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Modernity arrives

This is the fourth of a 16-part series on Bangalore, which will culminate in several competitions including a Quiz, Paint Your City, Photograph Your City, Treasure Hunt, and so on for The Hindu NIE participants.


Cubbon: Administrator par excellence. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

THE FOURTH Mysore War, ending in 1799, resulted in Tippu's death, victory to the army led by the British, and was generally a catastrophe. The erstwhile Mysore State was divided into four parts. The British retained Coimbatore and Western Coast, the Nizam was given Gutti, Gurumakonda and northern part of Chitradurga, and the Marathas were given Harapanahalli, Anegondi and surrounding areas.

The remaining fourth portion was left as Mysore State, to be ruled by the Wadiyars, subject to several conditions. One of the conditions was that the British army would stay in Srirangapatnam at the expense of the State and oversee the administration. The capital was shifted from Srirangapatnam to Mysore. The three important persons in the State were the king, the diwan, and the resident. Krishna Raja Wadiyar III was only five in 1799 and Diwan Poornaiah took charge of the State till his retirement in 1811.

Eight diwans were in charge of the State from 1799 to 1831. Among these, Poornaiah is remembered as an outstanding administrator. Apart from filling up the empty coffers of the State and controlling the rogue Palegars, Diwan Poornaiah contributed to the development of Bangalore. He renovated the temple inside the fort, built a choultry for travellers in Tulasi Thota, and financially helped the farmers to convert the rocky areas in Sarakki, Jaraganahalli, and Maruthihalli into cultivable lands.

The British started shifting their offices to Bangalore in 1807 since Srirangapatnam was infested with mosquitoes. The first base was set up in 1808 near today's Air Command Hospital. That was the beginning of Bangalore Cantonment, a beginning that marked the growth of Bangalore in two diverse directions literally - both geographically and culturally.

The British took direct control of the State in 1831 for reasons termed by the historians as "flimsy". From then on, till rendition (return of power) in 1881, the State was ruled by English Commissioners stationed in Bangalore. The Commissioners directly reported to the Governor General of India and not to the Governor at Madras. The king was helpless and the diwan was just like a departmental head. The officer in charge of Bangalore was known as Huzoor Shirastedar.

Out of the many Shirastedars, Kollam Venkataraya (1834 to 1838 and 1840 to 1843) is remembered even today for his good deeds. He built the Raya Raya Raya Choultry on K.R. Road.

Among the commissioners, two are well remembered as able administrators - Sir Mark Cubbon (1834-1861) and Lewan Bentham Bowring (1862-1870). Cubbon was responsible for setting up an efficient administration system, improving financial stability, and introduction of Kannada as the official language. New roads, bridges were built and telegraph system was set up.

The first railway line between Bangalore and Jolarpet was laid (1859-64). He also expressed strong opposition to the transfer of the Mysore administration to the Governor at Madras. Today, Bangalore remembers him in its Cubbonpet, Cubbon Park, and the Cubbon satue.

Like Cubbon, Bowring was responsible for many firsts - transferring the administration offices from Tippu's palace to the newly-built Attara Kacheri (1867), setting the Bangalore Municipality (1862), starting of departments for Police, Forest, Temple Mujrai, Survey and Settlement, Sewerage System, and Museums (1865). The Bowring Institute, Bowring Hospital (1866), Bowring Buildings (Attara Kacheri), and Bowring pete (Bangarapete) remind us of the popular Bowring.

A great famine struck in 1876-78. People migrated in large numbers to Bangalore for two morsels of food. The Government started relief work and set up free food camps. Christian missionaries, Brahmo Samaaj, and the publicity-shy trader, Ele Mallappa Shetty, fed 30,000 people daily. Even then, thousands of loom workers and craftsmen sold off their implements and started working in relief works for their daily bread.

Two important developments during the British rule were the start of missionary activities in 1820 and the setting up of the Education Department in 1857. They gave an impetus to modern education already started by many Hindu colleges. Rev. W. Campbell and Rev. B. Rice opened the first London Mission School in 1820.

Thomas Hudson started the Wesleyan School in 1834 in Cantonment. Gradually, many other missionary and local schools came up all over the City and cantonment areas. (More details on this can be seen in the author's forthcoming book in Kannada, Bengaloorina Notagalu.)

Fifty years of their rule helped Bangalore change its outlook from that of a village girl to the modern handsome maiden through the spread of education. Science and education changed one's outlook with a keenness to know the world and aspirations to a better life.

(Readers may reach their comments and suggestions to the author. He can be contacted on Ph: 6520122)

K. CHANDRAMOULI

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