Dewan with a difference

T Ananda Rao served as the dewan between 1909 and 1912.

T Ananda Rao served as the dewan between 1909 and 1912.

The Princely State of Mysore, crafted after the Anglo-Mysore War IV in 1799, was indeed progressive.

Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV assumed the reins of administration as Maharaja of Mysore in 1902. With this, the state entered a new phase of industrial growth and economic prosperity.

P N Krishnamurthy was the first dewan to serve the maharaja. In 1906, V P Madhava Rao assumed the dewanship. On March 13, 1909, T Ananda Rao became the dewan. While his economic measures flourished, he also got his share of brickbats.

In the roots

Tanjavur Ananda Rao belonged to a family of administrators who were illustrious and also earned a name for their administrative skills. His father T Madhava Rao worked as Dewan of Maharaja of the Travancore-Cochin state.

T Ananda Rao was born on May 15, 1852. After securing a BA from University of Madras in 1871, he tutored the Prince of the Travancore-Cochin state. He then taught the prince of Holkar in Indore.

In 1873, he was appointed as the assistant to C Rangacharlu. The latter was in the service of English Commissionerate.

In 1879, he entered the judiciary department. He served as Deputy Commissioner of Mysore District and later as Chief Secretary in the Secretariat. Considering his service, the then government of Maharaja of Mysore appointed him as a member in the Council of Dewan.

Glory days

With Hugh Daly as Resident and M Visveswariah as Chief Engineer of the state, good times started.  

The dewan and the chief engineer shaped Krishnaraja Sagara or the dam across River Kaveri at an estimated cost of Rs 91 lakh. The credit of organising the successful Mysore Economic Conference should go to T Ananda Rao.

It was established with a view to associate non-official gentlemen with the government’s officials to make strides in agriculture, education and commerce sectors.  At its inauguration on June 19, 1911, the Maharaja said, “The aim, namely economic security and the efficacy of people, must appeal to every right-thinking person.” Records and documents, preserved in the Karnataka State Archives, Regional Office, Mysuru contain information about the working of the conference.

Later, a survey of industries in the state was undertaken and its results became a road map for growth.

It was during his tenure that primary education was strengthened. The idea was to create new infrastructure and fix the old one. Committees were formed both at district and taluka levels to suggest means for improvement.

The then government attempted to implement compulsory education several times. Training institutes were established to impart new teaching methods among teachers, who were recruited at different levels of school education. The Tata institute for research and higher education was soon inaugurated. The government sanctioned an annual grant of Rs 5 lakh along with land.

Press vs Dewan 

The period also witnessed a clash between the government and the print media. Many newspapers, which were considered anti-government, were scrutinised.

It was also the period of nationalistic fervour. The dewan is known to have utilised his power to suppress this.

Many newspapers were screened under the Press Act. Similarly, the system of permission to start newspapers, implemented here, made him unpopular in print media. He also became unpopular for his measures, particularly those restrictive of public meetings and gatherings.   

In November 1912, he demitted the office. After him, M Visveswariah took up the dewanship of the state.

T Ananda Rao breathed his last on July 20, 1919. 

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