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Devaraj Urs Memorial Lecture(2) by Dr. James Manor, University of London | Aug 21, 2017







 Devaraj Urs Centre for Development Studies presents

Devaraj Urs Memorial Lecture (2)

"Devaraj Urs: Pioneer of Progressive Politics"


Dr. James Manor
Emeritus Professor of Commonwealth Studies
School of Advanced Study
University of London


Chief Guest

Dr. M V Rajeev Gowda
Honourable Member of Parliament
Government of India

  Date: Monday, August 21, 2017 | 10:00 AM

Venue: Athena Auditorium, MYRA School of Business 

You are cordially invited


    Dr. Shalini Urs 

  Founder & Chairperson 

MYRA School of Business 



Devaraj Urs Centre for Development Studies (DCDS)

Devaraj Urs Memorial Lecture by Dr. James Manor, University of London

August 21, 2017 | Athena Auditorium | 10:00 AM 


Shri. Devaraj Urs most innovative leader Karnataka state has ever had said Professor from University of London, UK

Delivering the second Devaraj Urs memorial lecture at the MYRA School of Business, Dr. James Manor, emeritus professor of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, on Monday said that former chief minister Shri. D Devaraj Urs is the most constructive, innovative and imaginative leader Karnataka had ever seen.

Dr. James Manor—who knows Kannada language and calls himself half Kannadiga, knows much more about Mysore and Karnataka than most Kannadigas. An erudite scholar who has published over ten books on development and governance, Dr. Manor has extensively studied Mysore State both in the pre-independence era, and since. His interest in Karnataka began in the early 1970s during his research and subsequent publication of the book in 1977—Political Change in an Indian State:  Mysore, 1917-1955.

The second Devaraj Urs Memorial Lecture on ‘Devaraj Urs: Pioneer of progressive politics’ was held on August 21, 2017, at MYRA School of Business campus, under the aegis of Devaraj Urs Centre for Development Studies (DCDS).

Dr. Shalini Urs, Chairperson, MYRA School of Business, in her welcome address emphasized that Shri. Devaraj Urs embodied the two principles of Justice, “Nithi” and “Nyaya”, and set the context for the event.

Dr. Manor traced the progressive policies of Mysore state starting from the times of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar the 4th. The Mysore State, which was the second largest princely state in the British India, was well known for its leanings towards democracy and development when many rulers in the princely states of India were autocratic. Mysore state always had a more equitable land distribution even before the independence.

Nurturing the legacy of the pre-independence rule of the Wadiyars as a progressive and constructive force, Shri. Devaraj Urs enabled equitable distribution of wealth through land reforms and reservations and helped the backward and oppressed classes get into the mainstream economy. Shri. Urs was also an astute political leader, who could win against powerful caste-based communities by leveraging the smaller OBC communities in the 1970s.

Reminiscing his association with Urs and Karnataka, particularly Mysuru, Dr. Manor said: “Urs was kind to me. Mysuru city was a princely state which was utopian in nature. The Press was free, and the university and the administration all worked well here. The Maharajas of Mysuru supported diverse ideologies while they enjoyed power.”

“Though Urs belonged to the community of Wadiyars, he was against the monarchy. He earned the ire of people of his community for being anti-establishment. He joined the Congress Party and participated in the freedom movement. He joined Indira Gandhi after the split of the Congress in 1970. With "Gharibi Hatao" as the focus, Indira Gandhi’s Congress won a whopping majority, garnering 70 % of the votes in Karnataka, under the stewardship of Shri. Devaraj Urs.

He was the only Chief Minister of modern Karnataka who held office for two consecutive terms. He had a massive mandate in spite of the defeats of his party (Congress party headed by Mrs. Indira Gandhi) across many other Indian States and in the Centre, due to his progressive policies and implementation.

Lauding Urs’ political move to bring pro-poor and progressive policies to strengthen the OBCs, he said: “Urs introduced meaningful land reforms and reservations for the backward classes which solidified their support to him. Lingayats and Vokkaligas, who owned large tracts of land, were dominant. Urs identified the poor and landless people from these communities and won them over by introducing policies aimed at helping disadvantaged groups. This was a political masterstroke.” The land reforms and backward class commission & reservations changed the rules of politics in Karnataka as land-owning communities could no longer dominate the state politics. Urs changed the power structure and political equation which was later emulated by other states.

Dr. Manor made an astute observation — “Urs also made the Karnataka state more difficult to administer by raising the expectations from the government. He caused a demand overload on the government—which he could manage — but successive governments since the past 37 years could not. They were rejected midway or after the completion of their terms leading to the phenomenon of no party/government retaining power after one term.”

Shri. Urs pioneered private participation in Engineering and Medical education which later led to IT boom in Bangalore.

Dr. James Manor’s depth and breadth of understanding of Indian politics, democracy, and development were on full display when he answered incisive questions from acclaimed academicians in the audience. Shri .Devaraj Urs’ Grandson, Mr. Suraj Hegde, and Granddaughter, Ms. Anupama Urs, added a personal touch by their active participation.

Dr. Manor proudly confided that a larger-than-life picture of Shri. Devaraj Urs still adorns his office at London. Dr. Manor declared that he is yet to see another political leader who is as progressive and astute as Shri. Devaraj Urs; coming from one of the best scholars and researchers of Indian democracy, it is no mean achievement!

Dr. James Manor is an American Scholar with a BA from Yale University and D.Phil. from the University of Sussex, London in 1975. He is a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, Washington, D.C., USA and editor of Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics.

An eminent scholar who has studied Indian polity and politics extensively and became known for his quip—“Politics is the last resort of scoundrels and Devaraj Urs is the finest scoundrel.” A frequent visitor to Karnataka, India, and soon will complete 45 years studying Karnataka. 

He has published more than 10 books including Democracy and Decentralization in South Asia and West Africa:  Participation, Accountability and Performance, (with Richard Crook), published by Cambridge University Press (1998) and Nehru to the Nineties:  The Changing Office of Prime Minister in India, (published by Penguin/Hurst (1994). And Power, Poverty and Poison:  Disaster and Response in an Indian City published by Sage in 1993.


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