Śrīmān (who was later knighted) P. N. Krishnamurti had to wait for quite some time before he obtained the position of the Dewan.
Krishnamurti was the grandson of the eminent personality Adi Purnaiah. Purnaiah was Tippu Sultan’s Dewan and later served the British Government for free, for which the British suggested to the Maharaja to give Purnaiah the jahagir of Yelandur taluk – these are all facts that have gone down the annals of history. Many people from even the current generation know about the satras that were run in his name at a few tourist sites and other important places across the state.
It is the same Purnaiah’s grandson who is the protagonist of our current story.
Sir P N Krishnamurti was a learned and well-mannered human being. He quite naturally possessed many qualities such as humility, virtue, honesty, and affection towards those dependent on him. He conducted his administrative duties with absolute loyalty.
Hustle for the Post
Apparently Krishnamurti was the Deputy Commissioner in Tumkur around the time he rose to power as the Dewan. Since Sheshadri Iyer’s arrogance and intensity were both quite strong, the faction of Krishnamurti’s supporters feared that he would be deprived of prospects. On the other side, since V P Madhava Rao was gaining popularity with his vigorous efforts, their fears doubled. Apparently, this desire had driven them to desperation.
His friends believed that the only means Krishnamurti had at his disposal was to earn the Indian Government’s sanctuary. As this idea began taking shape, conveniently, Lord Curzon became the Viceroy; his visit to Mysore turned out to be a good opportunity. Krishnamurti was the only wealthy citizen of the Mysore State. Thus, everyone believed that inviting the rich British gentleman—Lord Curzon—home and treating him would be most appropriate.
In November of 1900, Viceroy Lord Curzon graced Bangalore. To welcome him, a spacious Banquet hall was constructed in Pūrṇa Prāsāda, Krishnamurti’s bunglow. Curzon, his family, and his entourage along with the authorities and aristocrats of our state were treated with choicest of dishes and delicacies until they were thoroughly contended. Thereafter, the banquet hall was renamed Curzon Hall. I have seen huge billiards tables decorating it. These tables might have been in use during Krishnamurti’s tenure as the Dewan.
Krishnamurti was the Dewan for just five years. An incident of great significance occurred during that period. It was the investiture ceremony of His Majesty Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV on the 8th of August 1902. For this celebration, Lord Curzon had come to Mysore for the second time. The speech he made during the ceremony was an ugly display of his arrogance.
Krishnamurti took forward the activities started by K Seshadri Iyer. If I remember right, the Department of Agriculture was either started or expanded during his period. Probably even the Co-Operative Department began in that period.
Start of Slackness
As mentioned earlier, Krishnamurti was a humble human being. He never imposed his dominance on anyone. He never nursed a grudge against anyone either. People would speak amongst themselves that during his tenure the administration became slow and lethargic. The government machinery became slack. A few people opined that the reason for this slackness was Krishnamurti’s gentle nature and goodness, which was unable to detect fraud and incapable of being stern; owing to this, the officials became listless and indifferent with only a bare minimum of integrity. The officials would carry out their work with the attitude of doing only that which was absolutely essential, to the extent of doing just the basic minimum that would allay their fears of being summoned [by their superiors].
During Krishnamurti’s tenure as the Dewan, there wasn’t a dearth of capable and competent people. H V Nanjundayya, M Shama Rao, and D M Narasinga Rao were the most eminent of the stalwarts. Among them, D M Narasinga Rao was known to be the cleverest.
I had the opportunity to closely watch the modus operandi of D M Narasinga Rao. However, that was during Sir M Visvesvaraya’s tenure.
When Visvesvaraya was in power, there was a dispute between the Governments of Mysore and Madras, concerning the Kannambadi (Krishnarajasagara) Reservoir. To settle the matters, the imperial government appointed Nethersole, a well-known engineer, for arbitration. Visvevaraya handed over the responsibility of drafting the testimony for the arbitrator’s perusal to D M Narasinga Rao. Impressed with the testimony drafted by Narasinga Rao, Nethersole said in appreciation, “A similar testimony from the Government of Madras would ease my duty.” That is how brilliant D M Narasinga Rao was.
However, during Krishnamurti’s tenure as the Dewan, Narasinga Rao used to hold a small position—as a Registrar in the Dewan’s office.
Apparently, Viceroy Curzon during his visit to Mysore, inspected, screened the administrative protocols, and suggested that the Government of Mysore could emulate the system followed at the Government of Shimla’s central office. As advised, the Government of Mysore sent D M Narasinga Rao to get introduced to the procedures and arrangements at the Indian Government’s central office. This was during Krishnamurti’s tenure.
Returning to Mysore after his appointment for the task, he prepared a book of regulations called the Secretariat Manual and made improvements. The method of recording the government’s documents and letters; segregation of files into three categories viz., ‘Early,’ ‘Urgent,’ and ‘Immediate’ and sticking the respective files with grey, green, and red cardboard flags with letters boldly printed on them – these were the sort of processes and best practices that D M Narasinga Rao organised and implemented.
This is the first part of a two-part English translation of the fifth chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 4 – Mysurina Diwanaru. Edited by Hari Ravikumar.
 Purnaiah (1746–1812) alias Krishnacharya Purniya was the first Dewan of Mysore.
 A reference to Krishnaraja Wodeyar III.
 Rest-house for pilgrims and travellers, typically built in sacred places. It is known variously as ‘catra,’ ‘satram,’ or ‘dharmaśālā.’ These resting places typically offered place to sit, rooms for stay, food, and water; often financed by a charitable institutions, the services were either free or at a nominal cost.
 George Nathaniel Curzon (1859–1925) served as Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905, during which time he was responsible for the infamous partition of Bengal.
 Sir Michael Nethersole served as the Inspector General of Irrigation, Government of India.