BRINGING BACK BENGALURU History & Culture

An outstanding statesman

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Sir Mirza Ismail, who was born and brought up in Bangalore, strived hard to keep the city beautiful

After Sir M. Visvesvaraya it was another era of great administration under the Dewan, Sir Mirza Ismail, both for Bangalore and the state. The Daily News dated May 14, 1941 wrote: “If Sir K. Sheshadri Iyer dug the foundation of new Mysore and Sir M. Visvesvaraya laid the foundation, Sir Mirza Ismail put up the superstructure.”

The Manchester Guardian in its issue dated June 13, 1941 observed: “Sir Mirza Ismail is an outstanding Indian statesman. So much admired is the administration of Mysore, that young rulers or future rulers of other states have found in Mysore, learning the art of governance.”

The views and opinions on his retirement from the office of Dewan of Mysore, brought out as a volume of about 200 pages, in 1942, by Bangalore Press, indicates his wide range of influence on all spheres.

Sir Mirza’s autobiographical work ‘My Public Life’ gives an insight into his life and works. A selection of his speeches compiled by Mr. D.R. Ramaya and published in 1938, tells us about his literary abilities and eloquence. Another work in Kannada, ‘Dewan Sir Mirza Ismail Kalada Mysuru Samsthana’, edited by Dr. N. Chinnaswamy Sosale, contains several essays written by some of his contemporaries, also gives a clear picture of various dimensions of his personality.

The Mythic Society during its 90th anniversary in 1998 paid tribute to this great administrator by organising a seminar on him in May 1998.

Under the editorship of Dr. Suryanath Kamath, the seminar papers were published as a special number of the Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society. This again helps us to understand the multi-faceted capabilities of this great Bangalorean.

He was not only born, brought up in Bangalore, he served Bangalore, also breathed his last in the city which he loved and strived hard to make it beautiful.

Sir Mirza Ismail belonged to a Persian family settled down in Bangalore. He was born on October 20, 1883. He was the son of Aga Jan. His grandfather, Ali Asker Shirazi with his elder brother arrived in Bangalore from Shiraz in 1824, when he was just 16 years of age. They brought a string of horses from Arabia and the Persian Gulf, and established themselves as importers of horses, at a time when Australian horses were not known in India. They supplied them to the Remount Depot, the Maharaja’s stables and the military in Bangalore and Mysore.

They also carried on business in Persian shawls.

An outstanding statesman

Ali Asker was very much charmed with Bangalore and its climate that he decided to make it his permanent home. He was quite illiterate, but was endowed with strong common sense and possessed qualities which enabled him to make great success in his life.

He had no faith in banks. So he invested all his money on land . He was known as the ‘Jaghirdar’ of High Grounds, being the largest land owner both in the city and the Civil and Military Station. A good many houses on High Grounds, were built and owned by him.

A spacious house in which Sir Mirza lived was his property situated on the road named after him.

Ali Asker did not want any of his sons to enter Government service. His British friends often advised him to put his sons in service and offered to give them a good start, but this did not impress him. Yet, it was Dewan Rangacharlu who could with little difficulty, convince him to allow Aga Jan, Sir Mirza’s father, to accept the honorary post of Musahib or aide-de-camp to the young Maharaja, Sri Chamaraja Wadiyar. ‘My father was devoted to the Maharaja and the attraction was mutual,’ writes Sir Mirza.

Sir Mirza began his English education in St. Patrick’s School in Shoolay, not far from Richmond Town where they lived. After a year, he was transferred to Wesleyan Mission High School in the city.

After 1896, He was selected to the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s special class of nine boys.

The Maharaja’s tutor and governor was S.M. Fraser, an I.C.S Officer of outstanding ability. The Maharaja and his classmates lived in the Summer Palace.

Besides regular class-work between 10.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m., the boys had regular instruction in drill, both Infantry and Cavalry, riding and outdoor games such as cricket, football and tennis. Polo and hunting were also practised. After about five years of such royal training, Sir Mirza joined Central College, graduating in 1905. Soon, he joined government service as the Assistant Superintendent of Police.

In 1908, he became the Deputy Secretary to the Maharaja of Mysore and was promoted as Huzur Secretary in 1913.

The Maharaja appointed him as his private secretary in 1923 and ultimately as the Dewan of Mysore on May 1, 1926. Since then, he went on to build a magnificent administration, set up on the strong foundation laid by Sir M. Visvesvaraya and contributed immensely in making Mysore, a model State of India.

To improve the agricultural sector he constructed several canals including Irwin Canal. He was responsible for the installation of power generation plants at Jog and Shimoga. The plan that evolved to supply power to villages was the first of its kind in the whole country.

Establishment of cement factory, addition of steel unit to the iron factory at Bhadravathi, Aircraft and Porcelain factories at Bangalore, Chemical and Fertiliser factory at Belagola and a match factory at Shimoga, are all steps taken by him to develop the industrial sector.

For the first time, a trade Ccommission was opened in London to provide international market for the products of Mysore State.

To be continued…

sureshmoona@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 8:53:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/an-outstanding-statesman/article29786149.ece

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