Ganga Singh Ji
|Date of birth||Asoj Sudi 10th S. 1937 (3rd Oct., 1880)|
|Date of Accession||Bhadwa Sudi 13th S. 1944 (A.D. 1887)|
|Age at Accession||6 years 10 months|
|Date of Demise||Magh Badi 11th S. 1999 (A.D. 1943)|
|Period of Reign||55 years|
MAHARAJA GANGA SINGH: - His Highness Sri Maharaja Adhiraj, Raj Rajeshar, Nariiidar Saromani, Maharaja Gaiiga Singli Bahadur was born on auspicious day of Vijayadashmi, Asoj Sud 10'h S. 1937 - 3'd October 1880. He succeeded his brother and adoptive father, the late Maharaja Dungar Singh, on the 31 August 1887. He received his education at home under the able guidance of Pt. Ram Chandra Dubey. In 1889, the Maharaja was sent to Mayo College, Ajmer, where also Pt. Ram Chandra Dubey continued to be his tutor and guide. He was a brilliant student and gained the First Prize in English in all classes.
The Maharaja left Mayo College in 1894 when he was fourteen and from 1895 to 1898, he was put under the able guidance of Sir Brian Egerton for administrative training. He learnt the entire administrative work from that of Patwari to that of Prime Minister.
For Military training, he was sent to Deoli in 1898 and attached to the Deoli Regiment, which had the reputation of being one of the finest Regiment in India under the command ofLt. Col. Bell.
Soon after assumption of powers in 1898, the Maharaja had in 1899-1900 to combat with one of the worst famines, which had ever ravaged the entire region including Bikaner.
Though still in his teens, the Maharaja in his eagerness and enthusiasm took all possible steps to provide relief to famine stricken people. He, therefore, decided to take Famine Department in his personal charge and made tour of the famine affected areas on camel and horse-back in order to acquaint himself with the needs of the people and the size and intensity of their suffering which enabled him to take effective measures to combat the same.
The young Maharaja immediately got in touch with the best experts in development of Railways which was so great that by the end of 1935, a net work of Railway over 1000 miles long was spread through out the desert state of Bikaner. It would be relevant to mention that the Bikaner State Railway had the pride of being the biggest Railway in Rajasthan.
The Maharaja realised that if any thing could eradicate the poverty and famine from this vast tract of sandy land, it will be only by bringing the irrigation system from adjoining Punjab rivers. Having been convinced of this fact, he set, with unflinching zeal and resolute determination, for bringing canal in 1903.
In 1903, Maharaja Ganga Singhji obtained the services of A.W.E. Standley, Chief Engineer, who demonstrated the feasibility of the West area of the Bikaner State being brought under irrigation from the Sutlej waters. Meanwhile, in 1905, at the instance of the Central Government, Mr. R.G. Kennedy the then Chief Engineer of Punjab drew up the first Sutlej Valley Project, according to which vast tracts of land in the Bikaner State could be brought under irrigation. However, due to various objections being raised by the neighbouring State of Bhanwalpur, nothing could materialize till 1906, when a decision was taken and according to which a scheme was sanctioned in 1912. Yet, Bahawalpur was still persisting that only riparian States could derive the benefits of river waters. Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India decided, in 1906 that "river water should be used to the best advantage of the people of India, without regard to the accident of their being subjects of an Indian Chief or in British territory." The objection of the Bahawalpur State was accordingly refuted and after a protracted corresnpondence a Trinartite Conference was held and an agreement was reached and signed on the 4'h September 1920. However, the area to be irrigated in the Bikaner territory under the 1905 proposals, viz. 18,00,000 acres, was limited to 1,000 Sq. miles under the final project. The foundation stone of the Canal Head Works at Ferozepur was laid on the 5'h December, 1925 and the work completed in 1927 by constructing 89 miles lined canal. The opening ceremony was performed on the 26'h October, 1927 by Lord lrwin, the then Viceroy of India.
He was not satisfied with the coverage of Gang Canal irrigation because according to him it irrigated only a very little part of his kingdom, so he sponsored Bhakra Nagal project with a view to get grater area irrigated and thus the State of Bikaner became a partner in this project. It was due to the magnitude of his planning and herculean courage that this part of the Thar Desert has the largest network of major irrigation in the whole ofRajasthan.
Maharaja Ganga Singhji was a very enlightened Ruler and was ahead of his times. Though young in age but matured in judgment and clear thinking yet in 1902 he separated his privy-purse and never took more than 10% of the state revenue as his privy purse. When he came to throne the revenue of his state was only 20 Lakhs but by bringing canals, spread of Railways etc. he raised the income of his State to 4 Crores of rupees and there were no such taxes as income tax, wealth tax etc.
