Raja Shyama Sankar Roy Choudhury

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Raja Syama Sankar Ray Choudhury of Teota, British India (now in Manikganj District, Bangladesh), CSI was a prominent Bengal landholder (zamindar, philanthropist and public personality of his times.


He was born in the 1830s at Teota (in the erstwhile Dacca district of East Bengal), and was the elder son of Tarini Sankar Chaudhuri, one of the zamindars of Teota. His younger brother was Pran Sankar Roy Choudhury, also a well-known personality of his time.

Syama Sankar completed his schooling in Dacca, and took charge of the Teota Estate (which had its core properties in the former districts of Dacca, Dinajpur, Faridpur and Pabna) in the late 1850s.

He played a leading role in relief operations, on the Dinajpur estates of the Teota zamindars in north Bengal, during the devastating famine of the early 1870s: Syama Sankar opened relief houses at a number of places, made provisions for the import of grain and seed, advanced money to the tenantry, and waived rents and dues. This apart, he materially supported the government in its relief measures. Generally speaking, Syama Sankar was also responsible for introducing a number of innovations and experiments in agricultural techniques and practices (on the family estates), the details of which we learn from the relevant district gazetteers and reports.

He received the honorific title of Companion of the Order of the Star of India (C.S.I) at the Imperial Durbar of 1 January 1877.

Raja Syama Sankar was actively involved in the associational politics of Bengal zamindars, represented by the British Indian Association. But at the same time, he was also closely associated with the birth and early history of the Indian Association (out of which was born the Indian National Congress in 1885). His is the first name, in fact, in the list of members of the very first committee of the Indian Association. Syama Sankar was also Vice President of the Theosophical Society, and was a contributor to its journal. He died in Dinajpur in 1885.