional witness of the good service which the late Dewan, whose service closed with the year, did for the State of Travancore regarding which Mr. Hannyngton spoke in such well-deserved terms of praise in his review last year. Along almost the whole time of his administration, there has been marked improvement and progress— a result which I may add could never have been secured but for the countenance and co-operation of the present Maharajah, and unless the chief officers of the State had given the Dewan their cordial support.”
In the earlier years of Dewan Rama Row’s administration difficulties were created in his path by factious malcontents who attacked him and his administration most unscrupulously by anonymous petitions, newspaper criticisms and baseless memorials. They set up, what appeared at the time to be, a powerful agitation to discredit the Government in every way. The excitement became intense when Lord Connemara visited Travancore and His Excellency must have noticed it, for Mr. J. D. Rees his Private Secretary, wrote in his book (Tours in India) —
“The post of minister in a Native State is not a bed of roses, and here we have a few discontented servants of the State assisted by the party which cries ‘Travancore for the Travancorean”, just as on the rendition of Mysore we heard so much of ‘Mysore for the Mysoreans’; in fact no opportunity is lost of appointing competent natives of the State to the public service, but it will be long ere the stranger Brahmin can be dispensed with here or elsewhere. Good men must be entertained when they can be found, from whatever part of India they may come. It was abundantly evident to the Governor that affairs of the State are on the whole efficiently and wisely conducted. None of the characteristics of an Oriental Court are absent here. There are family differences and jealousies, intrigues and counter intrigues, good intentions and more or less successful efforts to bring them into fruition. Yet it may be asserted that such unpopularity as the Maharajah and his minister have achieved with some sections or factions in the State is as much due to a determination in making appointments to choose the best men without fear or favour, as to any other cause. It is not only the Chinaman who in these days is hated for his virtues.”
Before concluding this portion of the narrative, I would add the following extract from an able article on Travancore by Dr. R. Harvey, in the October number (1892) of the Indian Magazine and Review: —
“The condition of the people is being gradually ameliorated in various ways; by the making of roads, building of bridges and other useful engineering works, by the removal of harassing disabilities affecting particular classes of the people, by praiseworthy efforts to bring the more recent benefits of preventive and curative medicine within their reach, and by more efficient and impartial protection of the weak against the strong and unscrupulous, whilst as accompanying these measures and reinforcing them, must be noticed the equally laudable efforts of Government by a wise and liberal educative policy to remove the dense mass of ignorance and superstition in which the great mass of the people is enveloped, and of which they are at present frequently helpless victims.
Career of T. Rama Row, C. I. E.
The exit of Dewan Rama Row from the official stage was after a life-long career of honest and honourable work rendered to the Sovereign and the State. He retired full of years and full of honours. He was the most popular Dewan of Travancore in recent times.
Rama Row was born in Trivandrum in the year 1831. He was the son of Sakharam Row, a former District and Sessions Judge reputed for his honesty and high character. Of this gentleman (Sakharam Row), the Rev. J. C. Whitehouse the school-master at Nagercoil, wrote in 1860 from his retirement at Dorking, Surrey, thus:—
“You are now seeing both the propriety and the advantages of upright official conduct. Uprightness is associated with your father’s name, and will, I trust, ever be connected with yours. I hope your father is enjoying good health. Give my kind remembrances to him when you have an opportunity. It must be a source of great pleasure to him to see you gaining steps of advance in office through your good conduct.”
Rama Row was educated in the Rajah’s Free School at Trivandrum and later on, in the L. M. S. Seminary at Nagercoil. The L. M. S. Seminary is proud of him as being one of its two alumni that became Dewans of Travancore the other being N. Nanoo Pillai who came immediately after Sashiah Sastri. He first entered the Travancore service as a clerk finding that his claims for promotion were not recognised, he accepted an offer of a translatorship in the District and Sessions Court at Calicut. Here he remained until 1857, when he was appointed with the concurrence of the British Resident as Tahsildar of Kalkulam. How Rama Row did his work as Tahsildar is borne out by the testimony of the European Missionaries who but a few years ago memorialised the British Government on the oppression of Travancore officials. Rev. F. Baylis wrote to him —
“Until you came, a Tahsildar who was really anxious to attend to the complaints of the people, to act impartially and justly in all cases brought before him was a great rarity.......... all seemed to acknowledge that if they could only get their complaints really brought before you, you would attend to them and do justice. This is a high character considered how these things have been in Travancore.”
After some years’ service as Tahsildar in South Travancore, Rama Row was appointed Deputy Sheristadar in the Huzur and then First Sheristadar. In 1862 he was promoted as Deputy Peishcar and in the next year he was placed in charge of the Quilon Division. The Resident Mr. F. X. Maltby wrote to Sir Madava Row:—”To the charge of employing some of your relations, it is a sufficient answer if they have proved more able than others in the discharge of their duties; and Rama Row especially has proved himself an excellent public officer.”
During his tenure of office in the Quilon Division, he strenuously urged the opening of the important Quilon-Shencottah trunk-road alongside of which the new Railway now runs. Mr. W. Fisher, British Resident, wrote to him on 6th April 1864:—
“I have much pleasure in stating that as far as I had opportunities of observing your conduct, l have had every reason to be satisfied with it. I trust you will long continue to exhibit that integrity, intelligence and industry which have earned and can alone maintain your character as a just and efficient magistrate and an able and hard-working revenue officer. Though l am leaving India never to return, I shall always feel a deep interest in Travancore, and shall be glad to hear of your success in life as one labouring for the improvement of the people and the country.’
Mr. G. A. Ballard, a later British Resident, wrote to him in January 1874 —
“The state of his District is perhaps the best testimonial a public man in your position can have, and I am glad that yours in this point of view is good one. I hope to see it continually grow better still.”
After sixteen years of work in the Quilon Division, Rama Row was transferred to the Kottayam Division where he continued as Dewan Peishcar until 1887. The headquarters of the District was at Shertallay, a most unsuitable and inaccessible place. Owing to his strong advocacy the headquarters was shifted to Kottayam, under which name the District is now known. For some years during his tenure of office here, he also held the office of Boundary Commissioner between Travancore and Cochin.
As a district officer for twenty-four years, he had earned the reputation of a most popular and enthusiastic administrator, associating himself zealously with the opening up of the country by roads and channels, building of Chutrams, planting of avenue trees, repairing temples and palaces, sinking of wells and tanks and proving himself in every way an active and honest official, a friend of the weak and the oppressed, and an uncompromising foe of the wicked and the dishonest. As a Revenue official, his talents were of a very high order and Dewan Sir Madava Row often publicly acknowledged them. In an official memo submitted to the Resident in 1863, he referred to Rama Row’s work and antecedents in the following highly complimentary terms —
“Rama Row was born in this country, is a subject of it in every sense of the word, received his education in the Maharajah’s English School here, and was known to Their Highnesses the late and present Maharajahs, before I entered the Travancore service, fourteen years since. Rama Row derives strong claims from his merits also, which have been well known to General Cullen, to Mr. F.N. Maltby, and I believe to the present Resident, as well as to His late Highness, and His Highness the reigning Maharajah. Rama Row was employed by the late Dewan as a clerk in his Cutcherry in June of 1851, that is to say, while I was still tutor to the Princes. Finding, however, that his claims to promotion were not likely to be attended to in those times, he resigned the post and went to Calicut, where he was employed in the Civil Court as a translator.
