MAHARAJA HARI SINGH A Tribute on his , Death Anniversary || By V.K. Wattal || LIVE IMAGE

MAHARAJA HARI SINGH A Tribute on his , Death Anniversary || By V.K. Wattal || LIVE IMAGE 

“ 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”.

This is the first ever public speech Maharaja Hari Singh made after acceding to the throne. Maharaja made his intentions abundantly clear.

The Maharajas of pre 1947 numbering more than 500 were the butt of ridicule and derisive laughter of the public. It was not for nothing but they deserved it . They had earned this dubious distinction /sobriquet by their abnormal behaviour, eccentric habits ------- indulging in excessive drinking , being sex maniacs, waking up the whole night watching the dancing girls dance and sleeping the whole day, unusual hobbies such as raising dogs in hundreds and also performing their marriages and spending money lavishly.

But as the old saying goes that there is always light at the end of the tunnel or there is always a silver lining in an otherwise black overcast sky. There were a few Maharajas ------- who could be counted on the tips of the fingers who stood heads and shoulders above the rest. They were very well educated ( most of the Maharajas were illiterates or at best semi literates), normal people who had a firm knowledge of the conditions of their states, had a desire to improve the lot of their subjects and made best of their whatever finances were available to them. 

They hired the best people from their own state or from outside to give efficient and good governance to their subjects. They delegated all the powers of governance to these efficient administrators and did not interfere with their day to day working. They carefully listened to their suggestions and implemented them for the benefit of the people. To name a few we had Sir C P Ramaswami Iyer ( Travencore ), Sir Gopalaswami Iyengar ( Jammu and Kashmir ) and Sir Mirza Ismail Ali ( Jaipur).

Maharaja Hari Singh was one of the ruler belonging to this small group. The Jammu & Kashmir State was considered as one of the best administered states of pre 1947 India.

Maharaja Hari Singh was born on September 23,1895. at the palace of Amar Mahal, Jammu.His father Raja Amar Singh was the brother of Maharaja Pratap Singh.Since Maharaja Pratap Singh had no children , so it was quite obvious that the nephew will ascend to the throne after him. Raja Amar Singh foresaw the writing on the wall and brought up his son to learn the traditions and values which were the hall mark of the Dogras in general and the ruling family in particular.

Maharaja Hari Singh began his early education in Mayo College , Ajmer, which was the prestigious institution catering for the needs of the modern education of the royal families at the hands of the British teachers. It was at this time that Britishers took personal interest in the education of Hari Singh and entrusted the task to major H K Brar who became his guardian. After completing his education at Mayo , he was sent to Imperial Cadet Corp, Dehradhun. After completing his Military training he returned to the state in 1914, and was appointed Commander – in – Chief of the State Forces. In addition he held the position of Senior Member of the State Council and later was incharge of Defence and Foreign Affairs 

During the period of his Ruler – in –waiting he was sent abroad with this intention that this will broaden his vision. He married Maharani Tara Devi after his three earlier wives died in their very young age. It was Maharani Tara Devi who bore her the only son Dr. Karan Singh in 1931.

Maharaja Hari Singh ascended to the throne in 1925 after the demise of Maharaja Pratap Singh.

The State of Jammu and Kashmir is a multi ethnic , multi religious state divided into Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. All the three regions have their own distinct culture, language and style of living.

Maharaja Hari Singh began the reign of the state with good educational background and exposure to the then modern world which had broadened his vision .He initiated comprehensive Economic, Agricultural, Social, Legal, Administrative and Political reforms. He introduced several new laws which modernized every branch of public affairs. The highest priorities were given to Agriculture, Education and Health.


Maharaja was very well aware of this fact that Agriculture was the main occupation of the state especially in the valley, so he paid extra ordinary attention to modernize this sector.A very brief reference is given for the benefit of readers :-

< “Agriculture Relief Act”, which enabled the Debtors to bring the creditors to the court for settlement and freed the peasants and rural population from the yoke of Money Lenders and Creditors.

< “The Land Alienation Act”forbade the transfer of Agriculture land to Non Agriculture and gave ownership rights to the tiller. The rural population and farmers without any land were given the Khalsa Land with ownership rights.

< The BEGAR or the FORCED LABOUR was completely abolished.

< The Department of RURAL DEVELOPMENT was established in 1937. The Panchayats which till then were used to resolve the community conflicts were associated with the implementation of plans for Rural Development.


Maharaja was very keen for industriliasation of the state. Despite the fact there were numerous problems. His main focus was on those which could be established with the raw material which was available in the state. The manufacturing units of match boxes, carpets, tents, woodwork tannery goods, silk yarn were set up during this period. By way of incentives and encouragement to the trade and industry several Taxes were abolished.

