Forgotten Events: How Travancore joined the Union

The present state of Kerala is made up of three princely states, Travancore, Cochin and Malabar. When the British announced their withdrawal from India, the Diwan of Travancore, Sir. CP Ramaswamy Iyer announced that Travancore would establish itself as an independent state and would not join the Indian Union.

bq. The action of Diwan aroused a bitter controversy inside and outside the State. Travancore was again in the vortex of a political struggle and the Government resorted to a series of repressive measures to meet the situation. One of the highlights of the struggle was a police firing at Pettah, Trivandrum, in which three persons including a student by name Rajendran were killed. A few days after the incident, an unsuccessful attempt was made on Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer’s life when the Diwan was attending a function in the Swathi Thirunal Academy of Music at Trivandrum (July 25, 1947). The Diwan escaped with minor injuries and very soon left the State for good. Immediately after this incident the Maharaja intimated, to Lord Mountbatten, the Governor-General, his decision to accept the Instrument of Accession and take Travancore into the Indian Union. Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer resigned the office of Diwan on August 19, 1947 and was succeeded in that office by P.G.N. Unnithan.
[Source: “Kerala’s Politics”:] This series is part of “15 days of Independence”:

7 thoughts on “Forgotten Events: How Travancore joined the Union

  1. The Diwan of Travancore was actually stabbed in the face by a Congress member, and the terrified Maharaja cabled Mountbatten his agreement to the act of accession

  2. I have often wondered what prompted CP Ramaswamy Iyer to declare Travancore an Independant state. I dont think he is as bad as he is generally made out to be.
    From the information I gathered on net
    CP represented India in the council of the League of Nations, was made Advocate general of Madras and later executive councilor in that Presidency. Over the years he worked in numerous committees and advised numerous Princely states on constitutional matters. Between 1936 and 1947 he was Dewan of Travancore, a period that brought to the fore his remarkable administrative abilities. He was one of the makers of Travancore- he developed industries, expanded education, established the Travancore University and introduced scientific methods of cultivation. One of the most courageous step he took was to throw open the gates of the temples to Harijans.
    With the risk of being labelled “unpatriotic”, I have always wondered how our country would have looked like, if all the states we have now were independant countries.

  3. Another thing I heard is that he was very impressed with the American Presidential form of Govt. and wanted something like that in Travancore.

  4. It is interesting to note that, in a way the firing at petta saved sir CP’s life. When rajendran was shot, CP was afraid that his death would cause trouble for him and brought the anti biotic penicilin from Madras.the unused portion of this penicilin was used for CP when his nose was cut.
    Also the rajedra ground in tvm was named after rajendran
    Kannan Balakrishnan

