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Full text of "Memoir of Rao Bahadur Ranchhodlal Chhotalal, C.I.E."

' 



A MEMOIR 



RAO BAHftDUR 
RANGHHODLAL GHHOTALAL. 

CLE 




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A MEMOIR 

OP 

RAO BAHADUR 
RANCHHODIvAL CHHOTALAL, CLE. 




Rao Bahadur Ranchhodlal Chhotalal, CLE. 



Jttnnoir 



OF 



l\ao 35atjatsur 
&antf)l)o&lal Cpotalal, CX<£., 

Late Member of the Legislative Council, Bombay, 
and Founder of the Mill Industry of Gujarat. 



COMPILED BY 

S. M. EDWARDES, C.S.I., C.V.O., 

LATE OF THE INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE (BOMBAY), 



PROM MATERIALS COLLECTED BY 

SIR H. EVAN M. JAMES, K.C.I.E., C.S.I., 

LATE OP THE INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE (BOMBAY), 
FORMERLY COLLECTOR OP AHMAD ABAD AND COMMISSIONER, N.D. 



Printed for Private Circulation only. 



EXETER : 

WILLIAM POLLARD & Co. Ltd., NORTH STREET. 

1920. 



*8761 



CONTENTS. 

Page. 
Introduction - - - - - i 

Chapter I Caste, Parentage and Birth - i 

„ II Boyhood, Marriage, and Education - 8 

„ III Service under the Bombay Government 12 

„ IV Commercial Enterprises - - - 19 

„ V Local Self-Government - - -26 

„ VI Politics - - - - - 44 

,, VII Public Charities, Character, and Death 53 

Index And Glossary - - - - - 67 



INTRODUCTION. 



It was for many years my ambition to write a memoir 
of Rao Bahadur Ranchhodlal Chhotalal, one of the ablest, 
most courteous and most progressive Hindu gentlemen 
with whom it was ever my lot to be associated during my 
thirty-five years' career in India. It was to assist in the 
fulfilment of this object that some years after I had left 
Ahmadabad, Mr. Ranchhodlal's grandson, the late Sir 
Chinubhai Madhavlal, Bart., C.I.E., kindly entrusted 
me with a long typewritten account of his grandfather's 
career, prepared by Mr. Trikamlal Damodhardas, a High 
Court pleader of Ahmadabad, which he was anxious that 
I should use in the preparation of the long contemplated 
biography. I also collected further information from other 
friends and acquaintances, among whom I must particularly 
mention Rao Bahadur Bulakhidas, late District Deputy 
Collector ; Mr. Trikamlal Dinanath, who supplied me with 
certain information and statistics relating to the mill industry 
in Gujarat, and Mr. A. H. A. Simcox, I.C.S., who, in 1916, 
while he was serving as Collector of Ahmadabad, sent me 
a very useful note on the water-supply and drainage s} T stem 
of that city. The India Office records were also consulted, 
and Mr. Iy. Robertson, C.S.I., Secretary to the Bombay 
Government, helped me with some valuable details. A 
variety of circumstances prevented me from utilising the 
collected materials and commencing to write the memoir 
of my old friend until the close of 1919 ; and then, alas ! I 
began to realise that the energy requisite for such a com- 
pilation was no longer vouchsafed to me. L'homme propose, 
Dieu dispose. Almost in despair, I appealed to another 
retired Indian Civilian, Mr. S. M. Edwardes, who served, 
like myself, in the Bombay Presidency, to write the memoir 
for me and so assist me in paying my last tribute to the 



ii RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAI, CHHOTALAL. 