The State Government established Silk factory in Jammu and the production unit in Srinagar. The opening of Industrial Centres and Emporias in Srinagar and Jammu , gave fillip to the trade of the state. All these together provided employment to thousands of workers and also to the rural families who raised the cocoons for the silk yarn.

Maharaja realized that because of the natural beauty of the valley TOURISM played a vital role to the economy. In addition to the benefits to the State Exchequer it brought benefits to people connected with it. In a planned way he developed the facilities at Srinagar, Pahalgam and Gulmarg.

< Establishment of Jammu and Kashmir Bank:-

The revolutionary step of establishing JAMMU & KASHMIR BANK in 1938 will remain the hall mark of Economic Reforms. The bank took control of the Government Treasury . Branches were opened at all the important places in the state.

During the world war – II, when essential commodities like food, rice, wheat ,sugar and fuel had become scarce. Rationing system was introduced where these items were provided to the people at controlled prices. Not only that a fund was created by the maharaja for the poorest population to alleviate their distress.


After the Agriculture and Economic reforms it was the Health Reforms which was highest on the priority list. Maharaja was aware of the fact that his subjects are not getting proper Health care. It was mainly the foreign missionaries who were giving health care to the people with in their limited means..

The number of Hospitals at the District Head quarters and the Dispensaries deep into the interiors were significantly increased. They were manned by the qualified Doctors and the Nursing Staff. The Sri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital ( SMHS Hospital) --- now attached to Govt. Medical College ‘ Srinagar, was opened in Srinagar in 1945 with 320 Beds and was considered the largest Hospital in the country. Similarly The Sri Maharaj Gulab Singh Hospital ( SMGS Hospital ) ---- now attached to Govt. Medical College, Jammu, was opened in 1943, at Jammu. The State had the distinction of having “TUBERCULOSES DEPARTMENT , attached to Health department in India.

The Cholera Epidemics that broke in 1935 made the Maharaja to understand that polluted drinking water was the root cause of the diseases in the state. A special branch was opened in the Public Works Department to provide clean potable water to the people. Tanks, wells were constructed and Tube wells were bored all over the state to provide fresh and potable water to the people.


Maharaja Hari Singh, himself an educated person having studied in the prestigious educational Institute of Mayo College , Ajmer, was firmly convinced that Education is the only firm plank which can give his subjects an honorable standing which in the long run will be beneficial to the State.

To begin with the Primary education was made compulsory for all the children in 1930. The schools which were opened under this scheme in all the towns were nicknamed by the locals as “JABRI SCHOOLS”. The Primary and the Secondary education was made FREE all over the State. New Schools, Colleges and Institutes were established to accommodate the increasing number of students.

 A campaign against Adult illiteracy was also launched with considerable success. Urdu language was made the medium of instruction in schools. Not only this a SCHOLARSHIP SELECTION BOARD was established to grant scholarships and financial assistance to the deserving and bright students. They were sent for higher studies to principal institutions in India and abroad.


Maharaja focused his serious attention to the social evils Trafficking of women, Child Marriages, untouchability, and female infanticide. To prevent female infanticide he constituted two committees in 1926 and 1929., which recommended that severe action to be taken against the guilty. 

An ordinance was promulgated in which the marriage of boys and girls under 18 and 14 yearswas prohibited and the breach of the ordinance invited an imprisonment upto one year and fine of one thousand rupees .DHANDEVI Memorial Fund was established for the marriage of poor girls. The prostitution or the organizing of prostitution were declared punishable crimes . Legislations against such social evils were introduced.

Maharaja will be remembered for the bold step against the evils of untouchability common against the low cast communities. He opened all the schools, colleges and wells to the untouchables in 1931. Next year 1932 all the temples were thrown open to them and by 1941 untouchability was proclaimed as a crime. Maharaja’s removal of legal disabilities on the marriages of Hindu Widows is regarded as a doctrine in the sub continent.

It will surprise the readers that Maharaja set the example of worshipping HARIJAN Girls during NAVRATRAS.


Maharaja, after assuming the reigns of the state was very much aware of the fact that political and economic dissatisfaction had started among the people keeping in mind the strike of Silk factory workers in 1924. The political awareness was also on the rise. He initiated the process of replacing the totalitarian administration with a more secular and non communal one.

Maharaja faced the problem of lack of local professionals, officers and administrators. English language had been declared necessary for the civil services and this resulted in people from outside the state being inducted in the civil services. This had caused a wave of anger among the people. The crisis was resolved by the Government that only people born in the state before 1846 and settled before 1885 could be employed in the civil services.

The Muslim community which had remained behind in education as compared to the other communities wanted special quota in the services but Government refused the demand which resulted anti Government disturbances and communal riots in 1931. Maharaja took a serious notice of the agitation and appointed Glancey Commission to look into the grievances of the Muslims and other communities. Maharaja accepted the recommendations of the commission and declared by a proclamation July,9,1931. 

