V. Ramiengar

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Vembakkum Ram Iyengar
Portrait of Vembaukum Ram Iyengar
Diwan of Travancore
In office
July 1880 – 1887
Monarch Visakham Thirunal
Moolam Thirunal
Preceded by Nanoo Pillai
Succeeded by T. Rama Rao
Personal details
Born 1826
Vembaukum,
Chingleput district, Madras Presidency,
British India
Died May 10, 1887
Madras,
British India
Alma mater Madras University
Occupation lawyer, Administrator
Profession Statesman
Religion Hindu

Vembaukum Ram Iyengar CSI (c. 1826 - May 10, 1887) was an Indian civil servant and administrator who served as the Diwan of Travancore from 1880 to 1887.[1]

Ram Iyengar was born in 1826 at Vembakkam in Chingleput district and had his education at Madras University. On completion of his education, he was employed as a translator in the Maratha Cutcherry and gradually rose to become Naib Sheristadar and then, Head Sheristadar. He was eventually appointed Sub-Collector in 1861 and then, promoted to Deputy Collector. In 1867, Ram Iyengar was nominated to the Madras Legislative Council and served from 1867 to 1879. In 1880, he was appointed Diwan of Travancore and served until 1887. Ram Iyengar returned to Madras in 1887 and died on May 10, 1887.

Ram Iyengar is remembered for his administrative acumen as a civil servant in the Madras Presidency and later, Diwan of Travancore. He was appreciated for his methodical ways. At the same time, Ram Iyengar was also criticised for favoring Tamil Brahmins in government appointments in Travancore.

Early life[edit]

Ram Iyengar was born in a traditional Vaishnavite Brahmin family of Vembaukum in the then Chingleput district, Madras Presidency.[2] He was the youngest of three sons.[3] Ram Iyengar's father was a clerk and record-keeper in the service of the British East India Company.[4]

Ram Iyengar was one of the six students who joined Government High School, Madras, when it was founded in April 1841. During his schooling, Ram Iyengar developed keen interest in physical science and astronomy and won a scholarship instituted by the Pachaiyappa Charities

Early career[edit]

On conclusion of his education, Ram Iyengar was appointed as a translator in the Maratha Cutcherry. In September 1850, Ram Iyengar was made Head Munshi of Nellore. Raiengar served in Nellore till the beginning of 1854, when he was made Deputy Registrar of the Department of Public Works. From 1855 to 1857, Ram Iyengar served as the Naib Sheristadar of Nellore. In March 1857, he was appointed Head Sheristadar of Tanjore and served from 1857 to 1859, when he was made Assistant Imam Commissioner. As Assistant Imam Commissioner, he was instrumental in the Revenue Settlement of the olungu areas of the Cauvery Delta.

In June 1860, he was appointed to inquire into the outstanding advances of the mirasidars and contractors who had borrowed money from the Madras government as flood relief funds. Rameingar performed this task satisfactorily well that he was entrusted with the revenue settlemt of the village of Nallatadi in Tanjore district.

Ram Iyengar was appointed Sub-Collector of Namakkal in the beginning of 1861 and promoted to a First-grade Deputy Collector in May 1861. Ram Iyengar served in Namakkal from May 1861 to the end of 1864, when hew was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Paper Currency. Ram Iyengar served for a year as the Assistant Commissioner of Paper Currency and was appointed First Assistant to the Chief Secretary of the Madras Presidency in 1866. In the beginning of 1867, Ram Iyengar was appointed Superintendent of Stamps at a monthly salary of Rs.1,000. The next year, the Government Lord Napier nominated him to the Madras Legislative Council.

Madras Legislative Council[edit]

Ram Iyengar served in the Council starting from 1867 till 1879. He was the first Indian to serve as the official member.[5] In 1871, Ram Iyengar, as the additional member of the Viceroy's Council to introduce legislations, proposed a bill to remove defects in the Religious Endowments Act of 1863, but this bill was rejected by the Government on the pretext that it was "radically incomplete and would certainly fail to attain its object"[6][7][8][9] Ram Iyengar also exercised his influence over the municipal and local fund taxation laws passed during the period.

