Ganga Singh

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Sir Ganga Singh

General Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, GCStJ, GBE, KCB (October 3, 1880, Bikaner – 2 February 1943, Bombay), was the ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Bikaner (in present-day Rajasthan, India) from 1888 to 1943. He is widely remembered as a modern reformist visionary, and he was also the only "non-White" member of the British Imperial War Cabinet during World War I.

Biography[edit]

Ganga Singh was born on October 3, 1880, the third and youngest son of Maharaja Lal Singh, and brother to Dungar Singh.

Succeeding his brother on December 16, 1888, he was initially educated privately, then at Mayo College, Ajmer from 1889 to 1894. From 1895 to 1898, he was put under the guidance of Thakur Saheb Lall Singh Ji "Churu" for administrative training, learning administrative work from that of Patwari to that of Prime Minister.

Sir Ganga Singh with his son in 1914

For military training, he was sent to Deoli in 1898 and attached to the 42nd Deoli Regiment, which had the reputation of being one of the finest regiments in India under the command of Lt. Col. Bell. During the first World War, he commanded the Bikaner Camel Corps which served in France, Egypt and Palestine.[1]

As a ruler, he established a Chief Court in Bikaner, presided over by a Chief Judge who was assisted by two judges. Bikaner was the first State in Rajasthan to take such a step. He announced the establishment of a Representative Assembly in 1913. He later established a High Court with a Chief Justice and two sub-judges by an edict in 1922. Maharaja Ganga Singhji was the first prince in Rajputana to grant full charter of powers to a high court.

A life insurance and Endowment Assurance Scheme was introduced for the benefit of the employees. Also, facilities of a saving bank were made available to the people. He was one of the first rulers to introduce through legislation a Sharda Act by which child marriages were stopped.

He had a personal gun salute of 19-guns granted in 1918 and a permanent local gun salute of 19-guns granted in 1921. He was the Hon. ADC to HRH The Prince of Wales in 1902, later serving him when he became His Majesty King George V, the King-Emperor, in 1910. A Member of the Central Recruiting Board-India 1917, he represented India at the Imperial War Conference 1917, the Imperial War Cabinet and the Paris Peace Conference 1919 and was Chancellor of the Indian Chamber of Princes from 1920-26. He also represented India as a delegate at the fifth session of the League of Nations in 1924.[2]

Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh (middle row, second from the left) in the Imperial War Cabinet, No. 10 Downing Street, 1917.

As well, the Maharaja served as Patron of Benares Hindu University and Sri Bharat Dharam Mahamandal, as Vice President of East India Association and the Royal Colonial Institute, a Member of the Indian Gymkhana Club and of the Indian Army Temperance Association, the General Council of Mayo and Daly Colleges, the Indian Society of Oriental Art, the Indian Society-London, the Bombay Natural History Society, and was the first Member of the Indian Red Cross Society. Singh was a famous Indian freemason in his time.

He married 1stly in July 1897 HH Maharani Vallabhkuver Sahiba of Pratapgarh; she died 19 August 1906. He then married 2ndly HH Maharani Sri Bhatiyaniji Sahiba of Bikamkor and had issue, four sons and two daughters. He died 2 February 1943 in Bombay after a reign of 56 years, aged 62, and was succeeded by his son Sadul Singh

Achievements[edit]

  • Singh constructed the Ganges Canal. He inspired people to come and settle in this new Command area. A large population settled than there. Among them the Sikh families mostly the land owners, migrated to this region from the Punjab around 1928, when the canal was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh of the former Bikaner state. Hindu families are the original inhabitants of this region; however, there were no permanent settlements in this area (except for a few towns under the old Bikaner state).
  • He successfully dealt with the worst famine of the year 1899-1900 AD in the region. This famine inspired the young Maharaja to establish an irrigation system to get rid of the problem permanently.
  • He developed the city of Sri Ganganagar and its surrounding area as the most fertile grain bowl of Rajasthan
  • He also constructed the Lalgarh Palace at Bikaner (named in memory of his father Lall Singh) between 1902 and 1926.
  • He brought railways and an electricity network to the state.
  • He introduced prison reforms. Bikaner prisoners wove and crafted carpets of India that were sold in the international markets.
  • He established partial internal democracy such as election to the municipalities and appointed a council of ministers to aid and advice.
  • Some land reforms were also introduced.
  • He induced enterprising Industrialist and agriculturists from neighbouring state for starting new ventures in his state.
  • He built the existing temple above the Samadhi of Ramdev Pir at Ramdevra in year 1931.
  • Founder several schools and colleges, especially of women
  • He donated two ornately designed silver gates to be used as main doors of Karni Mata temple at Deshnok.

Styles[edit]

  • 1880–1887: Maharaj Ganga Singh of Bikaner .
  • 1887–1898: His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Shri Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner
  • 1898–1900: 2nd Lieutenant His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Shri Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner
  • 1900–1901: Major His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Shri Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner
  • 1901–1904: Major His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, KCIE, KIH
  • 1904–1907: Major His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, KCSI, KCIE, KIH
  • 1907–1909: Major His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, GCIE, KCSI, KIH
  • 1909–1910: Lieutenant-Colonel His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, GCIE, KCSI, KIH
  • 1910–1911: Colonel His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, GCIE, KCSI, KIH
  • 1911–1917: Colonel His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, GCSI, GCIE, KIH
  • 1917–1919: Major-General His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, GCSI, GCIE, KCB, KIH
  • 1919–1921: Major-General His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, KCB, KIH
  • 1921–1930: Major-General His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, GBE, KCB, KIH
  • 1930–1937: Lieutenant-General His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, GBE, KCB, KIH
  • 1937–1943: General His Highness Maharajadhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Narendra Shiromani Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharaja of Bikaner, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, GBE, KCB, KIH

Honours[edit]

(ribbon bar, as it would look today; UK decorations only)

Ord.Stella.India.jpg Order of the Indian Empire ribbon.png Royal Victorian Order ribbon sm.jpg Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png

Order of the Bath UK ribbon.png Kaisar-i-Hind Medal.gif Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Third China War Medal BAR.svg

1914 1915 Star ribbon bar.svg British War Medal BAR.svg Victory Medal MID ribbon bar.svg India Service Medal BAR.svg

39-45 Star BAR.svg Africa Star BAR.svg War Medal 39-45 BAR.svg King Edward VII Coronation Medal (Military) ribbon.gif

Med.DelhiDurbar1903.png King George V Coronation Medal ribbon.png GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png

[3]

British[edit]

Mentions in despatches[edit]

  • 1901, 1914, 1918

Foreign honours[edit]

  • Grand Cross of the Order of Philip the Magnanimous of Hesse-1903
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Nile of Egypt-1918

Academic honours[edit]

Memorials[edit]

The University of Bikaner was renamed after him as Maharaja Ganga Singh University, Bikaner by an act passed in 2003.[6]

Political Office[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

Ganga Singh
Born: 3 October 1880 Died: 2 February 1943
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Dungar Singh
Maharaja of Bikaner
1887-1943
Succeeded by
Sadul Singh
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See also[edit]

References[edit]