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Dewan Reddy Rao

Reddy Rao had the unique honour of being Dewan of Travancore on two different occasions, first from 1817 to 1821 and then again from 1843 to 1845.

Born of talented Mahratta Brahmin Family in the Tanjore District, Reddy Rao went to Travancore along with Colonel Munro, who was then Resident, and by dint of his industry and intelligence rose very quickly in the public service until he became Dewan Peishkar.  When there was some misunderstanding between Raman Menon, the Dewan, and the Resident, Reddy Rao was elevated to the Dewanship in which Office he distinguished himself by introducing several reforms. He relieved the Christian ryots from their ooziyam service; he introduced stamped cadjans for documents; he removed the restriction on the Sudras and others regarding the wearing of gold and silver ornaments; he introduced coffee cultivation in the land, which meant an appreciable increase in the State revenues; and above all, purified the administration of all corruption. He also entertained a number of vaccinators and by making the system of vaccination popular, improved the health of the public.

He made very grand arrangements for the marriage (or Talikattu) of Princess Rukmini Bayi, and for his efficient services he obtained from the Rani the Jahgir of two villages in the Shencottah taluk. Col. Newall (who had become Resident) objected to this acceptance of the jahgir as improper and so, Reddy Rao resigned his post in 1821 and settled in Kumbakonam.

More than twenty years later, when State affairs were all in a confusion, General Cullen, (who was then Resident) with the approval of the Madras Government, sent for Reddy Rao again and offered him the Dewanship in 1843. He then laboured for the welfare of the country for two years; and on account of old age, retired in 1845.

Reddy Rao was a very charitably disposed man. He has dug a large tank in Kumbakonam which is even now called after him. He encouraged Vedic learning too, by building an agraharam and bestowing all the houses in it as gifts to learned Brahmins.

It is this magnanimity that makes his memory fragrant even now. “Light begets light”. And it is said that the famous Pachayappa Mudaliyar’s mind was directed in the path of goodness and charity, because in early life he came under the influence of this Reddy Rao.



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