Tuesday 22 October 2013

The whistle blower who became a Dewan

A whistle blower, he exposed the rot and corruption of the bureaucracy that had set in in the Revenue Department in British India. He published a booklet on the corruption but he did not lend his name to its authorship. Instead, he called it a book by a native Indian officer.
A few years later he came to be appointed the Dewan of the Mysore Kingdom. He went about his job with ferocity and took several steps to root out corruption. He also introduced music in schools.
He worked for the Imam Commission which had been set up by the British. Subsequently, he was appointed to go into the working of the Indian Railways.
As Dewan of Mysore, he instituted the first Representative Assembly in India.  
Unfortunately, he fell very sick and passed away just a few years after he had assumed the Dewanship. But his name is immortalised even today and he is ranked among the ablest administrators of his times.
He had a deep and abiding passion for chess. His name is forever on the lips of Mysoreans as the Town Hall in the Royal City is named after him. He is Dewan C.V. Rungacharlu.
Born in 1831, he lived a little more than 50 years. Yet, he has left behind a rich legacy of administrative work, which are worth implementing even today.
Rungacharlu was born in an Iyengar family in Chingleput district in the then Madras  Presidency. He was a Vadagalai Iyengar. His father, C. Raghavachariar, was a clerk in the office of the Collectorate at Chingleput.
His parents were poor and he could attend school only after V. Raghavachariar, the first Indian magistrate in Madras, promised to support him financially.
He joined Government service as a Huzur deputy accountant in the office of the Collector of  Madras when he was 19 years. It was 1850 then.
Soon after his conformation, he was transferred to the Chingleput Collectorate. He was subsequently promoted to Head Writer and posted in Salem. It was here that young Rungacharlu performed his task as a Head Writer with distinction. He was disgusted with the corruption in the Revenue Department and in 1856 he published two pamphlets – “Bribery and Corruption in the Revenue Department” and “Mirasi Rights in the Chingleput and Tanjore Districts”.
He was then appointed Tahsildar of  Saidapet and then as Head Sheristadar of Nellore. In 1859, he was appointed Special Assistant to G. N. Taylor, President of the Imam Commission. When the term of the Imam Commission ended, Rungacharlu was appointed to the inquire into the working of the Indian Railways. Rungacharlu was subsequently appointed Commissioner of the Madras Railway Company. He was working as a Treasury Deputy Collector at Calicut in 1868, when he was invited to join the Mysore civil service.
He then assisted British official Major Elliot in reorganization of the Mysore Palace establishment in 1868. He was assistant to the guardian of Chamaraja Wodiyar before the Wodeyar ascended the throne in 1881.
Rungacharlu was appointed the Dewan the day when Chamaraja Wodeyar asssumed charge to rule the Mysore State.
He served as Dewan from 1881 to 1883. He was instrumental in setting up the Representative Assembly. He also introduced music as one of the subjects in schools.
When he became Dewan in March 1881, Mysore was in throes of  financial crisis which had adversely impacted the agricultural and industrial sector. The State was devastated by the famine of 1877 and it was faced with a debt of Rs. 8 lakhs. He postponed for five years, the payment of Rs. 10.5 lakhs as subsidy to the British.
He replaced British officers with Indians. He also disbanded Hassan and Chitradurga districts and downgraded nine taluks into Deputy Amildar sections. The number of Munsiff Courts, Sub-Courts and district jails were also reduced. These measures helped reduce the expenses of the state. He also o lifted the ban of the sale of sandalwood and sandalwood products, thus earning much needed revenue for the State.
With the revenue generated by the sale of sandalwood, he helped   develop the railway system for Mysore. He was also instrumental in commissioning the railway line from Bangalore to Tiptur.
He fell seriously ill at the end of 1882. When the illness became critical, he  resigned as Dewan. He came to Madras where he died on January 20, 1883.

Mysore has honored him by constructing a Town Hall which it has named as Dewan Rungacharlu Memorial Hall. 

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