“There his activity and diligence attracted the favourable notice of his European superior, and there is evidence to show that, had he continued in the British service, he would have risen to honour and distinction. In the meantime I was promoted to the post of Dewan Peishcar and put in charge of the Southern Division. It is scarcely necessary for me to say that I found public affairs in a truly deplorable condition in that Division. The Rev. Mr. Baylis, a London Missionary in the Southern Division, in writing to me offering his congratulations on the improved state of affairs, describes the previous condition of that part of the country in the following words: —
“ ‘During the years 1851 and 1855 and up to the time you were settled here, this part of the country was thoroughly disorganised. The Sirkar officials generally were most corrupt taking advantage of their position to fleece the people in every possible way. Cases of house-breaking and highway robbery often attended with brutal violence, were very numerous, so that the inhabitants were in constant terror, for the perpetrators of these outrages had little fear of real punishment, having already made friends of the officials who should have been the protectors of the people, or having the means to do so. Complaints to the Police officers respecting the oppressions practised by the petty officials were generally treated with contempt and unheard.’
“In endeavouring to amend such a state of things, I stood much in need of an able and trustworthy servant who could set a good example to others.
“I could make no better selection than that of Rama Row, and I recommended him to both the Maharajah and Resident of the time. A vacancy of a Tahsildar having occurred in my Division, Rama Row was sent for and appointed to it. In a short time he proved himself the best Tahsildar in the whole country. He possesses both Native and European testimony to the excellence of his conduct of affairs. In 1857 Dewan Krishna Row died, and I was called upon to take charge of the administration. It is difficult to describe in a short compass the formidable difficulties I had then to contend with. Some idea of those difficulties, and also of the general character of the staff of officials I had to deal with, may be gathered from a perusal of the memorandum attached to the Minute of Lord Harris, dated the 28th February 1859, and which will be found in the accompanying return to an address of the House of Commons.
“I stood much in need of an official or two by my side, on whose fidelity I could place implicit reliance. A vacancy in the Police Department of my Cutcherry occurred, and at my recommendation, His late Highness promoted Rama Row to it. In this position Rama Row’s assistance was of much avail to me, and he established strong claims for promotion, which was however favoured by circumstances. Rama Row’s immediate superior died, and was succeeded by Rama Row, with the consent of His Highness the Rajah and the Resident. Subsequently Raman Pillay Peishcar died and, as usual, the First Police Sheristadar was promoted to the vacancy. Rama Row’s Neet as Dewan Peishcar is dated May last, and his present salary is Rs. 350. Rama Row has rendered and is rendering valuable services in his present post, and they have been honoured with the approbation of His Highness and are known to yourself.”
In February 1878, Rajah Sir Madava Row again wrote thus about Rama Row to Mr. H. E. Sullivan, Acting British Resident, from Quilon —
“I am here to-day on my way back to Baroda and feel that I cannot leave the Quilon Division without saying a few words to you in favour of the administrative head of that Division - Rama Row- my valuable Assistant, while I was Dewan of Travancore, and still continuing to render the most valuable service to the State. Rama Row is one of those small band of good men who materially contributed to the success of the administration in my days. Indeed, Rama Row was the first and foremost of my Assistants. He is the son of a former public servant whose scrupulous honesty was proverbial and he is related to no less than four Dewans of important Native States. He was educated in the Maharajah’s School, early entered His Highness’ service, and rose from grade to grade by force of merits alone. He has held the arduous and important office of Dewan Peishcar for about sixteen years. He combines in a rare manner the qualities which go to constitute a valuable public servant, high principles, great natural and acquired intelligence, sound judgement, unfailing tact and incessant industry. I was indeed fortunate in securing the zealous co-operation of such a gentleman almost throughout my career in Travancore. Rama Row has won the good opinion of all classes of people— Natives and Europeans.
“He has been held in great esteem by the Maharajah and successive British Residents and Dewans. Dewan Sashiah Sastri. C.S.I., recorded very high testimony to Rama Row’s worth; but it is a testimony by no means higher than deserved. The pre-eminently satisfactory condition of the Quilon Division on which Rama Row has presided for a number of years bears its own evidence in its favour. No one could have done more to increase the public revenues in a legitimate manner, and to promote the contentment and happiness of the people entrusted to his charge. In short, I hold the opinion that Rama Row has, amid many difficulties, proved himself an officer of rare merit and eligible for the highest position in the service. He is decidedly one of those officers who sustain and promote the reputation of the State and of its Sovereigns at all times and in all positions.
Mr. A. Sashiah Sastri, C.S.I, Dewan of Travancore, thus wrote to him in 1877 on the eve of his departure from Trivandrum —
“My dear Rama Row, — Though I have often already had occasion to convey to you the high sense I entertain of your valuable services, still I cannot, on the eve of my departure, refrain from writing a few lines, though in a hurried way, expressive of my high appreciation of your character, private as well as public. It has been a great pleasure to me to transact business with you. You have been of all Peishears, the foremost to suggest and carry out reforms in every branch of administration, to encourage honest, and to put down corrupt, subordinates. The result of your incessant and devoted labours is that the largest Division in the State is in excellent order, and its administration a blessing to the people. Your exertions to develop the resources of the country have proved successful. The numerous village roads you have opened out have improved communications and increased traffic to an extent unknown before. The substantial and comfortable chuttroms and rest-houses which you have erected on all the main newly opened lines attest to your forethought, and they are a blessing to the people. I would say much more, but have no time.’’
In 1886, the Government of Sir M.E Grant Duff appointed Rama Row a Fellow of the Madras University. The same year His Highness the Maharajah recognised Rama Row’s long and valuable services by appointing him Head Dewan Peishcar. Dewan Ramiengar wrote to Rama Row on the occasion,
“I congratulate you on the well-earned increase to your salary and the title of Head Dewan Peishcar conferred on you in recognition of your long and meritorious services”.
In January 1887, His Highness was graciously pleased to appoint Rama Row as Dewan, which office he held up to August 1892. The various reforms in the administration which he was instrumental in bringing about have already been referred to. He went into retirement cheerfully with the consciousness of having served the Sovereign and the people loyally and to the best of his powers. In 1887, the Society of Science, Letters and Arts of London appointed him a member. In 1890, Her Majesty the Queen was pleased to confer on him the title of ‘Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire”
On the 5th June 1895, he passed away quietly in his pretty residence, Hill View, Trivandrum, enjoying but a brief respite of three years’ rest after an arduous public service of more than forty years. Rama Row is remembered with grateful feelings by His Highness’ subjects all over Travancore as a generous and warm-hearted administrator, imbued with profound loyalty to the interests of the State and sincere regard for the welfare of the subject population. He was a ripe Revenue official of great knowledge in the intricate details of the land tenures and land taxes of Travancore. He methodised the revenue system by a series of wise and thoughtful Revenue circulars. He was the friend and supporter of all the honest officials in the State, to whom he showed especial consideration.
He hated corruption and dishonesty of every kind. Everything that conduced to the purity of the service or the welfare of the people readily appealed to his warm heart. Though he could not claim the privilege of a liberal education, he was a true patron of arts and letters, and he devoted himself with zeal and assiduity to promote all industrial enterprises. He was the genuine friend of the agriculturist and the artisan — the two classes of the population for whose welfare he honestly laboured throughout his long, official career. Towards his brother officials, he was modest, unassuming, courteous and considerate; to the Sovereign, he was a most devoted and loyal servant, and in society he was admired for his genial manners and sweet temper. He was passionately fond of music and though he could not compose musical pieces like his august kinsman and predecessor, Raja Sir Madava Row, he could enjoy music and himself sing to delight his inner circle of friends and admirers. He was a calm, cautious and moderate reformer. He hated fuss and noise of every kind. His Dewanship is memorable for the inauguration of the Travancore Legislative Council, a most useful and valuable institution which the people owe to the liberality and enlightenment of His Highness the present Maharajah. He earned for himself the enviable, reputation of “the good Dewan Rama Row “.
S. Shungrasoobyer, Dewan (1892-1898).
T. Rama Row was succeeded by “Mr. S. Slumgrasoobyer, the Senior Dewan Peishcar then in charge of Settlement. This gentleman had risen from the lowest rung of the State ladder and had therefore a thorough knowledge of every department of the administration.