memory of my old friend, the founder of modern Ahmada- 
bad, and he most kindly consented. The following pages, 
descriptive of the career and character of Rao Bahadur 
Ranchhodlal, are thus the work of Mr. Edwardes, who has 
freely utilised the typewritten memorandum of Mr. 
Trikamlal Damodhardas and the rest of the scattered 
materials above-mentioned. The author has enhanced the 
value of the publication by the inclusion of a combined 
index and glossary designed to assist English readers who 
may be unacquainted with Indian terms and nomenclature. 
And now I am fain to add a brief word to the tale set 
forth in the succeeding pages. Between April, 1888, and 
November, 1891, I held the appointment of Collector and 
Magistrate of Ahmadabad and Commissioner of the Northern 
Division at the very time when Mr. Ranchhodlal Chhotalal 
was immersed in the heavy task of introducing an improved 
water-supply and a modern system of sanitation into the 
populous capital of Gujarat. Mr. Ranchhodlal was at 
that date President of the Ahmadabad Municipality, having 
been appointed a year or two before my arrival by Lord 
Reay's Government. He was the first Indian gentleman 
chosen for the post, in pursuance of the policy of Lord 
Ripon of associating Indians with the work of local self- 
government ; and in his capacity as President he became 
responsible for all the executive work of the municipality. 
The appointment was no sinecure, as anyone with experience 
of urban administration in India will readily admit. 
Scarcely a day passed, while I was in Ahmadabad, that Mr. 
Ranchhodlal did not call upon me early in the morning to 
consult me about improvements and reforms or to report 
the progress of his schemes. Consequently, I soon became 
on terms of great intimacy with him and learned to appre- 
ciate his tact, ability and modesty. His actual achievements 
in municipal administration are described in a later page, 
as also his successful introduction into Gujarat of the cotton- 
spinning and weaving industry. The latter work formed 
the basis of the large fortune which he gradually accumu- 



INTRODUCTION. Ill 

lated — a fortune which was subsequently developed by his 
son and grandson I have been told by leading men of 
business in Ahmadabad that Ranchhodlal could have 
accumulated much greater wealth, had he elected to devote 
his whole time to the textile industry instead of spending 
a large portion of the day on the problems of urban improve- 
ment. After I left Ahmadabad, Mr. Ranchhodlal became 
a member of the Legislative Council of the Governor of 
Bombay. His work on the Council was marked by the 
same sincerity and the same degree of personal application 
that had characterised his work in Ahmadabad. 

Mr. Ranchhodlal was one of the few Hindu gentlemen I 
have known who maintained throughout life an un- 
questioning and unshaken attachment to the faith of their 
ancestors. This devotion was combined with a most 
progressive spirit in material and mundane affairs. I well 
remember how once, after his return from Bhimnath, a 
remote and very holy spot in the Himalayas, whither he 
had made a pilgrimage with some of his family, he sought 
my assistance in carrying out certain projects designed for 
the benefit of the pilgrims who annually visited the shrine. 
He was anxious that the flights of steps leading to the 
sacred waters should be repaired or rebuilt, and that certain 
sanitary works, the value of which he had learnt to appre- 
ciate in Ahmadabad, should be constructed. He believed 
that if I, as District Magistrate, appealed on his behalf 
to the Deputy Commissioner of the district, with whom 
he was personally unacquainted, and remitted the money 
required for these projects to him, there was greater possi- 
bility of the amount being advantageously expended. 
Gladly did I write to the officer, explaining the situation 
and Ranchhodlal's object, and in due course received 
a cordial reply, as a result of which Ranchhodlal forwarded 
through me a sum of two thousand rupees to meet the cost 
of the necessary works. 

Reference is made in the pages of this memoir to 
Ranchhodlal's son, Madhavlal, with whom I was also 



IV RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

acquainted. His death on April 4th, 1900, marked the 
close of a calm and uneventful life, and the fortunes of the 
family were then transferred to the keeping of his son, 
Chinubhai, upon whom the mantle of Ranchhodlal had 
truly fallen. For not only was he a great captain of 
industry, controlling two of the largest and most successful 
cotton mills in India, but, like his grandfather, he played 
a prominent part in civic affairs, and gave on a princely scale 
to philanthropic and educational objects. The progressive 
educational policy which marked Lord Sydenham's term of 
office as Governor of Bombay, found in Sir Chinubhai a warm 
supporter. He gave £60,000 for scientific and technical 
education at Ahmadabad, £20,000 to the Gujarat College, 
and £6,666 to the Sydenham College of Commerce in Bombay. 
These handsome donations, together with his active partici- 
pation in public affairs, brought their natural reward. In 
1 910 Sir Chinubhai Madhalval received a knighthood, and 
three years later a baronetcy, being the first member of the 
Hindu community to receive the latter distinction. His 
death in March, 1916, at the comparatively early age of 
fifty- two, closed a career which seemed to be imbued with the 
spirit of Ranchhodlal's achievements and offers an inspiring 
example to his young son, born in 1906, who is now the 
guardian of the family wealth and traditions of service for 
the public weal. May the latter uphold worthily the 
standard set by bis distinguished great-grandsire, of whom 
it may be truly said : — 

' ' His life was gentle ; and the elements 
So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up 
And say to all the world, ' This was a man ! '" 



H. E. M. James. 



MEMOIR OF RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL 
CHHOTALAIy, CLE. 



