Banks, lamps, oil, paints, paper, planes, power, soap, silk, steel, sugar: the precocious Maharaja who made Mysore “self-reliant”—a century before Narendra Modi could say ‘atma nirbhar’

Screenshot 2020-05-25 18.41.40

Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s tongue-twisting call for an “Atmanirbhar Bharat” has evoked the usual gloating among the devout who still can’t get over Niti Aayog’s nursery-school alliteration, “vocal for local”.

A fine report in today’s Kannada daily Praja Vani (above) shows how hollow the PM’s slogan is, devoid of any sense of history, either of India’s pre-Independence history, or its post-Independence trajectory.

The report talks of how the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore had conceptualised and achieved self-reliance of the kind Modi is now feeding the hungry wannabes of WhatsApp University, a century and more ago.

Under a king Mahatma Gandhi called the “Raj Rishi” (saintly king): Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the 24th Maharaja of Mysore, who was a mere 10 years of age when he ascended the throne, and lived to be 56.


“The people of Mysore use Mysore Soap, dry their bodies with Mysore towels, wear Mysore silk, ride Mysore horses, use Mysore sugar in Mysore Coffee, light up their homes with Mysore Lamps, write on Mysore paper,” wrote the then diwan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail, in his book ‘My public life‘.

Besides all these, Mysore had had its own steel, cement, fertiliser, glass, aircraft and agriculture equipment manufacturing firms, not to mention its own electricity generating plant.

Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the PV report records, gave prominence to education, development and industrial innovation to the extent that he donated 371 acres of land to J.N. Tata to set up what is now the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore.

Praja Vani also lists these milestones that should show that India embarked on the path to Atmabirbharata long before the word tripped off Modi’s tongue.

# Mysore Spinning and manufacturing mill, Bangalore, 1889

# Central industrial workshop, Bangalore, 1897

# Shivanasamudra hydro-electric project, Mysore, 1902

# Mysore silk factory, Mysore, 1921

# State Bank of Mysore, 1913

# Government soap factory, Bangalore, 1916

# Sandal oil factory, Mysore, 1917

# Krishnarajendra Mills, Mysore, 1920

# Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant, Bhadravati, 1923

# Mysore sugar mills, Mandya, 1933

# Mysore paper mills, Bhadravati, 1936

# Mysore lamps, Bangalore, 1936

# Mysore fertiliser factory, Belagola, 1937

# Mysore paints and varnishes limited, 1937

# Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, 1940


Also read: 10 things Narendra Modi should not talk about in Mysore


Screenshot: courtesy Praja Vani

Photograph: Creative Commons