Ram Iyengar served as the Municipal Commissioner of Madras city for about eight years. He was offered the Acting Presidency by the then Governor of Madras, Sir William Robinson but he declined the offer. He was appointed Inspector-General of Registration in 1875 and participated in the Delhi durbar of January 1, 1877. In 1873, Ram Iyengar was chosen to go to England to provide evidence before the Parliamentary Finance Committee but he declined. Ram Iyengar was also appointed at the instance of John Bruce Norton and served as one of the trustees of the Pachaiyappa Charities. It was during Ram Iyengar's tenure as a trustee that Pachaiyappa's was raised to a Second-Grade College.

As Diwan of Travancore[edit]

Ram Iyengar was appointed Diwan of Travancore by Maharaja Visakham Thirunal in 1880 on his retirement from the Madras Civil Service[10] and served in the princely state for a period of seven years. During his tenure, Ram Iyengar introduced the Indian Penal Code in Travancore and re-organised the police force of the state. He also increased the power and jurisdiction of the Munsiff Corts in order to reduce the burden on the High Court. He reorganised the revenue system in Travancore by reducing the strength of the employees while increasing their salaries at the same time. Ram Iyengar's most important act is believed to be the revenue survey and settlement of Travancore.

Ram Iyengar also introduced intramural labour in jails and remitted several taxes which were a burden on the people. He encouraged indigenous sugar industries and paper and cotton mills and introduced a stamp act in the state. Ram Iyengar also took steps to improve the irrigation works of Travancore.

On the eve of Ram Iyengar's retirement, the Maharaja acknowledged Ram Iyengar's contributions in his speech : "He had, in fact, during the past six years, imparted an impetus to national prosperity, the full force of which remains to be felt"

Later life and death[edit]

In 1887, Ram Iyengar resigned as Diwan and returned to Madras on pension spending his last days in religious study. He suddenly fell ill and died on May 10, 1887.

Criticism[edit]

Ram Iyengar was often criticized for his liberal political views and loyalist tendencies. During his tenure as Dewan of Travancore, Paramesvaran Pillai anonymously published articles on the Dewan in which he launched scathing attacks on the latter's policy of favoring non-Malayalee Brahmins in the administration in place of Malayali people.[11]

Political inclinations[edit]

Ram Iyengar was a loyalist and Anglophile. Ram Iyengar is described by Chatterjee and Mukhopadhyaya in the following words:

the first Indian in Madras to keep his house in European style, to teach English and European music to the females of his family, and to invite European gentlemen to parties at his residence[12]

Honours[edit]

In May 1871, Ram Iyengar was made a Companion of the Order of the Star of India.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "List of dewans of Travancore". worldstatesmen.org. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  2. ^ Pillai, Govinda Paramēṣvara (1896). Representative Men of Southern India. Harvard University. p. 115. 
  3. ^ Pillai, Govinda Paramēṣvara (1896). Representative Men of Southern India. Harvard University. p. 269. 
  4. ^ Nita Kumar, Pg 7
  5. ^ K. C. Markandan (1964). Madras Legislative Council; Its constitution and working between 1861 and 1909. S. Chand & CO. pp. 148–188. 
  6. ^ A. Oddie, Geoffrey (1991). Hindu and Christian in South-east India: Aspects of Religious Continuity and Change, 1800-1900. Routledge. p. 72. ISBN 0913215554, ISBN 978-0-913215-55-5. 
  7. ^ Y. Mudaliar, Chandra (1976). State and Religious Endowments in Madras. University of Madras. p. 53. 
  8. ^ Baliga, B. S. (1962). Madras district gazetteers: South Arcot. Government of Madras. p. 280. 
  9. ^ Appadurai Breckenridge, Carol. The Śrī Mīn̲aksi Sundarēsvarar Temple: Worship and Endowments in South India, 1833 to 1925. University of Wisconsin. p. 353. 
  10. ^ Nagam Aiya, V. (1906). Travancore State Manual. Travancore Government Press. p. 609. 
  11. ^ Delhi School of Economics (1977). The Indian Economic and Social History Review. Vikas Publishinbg House. p. 260. 
  12. ^ Nita Kumar, Pg 10

References[edit]

Other biographies[edit]

  • Govinda Parameswaran Pillai (1897). Representative Indians. Routledge. pp. 114–127. 
Preceded by
Nanoo Pillai
Diwan of Travancore
1880 – 1887
Succeeded by
T. Rama Rao