Chapter I. 



Caste, Parentage, and Birth. 

Ranchhodlal Chhotalal, the subject of this memoir, 
belonged to the Sathodra division of the Nagar Brahmans 
of Gujarat, which takes its name from the village of Sathod 
in the Baroda State, whither, according to tradition, sixty 
families of Nagar Brahmans of Vadnagar were transferred 
during the thirteenth century a.d., by a ruler of the ancient 
Vaghela dynasty. The Nagar Brahmans, whose other 
more important divisions are the Vadnagar and the Vishal- 
nagar or Visnagar, have a long and illustrious history. 
Modern research has shown that they were originally the 
priests of the powerful Gurjara tribes, who entered India 
from the Central Asian steppes in the trail of the Hunas 
or White Huns during the fifth and sixth centuries a.d., and 
whose name survives in that of the Gujars of the present day. 
These Gurjaras, who are shown by inscriptions to have 
ultimately developed into the Pratihara sept of Rajputs, 
founded kingdoms at Broach and at Bhinmal in Southern 
Rajputana ; while the ancestor of the famous Guhilots or 
Sisodiyas of Mewar — the proudest of the Rajput septs — 
was actually, as Professor D. R. Bhandarkar has proved, 
a Nagar Brahman from Vadnagar (Anandapur), a town 
now included, like Sathodra, in the Baroda State. The 



2 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTA^AL. 

Nagar Brahmans as a class may therefore be said to have 
an ancient and historical connection with those early Huna- 
Gurjara invaders, whose upper ranks gradually crystallised, 
after their settlement in India, into the leading Rajput 
clans of Sisodia or Guhilot, Parihara or Pratihara, Chahu- 
manas or Chauhans, Pramaras or Pawars, and Solankis, 
otherwise known as Chalukyas. 1 This fact may account 
largely for the political ability and capacity for public affairs 
which undoubtedly distinguishes the Nagar Brahmans of 
Gujarat. " The Nagara community," wrote General Le 
Grand Jacob, " is very powerful in the Peninsula (Kathia- 
war) ; they are by profession a corps diplomatique, and 
devoted to the arts of government. They are a shrewd 
race, and work their way into almost every Darbar by their 
ability and tact ; most of the native servants of Government 
are of this class." 2 The Sathodra Nagars, to whom Ranch- 
hodlal belonged, are mentioned by Wilson as belonging to 
the Madhyandin Shakha of the White Yajurveda and as 
being resident in various cities and towns of Gujarat. 
According to the latest information there are few, if an} 7- , 
of them now residing in the village of Sathod. 

Ranchhodlal's ancestors were true to the official tradi- 
tions of the Nagar caste. One of them, Vallabhji Kanji, 
held the office of chief minister in Malwa ; another, on the 
maternal side, named Umedram, served as Vazir to the 
Babi chiefs of Balasinor, a state now included in the Rewa 
Kantha Political Agency, and was succeeded in the same 
office by his son, Harshadrai ; while Anand Rai Mashraf, 
Ranchhodlal's great grandfather on his mother's side, was 
the minister of Kamal-ud-din Khan Babi, known usually 
by his title of Jawan Mard Khan, the last Mughal viceroy 
of Gujarat, whose family is now represented b}' the Nawab 



1 W. Crooke, on Rajputs and Mahrattas, in Journal Royal Anthropo- 
logical Institute, vol. xl, 1910; Vincent H. Smith, Akbar, p. 85, and 
Oxford History of India, pp. 173, 181. 

J Quoted on p. 99, vol. ii, of Indian Caste, by J. Wilson, 1877. 