His another great desire was that his people should get proper and speedy justice and in filll-filment of this object, a Chief Court was established in Bikaner in the year 1911 presided over by a Chief Judge who was assisted by two Judges. Bikaner was the first State in Rajasthan to take such a step, a progressive measure. Urdu, being the official language, was replaced by Hindi and this order became effective from 1914. In conformity with his belief that the people should be progressively associated with the working of the government, he announced the establishment of a Representative Assembly. This was inaugurated on the 10 Nov. 1913. It was the first among the Rajasthan and probably second or third in India. An Act was passed and the first Co-operative society was started. Thus it was an early an 1920 that the Maharaja had realised the importance of the Co-operative Society in the rural economy. A Zimandar Board was constituted in order to bring closer the agriculturists and the Government to enable them to understand each other's problems and try to meet them. With the creation of Ganganagar as a separate administrative unit, a Zamindari Board was also created for that area.
For better dispensation of Justice, the Maharaja established a High Court with a Chief Justice and two sub-judges by an Edict date the 3'd May, 1922. Maharaja Ganga Singhji was again the first prince in Rajputana to have granted full charter of powers to a High Court. A life insurance and Endowment Assurance Scheme was introduced for the benefit of the employees. Also, facilities of a Saving Bank were made available to the people. He was equally alert to stop social evils. He was one of the first Ruler to introduce through legislation Sharda Act by which child marriages were stopped. The village Panchayat Act No. Ill of 1928 was passed under which the panchayats were given definite Civil Criminal and Executive powers. He was a great champion of female education and in the year 1894 in Bikaner city a girls schools was established and as the time went by, there was also a college for women. He even opened a school for girls observing Puradah so that they may not lack in education. When Maharaja came to the throne, he found, that there was hardly any hospital and the people had to travel very long distance for their treatment. He decided that each town should have its own hospital and some of the big villages too have dispensaries where medicine could easily be made available and in case of epidemic, immediate aid could be rushed to the rural area. Because of this planning Bikaner State had very good number of small hospitals and dispensaries throughout the area of 23000 sq miles. Not satisfied with this, he made a group of hospitals in 1937, which became an ideal for the whole of Northern India. He got best specialists in Surgery, Radiology, Pathology and Physicians, from all over the world who were second to none in their ability.
After the first world war, Maharaja Ganga Singh took up the task of Industrialization in the State. Following it, an Industrial and Economic enquiry was undertaken in 1921 A.D., and then in 1931, an Industrial Census was Carried out. As a result of all this a coal mine at Palana, Cottage ginning Factories of cotton Press in Ganganagar Dist., the wool pressing Factory, the glass work, Soap Factory, Cigarette Factory, the pulse Factory, File Factory, Printing Press and a big Railway workshop started working in the State.
Maharaja Ganga Singhji had sixth sense and he could always feel in his inner mind the coming of things which most of his contemporaries could never even remotely imagine of it. In the year 1937, the British power was at its climax, and the Princes were very secure and steady and even most of the eminent Indian leaders who were sacrificing their life for the attainment of freedom could hardly think that in near future the Mighty power of the British Raj and Princely order would disappear. But the Maharaja knew that the Princely order and the British Raj were approaching their end. This is evident from his letter of 2'd February, 1937 to Sir Donald Field, Prime Minister of Jodhpur, in which he wrote " Let me tell you Sir Donald, that neither the glorified pillars of the princely order nor the loftiest among the regency bucks are going to survive these proletarian fire brands, yet the mentle of centuries old sovereignty in India is going to fall upon them for justice and fair play...... Since neither you nor your colleagues think of throwing the State of Marwar to wolves, you will surely realise that person of Jai Narain Vyas's eminence will be required too badly to look after the millions at large at a time when you will be no more at the helm of affairs."
To sum up his services to the cause of Indian Nationalism are such as to entitle him to a honored place among the ranks of the great Indian Patriots. He had missed no opportunity to press the claims of India for a generous measures of self Government... It was his voice that assured Britain that the Princes were whole heartedly in favour of Political advance in British India. But for the momentous declaration which the Maharaja, with the courage and vision of a patriot, made in 1930 at the First Round Table Conference the course of events would never have changed. In fact, the Maharaja has been one of the most consistent Nationalists, whose influence and prestige have always been on the side of the progressive emancipation of his country.
Maharaja Ganga Singhji passed away on 2'd February 1943 at Bombay.