In November 1892, His Excellency Lord Wenlock, Governor of Madras, visited the country. In his Banquet speech at Trivandrum, His Excellency observed in very highly appreciative terms of His Highness’ rule thus:--
“I have come down here by the most lovely backwaters through the country teeming with prosperity and all that makes life most comfortable and happy for those who live in it. I have come down to the capital of this country and here I have had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of His Highness and those with whom he is associated in the administration of the country. I can readily understand, from what I have seen, how it is that I have been able to see during my tour in this country evident prosperity and contentment, which is so manifest on all sides. From one part of the country to the other, I have been received with the most enthusiastic signs of loyalty and devotion which these people feel to the humble individual who addresses you now and who is merely himself the representative of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen Empress.
“It is evident that the feelings, which have actuated the head of the kingdom of Travancore, actuate his own subjects from one end of it to the other. I can only say that it has given me most extraordinary pleasure and satisfaction to see the feelings which subsist throughout the country................. In conclusion, I hope the happy and cordial relations now existing for so many years between the British Crown and the Travancore Government, may continue for many more years, so that both the governments may go on working side by side in the manner in which they have hitherto done, in the path of progress, peace and prosperity, such as, I am glad to see, are now in the Province of Travancore. I have had the opportunity this morning of seeing how much His Highness is interested in the particular processes of development in different ways.
“I have seen the various Schools and Colleges such as have come before my notice and was glad to find that, at all events, Travancore is not behind the rest of India in the manner in which she is taking up the cause of education. I look to that, most sincerely, as one of the means by which prosperity and enlightenment can come to the people. ................ . Though this is my first visit in this part of the country, there are evident signs, on all hands, of the most extraordinary prosperity — I may say prosperity ‘so general and diffused, as perhaps does not exist in any other part of India. ............ I have already alluded to the excellent manner in which he is administering the affairs of the country. It is not for me now to say more than what you have already known of him as his personal friends. You had the opportunity of knowing him longer than I do and therefore you will be able to give me more information than I can give you. I believe the same feelings actuate you as actuate me, and I assure you I propose this toast for the health of the most distinguished potentate in this part of Southern India, that thoroughly deserves everything that can be said in his favour in the manner in which we have seen him and heard him spoken of.”
This visit was followed by that of His Excellency the late Sir James Dormer, Commander-in-Chief of Madras. In January 1893, His Highness the Rajah of Pudukotta paid a friendly visit to the capital. In the same month His Highness the Maharajah paid a return visit to the Governor of Madras, and in August following he visited Courtallam and other places. In November 1895, His Highness again proceeded to Madras to meet the Viceroy Lord Elgin. His Excellency arrived at Madras on the 3rd December, but owing to the lamented death of the Elaya Rajah, Prince Kerala Varma, at Trivandrum, His Highness was unable to take part in any public functions connected with the Viceregal visit and had to abandon his further stay there. His Highness after paying a private visit to His Excellency the Viceroy on the 6th, started from Madras on the 9th, and returned to his capital on the 20th, the departure and the return journey throughout being strictly private on account of the mourning.
In June 1897, the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen Empress was celebrated throughout the State. The Diamond Jubilee Public Library and the Victoria Orphanage were founded as memorials. About the middle of October 1897, His Excellency Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock, Governor of Madras, accompanied by Lady Havelock, paid a visit to Travancore and spent about a week in the State as His Highness’ guest. His Excellency paid the following compliment to His Highness in his Banquet speech at Trivandrum —
“At the beginning of Your Highness’ administration, the Secretary of State and the Government of Madras expressed the hope that under your rule the advancement and prosperity of the people committed to your care would suffer no diminution. This hope has been more than realised for year after year, during Your Highness’ reign the Government of Madras has had occasion to remark on the good results of your Government. It affords me sincere pleasure on this occasion to once more congratulate Your Highness on the excellent and solid progress which the last year has witnessed. This year has been specially noteworthy for the elaboration of important schemes and the commencement of others, all of which I feel sure will be ably and successfully carried out. I hope Your Highness will allow me to express my earnest hope that there are many years in store for you during which we may reckon upon you as a faithful and sincere friend of our beloved Sovereign, the Queen Empress, and during which you may continue to contribute to the happiness of this beautiful State of Travancore, so well described as the ‘Land of Charity’.”
Among domestic events, may be mentioned the demise of the Junior Rani, Parvathi Bayi, on the 15th October 1893 at the age of forty-three, which was followed by the death of her eldest son, Prince Kerala Varma, on the 5th December 1895 at the early age of thirty-two.
Mr. Shungrasoobyer in his Administration Report for 1068 M.E, (1892-1893), the first year of his administration, thus referred to His Highness’ share in the government of the State: —
“In concluding the record of the first year of my administration, it behoves me to tender my very grateful acknowledgments to my Sovereign Master who so graciously called me to the important trust. His Highness’ judicious guidance, steady support and generous confidence have been a source of strength and encouragement which cannot be looked for elsewhere in the discharge of my onerous responsibilities. There is no measure of public utility which has not received His Highness’ ready and lively sympathy, if it has not emanated from his ever-growing solicitude for the advancement of good Government.”
The Resident, Mr. H. B. Grigg, thus concluded his Review of the above mentioned Report —
‘“It is abundantly clear from my remarks that there has been steady progress in almost all branches of the administration — progress due not only to the energy, capacity and devotion to duty of the Dewan, but also to the steady support he has received from His Highness the Maharajah, whose insight into the needs of his people and whose benevolent determination to develop their intelligence and increase their happiness deserve my cordial recognition. I have noted several defects and suggested various improvements in the administration, some of which I believe will be acceptable to the Government. Any criticisms I have recorded must not be held as detracting from the praise it has been my pleasing duty to express.”
The Madras Government endorsed the above testimony in the following terms in their G. O., dated 2nd August 1894:—
“In conclusion, His Excellency the Governor in Council desires to express the gratification with which he has perused the remarks contained in the concluding paragraph of the Resident’s letter, especially those referring to His Highness the Maharajah. The good work carried out has justified His Highness’ selection of M. R. Ry. Shungarasoobyer Avergal to fill the responsible office he holds and the administration of the past year augurs well for the future.”
This was followed by a similar compliment in July 1896 in their G. 0., reviewing of the Administration Report for 1070 M.E. (1894-1895), where they observed —
“It is clear that, as remarked by the Resident, the year has been one of continued good government, of prosperity to the State, and of progress and improvement in many directions. The Resident bears testimony to the great personal interest taken by His Highness the Maharajah in all matters affecting the welfare of the people, as well as to the untiring zeal and devotion of the Diwan, M. R. Ry. S. Shungra Subbaiyar. His Excellency the Governor in Council congratulates His Highness the Maharajah on the results which have been achieved. “
Several important changes were introduced in 1069 M.E. (1893-1894), in the administration of the Educational Department. The offices of the Superintendent of District schools and Director of Vernacular Education were abolished. Three Inspectors of Schools with assistants and sub-assistants were appointed. An Educational Secretary to Government was appointed to check the work of the Inspectors and to carry on the correspondence of the Huzur in the Educational Department. A new Grant-in-aid Code with Educational rules was passed and the scale of salaries of the employees was revised.
An English Normal School was opened at the Capital to train teachers. A Reformatory School was established for the benefit of juvenile offenders. The changes in the bye-laws of the Madras University necessitated the separation of the Law Class from the Arts College, and a Law College was accordingly established with the European Judge of the High Court as its Principal. The Sirkar High School for girls was raised to a Second Grade College and a Lady Graduate from England was appointed its Principal. An Agricultural Demonstration Farm and School was also opened and a scheme for the development of Agricultural education among the cultivating and land-owning classes set on foot. The Industrial School of Arts was reorganised, and an Archaeological Department was established to collect inscriptions and conduct historical researches.
A new Sanitary Department was inaugurated and Town Improvement Committees were organised for the better sanitation of towns and registration of births and deaths. The Forest Regulation was amended and the department itself reorganised.
