Pratap Singh of Jammu and Kashmir
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Pratap Singh of Jammu and Kashmir
|Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir|
|Reign||12 September 1885 – 23 September 1925|
|Born||18 July 1848|
Jammu, Kashmir and Jammu, British Raj
|Died||23 September 1925 (aged 77)|
|Father||Maharaja Ranbir Singh I of Jammu and Kashmir|
|Mother||Princess Subh Devi of Siba|
Some elements in the British Empire made an attempt to implicate the Dogra Maharaja in a conspiracy case involving the Russian Empire. At the end a ruling council was forced on Jammu and Kashmir, which included a British agent and the Maharaja's brother Amar Singh.
He was succeeded by his nephew, Hari Singh as the Maharaja in 1925.
Before Pratap Singh's accession, the British Government was represented in Kashmir by an Officer-on-Special Duty who had only limited functions to perform. The Government of India had made many attempts at the time of Ranbir Singh to raise the status of the Officer to that of a full-fledged Political Resident. The Maharaja had, however, successfully resisted these. But now taking advantage of the fresh succession they were able to post a Political Resident in Jammu and Kashmir.
Within the British Empire, Jammu and Kashmir was a salute state. In 1921, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was upgraded to a permanent and hereditary 21-gun salute (from a 19-gun salute). Pratap Singh was granted the increased ranks as a result of the meritorious services of the Dogra soldiers in the First World War.
During the time of Pratap Singh, the first major step of improvement was taken in 1889 when the Jhelum Valley Cart Road, "the most wonderful mountain road in the world", from Kohala to Baramulla was completed. It was extended to Srinagar in 1897. In 1922, another great highway, the Banihal Cart Road, which connected Srinagar, the summer capital, with Jammu,the winter capital of the state was thrown open to the public. Besides these, many feeder roads in the state including those connecting Srinagar with Gilgit and Leh were also constructed. The impact of these roads on the life of the people of Jammu and Kashmir may be judged from the fact that before Pratap Singh, there was not a single wheeled conveyance, including even a hand-cart. By the time his reign came to a close, motor cars became the principal means of conveyance .
Besides construction of roads, several efforts were made to link the Valley with the railway system but nothing substantial came out owing to the prohibitive costs. Even a project to build a seventy nine-mile long mono-cable steel ropeway from Jammu to the village Doru (or Shahabad) and then connecting it with Srinagar by a forty six-mile long light railway could not be taken up to But Jammu was linked to Sialkot in the Punjab in 1890.
In 1887, the State Government carried out the first land settlement. As a result, the rights of the agriculturists were clearly' defined and the state's demand was fixed for ten years. "Begar" or forced labour in its more objectionable form was abolished.
By 1912 practically every tehsil and district was settled either for the first time or in revision. The share of the state was fixed at 30 per cent of the gross produce and the revenue was to be collected in cash. The land settlement gave much needed security to the cultivators and became responsible for their increasing prosperity. The revenue of the state also increased by more than 100 per cent.
A model agricultural farm was set up at Srinagar for the spread of knowledge about the scientific methods of cultivation. Establishment of the Department of Agriculture and the introduction of Cooperative Societies were the other measures taken up to further improve the lot of the cultivators. By 1929, the number of Cooperative Credit Societies in the state alone rose to about 1100 with a membership of 27,500.
Jammu and Kashmir is rich in forests. But till the accession of Pratap Singh, practically nothing had been done to exploit these on scientific lines. In 1891, the State established the Forest Department which soon began to give a very good account of itself. Its surplus revenue for the first year was about a quarter of million of rupees. The same rose to about two million for the year 1921–22 and to a record figure of about five million for the year 1929–30.
Efforts were made to popularise education. In pursuance of the suggestions made in the report of 1916, many changes were made in the system of education. A number of new schools for both boys and girls were also opened. The imparting of education in the primary schools was made free. Several measures were taken for the education of Muslims especially. Grants were also budgeted. for the training of unqualified teachers at the Training College and normal schools at Lahore. Later normal schools were established at various places within the State .
One degree college each at Jammu (Prince of Wales College, established in 1907, and Srinagar (Sri Pratap College established in 1905) and Amar Singh Technical Institute at the latter (1914) and Sri Pratap Technical School at the former (1924)16 were maintained to meet the demands for higher education. By 1938, Sri Pratap College, with 1187 students on its rolls, achieved the distinction of being the second largest college affiliated to the Punjab University.
Modern hospitals for both males and females were also established at Srinagar and Jammu. In other towns and important villages, medical dispensaries under the charge of qualified doctors were opened. These establishments went a long way in improving the health of the people.
Smallpox used to take a very heavy toll of life in the valley. Vaccination on an extensive scale was introduced in 1894 to prevent it."' Modern water works were also established at Jammu and Srinagar. The Church Missionary Society set up in Kashmir in the time of Maharaja Ranbir Singh, also contributed much to the promotion of public health and education. It opened its own schools and hospitals in the valley and ran them on modern lines. A great spill channel was constructed in 1904 to divert the flood waters of the a number Jhelum. It was followed by the construction of smaller channels and several irrigation canals in both the provinces of Jammu and Kashmir. The longest and most important of these was the Ranbir Canal in Jammu with a total length of 251 miles including that of its tributaries, it was fully completed in 1911 at the cost of Rs. 3,536,714. This Canal also helped in propelling the turbines of the Jammu hydro-electric installation. Besides, 250 tanks were constructed in the Kandi areas of Jammu with a view to removing the great distress of the residents of these arid tracks. The power obtained from the hydro-electric works established at Mohara in 1907 was used not only for lighting and industrial purposes but also for dredging operations which were carried out in the Jhelum below Baramulla to remove silt and boulders.
Besides, agriculture, sericulture, viticulture and horticulture were given great encouragement, and these made much progress going onto become flourishing state industries. A silk factory set up at Srinagar attained the distinction of being "the largest of its kind in the world" .
To feed it with the best quality of cocoons seeds were imported from Italy and France. A beginning was made in local self-government by establishing municipalities at Jammu, Srinagar, Sopors and Baramulla. These organisations did a lot towards improving the local sanitary conditions. For sometime past, the inhabitants of Srinagar had been facing great difficulty in obtaining fuel supply. From 1919 the State Forest Department undertook to supply firewood to the city people at fixed rates. Many oppressive taxes, including the Muslims Marriage Tax, were abolished. Certain State Monopolies such as the shawl industry were also done away with.
Pratap Singh left no issue of his own when he died on 23 September 1925, but he was succeeded by his nephew Hari Singh, son of Raja Amar Singh.
- Prince of Wales's Gold Medal, 1876
- Empress of India Gold Medal, 1877
- Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India (GCSI), 1892
- Delhi Durbar Gold Medal, 1903
- Delhi Durbar Gold Medal, 1911
- Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (GCIE), 1911
- Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St John (GCStJ), 1916
- Hon. LL.D (Panjab University), 1917
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE), 1918
- Rai, Mridu (2004), Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam, Rights, and the History of Kashmir, C. Hurst & Co, ISBN 1850656614
Pratap Singh of Jammu and KashmirBorn: 18 July 1848 Died: 23 September 1925
(as Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir)
| Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir