The agitation for a Responsible Government led to yet another riot, this time at Vidurāśvattha. This incident too led to firings and killings.
Appaji Gowda was Kolar’s Deputy Commissioner then.
The government formed a committee to conduct an inquiry and find the rioters and perpetrators of the agitation. A judge from Madras, Vepa Ramesham Pantulu was appointed the President of the committee. D’Souza, a retired judge of British India, was a member of the committee as was A R Nageswara Iyer. During the tenure of this committee, in order to facilitate a compromise between the Government and Congress, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel visited Bangalore. Since the wedding of Sri Jayachamaraja Wodeyar was also imminent, the situation was favourable for such negotiations.
The first riots in Bangalore were related to the Gaṇapati-vigraha. Once the riots were brought under control, a committee was formed to investigate its origins, fomentation, and dissipation. Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was made the President of the committee. The members were Justice D K Rama Rao, Sir K P Puttanna Chetty, V Manickavelu Mudaliar, and a few others. The committee held the investigation in full public view in the auditorium of the Mythic Society. Ten to fifteen members testified as witnesses. The Inspector General of Police, S Hiriyanna was questioned, as was the Law Secretary B Nagappa. Finally, the committee prepared a detailed report and sent it to the government. That report has since been published. One and all must study that treatise with care. The main points are as follows:
- All the powers of the Mysore State remain centralized.
- Therefore, all the officers and heads of the departments look to the centre for advice and orders instead of functioning independently using their own discretion to arrive at a just decision.
- Thus, the powers of the departments and the officers are curtailed, leading to inordinate delays in acting swiftly and decisively to deliver justice.
- This is as evident as daylight when it comes to the handling of the Bangalore riots. The police officers did not act in an unbiased and courageous manner. In such testing times the government machinery simply broke down.
- To fix this, the only antidote is a Responsible Government that will lead to independent functioning of various departments. The system should be such that the various arms of the government should be mutually accountable.
The report led to an incident that is noteworthy and instructive.
The Magnanimity of Mirza Ismail
One afternoon, the report was sent from the office of Visvesvaraya to the Dewan’s office. The same evening, Visvesvaraya went for his daily walk and as was usual, came to Mirza’s house. When Visvesvaraya saw Mirza, he picked up his walking stick, pointed towards his photo that was hung on the wall, and said, “There is no place for this now. Remove it.”
Surprised, Mirza asked, “Why do you say so?”
“I sent you the report, didn’t I? I don’t think you were happy upon seeing that. I assume you are upset!”
Some context is required here. The sitting room of Mirza’s house was adorned with four portraits: One was of the Persian poet Ferdowsi. This was placed alone. The other three were hung on the wall behind the visitors’ sofa: One was of Mirza’s father Aga Jan. Another was of a group photo of Śrīman-mahārāja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV sitting with his family, relatives, and friends. It was framed in intricately sculpted ivory. The third was Sir M Visvesvaraya’s.
Mirza simply replied, “You are as important to me as my father is. My father’s place shall remain so in my life, so will yours!”
Four or five years after the Gaṇapati Riots, Mirza realized that the people who were close to him and were advising him, those whom he considered his well-wishers during those testing times, were in fact not trustworthy nor true well-wishers. Whenever their names came up in conversation with his close friends, he unequivocally said that they had not been worthy of his trust and that he had to suffer (as a result of their malice.) People with vested interests had led him to lurch and he was deceived. Saying so, he would regret his decisions.
In summary, half his tenure went away in handling and suppressing various riots and disturbances. But none can contest the fact that the other half was punctuated with developmental works.
We can believe without any qualms that if not for the riots the developmental works would have proceeded at a twofold pace. Whatever I remember of the work he undertook, I have tried to summarize them below.
- The yearly tribute paid to the British government by the Mysore state was cut.
- The control over the Bangalore Cantonment was added to the Mysore kingdom and all the surplus revenue generated in that area belonged to the Mysore government. Such an arrangement was negotiated and the approval was earned.
- The sugar factory in Mandya.
- The paper factory in Bhadravati.
- Arrangements for irrigation and tenancy of the lands around Visvesvaraya Canal (the erstwhile Irwin Canal).
- Establishment of the Mysore Medical College.
- Drive for cleanliness in rural areas.
- More facilities for water supply to Bangalore.
- To match the governance of Mysore with the governance of India.
here are many more developmental activities that can’t be easily added to this list, which took place due to the encouragement and inspiration of Sir Mirza Ismail. He personally visited all the provinces of the State, observing and correcting any lapses that had occurred. At least a small region of every village should be pleasing to the eyes and must be tidy. There must be a few benches, either made of stone or mortar, for people to sit on. There must be some trees, flowering plants, and grass meadows. This is something that he reiterated often. All houses should maintain cleanliness, even huts. If this wasn’t possible, at least the entrance of the town and the sides of the highways should be pleasing to behold. If people warm up to the practice of tidiness and beauty, they will learn from their surroundings and over time, keep their own places neat and clean. This was his considered opinion.