C. P. Ramaswami Iyer

C. P. Ramaswami Iyer

Infobox Officeholder
honorific-prefix = Sir
name = C. P. Ramaswami Iyer
honorific-suffix =

imagesize =250px

caption = "Portrait of Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, "The Hindu", 1939
order = Dewan of Travancore
office =
term_start =1936
term_end =August 19, 1947
vicepresident =
viceprimeminister =
deputy =
lieutenant =
monarch =Sri Chithira Thirunal of Travancore
president =
primeminister =
governor =
governor-general =
governor_general =
succeeding =
predecessor =Mohammad Habibullah
successor =P. G. N. Unnithan
constituency =
majority =
birth_date =12 November1879
birth_place =Madras, British India
death_date =death date and age|1966|09|26|1879|11|12
death_place =London, United Kingdom
nationality =
party =
spouse =
relations =
children =
residence =
alma_mater =Presidency College, Madras
occupation =lawyer,
profession =Attorney-General, Statesman
religion =Hindu

website =
footnotes =

Sir Chetpat Pattabhirama Ramaswami Iyer (Tamil:சேத்துப்பட்டு பட்டாபி ராமசுவாமி அய்யர்) , KCSI, KCIE until 1948 (12 November1879–26 September1966) was an Indian administrator noted for his progressive yet authoritarian rule. He served as the Dewan of Travancore from 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 Madras following which he did his B.A. from the Presidency College, Madras and 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 Nehru a 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 Nations in 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 India and in 1932 attended the Third Round Table Conference at 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 Constitution for the state of Kashmir. From 1936 to 1947 he was Dewan of Travancore, succeeded by PGN Unnithan.

Dewan of Travancore

Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer became Dewan of Travancore in 1936 and started his career thus with the revolutionary Temple Entry Proclamation of 1936 whereby untouchables and lower caste people of Travancore were permitted entry into Hindu Temples in that state. This was the first time that untouchability was attempted to be abolished by direct Government action. Mahatma Gandhi expressed great satisfaction and addressed meetings throughout Travancore praising the Dewan and Sovereign of Travancore. During his Dewanship of Travancore he initiated the Pechipara Hydro-electric Scheme (present Kodayar Hydroelectric Power Project in Kanyakumari District), the Periyar Game 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 tax and abolished land revenue; he expanded the Pallivasal Hydro-Electric Project. He carried out a great deal of pioneering work for the Vivekananda Rock at Cape Comorin and built guesthouses at Kanyakumari. He renovated the Padmanabhapuram Palace of Marthanda Varma's days (in present-day Kanyakumari District) and expanded the Trivandrum Art 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 Travancore became 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 Travancore the 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 Dewan of Travancore but was persuaded to return. When Indian Independence came into view Travancore and other Princely States were given two options of either staying independent or merging with the dominions of India or Pakistan. Sir CP was in favour of the independence of Travancore which 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 Dewan and left Travancore on 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 revolt attempted 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 Nehru once 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&] :

Later life

After he resigned his Dewanship of Travancore Sir. 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 States and South America to lecture on Hinduism. in 1949-1950 he was Professor of the American Academy of Asian Studies at 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 India within a few years and accepted the post of Vice Chancellor, Annamalai University. At the request of the Government of India he accepted Vice Chancellorship of Banaras Hindu University also 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 China and 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 London and while there he passed away suddenly and peacefully, sitting in an armchair, at the National Liberal Club at 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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