Diwan C. Rangacharlu, an eminent administrator of Mysore Kingdom

Mysore Dewan, C.V. Rangacharlu CIE. Kamat's Potpourri

During the later part of the colonial period under the  British Crown, India produced a galaxy of prominent administrators who rose to the position of eminence  and displayed their talents in full flow in the area of managing the princely states. Rising to the position of Diwan in those days was not that easy and  required good communication skills, fine  grasp of laws of various fields, good public relationship, etc. Holding Diwanship  was something like walking on a tightrope . Special skills were required to be in the good book  of the Maharajah and his royal household  on one hand and try to maintain his rapport with the British officials on the other. There was no difference between a powerful Diwan and a juggler in a Circus, he had to put every step in the administrative corridor carefully.  For many Indians, in the colonial era,  it was a far cry to reach such a level and had to be content with a position of subaltern in character.

Chettipunyam Veeravalli Rangacharlu CIE (c. August 1831 - d. 20 January 1883), took the credit of being the first Diwan of Mysore following the restoration of monarchy (rendition during the British rule) in which Maharajah Chamarajandra Wadiyar  promised to follow  a new  system of administration.  Rangacharlu was an Indian civil servant and administrator  of excellent ability and foresight and ran the kingdom as the Diwan of Mysore kingdom from 1881 to 1883.

Born in the Chingleput district, Madras Presidency in a poor Vaishnavite family, his father C. Raghavachariar was a clerk in the Chingleput  Collectorate.  He, in the midst of great financial difficulties, completed his schooling  with distinction  at  Pachaiyappa's School and the Madras High School.  Upon passing his proficiency' test in 1849 in first class and later completing matriculation, Rangacharlu  got a job as a clerk in the Madras Collectorate.

Mysore princely state. www.zum.de

Mysore coat of arms. Wadiyar dynasty. Wikipedia

Beginning his career as an acting clerk in the Madras Collectorate, he became a Head Writer in Salem (now in Tamil Nadu). Rangacharlu  took his job seriously and  tried to be innovative. As a Head Writer he published two  reports on - "Bribery and Corruption in the Revenue Department" and "Mirasi Rights in the Chingleput and Tanjore Districts."  His report was forthright and did not spare his own relatives for lack of integrity and, at the same time, brought to light the inadequacy of salaries for Indians. He also focused his attention on the shortcomings in the administration and the errors committed by the British officials. The report got  him good name and proved his  innate analytical mind in the area of public administration.   

Bangalore. The Rangacharlu Memorial Hall.TripAdvisor

The in depth analysis of his report, an unbiased compendium on the pitfalls in the British administration  drew the attention of Taylor who became a member of Viceroy's council.  Taylor without any hesitation  had consultation with  Rangacharlu on many matters related to  improving  administrative  efficiency.  Soon, he became the  Tahsildar of Saidapet and then, Head Sheristadar of Nellore. 

In 1859, after a brief stint in the Imam's office as  Special Assistant to G. N. Taylor, President of the Imam Commission, Sri  Rangacharlu was asked to write a report on the working of the  Indian Railways. This time his down to earth His  investigative report won him appreciation and laurels, soon he was  appointed  as  the Commissioner of the Madras Railway Company. Later he moved over to Calicut and served as  the Treasury Deputy Collector  in 1868. Here, he was ably assisted  by yet another competent administrator K. Seshadri Aiyar (future Diwan of Mysore) with whom he had developed a lasting friendship. 

As  Ranagacharlu  never failed to prove his skill in the fields he was involved, naturally his career saw upward mobility. This time he joined the the Mysore Civil Service in 1868 in the kingdom of Mysore and became the  Comptroller of the Mysore palace. His  report on "The British Administration of Mysore" was published in London in 1874 and  Mr. Gordon, the Commissioner of Mysore, recognizing Ranagacharlu's capability,  appointed him  as his Revenue Secretary.

As Revenue Secretary, Rangacharlu came up with an  innovative method to beef up the administration and at the same time cut down the cost, replacing highly paid European officers with good Indian administrators with moderate salary.   In the wake of this revamping,  the expenditure for his first year of service 1879-80 was reduced by rupees one and half lakhs. In 1880, he was awarded  a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire. Soon after rendition (when the British Crown was no longer the ruler), Mysore kingdom needed  an  effective civil administrator to run it and on 25 March 1881 Rangacharlu was eventually appointed the  Diwan of Mysore.

 Rangacharlu took over as Diwan in March 1881 and on the same day Chamarjaendra Wadiyar was installed as the Maharajah of Mysore. At that point of time Mysore was in a financial mess and the coffers were almost empty because of poor financial management.  Equally in bad state were the industrial, agricultural and civilian sectors. On top of it, the state  suffered a lot in the 1877 famine.  This left the state finance in red - a debt of eight lakh rupees. Within a few months of Rangacharlu's appointment as Diwan, Sheshadri Aiyar joined the kingdom as Judicial Sheristadar from Calicut  and his progress was rapid. He later became public prosecutor and finally deputy Commissioner.

To make the administration cost effective and to reduce unnecessary expenditure, Rangacharlu  disbanded Hassan and Chitradurga districts, downgraded nine taluks into Deputy Amildar sections, reduced the number of Munsiff Courts, Sub-Courts and district jails. This smart move by him improved the state revenue and to have additional  revenue for the state treasury, he lifted the ban on the sale sandalwood and its products. With the revenue generated by the sale of sandalwood, Rangacharlu  diligently developed an elaborate railway system for the princely state. He had a  a railway line built from Bangalore to Tiptur and established a legislative assembly for the state.

On account of overwork and exertion  topped by peer pressure, Rangacharlu fell seriously ill at the end of 1882  he resigned as Diwan on health grounds. Ho moved over to Madras (Chennai) where he died on 20 January 1883.  Before his demise, taking the future of Mysore into account, he strongly recommended Sheshadri Aiyar as his successor  - Diwan of Mysore.   Rangacharlu was an honest and noble man and never had he failed to recognize talented people around him and groomed them.  These two hard working administrators - Rangacharlu and Sheshadri Aiyar  later put the Mysore kingdom  back on a high  pedestal by introducing reforms that were quite helpful to the citizens. Both  of them  were regarded as the foremost  of the personages in certain aspects,  and their contributions were epoch-making and stand as a beacon to others. They with nuances of administrative ability and sharp intellect laid the  early foundations to make Mysore become a progressive state.