CASTE, PARENTAGE AND BIRTH. 3 

of Radhanpur, a native state in the Palanpur Agency. 1 
The Mughal Emperors of Delhi continued to appoint 
viceroys to Gujarat until 1748 ; but their power was purely 
nominal. For absolute anarchy reigned in the province, 
which was ravaged impartially by the hostile leaders of 
the Peshwa's and the Gaekwar's armies, by the Rajas of 
Jodhpur, by the agents of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, and by local 
Moslem chiefs like the Babis, to whom Jawan Mard Khan 
himself belonged, the Jhaloris who settled at Palanpur, and 
Momin Khan, who began to scheme for the independence 
of Cambay about 1736. In 1745, during this period of 
anarchy, Anand Rai Mashraf was assassinated, 2 and in 1753, 
Kamal-ud-din Khan (Jawan Mard Khan) was expelled 
from Ahmadabad by Raghunath Rao Peshwa and Damaji 
Gaekwar, two of the leaders of the Maratha power. 

Anand Rai Mashraf left behind him a daughter, Prankor, 
who subsequently married Udayashankar, an orthodox 
Nagar Brahman, and bore him a son, Chhotalal, the father 
of Ranchhodlal, whose history is herein set forth. Udaya- 
shankar, after serving the ex- Viceroy for some time at 
Patan, accepted an appointment in the service of Damaji 
Gaekwar, and eventually died at Patan in 1799, leaving 
behind him his widow, Prankor, and two sons, Chhotalal, 
born in 1781, and Lalbhai, who was born two years later. 
At this date the practice of Sati (Suttee) was universal ; and 
the lady Prankor, whose attachment to her husband was 
only equalled by her orthodoxy, determined in spite of 



1 The Babis were an Afghan family of importance. The first Babi 
entered India with the Emperor Humayun. Bahadur Khan Babi was 
appointed Faujdar of Tharad in the reign of Shah Jahan. In 1693 his 
son, J afar Khan, obtained the Faujdari of Radhanpur and other districts, 
with the title of Safdar Khan. In 1704 he was made Governor of Bijapur 
(in Gujarat) and in 1706 of Patan. The Babis also founded the Junagadh 
and Balasinor States. 

2 His murderer is said to have been a son of Jawan Mard Khan, who 
had quarrelled with his father, and suspected Anand Rai of poisoning his 
father's mind against him. 



4 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

remonstrance to immolate herself upon her husband's pyre. 1 
The ceremony took place upon the banks of the sacred 
river Sarasvati ; and here, at the spot where their mother 
passed out of their lives, the two boys built a temple which 
Ranchhodlal, honouring the memory of his pious grand- 
mother, caused to be repaired about two- years before his 
death. 

The two sons, thus bereft of both parents, faced the 
future bravely. Chhotalal, the elder and more able of the 
two, managed to obtain the post which his father had held 
under the Maratha government at Patan, where, in addition 
to the discharge of his official duties, he studied Persian to 
such good purpose that he was able to read Persian medical 
works with ease and acquired a considerable reputation for 
his treatment of diseases. Chhotalal in due time married 
Labhma, daughter of Umedram, the chief minister of 
Balasinor, who is described as having possessed " every 
womanly virtue." Their first child was a daughter, whom 
they named Mohotiba. Upon her Chhotalal and his wife 
lavished all their love, and she in return rendered them 
affectionate obedience. At the age of eight she was married, 
according to Hindu custom, to a Nagar Brahman boy of 
high family, who died before his girl-wife had completed 
her twelfth year. The disabilities of Hindu widowhood 
pressed heavily upon Mohotiba, who was forbidden by caste 
rules to remarry, and was obliged to contemplate an unhappy 
future in which the performance of minor household duties 
would alternate with the performance of the penances pre- 



1 The practice of Suttee was finally abolished by Regulation XVII of 
1829, during Lord William Bentinck's administration. The Regulation 
applied to Bengal only, but was followed by similar enactments in the 
Bombay and Madras Presidencies. The practice of Suttee is very ancient ; 
it was well established in the Punjab in the fourth century B.C. ; whole- 
sale burnings of women were perpetrated by the Rayas of Vijayanagar. 
The feeling in favour of the rite is not quite extinct yet. A case occurred 
in Bihar as late as 1905, and sporadic cases during the nineteenth century 
are on record. (See V. A. Smith, Oxford History of India, pp. 663-66.) 



