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Updated: July 9, 2014 20:43 IST

The spread of education

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A book highlights how Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar helped the depressed classes of his era gain literacy

In the era when the British had colonised India, there were more than 600 semi-independent princely States spread across the country that were not directly administered by them. Here, the native rulers held sway over vast dominions and the princely State of Mysore was one of the largest and most important States to have existed during that period. Mysore was seen as a ‘model State’ by many contemporary scholars and leaders. Mahatma Gandhi had been impressed with the administration and achievements of Mysore under the leadership of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar.

Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar was an enlightened ruler under whose reign (1902-1940) Mysore reached its apogee. He was helped by able Diwans such as M. Visvesvaraya and Mirza Ismail. The role that education plays as a factor of social change is well known and Mysore took some important strides in this area during the reign of Wadiyar IV.

M.R. Ravi, currently the Additional Regional Commissioner of Mysore, has written a book on the theme of education and social change in Mysore between 1881 and 1947. “Mysore saw a lot of progress in various fields. Wadiyar IV focussed his attention on education as well and he was committed to the spread of education to the backward castes,” said Dr. Ravi.

He added: “Wadiyar IV was concerned about the welfare of the backward castes and he provided affirmative action for the advancement of certain disadvantaged groups in society. He did this through the establishment of various schools and hostels specifically for certain castes.”

Dr. Ravi’s main focus in his work (which is a part of his doctoral dissertation) is on the spread of education among the depressed classes and women during the reign of Wadiyar IV. His research throws light on the policy of the government and its commitment for the welfare of its subjects, bringing fundamental transformation in certain sections of society.

Additional information

In the process of his research, he has also provided a lot of information about the administration of Mysore as well as the introduction of modern education in the princely State.

Describing his approach as ‘subaltern’, Dr. Ravi said that this was a method of writing a ‘history from below’ rather than from the perspective of kings and the nobility. Former Vice-Chancellor of Goa and Mangalore Universities, B. Sheik Ali, has written the foreword to this book which will be useful to historians as well as laypersons who are interested in knowing more about the princely State of Mysore.

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