With wife Soundara Bai (daughter of Diwan T. Rama Rao)
Pradhanasiromani T. Ananda Rao
Plaque showing T. Ananda Rao's endowment of the women's ward in Diwan T. Rama Rao Hospital, Nedungolam, Kollam
Pradhanasiromani Ananda Rao had the unique honour, besides being a Dewan himself, of being the son of a Dewan and son-in-law of another Dewan. He was the eldest son of that illustrious statesman Rajah Sir T. Madhava Rao, and his wife was a daughter of the good Dewan Rama Rao, a close kinsman of his father. The impress of these environments on his character was unmistakable. He was indeed a gentleman with unfailing courtesy and consideration for all alike.
Ananda Rao was born in Padma Vilas, Fort Trivandrum on the 15th May 1852. He studied in the Maharaja’s College, Trivandrum and in the Presidency College, Madras, under Mr. Edmund Thompson. All the University Examinations he passed with distinction and finally took his degree in 1871, with a high rank in the first class.
After this he qualified himself for the post of a Deputy Collector in the Madras Revenue Board, but was recommended by General Daly for the tutorship of the Princes of Indore. As the Indore climate did not suit his health, he eventually joined the Mysore Service in 1873, as an Attache under the British Commission. In 1875 he became Assistant Commissioner and was in due course promoted to the Office of Deputy Commissioner. His remarkable coolness and courage enabled him successfully to deal with the Mysore strike. Far from treating those responsible for the troubles in a harsh manner, he walked up to them with only a single personal attendant and succeeded in winning over the strikers by his conciliatory methods.
Later, he was made Palace Controller and Chief Secretary, in which capacity he discharged his duties with great firmness. As he fell ill about this time, he had to go on long leave. On return, he was made Director of Statistics which paved the way for his becoming the Census Superintendant. His voluminous reports earned for him the thanks of Mr. Gait, Census Commissioner of India. He then successively filled the important Offices of the Revenue Commissioner, First Councilor and ultimately Dewan to H.H. the Maharaja of Mysore.
As Dewan, Ananda Rao was a splendid success. It is true he had none of that brilliance, initiative and inspiration which marked out his respected father above all ordinary statesmen. But his diligence and tenacity of purpose, his upright character, his open mind, his devotion to duty and his unbounded loyalty to his sovereign were assets that were bound to raise his general administration to a high level. Ananda Rao had set Gladstone as his ideal; and he tried to follow in his hero’s footsteps as far as possible.
During the period of his Dewanship, several important events took place. Lord Minto paid a visit to Mysore as Viceroy; the marriage of H.H. the yuvaraja ws celebrated with great pomp and ceremony; and Mysore had a prominent part in the Delhi Darbar. The times were propitious for silent but useful reforms. Ananda Rao inaugurated the Mysore Economic Conference, sanctioned large funds for the spread of education, constructed the Minto Ophthalmic Hospital, commenced the Kannambady project, and pursued an active policy of railway construction. On the side of increase of revenue, he secured, through the friendly assistance of Sir Hugh Daly, the recognition of the claims of the Mysore Darbar to the surplus revenues of the C. & M. Station, Bangalore. Mysoreans are grateful to him for reserving the higher posts in the Civil Service to Mysoreans only.
For his splendid work in these directions, the Government of India conferred upon him the title of C.I.E. and the Maharaja of Mysore not only honoured him with the title of Pradhanasiromani but treated him with exceptional privileges even after he retired in November 1912. A permanent establishment at the cost of Government was allowed to him and a Medical Officer was deputed to attend on him daily at his residence.
Dewan Ananda Rao passed away on the 19th July 1919. What endears him most to us is his preference for discriminate charities. The Executors of his will recognized this feature in the testator and created an endowment, named after him, of over Rs. 4,000 in the M.E. Fund for medical scholarships to poor and deserving students of our community specializing in Ophthalmology, with a preference for lady students. It is the biggest endowment that the Mahratta Education Fund has so far got. We therefore cherish his memory with respect and gratitude but may be permitted here to express the hope that his noble example will soon be followed by several others, for the lasting welfare of our community.