Milestones as Maharaja

In the 14 years of his reign over the state of Patna Bolangir, Maharaja Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo proved himself to be a leader of outstanding vision and ability. From 1933 to 1948, Patna - Bolangir was witness to some of the most sophisticated development initiatives and foresighted policies undertaken in the country in that period.

The Maharaja’s was an ideal that envisaged the advancement of the state in all respects. While the administrative set up saw and out and out overhaul, major strides were made in creating first hand civic amenities for the people.  There was an unbounded growth in social institutions and infrastructure and art and culture flourished with a renewed vigor. Such was the extent of the Maharaja’s glory, that even today, he leaves behind him in the modern district of Bolangir, a much remembered legacy.

1. Effecting Democratic Governance and Justice in Patna-Bolangir:  
Maharaja Rajendra Narayan Singh was an outright democrat. His ideals manifested themselves in the establishment of a highly nuanced, democratic structure of governance in Patna Bolangir.  The active participation of the praja was emphasized upon, with the prevailing ethos embodying the ideals of amity and fairness.
 
Patna High Court - 1940

As early as 1940, Maharaja Rajendra Narayan Singh set up in the state a High Court. The mechanisms of its operation were in keeping with the Maharaja’s thinking, particularly refined – being modeled upon the Court of Equity at the British Chancery. A distinction was made between Civil and Criminal justice, with several independent appellate authorities existing in the regions of Bolangir, Titilagarh and Kantabanji.

When in 1945, with the signing of the Common Agreement of 18 States a common High Court was set up, the laws established by the Maharaja’s High Court at Patna –Bolangir served as an invaluable statue.
 
State Legislature, Praja Sabhas, Panchayats and Municipalities – October 1945

In 1942, on the auspicious occasion of Vijay Dasami, the Maharaja  in a public address announced his intention to establish a people’s legislature in the state. A formal constitution was drawn, and by 1945 the Maharaja introduced the People’s Act, also known as the Patna State Assembly Act.  The assembly was inaugurated on the 16th of October 1945. While half the members were constituted from the Praja Sabhas and Municipalities, the other half were nominated by the Maharaja.

With the passing of the Panchayats and Praja Sabha Acts in the same year, the Maharaja successfully formulated in Patna Bolangir a scheme of local governance, comprising of heads directly elected by the praja. 

The Panchayats, Praja Sabhas and Municipalities, in consonance with the legislature functioned to effect the passing of several progressive policies, each of which were thoroughly deliberated upon.

In 1946, the maharaja constituted a Ministerial Cabinet comprising of a Revenue Minister, a Defense Minister and himself.  While the ultimate authority in all matters lay with the Maharaja, he left no stone unturned in efforts made to maintain the egalitarian character of the system.

The Land Revenue system was restructured to benefit the agriculturalists. Bheti and Kheda forms of labor were unequivocally abolished, and action was taken to fortify the rights of tenants.

2. EDUCATION:

Maharaja Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo recognized the need for creating lasting provisions for the education of the people in order to ensure a sustained and meaningful process of progress. His time as ruler saw the establishment of several educational institutions, many of which continue till this day, to produce students of exceptional caliber.

Foremost among these is the Rajendra Singh College, set up in Patna – Bolangir in July 1944. The institution has through the years grown from strength to strength and currently holds the status of an autonomous university, producing over 300 graduates and 100 post graduates in various disciplines every year.

 Education was imparted almost free at the time of the Maharaja. Several primary schools were  established in the region, including a school meant especially for the girls – the M.E. High School.  Hostels were constructed for the boarding of poor students, and the Vidhya Bhushan Sanskrit College imparted free of cost education to Brahmin boys.

The maharaja set up a wide network of agricultural schools and vocational training centers across Bolangir, with the people greatly benefitting from the practical knowledge they acquired in these institutes.
It was an era that experienced an unrestrained evolution. The Maharaja’s wisdom and discernment elevated the lives of the praja to a level that was inconceivable in pre independent times.

3. HEALTHCARE:

Patna – Bolangir had at the time of the Maharaja an unparalleled Public Health Care system. As early as 1932 a Multi Specialty Hospital was established in the region. The first X Ray Machine that ever operated in Orissa was at the Multi Specialty Hospital at Bolangir. It housed several wards – including ones catering especially to women, patients of leprosy and tuberculosis.