In 1070 M.E. (1894-1895), the Viruthikars were exempted from the supply of provisions to the temples and Oottupuras, and the Viruthi service underwent a radical revision. In reference to this measure the Dewan writes —
“While every measure bears as usual the stamp of His Highness’ deep and abiding interest in the advancement of good Government, there was one in the year marking that interest conspicuously — a radical revision of the Viruthi service which, with the resistance of time-honoured traditions, it would have been impossible to undertake but for His Highness’ insight into details and sympathetic appreciation of altered conditions.”
In the same year, the Registration Department was thoroughly reorganised and reformed and the old Regulation of 1042 M.E., was superseded by Regulation I of 1070 M.E., based on the latest British Indian Act.
In 1071 M E. (1895-1896), a Prisons Regulation was passed for the better management of the prisons. Regulation V of the same year settled the long-standing disputes and differences between the landlord and tenant.
The Public Works Department was reorganised; considerable additions to the executive staff and office establishments were sanctioned in order to ensure greater efficiency and place the Department on a more systematic basis, and the Madras system of accounts was introduced. Old irrigation works were restored and extended and new works started. The Kothayar Project which when completed is calculated to irrigate an additional 50,000 acres of land, was begun. The Medical service was expanded in the same year, and in order to supplement the medical relief afforded by Government and promote private agency, the system of medical grants for hospitals, dispensaries and Vydiasalas* was instituted. Medical scholarships were sanctioned for the study of medicine in European Universities. A Women and Children’s hospital was also opened.
NOTEs: * Sanskrit term for the dispensaries of Native medicine
A scheme of State life Insurance was introduced with effect from the 1st Makaram 1073 M.E. (Jan. 1898), making it compulsory on all persons entertained since that date to insure their lives. The law relating to the Legislative Council was amended and the Council itself was reconstituted. Many other useful Regulations were also passed during this period.
Thus Shungrasoobyer’s administration received its due quota of reforms and was warmly complimented by the Madras Government on its success. He was created a “Companion of the Indian Empire,” and after retirement was honoured with a seat in the Madras Legislative Council. He retired from office in Minam 1073 M.E. (April 1898), after the unusually long period of forty-five years’ service. In accepting his resignation of the Dewan’s office, His Highness the Maharajah wrote to him —
“Commencing public life about forty-five years ago, you advanced step by step until you reached the highest official position in the State, and your career from start to finish has been marked by indefatigable energy, unflagging zeal and steady devotion to duty. In the various responsible positions you occupied, you displayed the same high ability, intelligence and earnestness, the same avidity for work, mastery of details and grasp of principles and the same firmness, decision and force of character that characterised your later career and pointed to you as the fittest person in service to be entrusted with the important charge of the administration of the State.
“I have great satisfaction in cordially recognising the skill, ability, faithfulness and success with which you have discharged that trust. The last five and a half years during which you have administered the country with credit to yourself and advantage to the State, have certainly been a period of progress and prosperity. Various measures for the improvement of the administration and advancement of the State have been inaugurated. The prosperous condition of the finances attained not by increased burden on the taxation or neglect of the necessary improvements, but by the careful husbanding of the resources of the country, watchful control over the collecting agency and scrupulous avoidance of all needless waste, is a conspicuous feature of your administration.”
The Madras Government observed in their G.O., dated Ist September 1899:—
“To the Dewan the Hon’ble S. Shungrasoobyer C.I.E., who retired early in 1898, the Travancore Government owes a debt of gratitude for his long and meritorious service characterised as it was, to quote the Resident, by ‘singular zeal, discretion and success’. Proof of this success is contained throughout the Resident’s present Review which deals with the statistics of five years.”
Career of Shungrasoobyer, C. I. E.
“In England we can boast of a long roll of names of men who, with no special training, with little of even ordinary education, owing nothing to birth and powerful connections, have silently trained themselves, till suddenly they showed themselves able to play a great part in the affairs of their country and to confer some signal benefit on mankind.”*
* The (London) Times, 28th August 1879.
Such a man was Shungrasoobyer of Travancore. He was a self-made man of respectable parentage, though of poor educational attainments, as the Rajah’s Free School at Trivandrum where he was educated, did not then afford any higher. By his wonderful application and perseverance in subsequent years, he made up for the defective school education of his boyhood. He was born in 1836. His maternal grandfather was a Pandit of the Appeal Court — an office which was coveted by the learned Brahmins of the day. After a short school-career, Shungrasoobyer entered the State service in the Educational Department as an acting teacher on a monthly salary of Rs. 5. This was in the year 1859. In a short time he distinguished himself there by his earnestness and diligence which soon attracted the notice of the then Maharajah, and, as a mark of Royal favour, His Highness presented him with a pair of ear-rings. Later on, that great Statesman, Rajah Sir T. Madava Row, appointed him as Deputy Sheristadar of Police in the Huzur Cutchery. His energetic discharge of duties as Police Sheristadar, especially his services in connection with the disturbances which arose in Shencottah, were highly appreciated.
Next he was selected for the office of Director of Vernacular Education, and as observed by the Dewan, “the great and rapid success already achieved and abundantly promised by the Vernacular schools is largely attributable to his characteristic zeal, ability and intelligent direction”.
Of his labours in this Department, His late Highness wrote thus in the Calcutta Review of October 1872, which article we have freely used in the foregoing narrative — “The whole department was till lately under the masterly management of Mr. Shungrasoobyer than whom the Travancore service does not contain an abler, more zealous or more conscientious officer.”
Soon after, he was appointed Deputy Peishcar and placed in charge of the Southern Division. The Division Peishcar was then head of the Police as well, and Shungrasoobyer successfully detected many cases of robbery and dacoity and put down crime with a strong hand. Sir Sashiah Sastri wrote, “In the whole of Travancore I know of no officer so full of intelligence and vigilance to repress as well as detect crime and keep the Police up to the mark”. He was soon confirmed in the post of Dewan Peishcar. Shungrasoobyer discharged the high duties entrusted to him with great energy and ability.
As His late Highness wrote to Dr. Thomson, “there is no tinsel about him. He is every inch of sterling worth.”
His Highness also wrote to Shungrasoobyer, “any lingering hopes I have for the future of the State rest in a very few men like you”.
At the beginning of the reign of His Highness the late Maharajah, the settlement of the boundary disputes between Travancore and Cochin was taken up, and Shungrasoobyer was deputed for the work. His able services as Boundary Commissioner were appreciated by His Highness’ Government in the following terms: — “The patience, judgment and ability with which he has conducted the important task entrusted to him are deserving of all commendation.”
In an article in the Calcutta Review of April 1883, believed to be written by His late Highness on the Travancore-Cochin Arbitration, the following testimony is borne to his services and capacity: — “Extraordinarily intelligent thoughtful, patient, thoroughly upright and liberally educated, Shungra- soobyer has few equals in the service of any Native State; it delighted the audience to hear him argue before the Arbitrator on each intricate point”.
When the late Dewan Ramiengar started the Revenue Settlement of Travancore in 1882, Shungrasoobyer was appointed Settlement Dewan Peishcar, Mr. Sashiah Sastri writing to him from his retirement, “Travancore has not one officer more fitted for it than yourself”. During his ten years’ administration of the Department, he completed the Settlement of the two Taluqs of Nanjanad and those of Trivandrum and Chirayinkil. In 1888 he was made an Official Member of the local Legislative Council. When Rama Row retired from the office of Dewan in 1892, Shungrasoobyer was elevated to the Dewanship.