CASTE, PARENTAGE AND BIRTH. 5 

scribed for widows in the Shastras. The spectacle of their 
only daughter's ill-fortune told so heavily upon Chhotalal 
and his wife that they determined to relinquish their home 
and pass the remainder of their lives in seclusion. With 
this object Chhotalal, who was now in his thirty-eighth 
year, handed over all his property and effects to his brother, 
Lalbhai, and set forth with his wife, his widowed daughter 
and one servant to the sacred city of Benares. The journey 
was long and tedious. Railways were then unknown ; the 
roads were rough and unmetalled, and ran through tracts 
inhabited by robbers or infested by wild animals. Yet 
Chhotalal and his small party, patiently bearing the diffi- 
culties of the journey, reached Benares in safety about 
three months later. Here they abode for two years, during 
which time a second daughter was born to them, whom they 
named Kashiba after her birth-place. 1 They then moved 
to another place of great sanctity, Mathura on the river 
Jumna. Here likewise they rested for two years, and then, 
in response to repeated entreaties from Lalbhai, and finding 
that time had laid a healing hand upon their grief, they 
resolved to return to Gujarat. 

On their way back they visited the famous Girnar 
mountain, about ten miles east of Junagadh in Kathiawar, 
which rises 3,500 feet above sea-level. Arriving at the foot 
of the mountain late in the evening they lost their way in 
the darkness and reached their destination after great delay. 
An aged ascetic — the only living creature in the place where 
they halted, hungry and fatigued — took pity on them, 
provided them with water and a few edible roots, and 
permitted them to pass the night in his company. In the 
course of conversation with the Sadhu, Mohotiba enquired 
whether her parents would be blessed with a son, to which 
he replied in the affirmative, adding that the god Hari 
would send a son " who would become famous for good 
deeds." On the following day the party set forth again 
on their journey to Patan, halting for a few days on the way 

1 Kashi is a synonym of Benares. 



6 RAO BAHADUR RANCHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

at Dakor, a celebrated place of pilgrimage in the Kaira 
district, where there is a temple of Ranchhodji or Krishna. 
Here on the 15th of the dark half of Chaitra Samvat, 1879, 
i.e., April 29th, 1823, Chhotalal's wife gave birth to a son, 
whom his parents named Ranchhod in honour of the deity 
of Dakor. 1 

After his return, Chhotalal resumed his official career 
and served at Patan until 1828, in which year the British 
Government found it necessary to sequestrate the Gaekwari 
districts of Petlad, Kadi, Dabhoi, Amreli, and Songhad, 
together with certain revenues from Kathiawar, Mahikantha, 
and Rewa Kantha in satisfaction of a debt aggregating more 
than one crore and seven lakhs of rupees due by the Gaekwar, 
Sayaji Rao. The collection of the revenues of these districts 
and the general control of their administration was entrusted 
to the Gaekwar 's chief minister, Vithal Rao Devji, who 
fixed his headquarters at Amreli. During a visit to Patan he 
met Chhotalal and recognising his ability, offered him the 
appointment of Bakshi or Army Paymaster, which Chhotalal 
accepted. The latter thereupon moved with his family from 
Patan to Amreli, his son, Ranchhod, or Ranchhodlal, being 
at the time about six years old. Vithal Rao Devji, dying in 
1831, was succeeded by his brother, Govind Rao, who held 
office only until April, 1832, when by an agreement sanctioned 
by Lord Clare, Governor of Bombay, the sequestrated 
estates were restored to the Gaekwar, and Govind Rao, who 
together with his brother, Vithal Rao, had incurred the 
displeasure of Sayaji Rao Gaekwar, was dismissed from 
office by the latter. Chhotalal shared the fate of Govind 
Rao, who was forbidden by the Gaekwar to enter Baroda ; 
and the two families therefore emigrated to Ahmadabad, 
where Govind Rao and Chhotalal both purchased houses 
in Desai's Pol. Ultimately however in 1841, the Gaekwar 
relented and gave the Devji family permission to return to 
Baroda, whither they were followed by their devoted friend, 

1 The image of Ranchhod at Dakor is said to have been brought from 
Dwarka by a Rajput named Bodhano. 



CASTE, PARENTAGE AND BIRTH. 7 

Chhotalal, who remained with his family at Baroda till 
within a few years of his death. 

