Monday, Feb 10, 2003
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This Day That Age
At 3.30 a.m. on the 10th in the Madras General Hospital, the death occurred of Mr. N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar (71), Defence Minister of the Government of India. He had been ill for some months, come to Madras, and been admitted into the Hospital just a few days earlier. Mr. Ayyangar left behind his wife, his son, Mr. G. Parthasarathy, Assistant Editor in The Hindu, and a daughter.
As a civil servant in Madras State, Mr. Ayyangar earned a reputation for efficiency and versatility qualities which went to make him a notable statesman. Those traits were exhibited in very difficult conditions when he was Dewan of Kashmir. As a Central Minister entrusted with different portfolios, he enhanced his reputation. Born on March 31, 1882, Mr. Ayyangar studied at the Wesley School, and at the Presidency and Law Colleges in Madras, whereafter, for a short period in 1904, he was an Assistant Professor in Pachaiyappa's College. In 1905, he joined the Madras Civil Service. His career there extended till 1937. He served as a Deputy Collector till 1919, and was promoted Collector and District Magistrate in 1920. He was Registrar-General of Panchayats and Inspector of Local Boards for seven years from 1921. Then for three years he was Collector and District Magistrate in Anantapur. Then he was Inspector of Municipal Councils and Local Boards till 1932. Mr. Ayyangar served as Secretary to Government in the Public Works Department from 1932 to 1934. Finally he served as a member of the Board of Revenue till 1937.
The second phase of Mr. Ayyangar's career opened in 1937 as Dewan of Kashmir. His connection with Kashmir extended until his last days. Few persons in India were better qualified to speak authoritatively when the invasion of the State by Pakistan took place, raising an international problem. At Lake Success, Geneva, and elsewhere he expounded India's cause with a clarity and comprehension. Mr. Ayyangar had assumed office as Dewan during a difficult period. The attempt of the Kashmir Committee to overthrow the Maharaja had culminated in an uprising that took a communal turn. Sheikh Abdullah assumed leadership of the Muslim League (later National Conference) in 1932.
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