He retired from the Dewanship in April 1898, when he had reached sixty-three years of age and had put in forty-five years’ service, on a hand-some pension of Rs. 800 per mensem. His Highness the Maharajah gracefully acknowledged his long and meritorious services, in the highly complimentary letter quoted above. In fitting recognition of his services, the Supreme Government made him a “Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire”. Sir Arthur Havelock also appointed him a Non-official Member of the Madras Legislative Council, which position he held for two years. In 1901, in response to the invitation of the students of His Highness the Maharajah’s College, he presided over the celebration of the 4th College Day, a pretty annual ceremonial instituted by the Principal, Dr. Mitchell, and the warm-hearted youths about him, in which all the past and present students of the College take part year after year. His Presidential address was much admired. It was characterised by care of expression and his usual originality of thought preferring the old thorough-going system of school studies in a few subjects which he had himself seen in his early days, and which he thought contributed to the real advance of society, and strongly condemning the system of cram so unfortunately rife in these latter days, to which he attributed the fall of the present generation of students in physical health and mental and moral calibre. It was a speech in every way worthy of the man, though of course it did not please all who heard him. He was always straightforward and outspoken in his views and had the courage of his convictions, seeking the approbation of the thinking few rather than the momentary applause of the vulgar crowd. In my Presidential address on the College Day gathering of the previous year, I spoke of him thus —
“There was also another boy, whom I had in view, whose name also I had suggested, a little bit younger than the G. O. M. (Mr. T. Vedadrisadasa Mudaliar) though he is himself fast reaching the scriptural term of three score years and ten —a boy at whose feet I sat as a humble pupil some forty years ago, a boy distinguished by culture and wide experience of public affairs, who surely would have done honour to this Chair, as he has done honour to the school where he was educated, to the community to which he belongs, to the country of his birth, and to the public service of His Highness the Maharajah from which he has recently retired. I mean the late Dewan, Mr. Shungrasoobyer Avergal.”
Shuugrasoobyer enjoyed his retirement for several years travelling about for the benefit of his health, but spending the major portion of his leisure in his pretty residence, Sankara Vilas in Trivandrum. His leisure was employed in the reading of books or writing minutes on subjects of public interest; but latterly on medical advice he gave up reading and took to the playing of Bridge, an interesting game of cards generally patronised by Europeans, which seems however to have afforded him relief from ennui which his failing health and consequent incapacity for sustained work seem to have entailed. He died in September 1904. He was a most conscientious plodder and in his earlier years devoted a good deal of his time to mastering the minutæ of official work, in which he soon became a recognised authority. He was a man of very regular habits, an abstemious eater and most careful in matters of personal hygiene.
He led a simple life and though he did not parade his views on religion or social customs, he was genuinely orthodox and conservative in his ways. He had grasp and intelligence and in conversation he was agreeable, his talk being distinguished by a dry humour. He had read only a very few books, but the matter contained in them was brought out in evidence often in his conversations. He was considered obstinate by his official friends and superiors, but he had the strength of his convictions and honestly maintained them without troubling himself whether his listeners agreed with him or not. He was a slow worker, but put forth steady and sustained energies in all that he did. His life is an example of what moderation, self-study and perseverance may do for the Travancorean.
Mr. K. Krishnaswamy Rao, Dewan (1898-1904). In April 1898, Dewan Bahadur Mr. K. Krishnaswamy Rao, Chief Justice, was appointed Dewan in succession to Shungrasoobyer.
The continued success of the Travancore administration and the Maharajah’s “genuine identity of interest with the progress of good Government” were duly appreciated by the Imperial Government, and in recognition thereof, Her Majesty the Queen-Empress was graciously pleased on the first of January 1899 to grant, as a personal distinction, an addition of two guns to the salute of ninteen guns — the honour hitherto enjoyed by His Highness. A Public Durbar was held on the 28th January to receive the Viceroy’s Kharita announcing the glad news. Lord Elgin wrote —
“My Honoured and Valued Friend, — I am about to leave India on the termination of my Viceroyalty and I write to bid Your Highness a very cordial farewell. My direct connection with this country will now be severed, but I shall continue to watch with personal interest and solicitude Your Highness’ career and the progress of your State. I was pleased to be able to obtain for Your Highness a mark of Her Majesty’s appreciation of the good administration of your State.”
Sir F. A. Nicholson, K.C.I.E., then British Resident, said —
“But on this occasion, I have, as British Resident, a further and pleasing duty to perform a duty which gives a special and important distinction to this particular Durbar. For, on behalf of my Government and on my own behalf, I have to offer to Your Highness in Durbar my sincere congratulations upon the personal mark of Her Imperial Majesty’s confidence and esteem which was announced to Your Highness on New Year’s Day and which is particularly mentioned in the Kharita just read. We recognise the full significance of the fact that His Excellency has himself obtained for Your Highness this rarely granted personal honour as a mark of Her Majesty’s appreciation of the good order of the State under Your Highness’ rule and of your incessant solicitude for its quiet but steady development. In repeating my congratulations to Your Highness, I will add my best wishes for a continuously happy and prosperous future.”
To the above, His Highness the Maharajah replied —
“I regard this rare distinction not only as a token of Her Majesty’s special favour, but also as a proof of the interest which Her Majesty and Her Representatives take in the well-being of this ancient State, whose proud privilege it has always been to enjoy the friendship and protection of the British Government. While I sincerely rejoice at this, the latest of the many marks of Her Majesty’s good-will to me and my House, I recognise in it my obligation to merit, by further endeavours to promote the happiness and prosperity of my people, the continuance of the same confidence and regard.
“I cannot adequately express my sense of the warm interest so kindly taken by Lord Elgin in obtaining for me this coveted honour; and I request you to be kind enough to convey to His Lordship my most grateful acknowledgments with the assurance of my firm and loyal attachment to the Throne and Person of Her Gracious Majesty.”
The long-pending claims of the Punjar Chief regarding the Kannan-Devan Hills and the Anjanad Valley were amicably settled.
The construction of the long-contemplated Railway line from Tinnevelly to Quilon was actually begun in 1900, and funds for the same were supplemented by two advances from the Travancore Government aggregating to seventeen lacs of rupees, which amount was soon repaid.
On the 31st August 1900, His Highness with the concurrence of the British Government adopted into the Royal family two Princesses, Setu Lakshmi Bayi and Setu Parvathi Bayi, from the Mavelikara family which is closely allied to the Travancore House and from which three adoptions had been made in the past. A Public Durbar was held in the evening of that day in the old Audience Hall in the Fort, when the adoption was duly announced by a Royal Proclamation.
In November of the same year, His Highness had the honour of receiving a visit from His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General of India, accompanied by Her Excellency Lady Curzon. This was the first time that Travancore was ever visited by a Viceroy. Their Excellencies and suite arrived at Quilon on the morning of the 20th November and were received and welcomed on behalf of His Highness by a deputation of officers headed by the Dewan. After dinner the Viceregal party left Quilon and reached Trivandrum next morning and was received at the landing place by His Highness the Maharajah. After a stay of three days in the capital during which all the principal Public institutions were visited, Lord and Lady Curzon left for Tinnevelly much pleased with all that they had seen in their interesting tour. Referring to His Highness the Maharajah, Lord Curzon observed in his Banquet speech —
“I know His Highness by repute as a kindly and sympathetic and diligent ruler, whose merits have been tested, and for whom the affection of his people had been continuously enhanced, by fifteen years of prosperous administration. I know him to combine the most conservative instincts with the most enlightened views. Has not the Government of India itself signified in the most conspicuous manner its recognition of his statesmanship and his services by the addition to his salute to which His Highness just now alluded I must be allowed to congratulate him upon the steps that have recently been taken, by renewed adoption, for the perpetuation of the ruling line. In due time, I trust that the expectations which have been aroused by this interesting event may meet with fulfilment, and that there may never be wanting in the Travancore State a succession of Princes, royally born, well nurtured, and qualified by instinct and training to carry on its ancient and honourable traditions......................
