Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo

By: Rusiraj Pattanayak
~ Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo ~
HH Maharaja #Sri #Ram #Chandra #Bhanjdeo is considered to be an unparalleled personality among the galaxies of the Kings of Odisha Gadajats.
He was born on the 17th December 1871 in the extravagantly decorated palace of Baripada to his beloved father Maharaja【Sri Krushna Chandra Bhanjdeo 】who is regarded as the real maker of Mayurbhanj.
Maharaja Krushna Chandra died of smallpox on the 29th May, 1882, when he was only 34 years old. At that time, his eldest son Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo was barely 11years of age and hence the State came under the administration of Court of Wards with #Mr. #P.#Wylly as its Manager. #Sriram Chandra #Bhanja #Deo assumed direct control of the State in 1890.In 1896 he married #Lakshmi #Kumari, the daughter of the Maharaja of Chotanagpur. She bore him one daughter named #Sripada #Manajari and two sons Maharaja #Purna Chandra #Bhanjdeo and Maharaja #Pratap Chandra #Bhanjdeo. Maharani Laxmi Kumari died of smallpox in 1902. In 1904, Sriram Chandra married in Calcutta, #Sucharu #Devi,daughter of #Keshab #Chandra #Sen, the founder of #Nababidhan #Samaj. She bore him a daughter and a son named #Dhrubendra Chandra Bhanjdeo who became a pilot in the Royal Air Force and died in an air crash during the Second World War. 
~ His Contribution ~
Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo was a Ruler of practical wisdom. He brought with him Sri Mohini Mohan Dhar, M.A., B.L.,who was his private tutor in the Ravenshaw College at Cuttack,and appointed him successively as Adviser, State Judge, Dewan and Vice-President of the State Council. Sri Mohini Mohan Dhar became the de facto Counsellor of the Maharaja in all matters. During his regime the State witnessed many-fold development. He was a truly enlightened ruler and established a Council for the State to meet the requirements of democratic Government. The State Council had powers to hear appeals even against the orders of the Maharaja, with the Maharaja exercising his casting vote as President of the Council. Criminal, Civil and Revenue laws and regulations, including Land Revenue Settlement, Forest, Excise & Land Acquisition laws and rules, were enacted by the Maharaja in Council. The tenancy system was reorganised by Survey and Land revenue Settlement and the tenants were allowed for the first time, occupancy tights over their holdings. All abwabs were abolished and special protection was given to the rights of Adibasis. In order to administer the new laws and regulations the departmental machinery was elaborated and reorganised .
The State was divided into subdivisions, and Courts were set up to administer the laws as in British India.A regular system of Thanas and out-posts was introduced as well as Chowkidari system for the interior parts of the State with assessment of Chowkidari tax by the village Panchayats. Forest and Excise Departments were started to develop the forest wealth of the State and to control the manufacture,sale of distilled liquor and narcotics and bring in revenue. A regular graded service system having benefit of pension was also started by Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo. Steps were taken to increase the fertility of the land by means of irrigation projects which cost more than six lakhs of rupees and also by leasing out suitable jungle lands under small or big Amolnamas. Model agricultural farms were established to introduce improved arming and irrigation in the State. 
Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo was aware of the iron-ore deposits of Gurumahisani. He appointed the eminent geologist Sri Pramath Nath Bose to survey it. This led to the Tata lease in which the Dewan, Sri Mohini Mohan Dhar played a leading role. It is well known how the Gurumahisani lease was the foundation of the Tata Iron and Steel Company.
A systematic geological survey of selected areas was later carried out to develop the mineral wealth of the State and to facilitate irrigation and water-supply projects. Aided Primary Schools were opened throughout the State with Middle Schools at Sub-divisional headquarters under a Superintendent of Education.
State dispensaries were started at important centres under a Chief Medical Officer. A net work of roads was constructed for facility of trade as well as of administration.A Public Works Department was set up for planning and development of irrigation, roads and administration buildings.
