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A friend who will be missed by everyone

By A. Jayaram

BANGALORE, AUG. 12. The demise of the Grand Old Man of Karnataka, Nittoor Srinivasa Rau, marks the end of one of the last links with the Gandhian era. The end came 12 days before his 102nd birthday and at the residence of his second son at Jayanagar here. Mr. Srinivasa Rau was a former Chief Justice of the Mysore (now Karnataka) High Court, acting Governor of Mysore, and the first Central Vigilance Commissioner.

Multi-faceted personality

Eminent lawyer, a judge known for his grasp and humaneness, a stickler for integrity, a person with a photographic memory till the end, freedom fighter and Gandhian, constructive worker as distinct from political worker, pioneering Kannada publisher, fighter for the integration of Kannada-speaking areas, institution builder, and above all a friend of everyone, Mr. Rau was a multi-faceted personality in ever sense of the term.

In his death, there are thousands of families in Bangalore and Karnataka that have lost an elder and a friend who had deep concern for the welfare of everyone.

Mr. Srinivasa Rau is survived by two sons and two daughters. His wife, Padamavathamma, predeceased him. His elder son, N.S. Chandrashekara, is an advocate and a noted historian of princely Mysore. His second son, N.S. Subbanna, was the vice-president of the Kirloskar Electric Company, Bangalore.

One of his sons-in-law is the well-known physicist and philosopher based in the U.S., E.C. George Sudarshan. Mr. Srinivasa Rau was the son-in-law of M.N. Krishna Rau, who was the officiating Dewan of Mysore. The latter was also his maternal uncle.


Mr. Srinivasa Rau was known for punctuality. One of the last major public functions he attended was the release of the Kannada translation of a book by the former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao at the Vidhana Soudha on July 28. In recent years, he used to move with the help of a walker following an injury sustained in a road accident.

Mr. Srinivasa Rau graduated in science from the prestigious Central College here in 1922. He took his degree in law from Madras University in 1926. Mr. Srinivasa Rau defended the controversial lawyer and Congress leader, L.S. Raju, in a contempt of court case registered against him by the then Chief Justice, P. Medappa, in 1948. He became the first chairman of the State Bar Council when it was formed in 1952.

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In 1953, the then Chief Minister, K. Hanumanthaiya, appointed him Advocate-General of the State. Two years later, he was appointed a judge of the Mysore High Court. It was in 1961 that Mr. Srinivasa Rau became the third Chief Justice of Mysore after the reorganisation of the State, succeeding S.R. Dasgupta. He retired in August 1963 as the age of retirement was then 60. He was acting Governor of Mysore in October 1963.

In February 1964, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru chose him for the high office of the country's first Central Vigilance Commissioner. Mr. Srinivasa Rau's entry into public affairs began in a big way in 1928 when he defended the noted journalists, Veerakesari Sitarama Sastry and C. Ashwathanaryana, who had been arrested for sedition in connection with the Sultanpet Ganapati idol riots by the administration of Dewan Sir Mirza Ismail. He had by then joined the Congress and for a time in 1932 ran the KPCC office in Dharwad with Sampige Venkatapathaiya. He had a role in the former Justice Party leaders joining the Congress in 1937. During the 1942 Quit India Movement, he gave shelter to some of the Congress leaders such as Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, R.R. Diwakar, and U.S. Mallya. He was close to the Congress leaders of the integrated areas such as Gangadhar Rao Deshpande and those of Old Mysore such as K.T. Bashyam and H.C. Dasappa.


Taking up Kannada book publishing, Mr. Srinivasa Rau had the distinction of translating Mahatma Gandhiji's autobiography into Kannada. It was named "Sathyashodhana." His wife had a role in the translation. He opened the Sathyashodhana Sahitya Bhandara and published the works of C.K. Venkataramaiya, Shivaram Karanth, K.V. Puttappa, Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar, G.P. Rajarathnam, and others. It was Mr. Srinivasa Rau who published Shivaram Karanth's monumental work "Kannada Balaprapachancha," the book of knowledge for children in Kannada in three volumes. He used his spare time to market the book, which had been priced those days at Rs. 36. Taking up the propagation of khadi, Mr. Srinivasa Rau opened a khadi bhandar. He also took up the cause of Hindi.

Mr. Srinivasa Rau was a close associate of the noted publicist D.V. Gundappa and they worked together in various organisations such as the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs. He was the president of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and also connected with the Gandhi Peace Foundation, the Aurobindo Society and the Karnataka Prakrirti Chikitsa Parishat.

The one regret was that Mr. Srinivasa Rau did not write his autobiography. However, his admirers recently published his recorded conversations under the title "Srinivasa Rayaru: Noorara Nenapu."

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