“In one respect His Highness enjoys a position of peculiar responsibility; for he is the ruler of a community that is stamped by wide racial differences, and represents a curious motley of religions. In such a case a prince can have no higher ambition than to show consideration to the low, and equity and tolerance to all. In the history of States no rulers are more esteemed by posterity than those who have risen superior to the trammels of bigotry or exclusiveness, and have dealt equal mercy and equal justice to all classes, including the humblest of their people. In this category of princes His Highness, who has given so many proofs of liberality of sentiment, may attain a conspicuous place, and may leave a name that will long be cherished by later generations.’’
As a memento of the Viceregal visit, an annual prize of the value of Rs. 500 called “The Maharajah of Travancore’s Curzon Prize’ was instituted in the Madras University to encourage original scientific research among Graduates.
A series of calamities befell the Royal family by the premature and unexpected demise of Prince Martanda Varma, B. A., on the 25th Kanni 1076 (11th October 1900), of Prince Rama Varma, the Elaya Rajah, on the 24th Edavam 1076 (6th June 1901), and of Rani Lakshmi Bayi on the 2nd Mithunam 1076 (14th June 1901).
Of Prince Martanda Varma, Lord Curzon said that he was “an amiable and accomplished Prince, a man of culture, of travel and of learning, the first Graduate among all the Indian Princes who seemed destined to cast fresh lustre upon the name of the famous ancestor which he bore”. Travancore also shared in the general grief which overwhelmed the British Empire by the sad demise of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen-Empress on the 22nd January 1901. In offering his condolences to His Majesty the King-Emperor, His Highness the Maharajah observed—
“The Maharajah of Travancore has received with profound sorrow the mournful intelligence of the demise of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen Empress, and humbly begs to submit to Your Majesty and the members of the Royal Family his most sincere expressions of condolence in the great affliction that has befallen the Empire. Her Majesty was the embodiment of the highest qualities of Queenhood and womanhood. Her loss is deeply lamented throughout the civilised world and nowhere more deeply than in India for whose welfare Her Majesty always evinced such loving solicitude. The Maharajah begs to assure Your Majesty that the melancholy event caused profound sorrow throughout the State and hopes that Your Majesty will deign to accept this heart-felt expression of sympathy with his respectful homage and earnest prayer that the Almighty may grant Your Majesty strength to bear this deep affliction .”
Early in 1078 M.E (November 1902), His Highness received the visit of His Excellency Lord Ampthill, Governor of Madras. His Lordship visited several institutions in Trivandrum and was much pleased with all that he saw. Lord Ampthill expressed his high appreciation of His Highness in the following eloquent terms—
“I think no one will disagree with me when I say that His Highness’ character presents a rare and valuable combination of conservative instincts with enlightened and progressive views. Now it is under influences such as these that the whole mighty fabric of the British Empire has been built up. Here in Travancore many of the same influences which have made for the prosperity of England are at work on a totally different soil and among a totally different people. The people are pious, law-abiding, industrious and loyal. The country is rich in undeveloped resources.
“A rising generation of young men is growing in intelligence and enterprise under the fostering care of the State, and the Ruler of the land, who is revered with all the devotion which is accorded to an ancient and renowned Royal lineage, is striving diligently for progress and reform. Let but the youth of Travancore emulate the example of their Ruler; let them keep and hold fast to all the good things they have inherited, their piety, their loyalty, their patriotism, but let them at the same time strive to advance in every direction on which energy, industry, and enterprise hold out the prospects of honest reward. Thus on the foundations of sound administration, regular justice, personal security and religious toleration, which the Maharajah and his Dewans have done so much to establish, there will rise a new superstructure of commercial and industrial prosperity and increasing wealth. Ladies and gentlemen,— I am sure that you all share my confident hope that the name of our illustrious host will for ever be associated with the commencement of such a new era in the history of Travancore and abide in the grateful hearts of future generations of his people.”
At the kind invitation of His Excellency the Viceroy, His Highness the Maharajah attended the Coronation Durbar held at Delhi in January 1903, accompanied by the Dewan and other officers. On that auspicious occasion, His Most Gracious Majesty King Edward VII, Emperor of India was pleased to confer on His Highness the additional dignity of the “Knight Grand Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire”. His Highness was invested with the Insignia of the Order on the 3rd January 1903. His Highness and party stayed for a few days at Madras to return the visit of His Excellency Lord Ampthill and reached his capital on the 21st January 1903, when a grand public reception was accorded to him by the inhabitants of Trivandrum.
The Coronation of His Majesty the King-Emperor was celebrated throughout Travancore in a befitting manner simultaneously with the Delhi Durbar. In the same year (1903), His Highness received the Delhi Durbar Medal awarded by His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General.
In response to the invitation of His Highness the Maharajah, His Highness the Rajah of Cochin accompanied by two of the Junior Princes, the Dewan and a few other officers of the State, paid a visit to Travancore in January 1904 on his return from Ramesvaram. His Highness stayed three days at the capital and was accorded a hearty reception with all the honours due to his exalted position.
A scheme for placing a portion of the Nayar Brigade on a more efficient footing was sanctioned in 1076 M.E (1900-1901) and came into operation in the next year. The two battalions that hitherto existed were amalgamated; the sixteen companies were reduced to ten with a strength of 910 of all ranks. This reduction provided 500 men for the new battalion, which was styled the First Battalion and is intended for purely military duties following as far as possible the economy and discipline of the British Native Infantry. Permanent lines for them as well as quarters for the officers commanding the battalion were also constructed and occupied.
A revised curriculum of studies was introduced into all the schools of the State in 1077 M.E. (1901-1902) and the schools were classed into four classes, viz.. High, Middle. Upper Primary and Lower Primary. In the last two, the Vernacular was the medium of instruction, English being taught as a second language. The Vernacular Elementary Examination was abolished and the Travancore Middle School Examination based on the model of the Madras Government Examination was instituted both in English and Vernacular.
A number of Technical scholarships for studies in European countries were founded and Technical Education was greatly encouraged. A History Chair was instituted in the Maharajah’s College and a Physics Chair was sanctioned, thus raising the Trivandrum College to nearly the highest level of educational institutions in the Presidency. The Law College was reorganised, and a permanent staff of professors and lecturers appointed. A Survey School was opened as an auxiliary to the Survey Department to train the Revenue subordinates in surveying and measurement.
Among other changes may be mentioned the introduction of a Medical Code and a P. W. D. Code to guide the administration of these two important departments; the opening of a Medical School; the introduction of the money-order system in the local Anchal service and the reduction of rates of postage on letters and registration fees and the minting of new silver and copper coins on improved patterns, the old silver chukram coin being discontinued.
The Legislative Council continued to do useful work under the Presidentship of Mr. Krishnaswamy Rao, himself an officer of considerable judicial experience both in British India and Travancore. Regulation I of 1074 provided a general Penal Code for Travancore, thus repealing Regulation II of 1056 which introduced the Indian Penal Code and the Whipping Act as the penal law for the State. The other Regulations passed during this period were those re: — Wills, Negotiable Instruments, Guardians and Wards, Lepers, Dynamite, Printing Presses, Hindu Religious Endowments, and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, &c. Of these, the Hindu Religious Endowments Regulation is a unique piece of legislation which has not yet found a place in the Statute-book of British India. It may however be remarked in defence of the British administration of India that a Native administration has in certain respects advantages over a British one; for the personal rule of a Native sovereign secures to the people a paternal Government, which can initiate legislation in keeping with the ancient traditions of the people without any fear of the motives of Government being misunderstood or impugned, even where legislation affects the social and religious prejudices of the people.