Chhotalal appears from such accounts as exist to have 
been a man of sterling character. Orthodox in his views, 
he performed the daily duties of his religion with scrupulous 
regularity and was careful to carry out other ceremonies 
enjoined by the Shastras upon the Brahmanical classes. 
His household was orderly and well-managed, and the 
members of the famity were united by bonds of mutual 
affection and esteem. Though his monthly salary at 
Amreli and Baroda was by no means excessive, his econo- 
mical habits enabled him to effect savings, which, invested 
in good securities, formed the foundations of a respectable 
competence for his later years. His work as Bakshi, in 
which there must have been ample opportunity for pecu- 
lation, was discharged with honesty and efficiency. To a 
dignified, almost austere, manner, he united a rare suavity 
of speech, scorning to use the pronoun " thou," and address- 
ing even children in terms redolent of courtly Persian 
etiquette. Always abstemious in diet and eschewing self- 
indulgence in any form, Chhotalal throughout his life 
cultivated the habit of self-reliance and never entrusted to 
others work which he felt himself capable of performing. 
The natural devotion and gravity of his character, coupled 
with the love of his wife and children, enabled him to bear 
the heaviest sorrows of his life, namely the widowhood of 
his elder daughter, Mohotiba, and the desertion of the 
younger, Kashiba, whose husband, to whom she had been 
married at the age of eight, suddenly left home for an 
unknown destination and was never heard of again. The 
burden of these misfortunes, accepted with the true Hindu 
spirit of resignation, must have been lightened by the sight 
of his only son, Ranchhod, waxing daily in health and 
strength throughout his childhood and giving proof of a 
natural disposition to follow the example of his devoted 
parents and imbibe the lessons of a tranquil and well- 
ordered home. 



8 



RAO B4.HADUR RANCHHODIAL CHHOTALAI, 



Chapter II. 



Boyhood, Marriage, and Education. 

Ranchhodlal's boyhood was uneventful. The fact that 
he was their only son was doubtless responsible for the 
unusual care taken by his parents to shield him from harm ; 
for we learn that he was never permitted to go abroad in 
the company of strangers and that arrangements were made 
at home for his recreation, a few chosen boys of his own 
age being admitted to the house as his playmates. These 
precautions were naturally relaxed as he grew older, and 
b>y the time he had reached the age of thirteen he was 
accustomed to move about with as little - restraint as other 
boys of his age. The influence of this upbringing is perhaps 
indicated by his predilection for chess-playing with his 
elders — a form of amusement in which he showed con- 
siderable skill. When he was eight years old his Upanayana 
or investiture with the sacred thread was celebrated, 1 and 
in the same year he was married to Jethiba, the daughter 
of a wealthy government official, named Bapuji Mansukhram 
who held the office of principal Sadr Amin 2 in the city of 
Ahmadabad. Jethiba, whose name will be mentioned in 
later pages, is described as a bright and intelligent girl, 
who had been taught reading and writing and elementary 
accounting, and had acquired a fair knowledge of household 
management and economy in her father's home. Of a 
devout nature she was a constant visitor to the temple 

1 The meaning of tne word Upanayana is " introduction to knowledge," 
for by it a Brahman acquires the right to study. From the moment of 
investiture with the triple cord he enters the first of the four stages of a 
Brahman's life, namely that of Brahmachari. 

: This post was equivalent to that of a First Class Subordinate Judge 
in these days. 



BOYHOOD, MARRIAGE AND EDUCATION - . 9 

which her father erected in the street, where she subse- 
quently lived with her husband Ranchhodlal, and her 
charity, which was not the least of her virtues, took the 
form of grants of free medicine and free food to all classes, 
and of clothing and vessels to the Brahmans and mendicants 
who visited her house for alms. 

