Online Encyclopedia

SIR T RAO

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 898 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR T RAO. MADHAVA (1828–1891), Indian statesman, was born at Combaconum in Madras in 1828. Madhava Rao created a new type of minister adapted to the modern requirements of a progressive native state, and he grafted it upon the old stock. He linked the past with the present, using the advantages of heredity, tradition and conservatism to effect reforms in the public administration and in Indian society. Sprung from a Mahratta Brahmin stock long settled at Tanjore, the son of a dewan of Travancore, he was educated in the strictest tenets of his sacred caste. But he readily imbibed the new spirit of the age. To mathematics, science and astronomy he added a study of English philosophy and international law, and a taste for art II and pictures. Although a devout student of the Shastras, he advocated female education and social reform. Refusing to cross the sea and so break caste by appearing before a parliamentary commission, he yet preached religious toleration. A patron of the Indian Congress, he borrowed from the armoury of British administration every reform which he introduced into the native states. He was respected alike by Europeans and natives, and received titles and honours from the British government. As tutor of the maharaja of Travancore, and then as revenue officer in that state, he showed firmness and ability, and became diwan or prime minister in 1857. He found the finances disorganized, and trade cramped by mono-polies and oppressive duties. He co-operated with the Madras government in carrying out reforms, and when his measures led to misunderstandings with the maharaja, he preferred honourable resignation to retention of a lucrative office in which he was powerless for good. In 1872 he was engaged at Indore in laying down a plan of reform and of public works which he bequeathed to his successor, when a grave crisis at Baroda demanded his talents there. The Gaekwar had been deposed for scandalous misrule, and an entire reorganization was needed. Aided by Sir Philip 1\/Ielvill, Madhava Rao swept away the corrupt officials, privileged sirdars and grasping contractors who had long ruined Baroda. He wrote able minutes defending the rights and privileges of the Gaekwar from fancied encroachment, and justifying the internal reforms which he introduced. He resigned office in 1882, and in his retirement devoted his leisure to reading and writing upon political and social questions. He died on the 4th of April 1891.
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