Endings and Beginnings

This year has been like no other. When the year began, it gave us no inkling of what it held. And we end it on a note of bewilderment, not really sure of what happened and what will happen. Hope springs eternal of course, and we await the new year with a curious mixture of weariness and bated breath.

Personally, the year has been kind to me. Things have more or less been on an even keel and changes have been very manageable. I’ve realised that I am truly happiest by myself and suprisingly, life has rearranged itself accordingly.

I am so grateful for everything that’s come my way, and then some.

The happy news includes a story of mine published in this hot-off-the-press anthology. An excellent collection of stories, it is really worth reading. Here’s to more reading and writing in the new year too!

Stay safe and take care. This is the way. 😉

When Officers Served The People

A piece published in the column Looking Back, most probably in Deccan Herald, probably sometime in the 1980s. Mr. Rao was my father’s paternal uncle. This is just to preserve the article my parents kept so carefully for so many years.

Mr. Krishna Rao (left) being sworn in by the Nizam of Hyderabad after integration of the State with the Indian Union.
Mr. Krishna Rao (left) being sworn in by the Nizam of Hyderabad after integration of the State with the Indian Union.

“Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar and Sir M Visvesvaraya loved the people of Mysore so much that they would go to any extent to help them.” Mr. P. H. Krishna Rao, who was Census Commissioner of the erstwhile Mysore State, is the second seniormost survivor of the Mysore Civil Service, the first being the doyen of Kannada literature, Mr. Masti Venkatesha Iyengar, who is eight months his senior and “entered the service two years before me.”

The 88-year-old-Rao, who entered the MCS in 1916, remembers his posting as a Sub-Division Officer in Chickmagalur, when the late Maharaja used to visit Kemmanagundi in preference to Ooty.

“On a cold night in Kemmanagundi when the Maharaja came out he saw a constable on duty shivering with cold. The Maharaja was moved. He immediately took out his overcoat and gave it to him. Not only that, the next morning he ordered that every policeman on duty should be provided with warm clothing and an overcoat,” said Mr. Rao trying to control his tears.

“Another instance of the Maharaja’s humaneness is still green in my memory. During one of his visits to the hill resort, a blind man came to see him. The crowd about the Maharaja was making fun of him exclaiming how can you, a blind man, see the Maharaja.”

“The Maharaja heard the commotion outside and wanted the blind man to be led to his presence. When the blind man approached, he drew his hands on the Maharaja from head to foot and cried out, “Nammappa (my father) — Nammadevaru (My God)”. The Maharaja was so moved that he invited him to his palace kept him there for a month and bestowed a pension on him for life.”

“Sir M. V. reposed great confidence in me. I remember that when he was treated shabbily by one of the Chief Ministers of Mysore, whose power had gone to his head, I expressed my resentment. “Sir, why should you lower your dignity with these small people?”

“Look here Krishna Rao,” he replied, “we must not mind it. I care more for my people than for my dignity. I want to do so many things but I have no power. I must get things done for them by those in power.”

“On another occasion, Sir M. V. sent for me and asked me to set things right in the Sri Jayachamarajendra Occupational Institute (now known as S. J. Polytechnic). The institute was M. V.’s brainchild. I was the man who started the Institute under his guidance. I tried to get things right there but with the official and ministerial interference, I thought it was an impossible task. I explained to Sir M. V. the practical difficulties and the communal element, which had spoiled the atmosphere. “Don’t resign till I talk it over to the Chief Minister,” he said. After a few days he gave me the green signal to resign.

“Sir Mirza Ismail, Dewan of Mysore was a great patriot. His love of Mysore knew no bounds. The Maharaja treated him as a friend more than as the Dewan. I remember the day when Sir Mirza returned from the Round Table Conference. He said that he felt like coming home. He was born in Mysore and lived on the food grown in Mysore. He wanted Mysore to be self-sufficient in every respect and desired nothing more than to be buried in Mysore.”

“When Sir Mirza died, I was the Muncipal Commissioner in Bangalore City. I remember the scene when crowds surged to his house when he passed away. There were young and old, rich and poor, Muslims and Christians, vaidiks and civilians, everyone remembering the good turn he had done to them.”

“I was not the Deputy Commissioner of any district though I had the good fortune to serve in old Mysore and in all the departments excepting Finance. I did not personally serve the Maharaja as Mr. K. Guru Dutt did, but I remember his veneration for his mother and the love he bore to all his subjects. He treated all his subjects alike. I have quoted in my book “The Brahmin Community in Karnataka” many extracts from his various speeches. The charge against Brahmins that they had monopolised the Government services depriving non-Brahmins was ill-founded. The truth is that the Brahmins had made good use of the opportunities and had acquired education, which fitted them for Government service while others neglected their education.

“As a matter of fact, Sir M. V. resigned the Dewanship because of the non-Brahmin movement in Madras entering Mysore. The Maharaja appointed the Miller Commission to suggest how a certain percentage of posts in Government service should be reserved for non-Brahmins. Sir M. V. felt that this could definitely tell on the efficiency of administration and wished to be relieved of the responsibility of adminstration. Alas! his prophecy has come true,” bemoaned the old MCS.

As one belonging to the MCS I am proud to say that it enjoyed the respect and regard of the common people. A Deputy Commissioner of a District or the Amildar of a taluk was considered the father and mother of the people. They were also treated with consideration by their superiors. This spirit is totally lacking in the present-day officers or the Congress Ministers,” Mr. Rao lamented.

After retiring from the MCS, Mr. Krisha Rao served as Special Officer to the Eastern States’ Union comprising 39 states and later was recommended by Maj. Gen. Chowdhury, Military Governor of Hyderabad. He was Minister in charge of Labour and Agriculture and has quite a few anecdotes about the Nizam, particularly his miserliness.

“The Nizam was noted for his milserliness in spite of his being the richest man in India. He went about in a coat with frayed collars and was fond of consuming cup after cup of tea at a tea party because it was free.”

“You will be astonished to know that while the Nizam’s nobles went about in Rolls Royce cars this miser of a man used an old Ford car which had to be pushed to make it start.

“I will now tell you an interesting story about this scion of the great Moghul Dynasty who sold mango seed to his nobles and collected sovereigns in return. One of his nobles once sent him a basket of picked mangoes. The Nizam ate all of them (about 100) and relished every bit. The Nizam sent the seeds to many of his nobles with a note saying that they should grow this variety in their gardens. The note added that they should send a sovereign as a price of the seed. The nobles could not have possibly refused to comply. Thus the avaricious Nizam not only ate all the mangoes but made over 100 sovereigns in the bargain.”

Spending a few hours with Mr. Rao was a rewarding experience. He is full of zest. This writer was surprised to learn that at this ripe age Mr. Rao had just returned from a tour of South Kanara and Mysore districts to organise the Brahmin community. (Incidentally Mr. Rao is the President of the All-India Brahmins Mahasabha).

The car in which he was travelling hit a roadside tree in Mangalore. Mr. Rao was injured and had visible bruises all over the body and was also plastered. But Mr. Rao continued with the chalked-out programme.