Maharaja Hari Singh_Dogra Ruler

Maharaja Hari Singh- A Great Statesman

“You could land up where you are because of good karma but it’s your thought and intentions that give you direction in life” this is the thought with which man of principle Maharaja Hari Singh ji was born.

On 23rd Sept 1895, Raja Amar Singh was blessed with a son at the palace of Amar Mahal, Jammu. Hari Singh was the last Maharaja of the princely state of j&k in India. He married Maharani Tara Devi(1910-67) his forth wife as his first 3 wives had died young, and had 1 son Yuvraj(crown prince) Karan Singh.

Maharaja Hari Singh_Dogra RulerRaja Amar Singh probably foresaw the writing on the wall and brought up his son to learn the traditions and values which were the hallmark of the Dogras in general and the ruling family in particular. In 1903, Hari Singh served as a Page of Honour to Lord Curzon at the grand Delhi Durbar. At the age of 13, Hari Singh was dispatched to Mayo College in Ajmer, which was the prestigious institution catering for the need of modern education of the members of the royal families at the hands of the British teachers.

It was in the year 1914,that, on successful completion of military training at the Imperial Cadet Corps,Dehradun. Maharaja Pratap Singh appointed Hari Singh as Commander-in-Chief of the state forces. He also held the position of senior member of the state council and later was in charge of Defence and Foreign Affairs. After the sad demise of Maharaja Pratap Singh, Maharaja Hari Singh ascended the throne on 23rd Sept. 1925. The period under him will always be remembered for the social reforms and modernization of the state.

The rich legacy of his forefathers, Maharaja Gulab Singh (1846-1857), Maharaja Ranbir Singh (1857-1885) and Maharaja Pratap Singh(1885-1925) in the form of consolidation of the state as a stable political events of his time.

Modern education and exposure to social environment prevailing in the world at that time had ingrained in him firm commitment to usher an era of social equality, education for all, justice and economical development in his state. This resolve manifested itself in his actions as senior Member of the state Council and all through his rule of 26 years. Immediately on accession to throne, in his very first public speech, Maharaja Hari Singh made his intentions abundantly clear by proclaiming that.

If I am considered worth governing this state, then I will say that for me all communities, religions and races are equal. As a ruler I have no religion, all religions are mine and my religion is JUSTICE

Soon after his coronation Maharaja Hari Singh initiated a host of measures to modernize the state. His experience of the Round Table Conference, his own education and his visits abroad had made the Maharaja progressive in his views. A few of the initiatives introduced by the Maharaja Hari Singh are listed:

  • On Oct.1932, the Maharaja permitted the Harijans to enter and worship in temples, use public wells and tanks etc. Further, he declared untouchability a cognizable offense in 1940.
  • He declared female infanticide, child marriage, polygamy and immoral traffic of women as unlawful acts well before Sharda Act was passed.
  • He banned smoking among non-adults.
  • He made every possible effort to eradicate illiteracy in the state for which he made education up to primary level compulsory and free. The number of schools were increased from 1706 to 20728 in 1945.
  • To attract Muslim students he appointed ‘Mullahs’ and ‘Maulvis’ as school teachers.
  • He provided various kind of scholarships to students.
  • He established Praja Sabha which meant for introducing free and fare elections and it clearly reflects his democratic values.

 

He is remembered as true nationalist and his address in the First Round Table Conference at London in 1930-31 wherein he spoke of SELF RULE FOR INDIANS and his declaration in 1942 conference that his state would be the first to join Independent India, became rallying point for the political parties and rulers of other states. Signing of Instrument of Accession of  J&K with India on 26th Oct 1947, is thus a land mark in the History, which projects Maharaja Hari Singh as a nationalist to the core.

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5 comments

  1. In 1947, after India gained independence from British rule, Jammu and Kashmir had the option to join either India or Pakistan or to remain independent. He originally maneuvered to maintain his independence by playing off India and Pakistan. There was a widespread belief that rulers of the princely states, in deciding to accede to India or Pakistan, should respect the wishes of the population, but few rulers took any steps to consult on such decisions. Jammu and Kashmir was a Muslim majority state, and a mutiny of Muslim regiments in Gilgit followed in October 1947. Hari Singh appealed to India for help to provide petrol and weapons on behalf of money ..India refused to come to his aid unless he acceded to India.india too cancel standstill agreement with jk..and pakistan take this advantage …..its policy of nehru and sheikh abdulla ..to dethrone the MAHARAJA…

  2. keshav sambyal

    The Maharaja also not only believed in equality and justice of the people, but he did it practically for them. He simultaneously set up Prince of Wales College in Jammu and S.P. College in Srinagar for higher education of the youth of the State, besides creating a network of other educational and health Institutions as well as roads.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that all of us should make concerted endeavors to acquaint the coming generations about the glorious contributions made by Maharaja Hari Singh in variant fields.

    I appeal the intellectuals, historians and social scientists to contribute their mite in this task by throwing light on various aspects of the multi-faceted personality of Maharaja Hari Singh at various forums including in print and electronic media for benefit of younger generation.

  3. And you argued with me for this…..

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