|Indian independence & partition.www.slideshare.net|
The Dewan, also known as Diwan, was originally a Persian word widely used in India under the British crown. In the Mogul empire, the Dewan served as the Chief Revenue officer of a province. When most vassal states gained various degrees of self-determination and autonomy, the finance and / or chief minister and leader of many princely states especially Muslim, but also many Hindu came to be referred to as Dewan. In the major Maratha kingdoms of Baroda , Gwalior, Indore (ruled by Holkar), and Nagpur (ruled by Bhonsle, but not from the Chhatrapati Shivaji family), the highest officer after the king was called the Dewan.
Below image: Sir Seshadri Aiyar, the Dewan of Mysore for 18 consecutive years (1883 to 1901), an illustrious administrator. He was a lawyer by profession. Regarded as the longest seving Devan
of Mysore, he was instrumental in developing Bangalore city.
|Statue of Sir Seshadri Aiyar, mpmurthy.wordpress.com|
|Dewan V.P. Madhava Rao. commons.wikimedia.org|
Under the British rule higher positions in the Administrative and executive fields were occupied only by British civilians and in some places by British Army officers. In those days it was difficult for Indian natives to aspire for higher jobs in the British government. In the early 19th century, the highest positions open to Indians were of subaltern in nature. However, few high court judgeships were open to Indian and on non judicial side, the highest post an Indian could think of was a sub Collector or Secretary to the board of revenue. The British rulers later allowed Indians to take up Dewanship to deal with the problem-ridden princely states. Many Indians availed themselves of this rare opportunity and served the Indian sates with distinction. Mention may be made of such stalwarts as Sir. Madhava Rao, Sir. Dinakar Rao, Sir Slar Jung, Sir Seshadri Aiyar, Sir. Seshyya Sastry (Of P, Sir. C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyar, Sir Ranga Charulu, Sir Srinivasa Ragahava Iyengar, et al. These luminaries served the states efficiently, despite various odds and won a lasting name for themselves in the respective princely states.
The administrative work of a Dewan in the troubled princely state was a difficult one and his position a complex one. He must be through with knowledge of fields related to his administrative work, quick and proper decision making, friendly relations with the royal family, fair amount of resilience in matters related to people and above all a strong conviction of purpose, foresight and commitment in the execution of his duties.
The following are the hurdles the Dewan had to handle with care:
01. He has to initially develop a cordial relationship with his nearest officers and be friendly with the other members of the royal families.
02. People of the state will be under the impression the Dewan is vested with all regal power and authority. Hence, he will hog the limelight more than the real ruler.
03. The Maharajah, being a mere head of the state and the Dewan has authority over many matters, the real credit goes to him and for his administration.
04. The ruler has to rely entirely on him and may become jealous or develop animosity, if the Dewan is overbearing.
05. With real intention, if the Dewan implements some useful welfare or civilian projects for the benefit of the state, all credits will go to him, creating a situation where the Maharajah's skill will be subject to criticism.
06. Since the Dewan is appointed by the British Government, he is supposedly their protégé on one side, and at the same time the British will keep an eye on him and if, need be, warn the ruler of certain risks and advise him not to be too close to him and be dependent on him.
07. The Dewan, being the administrative head on behalf of the ruler, has to use his discretionary powers carefully. Because if a big project, devised and executed by him, goes wrong he will be discredited.
08. The Dewan has to be watchful of those close relatives of Maharajah or officers who want to displace the Dewan or succeed him to enjoy powers and all the trappings that go with this powerful position.
09. The Dewan has to take care of those relatives close to the ruler who might expect some monetary benefits from him by way of some favors such as certain contract works, etc.
10. More often than not, the Dewan will be subjected to severe criticism, slanderous remarks, disgusting rumors and even nepotism by some members of the royal families if their requests for concessions in some financial matter are rejected by the Dewan. He may be accused of being autocratic and arbitrary.
The eminent Indians who held the Dewanship on orders from the British Government invariably succeeded in their job. In spite of several obstacles and difficult situations, they got a good name on their own and won the appreciation of the ruler and people of the state and the Paramount Power.
11. So, to take the troubled state forward out of financial mess and leave it with surplus funds, the Dewan needs the full cooperation of the ruler and the senior officers close to him.
Dewan Seshayya Sastri was the builder of modern Pudukotta (Pudukottai), Tamil Nadu. so was Sir Seshadri Aiyar of modern Mysore (Karnataka). Like wise Sir. Salar Jung and Sir. C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyar, as Dewans, introduced lots of reforms in the states of Hyderabad (now par of Telengana) and Travancore (now Kerala state) respectively and ran the administration effectively. These administrators and also others of exceptional ability are the lasting examples for the present and succeeding generations of Indian statesmen upon whose administrative skills and integrity modern India will firmly rely.