Biography of K. Seshadri Iyer

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Indian Lawyer K. Seshadri Iyer Biography

Sir Kumarapuram Seshadri Iyer KCIE ( born June 1, 1845 – dead September 13, 1901), or Sheshadri Aiyar was an advocate who served as the Dewan of Mysore from 1883 to 1901.

K. Seshadri Iyer was the second Dewan of Mysore state since the reinstation of the Wodeyar family on its throne in 1881 and was the longest serving Dewan of the princely state as well. He is regarded by most as the “maker of modern Bangalore”.

Seshadri Iyer was born in a Kerala Iyers family from Palghat in Malabar district, Madras Presidency. He had his early education in Calicut and graduated in arts from Presidency College, Madras in 1868. He was also a qualified lawyer.

Seshadri Iyer joined the services of the Mysore kingdom in 1868 and served as a district magistrate and later as Personal Secretary to the Diwan, Rungacharlu before being appointed Diwan himself. Seshadri Iyer was the longest serving Diwan of Mysore kingdom and served from 1883 to 1901.

Seshadri Iyer established the Kolar gold fields and Victoria Hospital and commissioned the Sivanasamudra hydel-electric power project and Lal Bagh. He was also responsible for the founding of the Indian Institute of Science.

Seshadri Iyer had to deal with a devastating plague which afflicted Bangalore in 1898 and was responsible for the decongestion of streets and reconstructing the city in the aftermath of the plague.

K. Seshadri Iyer Early life
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Seshadri Iyer was born in a Tamil Brahmin (Brahacharanam)  family of Palghat (Modern Kerala) in Madras Presidency in 1845. He did his early schooling in Calicut and graduated from the Presidency College, Madras in 1866. He stood first in the B. A. examinations. After working for sometime in Madras, he moved to the Mysore kingdom in 1868.

Service in the Mysore Kingdom

In 1868, Seshadri Iyer was appointed Judicial Secretary in the Ashtagram division of the Mysore kingdom. He later served as Head Sheristadar of the Court of the Judicial Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner of Mysore, Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate of Tumkur and District and Sessions Judge of Ashtagram division.

K. Seshadri Iyer obtained his B. L. degree from the University of Madras in 1874. From 1881 to 1883, he served as an officer on special duty in Mysore. In 1883, when Rangacharlu’s period of service came to an end, Seshadri Iyer was appointed Diwan of Mysore.

K. Seshadri Iyer As Dewan

Seshadri Iyer succeeded Rangacharlu as Dewan of Mysore in the year 1883 and administered Mysore for a span of eighteen years. He remains the longest serving Diwan of the princely state. He worked to improve the transport, irrigation and mining sectors in the kingdom.

Seshadri Iyer extended the railway lines in the kingdom by 270 kilometres (170 miles)The Kolar gold fields of Karnataka were established during his tenure. He constructed the famous Glass House at Lalbagh in 1889 and the Victoria Hospital at Bangalore in the year 1900. He also formulated the plans for the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science which were put into work after his death in 1901.

Sir Sheshadri Hydel Station

Seshadri Iyer was responsible for initiating the first hydro-electric project in Asia, at Shivanasamudra, which began generating power in 1902 for the Kolar gold fields, and in 1905 for Bangalore. The gold fields were 147 km away, making the transmission line the longest in the world at the time.

Later on, when construction of the Mettur dam in Tamil Nadu began in the 1930s, power was supplied from Shivanasamudra. The Sir Sheshadri Hydel Station was granted the status of a National Heritage Centre in May 2006.

“The Maker of Modern Bangalore”

In 1898, a devastating plague in Bangalore city wiped out most of its population. As a result of this, streets were decongested, roads were widened and sanitation was improved. Hotels made their appearance and many new industrial units came to be established and people got more employment opportunities.

Seshadri Iyer started the Chamarajendra Water Works to supply water to the city from Hesaraghatta Lake, 18 km away, in 1894. He began the extensions of Basavanagudi and Malleswaram in 1898. The extensions served to alleviate the congestion of the city, which was just recovering from plague. He commissioned the glass house in Lal Bagh in 1889.

The Victoria Hospital was begun by him in 1900. He persuaded the then monarch of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom, Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, to donate 372 acres (1.51 km2) of free land to an institution that was finally to become the Tata Institute of Science, now known as the Indian Institute of Science in 1911.

The private residence of Seshadri Iyer, Kumara Krupa, is now the State Guest House. The city remembers him through the names of Sheshadripuram (a city extension created in 1892), Sheshadri Road, Sheshadri Memorial Library, and a statue in Cubbon Park.

K. Seshadri Iyer Legacy
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Sir K.Seshadri Iyer is regarded as one of the greatest Dewans of Mysore. Robert H.Elliot in his book ‘Gold,Sport and Coffee Planting in Mysore’ says :

“    I may pause here to remark that what I saw and heard at the Assembly, combined with what I previously knew of the Mysore Government, satisfied me that a more perfect form of government does not exist in the world.

Here, as we have just seen, was a most important measure gained for the country after what was really a very short consultative meeting between the ruler and the ruled.

The ruler—in other words the Dewan—was sitting like a judge on the bench, patiently listening to and taking notes of the various wants of the people as the representatives came forward—occasionally consulting with his officials—granting some things, absolutely refusing others, and announcing sometimes that the subject brought forward would be taken into consideration, while the representatives seemed to be perfectly satisfied that the ruler would willingly do, and was willingly doing, the best he could for the common interest.

I may mention that I was particularly struck with the dignified, gentlemanly and friendly manner of the Dewan when consulting his English officials, and there was evidently a mutual appreciation existing, which I had afterwards distinct knowledge of when I subsequently heard some of these officials alluding, in private conversation, to the Dewan.

I have a great dislike to the idea of being thought guilty of flattery, but I cannot refrain from recording the remarkable fact that (and how rarely can this be said of any public man), while I have heard much in favour of the Dewan, I have never heard a single deprecatory remark made concerning his administration of the province, either by natives or Europeans.

Mysore is indeed extremely fortunate in having such a man as Mr. Sheshadri Iyer, since made Sir K. Sheshadri Iyer, K.C.I.E., at the head of affairs. He has already been granted an extension of the usual period of office (five years), and it is to be hoped that the very doubtful practice of selecting a new man for this important office, even though there may be a valuable one at the helm, may be put aside for at least some years more.

K. Seshadri Iyer Criticism

Seshadri Iyer, a Tamil Brahmin had been often criticized for inducting over a hundred men from Madras in the Mysore civil service.There has been no proven evidence of his hand in the same.

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