An eye hospital was also set up in the region that served patients from across the state of Orissa, including Cuttack and Behrampur.

There was also a wide network of Ayurvedic Dispensaries in the region that were equally popular. The Saradeshwari Ayurvedic Hospital, which was established in the 1930’s even housed its own production unit, and benefitted thousands of patients from across the state.

4. WATER WORKS AND IRRIGATION:

The Maharaja’s time was a period in the kingdom of Bolangir, when the region was blessed with an abundance of water. Fields were irrigated the whole year round owing to the several tanks, check dams and barrages that were built. Agricultural production experienced for those 14 years an ever burgeoning increase, and drought, a condition that maladies Bolangir district today, was entirely unheard of.

There were also excellent provisions made for drinking water. The Karanga Kata was a reserve tank exclusive for domestic use by the praja.

5. INDUSTRY:

Industries were developed to a significant extent. A Diary was established in Bolangir in 1937 that provided for the diary needs of all. For over a decade, milk was delivered to the door of the people of Bolangir and several other peripheral villages including Titilagarh and Kantabanji.

An energy production unit  was set up at Koshal in 1939, therein making Bolangir one of the few Indian kingdoms to be completely electrified in that period.

The trade of Kendu Leaves, which remains today an important source of revenue in the region, was also developed at this time.
 
Haari Hats organized through the state allowed for the promotion of goods produced by small scale industries and agricultural produce, and loans were made available to agriculturists by the several banks and co-operatives that were established in the region.

The Dalaganjan Press housed a handmade paper Industry besides producing two of the finest literary papers of the time – the Patna Deepika in Oriya and Patna State Gazette in English.

6. TRANSPORT:

Patna-Bolangir was a well connected kingdom that had running through it several well laid roads, which intersected each other at perfect right angles.  A majestic array of neem trees, planted at the time of the Maharaja line the streets of Bolangir district, and the state highways, even today.

In 1941, a public bus transit system was introduced, enabling for the people an easy commute across villages, traversing through all of Bolangir, right up to the eastern villages.

7. CULTURE AND THE ARTS:

Maharaja Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo, hailing from the artistically disposed royal family of Seraikela, was an avid proponent of the arts. Several avenues for the pursuance of art and culture were created for the people, and Bolangir, in the time of the Maharaja painted the picture of a vibrant, lively kingdom.

In 1943, the Koshal Kalamandal was inaugurated by the Maharaja.  The very first performance – a splendid recital staging of the Oriya Drama Sita enthralled an audience of five thousand people that had gathered. For several years the mandal functioned as the nucleus of all cultural activity in the region, with several public meets, theatre performances and festivals celebrated there with much aplomb.  Legendary artistes of the likes of P.C. Sorkar have performed at the Mandal over the last five decades of its existence, and its exclusive journal – the Panchranga was issued every year until very recently.

The Literary and Social Club, established during the early 1900’s was revived by the Maharaja, and a club for ladies, the Maharani Kailash Kumari Ladies Club was established.

The Koshal Historical Research Society, headed by the late historian Purnachandra Rath was formed in 1931, exclusively for the purpose of documentation and research. The society came out with an annual journal that was widely acclaimed by legendary scholars of the likes of late Shri Kedarnath Mohapatra, Shri Balamukunda Hota and Shri Satyanarayan Rajguru.

Forms of music and dance thrived during the Maharaja’s reign. The maharaja’s own brother Bhupender Singh Deo was amongst the finest exponents of the traditional Chhau, a dance form that was the hallmark of the royals of Seraikela.  Several music schools were established in the region, and performances were held at the Koshal Kalamandal almost every week.

In the 14 years of his reign over the state of Patna Bolangir, Maharaja Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo proved himself to be a leader of outstanding vision and ability. From 1933 to 1948, Patna - Bolangir was witness to some of the most sophisticated development initiatives and foresighted policies undertaken in the country in that period.

The Maharaja’s was an ideal that envisaged the advancement of the state in all respects. While the administrative set up saw and out and out overhaul, major strides were made in creating first hand civic amenities for the people.  There was an unbounded growth in social institutions and infrastructure and art and culture flourished with a renewed vigor. Such was the extent of the Maharaja’s glory, that even today, he leaves behind him in the modern district of Bolangir, a much remembered legacy..

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