Retirement of Mr. Krishnaswamy Rao
Mr. E. Krishnaswamy Rao retired from the Dewanship in March 1904. In his Administration Report for 1078 M.E., he offered the following tribute of acknowledgment to His Highness the Maharajah —
“During nearly twenty years that I have been continuously in the service the State, first as Chief Justice of the High Court, then as Dewan, I have had the singular good fortune of enjoying His Highness the Maharajah’s uniform kindness and cordial support. In the discharge of the very onerous and responsible duties that devolved on me since I assumed charge of my present office, especially those relating to several important events that occurred during this period, I was not a little relieved by the wise guidance of His Highness, whose intimate knowledge of even the smallest detail of the work of every department of the State, calm and sound judgment and intense solicitude for the public good are seldom surpassed. I cannot adequately express my deep obligation and gratitude to His Highness for the confidence reposed in me and for the support heartily accorded to me.”
In accepting Mr. Krishnaswamy Rao’s resignation, His Highness the Maharajah wrote to him thus —
“I have received your letter of the 4th instant tendering your resignation of the office of Dewan, and in accepting the same I wish to express my high appreciation of the valuable services you have rendered to the State during the past twenty years as Chief Justice and as Dewan. You are aware in what high estimation you were held by my uncle, His Highness the late Maharajah who with his wonted keen discrimination and foresight selected you from among a host of Judicial Officers in the British Service as the one best fitted by his legal attainments, sound judgment and high character for the position of Chief Justice of the High Court of this State. How admirably you justified His Highness’ selection has been warmly testified to by His Highness himself. I have watched with pleasure the excellent manner in which you presided over the Judicial administration of the State for nearly fourteen years. By your personal example of moral worth, vast legal experience, calm judgment and high sense of justice, you helped to raise the tone of the whole Judicial service and to command for the highest tribunal of the land the respect and confidence of a discerning public.
“You have endeavoured during the past six years to carry on the administration along lines of steady progress with a measure of success which is highly creditable to yourself. Not only have the growing demands of a progressive administration been carefully and judiciously met without enhancing the burden of taxation, but the foundations have been laid for the further development of the resources of the country with the aid of specialised scientific knowledge. Every Department has received your watchful and sympathetic attention, and its development has been fostered with due regard the financial interests of the State. Your services in the Legislative Council have been truly invaluable. In every discussion, you brought to bear your intimate knowledge of the wants and conditions of the country, your legal learning, judicial experience, wisdom and tact; and the high level of efficiency the deliberations of the Council have attained, is due in no small measure to your connection with it. Your earnest solicitude for the public good, strict impartiality and fairness and high personal character have enabled you to earn the esteem and gratitude of all classes of my subjects. Your unswerving loyalty and high ideal of duty have always elicited my admiration and regard.”
Career of Mr. E. Krishnaswamy Rao, C. I. E.
Among the retired Dewans of Travancore, Mr. Krishnaswamy Rao, C. I. E. is the only one now living. He was born of respectable parents, in September 1845, and was thus fifty-eight years old when he retired from Travancore. After passing the Matriculation, he entered Government service in October 1864 as Record-keeper in the Nellore District Court on an initial salary of Rs. 30. In 1867, he was promoted as Sheristadar on Rs. 100, “solely on account of the abilities he displayed in the discharge of the duties entrusted to him”. In July 1870, he was appointed District Munsiff, when he earned a reputation for thorough honesty, quick despatch of work and soundness of judgment. In 1883, he was confirmed as Sub-Judge at Cocanada. He took an active part in all public movements, and when Sir M.E Grant Duff Governor of Madras, visited Cocanada, His Excellency told him of the pleasure it gave him to hear good accounts of his work there. In May 1884, he was offered by the late Maharajah the post of Chief Justice of Travancore, which he accepted. The Madras Government approved of His Highness’ nomination observing, “We know nothing but good of the gentleman you have selected and trust he will serve you long and well”.
The late Sir T. Muthuswamy Aiyar wrote to him — “All the Judges think highly of you and several of them very highly. If you do well at Trivandrum, there is the Dewanship before you, in the same way in which there is the High Court Judgeship in the future.” His Highness the Maharajah also wrote to him —
“I do congratulate myself in having secured so worthy a man as the head of the Judicial administration. He has so much good sense and patience that I am sure he easily realises the peculiarities and difficulty inherent to a Native State and the great necessity to have always before him the maxim festina lente.”
He continued as Chief Justice until April 1898, when he was appointed Dewan by His Highness the present Maharajah in succession to Mr. Shungrasoobyer. During the fifteen years he was Chief Justice, he gave great satisfaction and was instrumental in introducing several improvements and reforms in the Judicial Department. From 1891 to April 1898, he was a member of the Travancore Legislative Council, of which he became Ex-officio President when appointed Dewan. His services to the Legislative Council during this long period were of a valuable kind. In 1895, the Viceroy conferred on him the title of Dewan Bahadur. In November 1901, the King-Emperor conferred on him the honour of C. I. E. His Excellency the Governor writing to him said — “Your good services as Dewan of Travancore have now received this well-deserved recognition”.
The adoption of two Princess into the Royal family was an event of great importance during his administration, on which His Highness the Maharajah Wrote to him thus —
“Your name will always be associated with that important event as you have chiefly contributed to the successful accomplishment of the adoption of two girls in the Royal Family. The great Murajapam and Lakshadeepam ceremonies were also celebrated with unparalleled success during the year. This is also in a great measure due to your piety, devotion, able management and zeal.”
Sir Philip Hatchins, a retired Judge of the Madras High Court and member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India, wrote to him from England —
“The perusal of the Honours’ list gave me the greatest pleasure when I found your name among the distinguished recipients; you well deserve the honour conferred upon you and I offer you my hearty congratulations. As I foretold, when you left the Bench, you had thoroughly established your ability as an administrator and proved the principle that good judges generally make good administrators. Of course my patronage does not deserve the high place you are pleased to ascribe to it in furthering your career, but it is a source of much gratification to me that I was one earliest to note your capacity and bring it to the notice of the Madras Government.”
In the personal and social side of his character, he was a favourite with the public, as is evident from the kind words spoken of him at the several farewell entertainments given him when he left Travancore. In the “Sri Mulam Union Club” entertainment, the President said: — “Krishnaswamy Rao’s amiable manners, kindness of heart, unostentatious behaviour, happy temperament, great tact and thorough politeness are too well known to you all for me to descant upon. He is in every sense a thorough gentleman.” He spends his retirement in Madras in fair health and strength engaged in congenial occupations, occasionally taking part in public movements for which both by instinct and training he is so well fitted. His administration was characterised by care, moderation and judgment.
Mr. V. P. Madhava Rao, Dewan
On the retirement of Dewan Bahadur Krishnaswamy Rao, Mr. V. P. Madhava Rao, B. A., C. I. E., Senior Councillor and Revenue Commissioner of Mysore, was called in as Dewan. He received the Commission of appointment from His Highness on the 21th March 1904.
In the interim, Mr. V. Nagam Aiya, B. A., Senior Dewan Peishcar» officiated as Dewan.
Summary of results
During the two decades that have elapsed since His Highness’ accession to the throne, it has been his constant endeavour to promote to the utmost of his power and opportunities the prosperity of the State and the happiness of his people. Year after year, His Highness has received the congratulations of the Madras Government “on the continued prosperity of the State and the steady efforts made by His Highness to maintain an efficient administration”.
His Highness’ rule has been marked, to quote their words again, “by wise guidance, sound judgment, and great solicitude for the public good”. In no similar period of Travancore history have so many improvements and reforms been so quietly effected. Several useful schemes have either been inaugurated or completed since his accession to the musnud, and these have already begun to bear fruit.