The recommendations included “For a fair and adequate representation in services to all the communities , grant of freedom of Press and Platform and the establishment of the representative Assembly”.But at the same time due consideration will be given to the public interest and the obligation of maintaining the efficiency of the administration will not be overlooked. Maharaja though was able to satisfy the Muslims but incurred the wrath of minority communities.


Maharaja, a keen observer , who had been abroad, was watching the changing political scenario in the sub continent. He endorsed the formation of a Legislative Assembly called the JAMMU AND KASHMIR PRAJA SABHA, in 1934. The sabha consisted of 75 Members including 33 Elected Members ( 21, Muslims, 10 Hindus, and 2 Sikhs). Respecting the demands of the people the number of elected Members was raised from 33 to 40., in 1939. The Praja Sabha was empowered to make laws, pass legislations pertaining to taxes and the Budgetary allocations. 

In1944, Maharaja again took a noteworthy step by appointing Ministers from the Elected Praja Sabha Members. This led to the appointment of Mirza Afzal Beg and Sh. Ganga Ram as ministers.


Maharaja Hari Singh maintained cordial relations with the British. There is a school of thought that at one time Britishers tried to weaken him and sent some people from the political Department for this purpose. During war Maharaja assisted the British and their allies with armed forces and Funds. He personally visited the Middle east in 1941 and 1944 to meet his soldiers and enhance their spirit.

This writer has purposely not delved on the happenings between 1947 and 1949, because it is a totally different subject

The state of Jammu and Kashmir underwent a total change with these reforms. The readers will agree that all these above mentioned Reforms were people oriented and these reforms brought a sea change in their outlook. The systemic changes and the reforms that were brought with the passage of time sounds like an Election Manifesto being released by the different parties before going to the hustings. The readers know that the writing in the manifestos remains only on paper and are hardly implemented once the party comes to power.

Maharaja Hari Singh never released any manifesto, but being a visionary and being advised by the efficient people he had his hand on the pulse of his subjects and was fully aware of their needs which will make their lives better and better. Like other Maharajas he did not waste his time and meager finances in conducting the marriages of the dogs , watching Nautch girls dancing the whole night , Waking up the whole night and drinking and sleeping during the day. Absolutely ignorant what is happening in their state.

It is quite surprising that why the Dogra rule is being termed as Tyrant and autocratic. They were not invaders but had purchased the state. But it goes to their credit that they never treated the state as a “PURCHASED COMMODITY”. They handled it with utmost care, unlike Pathan and Sikh rulers which brings shivers to the spine. The fact remains that all the Dogra rulers never were a law unto themselves. Their personal lives were above board when compared to other rulers . They had the best possible Advisors / administrators. Maharaja Hari Singh , had the distinction of having the best Prime Ministers and Ministers. This was the reason why this state was considered as the best administered state in India.

My humble submission to Respected Honb’le Dr. Karan Singh , Maharaja’s only son, why he has chosen to remain silent about the good work carried out in the state during his father’s regime. Is it because your were totally carried away by the charisma of Pt. Nehru. It is a fact that Maharaja and Pt Nehru rubbed each other on the wrong side. The bone of contention being that Pt. Nehru was fascinated by Sheikh Abdullah while the Maharaja was allergic to him. Maharaja had incurred the wrath of having him arrested at the Kohala bridge and did not allow him to enter the state. Who was right or who was wrong that historian will decide. While it is known that Pt. Nehru did not leave any stone unturned to humiliate the Maharaja, it goes to the credit of Maharaja, being highly egoistic he also did not beg for favours.

Respected, Honb’le Dr. Sahab, I have been going to Jammu every month for the last 40 years, because of professional and social obligation. During these 40 years I have never come across that a function or a Memorial Lecture or a seminar was being organized in memory of Maharaja Hari Singh. The people of J&K State need to be told the good work that Maharaja did for the state. This writer never knew that Jammu & Kashmir Bank was established in 1938, as a step towards the Economic Reforms. It is a foregone conclusion that the Bank was established after 1947, by the popular Government. I would humbly request you that Maharaja should not be dubbed as a Ruler but a true Democrat , who loved the State and its people.

This writer would conclude this write up on this legend of Dogras :-


(With thanks to Mr. Ashique Hamadani, Dubai, for his inputs )


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The writer is NCR/UP based and a regular contributor to this Website


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September 7, 2021 at 4:57 PM ×

Maharaja Hari Singh was great leader he gave lot of emphasize on industrisation and also build silk factory in jammu and also built lot of hospitals.he gave fair representation to all communities. He was keen observer and had broad out look.he has only one son out of three wife's and his name was Dr.karan singh. He was true Democrat and good ruler. He allowed sc and ST girls in lot of puja festival in temples. Many many thanks to Ms. Rama for reminding us the history of maharaja Hari Singh.

Congrats bro Sanjay Trakroo you got PERTAMAX...! hehehehe...