Baripada the headquarters of the State was greatly improved and beautified. It was provided with all modern amenities such as a High English School with an attached hostel and extensive play-grounds, a fully equipped Hospital for the treatment of both out-door and indoor patients, an excellent Public Library, a beautiful Public Park and a Leper Asylum outside the town to segregate the leper population of the State and for their proper treatment and rehabilitation. The Bengal Nagpur Railway was induced to co-operate in building the Mayurbhanj Light Railway to connect Baripada with the main B.N.R.line at Rupsa Station. This helped further to develop the trade and commerce of the State & added to the welfare of the subjects.Telegraphic communication was also established with Cuttack, Calcutta and all important places in British India. During the rule of Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo the revenue of the state greatly increased and it was nearly thrice of what it was during the rule of his predecessor.
The forest revenue alone rose from Rs.30,000 So Rs.1,50,000 per annum. In recognition of his excellent administratioin of the State, Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo was later vested with the hereditary title of Maharaja by his Majesty the King Emperor in the Delhi Durbar of 1911. 
Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo was a shrewd judge of men. He appointed as Head master of his School very senior and experienced educationists. Students who passed through them became eminent in their respective lines. Three entered the Indian Civil Service, one got into the Indian Educational Services. One became a Bar-at-law, one became an eminent Archaeologist, one became the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and another, the Inspector-General of Police of Odissa.
Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo also had the Barhaipani waterfalls investigated with a view to having a hydroelectric project.An Officer of the Engineering Department camped at the sources of the Burhabalanga for two seasons and measured the flow of water in the leanest months of the year. A British firm was invited to advise.Unfortunately the Maharaja died before anything came of it.
~ His Tragic Death~ 
Some contemporary accounts of the shooting accident are given below: ‘The Bengalee’ Friday, February 23 1912, an English daily of Calcutta. Edited by Sir Surendra Nath Banerji reported as follows: “It will be remembered that the Maharaja was shooting with a few friends including Mr. Godfrey, Mr.Miller, one of the Directors of B.N.Roy and Mr. SC Sen in a jungle at Baripada on the 31st January last, and several bears were seen, One bear was killed and one was wounded.The Maharaja descended from his ‘machan”and began a search for the wounded bear. Meanwhile the firing was kept up from the other “machans”and Mr. S.C.Sen who was next to the Maharaja’s “machan”, mistaking the Maharaja’s figure for that of a bear, fired at him. The bullet did not hit him but struck through a tree and the splintered shots entered both his hands and his legs and chest, while his attendant was hit on the knee. At first the wounds did not appear to be serious but he was removed to Calcutta for better treatment. His attendant succumbed shortly after the accident. A X-ray examination in Calcutta revealed that the splinters of the bullet were lying embedded in both hands, legs and chest of the Maharaja. Surgical assistance was obtained and on the 11th February, Doctors Brown, Sarvadhikary and Sircar extracted the splinters by an operation under chloroform. For a few days, the Maharaja’s condition was very hopeful, and nobody suspected that the end was so near, but a few days after signs of Septicemia (blood-poisoning) began to develop, which ultimately terminated a noble and useful career.”
His death was a blow not merely to Mayurbhanj but to the whole of Odisha. He had endeared himself to the people of Odisha from the date he gave his Presidential address as first President of the Utkala Sammilani which was held at Cuttack in 1903. His popularity with the powers ruling India at the time will be apparent from the message sent by the head of the British Empire King Emperor George V on 24th February 1912, two days after his death.
It says, “The Queen & I are grieved to hear of the death by an accident of the Maharaja of Mayurbhanj. Please convey to the Maharani our sincere condolences with her in her sorrow. We remember of course the important part taken by the Maharaja in connection with the pageant on the maidan and our pleasure in seeing him on that occasion.” 
Sources: Biography of Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo by Sailendra Nath Sarkar; Role of Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo by H.D.Swain, Makers of Modern Orissa: By J. K. Samal, P. K. Nayak & Dr. Kartik Chandra Sahu

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