  5. Hi,
    My response is a bit too long as i wish to point to a few missed facts. Sir CP was indeed a brilliant statesman. He himself wasn’t for independence but for greater autonomy of Travancore. The punapra vayalar incident took place in 1946 OCT24-27,but the Travancore independance announcement came in 1947, JULY 11. The assassination attempt on CP happened in 1947 JULY 25 & the communists claimed that CP fled instantly & Chithira Thirunal cowardly agreed to integrate, & all this happened due to their efforts (lawlessness, if u ask sane people), has no truth in it. The attack on CP was undertaken by a member of Revolutionary Socialist Party(RSP) named KCS Mani. And while he was in hospital, CP was creating the Constitution of Travancore.
    Ram’s comment echoes the popular communist line, regarding “the terrified king cabling Mountbatten & approving integration”. in realtiy, Mountbatten had agreed to let Travancore stay with greater autonomy. The King had actually agreed to that & send a thanking note to him, & not agreeing with total integration (Travancore’s sovereignity will be accepted by the Indian govt even though foreign policy & defence will be in central govt’s hand, but could indulge in foreign trade without centre’s permission; also that there won’t be any interference in internal matters of Travancore by the Indian govt. That was the agreement Chithira Thirunal agreed in 1947, AUG 10,ie, a STAND-STILL AGREEMENT). But later, mountbatten took a U-turn on his promise & send VP Menon to negotiate. Even then the King agreed only in June1949 & Thiru-Kochi was formed right after that in JULY 1,1949. So the argument that, “the terrified Maharaja cabled montbatten with acsession” right after attack on CP, in1947 JULY25, has no basis at all. Besides, the likes of Pattom Thanu Pillai is quoted to have said to the Dewan to not let the King change his mind at any cost & that, “Post Independance, we will be ill-equipped to deal with the UNCIVILISED North Indian politicians”!!!!! Well people, that is exactly what has & is still happening to us. The Maharaja also feared that if central govt is based in Delhi, South as a whole will losse its prominence. I guess Chithira Thirunal was prophetic In that & most of the politicians didn’t had the King’s farsightedness (current politiciansstill do not have this essentail quality).
    The developments which took place during Chithira Thirunal’s reign is generally & purposefully forgotten by the political class (people also) of Kerala. I cannot agree completely with Praveen’s comments: CP wasn’t the Dewan, but the Legal-Constitutional Adviser of the young Monarch (Chithira Thirunal was just 19yrs old when he assumed administrative powers of the Monarch in NOV6, 1931) & during demands for theTemple Entry to harijans was going on. He became Dewan on OCT10, 1936(but he was an open minded person as his Junior lawyer named N.Selvaraj was an Avarna).
    Gandhiji visited Travancore, as part of his participation in Vaikom Satyagraha, went to TVM to meet the Regent Queen. At that time, he met the young Chithira Thirunal too. Gandhiji asked the queen to let harijans into temple & to this she replied that let the king do it. Then Gandhiji turned to the boy king & asked whether he will do it & the answer was a resounding “Of course”. This incident happened even before CP had entered into the political scenario of Travancore. People also asks y the King didn’t allowed Temple Entry as soon as he mounted the throne? When he assumed the administration, he set up a committe to study the matter & submit the report to him. It was an unprecedented relegious measure, so he needed time to attain as much support from the upper caste(who had a total voice in temple affairs of Travancore). CP was assigned with this job, to get the popular support. Even then, the committee recommended that harijans can be allowed till the Kodimaram of temples only & not till the front part of Sreekovil. At this opinion, the King differed & said that a whole hearted approach was needed & they should be let into the temple completely. Many historians have proven this fact.
    The CP Ramaswamy Foundation in Chennai has the habit of giving the credit of every development work done by the King to CP. Besides the Travancore dynasty as a whole was progressive as they made necessary updating/banning evil customs & norms, appreciating their subjects’ opinions & demands.
    CP’s hatred for communists, was well known & famous. Had he showed some restraint in his dealings in Punapra vayalar, this State could have been rid of the menace called communist /marxist party. Now look at our economy, oh sorry, we don’t have one!!! Chithira Thirunal sanctioned 41 mega industries which the politicians of our state utterly destroyed. Any facility that still works was started in the Royal era. The missionaries took the credit for education & healthcare(the Travancore & Cochin rulers gave lands for free to begin schools , hospitals etc ; explains y the missionaries couldn’t make the same impact in british Malabar/ the rest of India ) ; and communists/marxists took the credit for social reforms!!! In end, Maharaja Chithira Thirunal is always portrayed as a Hindu feudalist & a coward; his genius of a Dewan, Sir CP Ramaswamy Iyer, is referred to as a viscious dictatator & a Brahmin casteist!!!!
    Instead of Land Reform Act of 1963, they should have brought in things like minimum wages, benefits for workers in the agricultural field etc But that wouldn’t have served their agenda, i guess.
    Look at us now, our agricultural system is completely gone, have to depend on the volatile, intolerant Tamilians for every thing. They r using our dependence on them against us as leverage in the Mullaperiyar case.
    Whenever a person try to start a business in this state, the damned trade unions pop up with their ridiculous demands like ‘nookku kooli’!!! Until this group is uprooted from Kerala, our educated youth has no option but to migrate to other states & Kerala will remain as a “money order” state, with no local infrastructure/industry.

    1. Cabinet Mission’s formula approved by Viceroy Wavell was meant for the accord of Independence to British India . It was Mountbatten who had rushed through PARTITION to thereby try and escape the 48 deadline under Anglo American Accord that had stipulated to the British to settle issues relating to War Funding . Since the British had issued Crown’s Promissory Notes and had collected Gold from British India promising to issue All India valid Rupee Gold Coins in place of various Raj Gold Coins and had MISUSED the Gold to fund War Efforts they were accountable . Rupee facsimile ( I PROMISE ………… is based on that BROKEN Promise )
      It was Sir CP.s decline that cause swearing in of Governor General Mountbatten on the 14th in respect of BOTH Pakistan ( @ 12 noon on 14th in Karachi ) and India ( @ 23.59 hours on the 14th in Delhi ) to REEMERGE British regions presided over by ransom held leaders . Post 1857 Proclamation based declaration by the THEN Queen declaring herself as the Empress is CONTINUING

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