Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Grateful for other reasons?

This defunct fountain in front of the Victoria Public Hall proclaims the city's gratitude to a former governor not once but three times, going by the plaques on each of the three faces of the centrepiece. Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan, who is so honoured, was the Governor of Madras for just a short while, from March 1859 to May 1860. Even in that short stint, he did enough for him to be held dear by the citizens of Madras.

For starters, he made land ownership easier, bringing in reforms that allowed freehold titles to be bought. He is also credited with conceptualizing the People's Park; a 116-acre garden spread which had over 5 miles of road inside it, meandering around 11 ponds, a bandstand, tennis courts, a public bath and a very basic zoo. It is for this that he is remembered: the plaques say " whom Madras is indebted for The Peoples Park".

But there's a lot more that Trevelyan needs to be remembered for. When he was governor of Madras, his council and he disagreed with a proposal for taxation drawn up by the Financial Member of the Legislative Council for India. And he made his disagreement public, by sending an open telegram to Calcutta and later, by releasing (or allowing the release of) the minutes of a Council meeting where the opposition was recorded. Though he was censured and recalled to England for this action, he was vindicated and returned to India in 1862 as the Financial Member! In the interim, he crafted the principles which guided the creation of the Indian Civil Service. With so much to his credit, one guesses that the city's gratitude stemmed from something more than Trevelyan's civic sensibility!


K N V's said...

Great to know about the origins of the much reverred IAS, and its earlier avatar as ICS ! Thanks Shanta...keep it up :)


Shantaram said...

@ KNV: Thanks, man! Noticed you've made many comments on the Picasa photos - thanks again for the encouragment!