Ranchhodlal was six years old when he commenced his 
education at a private school in Amreli. Education in those 
days was of a perfunctory and limited type, for no regular 
schools had been established by the State and there were 
very few books to read. Up to the middle of the nineteenth 
century the indigenous schools, as the late Mr. K.N. Kabraji 
has recorded, were owned by so-called Mehetajis, penurious 
men of limited intellect, who often held their classes on the 
verandah of a house free of rent. Chairs and tables were 
unknown, and very few pupils possessed slates or pencils, 
their place being taken by a portable wooden board, on 
which the pupil wrote with a reed pen dipped in a chalky 
fluid and which was repainted at Divali by the Mchetaji for a 
small fee. When his parents moved, as recorded above, to 
Ahmadabad, Ranchhodlal was sent to an elementary school 
of this type kept by one Tuljaram Master and acquired there 
a smattering of Gujarathi literature. Thanks, however, to 
his father Chhotalal, who was a good Persian scholar, 
Ranchhodlal was taught the rudiments of the Persian 
language, which was at that date in constant use in the 
couits and offices of government, and having made good 
progress under his father's personal tuition, was placed 
for further study under Munshi Bapubhai, a Nagar Brahman, 
and later under Maulvi Faizuddin, both of whom were 
Persian scholars of some repute. Nor was Sanskrit forgotten. 
When Ranchhodlal was thirteen, his father arranged for him 
to study the sacred language under a Pandit named Bindu 
Vyasa, with whose assistance he made rapid progress in both 
Sanskrit literature and philosophy, showing considerable 
aptitude for the intelligent discussion of some of the intricate 
problems enshrined in that language. His success in 



10 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

mastering Persian and Sanskrit served to direct his mind 
towards fresh fields of study, and he determined to learn 
English. But here the difficulties in his path were greater. 
No proper English schools were in existence ; suitable 
teachers were very scarce ; the extent to which the language 
was used in Gujarat was very limited, and the public had 
not yet begun to appreciate the advantages of English. 
He was obliged, therefore, at first to attend a private school 
opened by a Portuguese and later to engage as tutor a 
Marathi-speaking native of the Deccan. But he soon 
mastered all that they could teach and left them with a 
feeling of disappointment that his progress had been so 
slight. 

At this juncture fortune befriended him. The British 
Resident at Baroda, whose headquarters were at Ahmadabad, 
had a Daftardar named Sarabhai, whose son, Bholanath, 1 
was one of Ranchhodlal's friends. The visits of Ranch- 
hodlal's father Chhotalal, in company with Govind Rao 
Devji, to the Resident on official business had led to an 
acquaintance between Chhotalal and Sarabhai, which soon 
ripened into friendship. Sarabhai, like Chhotalal, was a 
good Persian scholar and also possessed a tolerable knowledge 
of English, and believing in the value of the latter language 
had engaged able tutors for his son. Arrangements were 
soon made for Ranchhodlal to share Bholanath's studies, 
and within a comparatively short time Ranchhodlal had 
attained sufficient mastery of the language to enable him 
to continue his work unaided. He was never averse from 
seeking assistance from those willing to help him, and at 
one period of his life, when he was employed at Gogha, he 
learnt much from an English missionary who was stationed 
there. But, broadly speaking, the foundation of his 

1 This boy afterwards became Rao Bahadur Bholanath Sarabhai, who 
served Government in the Judicial Department, and was closely associated 
with the establishment in Ahmadabad of the Prarthana Samaj, of which 
he acted as President for several years. He composed seveial poetical 
works, which are still widely read. 



BOYHOOD, MARRIAGE AND EDUCATION. II 

knowledge of English was continuous study in his own 
house, whereby he acquired a proficiency which attracted 
the attention of British officials in his earlier years and 
enabled him in later years to take an active share in the 
debates in the Bombay Legislative Council. Those of us 
who know India of the twentieth century and have witnessed 
the extraordinary proficiency in English which many Indians 
acquire while still young, may be disposed to make light 
of Ranchhodlal's mastery of the language. But if we 
recollect that he achieved his object before the days of the 
Board of Education and before the establishment of a 
properly organised department of Public Instruction we 
shall surely not hesitate to pay a tribute both to his natural 
intelligence and his tenacity of purpose. 



12 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 



Chapter III. 



Service under the Bombay Government. 

