History & Culture

Makers of the city

After the long spell of administration of Sir Mirza Ismail, the Maharaja, Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar had to find an equally able and efficient person to keep up the reputation of Mysore as a model state. The king was fortunate to find such a replacement immediately. Nyapathi Madhava Rao who was not only a brilliant officer but also had continued the tradition of Mysore State being run by the most able administrators of the country. “I shall be glad if you can come to Mysore early next week to discuss with me a number of important questions connected with the office upon which you are about to enter,” wrote the Maharaja to N. Madhava Rao. He went to Mysore and as required by the King, assumed the office of the Dewan on May 31, 1941.

When N. Madhava Rao was the Dewan, the second world war also began. Our country too had to bear the brunt of it. Owing to shortage of food, the prices were sky high, putting the common man into lot of hardships. At that time in Bengaluru, food was supplied through the public distribution system. For the first time, Bengalurians started to hear words like ration and ration cards. But, to remove the fear of war in the general public, the Dewan established a National Defence Force. A special pavilion was put up to exhibit weapons of war during the Dasara exhibition in 1942. Perhaps, the greatest contribution of N. Madhava Rao for the development of Bengaluru, even eight years after his retirement in 1946, was the preparation of the report of the Bangalore Development Committee, as its Chairman. The introduction to the report by the Government stated. ‘ …The City of Bangalore has grown very fast during the last two decades, with housing and other facilities available or planned for a population of about four lakhs, the city has had to accommodate nearly million people. The result has been overcrowding and sporadic construction of houses which has produced slum conditions in some parts of the city. Planning for the present and the future has become very urgent. Considering the situation in all its aspects, the Government of Mysore appointed a Committee designated ‘Bangalore Development Committee’ to examine all connected problems and to draw up a comprehensive general plan of development, both for the city of Bangalore and adjoining rural areas which may be expected to become part of The Greater Bangalore. The Government Order, dated March 18, 1952, constituted a Committee with N. Madhava Rao Retired Dewan of Mysore as the Chairman….”

The members of the committee included luminaries like G.H Krumbiegal, B.R Manickam, Major M.S. Ahluwalia, and many other stalwarts from different fields were taken as the members. To go into the details of the planning, several sub-committees were also made. A detailed report in 18 chapters was published in 1954.

After a thorough field work, discussions, recommendations were made about distribution of schools and colleges in different localities, mode of traffic regulations, parking of vehicles, water supply, housing, parks, conservation of lakes etc. This indicate the vision those elders had for the city 65 years ago. Foreseeing the problem that would arise due to ever increasing traffic, the committee had suggested to lay circular railway route which would help for the proper development of The Greater Bangalore. The route suggested then was Bangalore City-Nayandahalli-Basavanagudi-Jayanagar-Madivala- Belandur- Krishnarajapura-Chikka Banavara- Bangalore City.

If this project had been implemented even during sixties, the growth of the City would have been more methodical and systematic as the city, then, had not grown in this chaotic proportion. Another proposal was that no car should be permitted to be parked in business localities for more than half an hour. Cars should not be allowed to be parked within 100 feet from the corners of the road junctions. Public garages should be constructed by the corporation or by private enterprise in busy centres.

N. Madhava Rao’s concern for the development of Bangalore does not stop with him. His two equally illustrious sons, N. Lakshmana Rao and N. Narasimha Rao, both IAS officers, carried forward the trend set by their father in grooming Bengaluru into a better city. N. Lakshman Rao was the administrator of Bangalore City Corporation. He played a significant role in laying parks, growth of Jayanagar extension and also presenting an invaluable report on preservation of lakes of the city. N. Laksman Rao park, the entire stretch beginning from South End Circle, is a befitting tribute to one of the main builders of Bengaluru. ‘My father was my role model,’ he had said while giving an interview to this columnist.

It’s a rare instance in the history of the city, that the father and two sons, the trio holding top administrative posts, contributed and contribute in shaping long lasting landmarks in its progress . In addition to being a great town planner, N. Madhava Rao was also a good sports person.

N. Madhava Rao has also brought laurels to the city by being a member of the Committee formed in 1952, under the chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to prepare draft of the Constitution of India. He was honoured with prestigious titles Rajamantra Praveena, Pradhana Shiromani and honorary doctorate.

The illustrious, multifaceted luminary of Karnataka State breathed his last on August 28, 1972 in Bengaluru.

sureshmoona@gmail.com


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