Princely Mysore and WW I

Princely Mysore and WW I

Princely Mysore and WW I

The First World War, had devastating consequences across many nations in the world. India too, including the princely state of Mysore, happened to be a part of the domino effect.

The Lord Hardinge of Penshurst, as Viceroy of India, signed a declaration of war by India, against Germany and Austria.

However, the move remained unpopular with Indians, who saw it as an additional burden during the period of political vacuum.

As observed by Jawaharlal Nehru, “The war was far-off and did not at first affect the life of Indians much, and though, (during the course of the war) there prevailed no love for Germany, this produced the desire among Indians to see their own rulers humbled.”

Within six months of the outbreak of the war, seven divisions of infantry, two divisions and two brigades of cavalry were sent overseas from India.

In addition to these, 20 batteries of artillery and 32 battalions of British infantry, 1000 strong and more, were sent to England.

In all, 80,000 British officers and troops and 2,10,000 Indians were sent to war.

Monetary help

What was more alarming was the monetary contribution made by Princely Mysore towards the war.

Nearly Rs 33 lakh from the State fund was made towards the war loan fund.

By the end of September 1917, the total contribution of Mysore towards the war, including the Civil and Military Station of Bangalore, stood at around Rs 75 lakh.

By the end of January 1918, the State alone had contributed close to Rs 60 lakh.

By October 1918, the offering made by the Maharaja was Rs 50 lakh.

And as much as 1 crore and 30 lakh was subscribed to the war fund under different categories like free gift, relief fund, war loan and treasury bills (Both British and Indian).

The process of recruitment of soldiers began soon after the commencement of the war. Though the process was simple, it was done on a war footing.

To recruit the soldiers, the princely state began printing and publishing the “Mysore Recruitment Bulletin” on a regular basis.

This publicity was carried out by the office of “Mysore Recruitment and Publicity Board”, located in Bangalore.

In his message, which was carried in one of the issues, the Maharaja said that it was the duty of all his subjects to help the war, to ensure victory to Great Britain and her allies.

He also observed: “With regard to pecuniary help, I have from time to time placed at the disposal of His Excellency, the Viceroy, a request to meet the cost of the war, all the money that I could spare from the revenues of the State; and my Government and my people have also subscribed a considerable sum to the first Indian war loan. We have now another opportunity to help by subscribing to the second loan, the terms of which have just been announced by the Government of India.”

“I have directed my Government to invest a sum of 30 lakh in this loan; and I have every confidence that my people will render substantial assistance to the Empire by generously subscribing to it and thus providing a practical proof of the spirit of loyalty, which has always animated them in the past.”

The chief patron of the Recruitment Committee was the Maharaja himself and the Dewan, its chairperson. Such committees were constituted in every district and taluk headquarter towns.

A person who was much respected and commanding was made chairperson at the taluk level.

To attract recruits, these committees announced bonanzas like salaries between Rs 10 and Rs 50 for new recruits.

They even offered lands, measuring anywhere between eight and 45 acres in case of wet land, and three and 20 acres in case of dry land, on the basis of the grade in the army.

Recruiting agents

In order to speed up recruitment, the Committee appointed agents, who, in turn, recruited soldiers.

Apart from perquisites, these agents were paid between Rs 5 and Rs 25 per soldier.

Along with the soldiers, cobblers, barbers, masons, cooks, blacksmiths, washermen and horseshoe makers were also recruited.

Their pay ranged between Rs 10 and Rs 50. These professionals were to serve in the army till the end of the war.

But out of these 1300 recruits, 403 were found physically unfit, and were asked to return to their homes.

As the war progressed, the agents also became more assertive and powerful. Some of them made huge profits.

One agent by the name Sayyid Ahmed, who was a pensioned sepoy, provided 112 recruits from March 30, 1918 to June 15, 1918, earning Rs 25 as commission per recruit.

Another agent, Budain Miyya, recruited 40 soldiers.

Those who were already serving in the army and at the same time, as agents, were offered the post of Jamadar for bringing in 100 recruits, Havaldar for 50 and Naik for 30 recruits.

They were also offered additional gifts after the termination of war, like a sword, a wrist watch (which cost at Rs 300 at the time) a rifle, or preferably, a double barrel gun.

From September 1, 1918 to October 5, 1918, 502 members were recruited from all districts. Among them, 36 were Christians, 83 Muslims, 12 Lingayats, seven Brahmins, five Rajputs, 36 Marathas, 13 Panchamas, 38 Vokkaliggas and the remaining 272 were from other Hindu castes and communities.

As the war reached its climax in Europe and Africa, the support from Princely Mysore also multiplied. Nearly Rs 97 lakh had been collected.

In his address delivered during the Dasara session of the Mysore Representative Assembly session of October 1919, the Dewan spoke at length about the contributions made by Mysore and its people under diverse interests.

He added that the total amount contributed or made available by the Government and the people of Mysore towards winning the war, amounted to about two crore.

As the war came to an end, the soldiers who had been enlisted from Mysore returned. Some of them were honoured with gallantry awards. Many, as promised earlier, were donated lands.

The conclusion of the war also saw the onset of the influenza epidemic, which took several tolls, not only in Bangalore but also in many mofussil and small towns.

The second significant impact of the war was the rise in the prices of essential commodities, particularly food items.

On July 18, 1919, Chamarajendra was born.

He later succeeded Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. In commemoration of the victory of Great Britain in the war, the word jaya (victory) was added as a prefix to his name.

Hence, he became Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, taking reins of the administration in 1940.
Incidentally, this was during the time of World War II.