Such are the Kothayar irrigation project; the Farur and Kaipuzha reclamation schemes; the Kynakari and the Puthenvelikara bunds; the restoration of the banks of several rivers the construction of several bridges across rivers and streams throughout the State; the introduction of the Railway; the thorough restoration of the old main lines of communication; the construction of several new ones; the opening up of the High Range and other mountain regions; the abolition of the Viruthi service; the remission of several obnoxious taxes; the organisation of a Sanitary Department including vaccination, vital statistics, rural sanitation and itinerant medical relief; the large extension of Medical aid; the medical grants to private dispensaries and Native Vydiasalas; the promotion and extension of the benefits of Education by the establishment of new schools and colleges both for boys and girls; the founding of Technical scholarships and the encouragement of Technical Education, and of free Primary Education to the backward classes; the offer to the public of agricultural loans on liberal terms; the holding of agricultural exhibitions and the establishment of agricultural schools; the introduction of a compulsory system of State Life Insurance; the reorganisation and reformation of nearly all the departments of the State; and above all, the establishment of the Legislative Council, the Sri Mulam Popular Assembly and the abolition conditionally of taxation in kind.
The aggregate revenue of the State which at the end of 1060 M.E., i.e., the year when His Highness ascended the musnud, was Rs. 6,678,705, has now (1079 M.E.) risen to Rs. 10,201,853, “a record revenue” to quote the Order of the Madras Government (6th April 1905), “indicative not of new burdens laid on the people, but of the ever increasing prosperity of a favoured territory under a prudent administration”. This is a record of which any ruler might well be proud.
I may not perhaps judge of His Highness’ wise and beneficent rule, which under God’s blessing has so well prospered during these twenty years, not only because, as an officer of Government, I do not feel myself competent to do so, but also because some distance of time must elapse before one is able to take a correct historical perspective of the events that have transpired under one’s own eyes. I have therefore contented myself with a bare enumeration of the benevolent activities of the last twenty years, leaving it to the future historian to give the due need of praise to the Gracious Sovereign who has been their author.
It may however be added without impropriety that His Highness is a humane and well- informed ruler, most intelligent and practical, most punctual in all his engagements, calm, business-like, even-tempered, patient, forgiving and above all genuinely solicitous of the welfare of his people. He is besides a most industrious worker and possesses a rare mastery over details of administration which often puzzles his ablest and most experienced officials. These estimable qualities of His Highness are known far and wide. He is perhaps too modest for these times and is content — especially in an age of fuss and bluster and advertisement all around — to allow his talents to lie hid under a bushel relying on the silent reward which good works may bring in due time, and leaving out of account altogether the fact that men and measures are generally judged ill in a hot scramble for bubble reputation which has in a manner to be induced, before being obtained. But “what will not time subdue”?
There is one other excellence in His Highness worthy of mention above all others, which is universally admired and which will probably bear more fruit in the years to come, viz,, his entire absence of ‘side’, and this trait in a Ruler of a country like Travancore, split up into sharp sects and factions and passing through a period of severe transition, owing chiefly I suppose to a profuse and indiscriminate spread of English education with its concomitant passion for democratic ideas and radical changes, is not one of a mean or trivial significance.
Lord Curzon, our late Viceroy, has borne the following high testimony to His Highness’ qualities at the Trivandrum Banquet —
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have only in conclusion to thank His Highness for the very graceful allusion that he has made to Lady Curzon, who is just as enchanted with all that she has seen in Travancore as I am and to ask you all to signify our gratitude for the hospitality extended to us, our interest in this fascinating spot, and our regard and admiration for its illustrious ruler, by pledging a full toast to the health and happiness of His Highness the Maharajah of Travancore.”
At the Maharajah’s College, Lord Curzon added —“It is very characteristic of the enlightenment and generosity of His Highness....................The Maharajahs of Travancore have always been distinguished for their patronage of learning. His Highness takes the keenest interest in the welfare of this College and I have heard with pleasure, with reference to one of the fields of study mentioned just now, viz., that of Scientific Forestry, that he is sending four pupils to study in the Forest School of the Government of India at Dehra Dun.”
His Highness has now completed the first twenty years of his reign, during which, as already shown, the people have prospered in all directions for he has been actuated by one feeling throughout his reign, of paternal solicitude for the welfare of his subjects, as he himself so happily expressed it on the occasion of a Public Durbar in 1897—
“While I sincerely rejoice at this, the latest of the many marks of Her Majesty’s good-will to me and my House, I recognise in it my obligation to merit, by further endeavours to promote the happiness and prosperity of my people, the continuance of the same confidence and regard.”
To say that the whole population of Travancore whether educated or ignorant have centred their affections in him and fervently pray for his prosperity is not a mere conventional phrase. It is only half the truth, “for of no sovereign did the throne ever so much consist of the hearts of his people”. I gave expression to this universal sentiment of affection and loyalty when, as Chairman of the College Day gathering of 1900, I addressed the elite of educated Travancore thus —
“We are met under favourable circumstances to-day. His Highness the Maharajah, our gracious and benevolent Sovereign, than whom a greater patron of learning could not be conceived, has entered upon the forty-fourth year of his precious life and the sixteenth year of his bright and beneficent reign. As a small return for the numerous benefits which we have received at His Highness’ gracious hands during these fifteen years, I ask you all to join me in offering our humble and heartfelt congratulations to His Highness on his attaining this birthday. There is but one feeling in the minds of us all on this happy occasion, and that is, that God may grant His Highness health and long life, vouchsafing to him every earthly blessing in the discharge of the duties of his exalted office. And a thought occurs to me. Gentlemen, that if the Viceroy’s visit which has been graciously promised to us next month, as His Highness’ honoured guest could have been advanced by only a few days — and Lord Curzon were here this afternoon and saw with his own eyes this vast assemblage of educated and cultured intellects in this small corner of the Empire, as the result of His Highness’ paternal care for the education of his subjects. His Excellency would readily comprehend why Travancore has long claimed to be the unique Model Native State in all India.”
The same grateful feelings of regard and esteem were expressed by the Syrian Carmelite Monks of Malabar in their congratulatory address* of the 17th August 1905, in which they said that they were but “faintly echoing the universal rejoicing which now takes place through the length and breadth of the land on this happy festival.”
NOTEs: * On the occasion of His Highness' completing the twentieth year of his reign.
The Monks added —
“Among constitutional changes, we beg to mention the establishment of a Legislative Council, the introduction of Town Improvement Committees in the principal towns, the creation of a High Court as the Supreme Court of Judicature and the formation of the Sri Mulam Assembly. In educational matters, the establishment of several English, Malayalam and Sanskrit Schools in various parts of Travancore, the opening of the Arts School, the awarding of scholarships to students to prosecute their studies in England and other foreign countries, the establishment of Technical Schools, the introduction of a liberal Grant-in-Aid system, free Primary Education to backward classes, and special attention paid to Female education, are noteworthy events which have enabled Travancore to take a high place among the most progressive countries which make up the great Empire of India.
“With regard to general administration, Your Highness’ long reign has been one of steady and continued progress exhibiting the most enlightened statesmanship. The advancement of the people in civilisation and material comforts during the last twenty years under the benign sway of Your Highness cannot be surpassed, we firmly believe, by any other people in India during the same period, and it is our sincere conviction that it was due to Your Highness’ august virtues.”
They felicitously concluded —
“We fervently offer our prayers to the Almighty God to bless Your Highness with long life, health and prosperity and to make Your Highness’ reign even more glorious in the future than it has been in the past.”
In this feeling of genuine gratitude and loyalty and devout prayer for His Highness’ prosperity, the Carmelite Monks of Malabar are by no means singular. The occasion evoked universal rejoicings among all communities of people in Travancore, or as the Dewan remarked in his address to the Sri Mulam Popular Assembly (21st October 1905), “This year His Highness the Maha Rajah completed the twentieth year of His Highness’ rule and the spontaneous outburst of loyalty that characterised the celebration of the auspicious event in every village and hamlet in Travancore, testifies to the strong hold His Highness has secured on the affection and regard of his devoted subjects.”
The whole population whether Hindu or Mahomedan, Christian or Jew, are but one in their love of their Sovereign, who they know and feel is one with them in interest, sentiment and nationality, and for whom they unitedly pray to the God of all religions, “May He bless Our King with health and long life!”
END OF VOLUME 1
3. Rama Varma