- C. P. Ramaswami Iyer
honorific-prefix = Sir
name = C. P. Ramaswami Iyer
caption = "Portrait of Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, "
The Hindu", 1939
August 19, 1947
Chithira Thirunal of Travancore
P. G. N. Unnithan
12 November 1879
Madras, British India
death_date =death date and age|1966|09|26|1879|11|12
London, United Kingdom
Presidency College, Madras
Sir Chetpat Pattabhirama Ramaswami Iyer (Tamil:சேத்துப்பட்டு பட்டாபி ராமசுவாமி அய்யர்) , KCSI, KCIE until 1948 (
12 November 1879– 26 September 1966) was an Indian administrator noted for his progressive yet authoritarian rule. He served as the Dewanof Travancorefrom 1936 to 1947.
Sir C.P.Ramaswami Iyer was born on the 12th of November, 1879 as the only son of Judge Pattabhirama Iyer and his wife Seetha Lakshmi Ammal. He was educated at the Wesley College High School at
Madrasfollowing which he did his B.A. from the Presidency College, Madrasand later took a degree from the Madras Law College. Between 1903 and 1916 he practised as a lawyer in Madras, winning several popular cases. Between 1917 and 1918 he became, along with Jawaharlal Nehrua joint secretary of the Indian National Congress. In 1919 he declined an offer to the Judgeship of the Madras High Court. By 1920 he became Advocate-General for the Presidency of Madras with which power, between 1921 and 1923 several Acts, such as the City Municipalities Act, the Madras Local Boards Act, etc were passed. Between 1923 and 1928 he served as Law Member of the Executive Council, Government of Madras, first during Lord Willingdon's and later during Lord Goschen's Governorship; in charge of Law, Police, Irrigation and Ports, Electricity etc. In 1926 the title of Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire(KCIE) was bestowed upon him and he came to be known as "Sir" C.P. Ramaswami Iyer henceforth. Between 1926 and 1927 he was the Indian Delegate at the League of Nationsin Geneva. The same year he became Member of the Executive Council, Government of Madras. By 1931 he was a Law Member of the Government of Indiaand in 1932 attended the Third Round Table Conferenceat London. Between 1932 and 1936 he became the constitutional advisor to the Maharajah of Travancore, Sri Chithira Thirunal. In 1933 he was the sole Indian delegate to the World Economic Conference and the next year he drafted a Constitutionfor the state of Kashmir. From 1936 to 1947 he was Dewanof Travancore, succeeded by PGN Unnithan.
Dewan of Travancore
Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer became
Dewanof Travancorein 1936 and started his career thus with the revolutionary Temple Entry Proclamationof 1936 whereby untouchables and lower caste people of Travancorewere permitted entry into HinduTemples in that state. This was the first time that untouchability was attempted to be abolished by direct Government action. Mahatma Gandhiexpressed great satisfaction and addressed meetings throughout Travancore praising the Dewanand Sovereign of Travancore. During his Dewanship of Travancorehe initiated the Pechipara Hydro-electric Scheme (present Kodayar Hydroelectric Power Projectin Kanyakumari District), the PeriyarGame Sanctuary and other irrigation projects. He inaugurated many industries including the Fertiliser and Chemicals, Travancore (FACT), Travancore Rayon, Cement, Aluminium, etc. He enlarged and reorganised laminated wood furniture and screw pine industries. He introduced, for the first time, graded agricultural income taxand abolished land revenue; he expanded the Pallivasal Hydro-Electric Project. He carried out a great deal of pioneering work for the VivekanandaRock at Cape Comorinand built guesthouses at Kanyakumari. He renovated the Padmanabhapuram Palaceof Marthanda Varma's days (in present-day Kanyakumari District) and expanded the TrivandrumArt Gallery. In 1937 Sir CP, as he was popularly known, started the University of Travancore with the Maharajah as Chancellor and himself as Vice Chancellor. He also established the Marine Biological Institute; organized mineral sands, rare earth and titanium products industries. In 1939 he was awarded an honorary L.L.D. Degree by the University of Travancore and in the same year he celebrated his sixtieth birthday by making great donations to charitable foundations and the University. In 1940 under his Dewanship Travancorebecame the first state to nationalise road transport in India. He also started aluminium, ceramic, fertilizer, rayon and other industries with major government collaboration. The same year capital punishment was abolished and adult franchise introduced. He was also the first to appoint a lady as District Judge (Mrs. Anna Chandy later became the first Indian woman High Court Judge). Sir CP introduced for the first time the mid day meal scheme to prompt poor children to attend school. During Sir CP's tenure as Dewan of Travancorethe revenues rose up from Rs. 2.5 crores to 9 crores without any additional taxation.
In 1941 the British conferred on him the title of Knight Grand Commander of the Star of India (KCSI). In 1946 he resigned from the post of
Dewanof Travancorebut was persuaded to return. When Indian Independence came into view Travancoreand other Princely Stateswere given two options of either staying independent or merging with the dominions of Indiaor Pakistan. Sir CP was in favour of the independence of Travancorewhich saw a great furore being created by the Indian National Congress. In 1947 after an unsuccessful attempt was made at his life by K.C.S.Mani he resigned the post of Dewanand left Travancoreon August 19, 1947. He was succeeded by PGN Unnithan.
Criticism and dissent
While hailed as a modernizing reformer by many, his administration was also marked by popular dissent. During this period he came into conflict with the Communists on numerous occasions Fact|date=May 2007, several incidents of which became minor rebellions. These culminated in 1946, when a communist uprising, which is popularly known as
Punnapra-Vayalar revoltattempted to establish a new government in the Punnapara-Vayalar regionFact|date=May 2007, which resulted in the death of more than 3000 people and was put down by the Travancore army and navy. Jawaharlal Nehruonce remarked about Iyer:
"There is little now in common between us except our common nationality. He is today a full- blooded apologist of British rule in India, especially during the last few years; an admirer of dictatorship in India and elsewhere, and himself a shining ornament of autocracy in an Indian state." [http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2003042000160400.htm&date=2003/04/20/&prd=mag&] :
After he resigned his Dewanship of
TravancoreSir. C.P.Ramaswami Iyer left for London; in 1948 he returned his titles of KCSI and KCIE in a letter to the Governor-General Lord Louis Mountbatten. The same year he visited the United Statesand South Americato lecture on Hinduism. in 1949-1950 he was Professor of the American Academy of Asian Studiesat California. He was also, during this period, Delegate to the East West Philosophical Congress at Honolulu as well as to the International PEN conference. He returned to Indiawithin a few years and accepted the post of Vice Chancellor, Annamalai University. At the request of the Government of Indiahe accepted Vice Chancellorship of Banaras Hindu Universityalso and became the first person in India to be Vice Chancellor of two Universities at the same time in 1955.
The same year he served as Leader of the Indian Universities Delegation to
Chinaand sent a report to Government on the political situation in China and her policy vis-à-vis India, predicting the India-China fallout. Sir CP served in several important commissions and delegations till 1966 when he left for Londonand while there he passed away suddenly and peacefully, sitting in an armchair, at the National Liberal Clubat about 11.30 a.m. on the 26th of September 1966.
* [http://cprfoundation.org/otherpages/01-cpr.htm Biography and timeline]
* Sir C.P. Thiruvithamcore Charithrathil (Malayalam) by Sreedhara Menon
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