In a petition which Rachhodlal submitted to Government 
in September, 1854, he states that he finally completed his 
education in 1842 and in the same year was appointed 
private clerk on a monthly salary of Rs. 10 to Mr. A. W. 
James, Assistant Collector of Customs at Ahmadabad, who 
afterwards became a District Judge in the service of the 
East India Company. Two years later, 1844, he entered 
the service of Government as clerk on Rs. 20 per mensem 
in the Customs department at Gogha on the Gulf of Cambay, 
which, at that date, still retained a certain commercial 
importance, and had not yet seen its trade supremacy 
threatened by the rival town of Bhavnagar. Here Ranch- 
hodlal's abilities seem to have attracted the notice of his 
superiors ; for Mr. Remington, the District Judge of 
Ahmadabad at that date, recommended him to the favourable 
notice of Mr. Thomas Ogilvy, the Political Agent of Rewa 
Kantha, who appointed him in 1845 English clerk in the 
Agency Office on a salary of Rs. 30 per mensem. From that 
date his abilities earned him rapid promotion. In 1846, he 
was promoted to a post on Rs. 40 per mensem, and in the 
following year was deputed to serve at a monthly salary of 
Rs. 60 in the Hereditary Offices in Ahmadabad. But his 
late chief in the Rewa Kantha Agency was loath to lose his 
services, and only four months after his transfer to Ahma- 
dabad he was recalled to Rewa Kantha to fill the appointment 
of Daftardar 1 on a salary of Rs. 75, raised subsequently 
to Rs. 150 per mensem. In the capacity of Daftardar, 

1 Literally " Record-Keeper " ; the principal native revenue-officer on 
the establishment of the head of a district. 



SERVICE UNDER GOVERNMENT. 1 3 

Ranchhodlal was able to render material assistance to 
Government on more than one occasion. When, for example, 
a Commission was appointed to enquire into the rights and 
financial condition of the Girasias, Watandars, Desais and 
Majumdars of Rewa Kantha, Ranchhodlal's tact and 
knowledge of the conflicting claims of the various parties 
were largely instrumental in effecting a speedy settlement 
of a somewhat complicated problem. His assistance was 
equally valuable in connection with a boundary dispute 
between the British Government and the Rajpipla State, 
which is bounded partly by the Mehwas estates of Rewa 
Kantha and partly by British districts and the territory of 
the Gaekwar. 

Ranchhodlal's services were duly brought to the notice 
of the Bombay Government, who shortly afterwards 
appointed him Assistant Superintendent of Pavagarh 1 in 
the Panch Mahals district — a post corresponding to that 
of Assistant to the Political Agent in these days and the 
highest appointment to which an Indian in the political 
department of the Government could at that date aspire. 
The Panch Mahals district formed part of the territory of 
the Maharaja Sindia, who eventually transferred it to the 
British in 1861 ; but from 1853 until the date of transfer the 
actual administration was conducted by the British Govern- 
ment, who introduced order into the chaotic Maratha revenue 
system, and abolished the transit duties and other vexatious 
levies of the former government. Ranchhodlal, whose 
salary was Rs. 300 per mensem, was for all practical purposes 
the representative of the Bombay Government in this 



1 Pavagarh, from which the appointment received its name, is a famous 
hill-fort in the Kalol Taluka of the Panch Mahals district. Seized by 
Chauhan Rajputs in 1300 a.d., it was reduced by Sultan Mahmud Begara 
in 1484, after a two years' siege. The Emperor Humayun took it in 1535. 
In 1573 it fell into the hands of Akbar. Sindia seized it about 1761, and 
Colonel Woodington captured it from Sindia in 1803. It was restored in 
1804 to Sindia, in whose possession it remained until 1853, when the 
British took over the management of the Panch Mahals. 



14 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

corner of foreign territory. It speaks highly for his abilities 
and the confidence which he inspired that he obtained this 
appointment when he was barely thirty years of age. The 
British officers of the Political Department under whom 
he served, notably Messrs. Ogilvy and Samuel Mansfield, 
Major Browne and Major Fuljames, were not slow to 
recognise Ranchhodlal's industry and intelligence and the 
punctilious character of his official work, and even after he 
had become involved in the unhappy charges which led 
to the Bombay Government dispensing with his services, 
they found it difficult to believe that he had wittingly 
receded from the strict standard of integrity which he 
observed while still serving under their orders. 

Ranchhodlal had held his new appointment at Pavagarh 
for only a brief period when the storm broke over his head. 
Considering his services to Government in his early years 
and the distinguished and important part which he later 
played in the commercial and municipal history of Ah- 
madabad, one would fain draw a veil over the transactions 
which resulted, justly or unjustly, in the close of his career 
as a servant of Government. But without some reference 
to these matters Ranchhodlal's biography would be in- 
complete, and the very repetition of the tale may perhaps 
serve to point the moral that a man is master of his own 
destiny and may rise, even as Ranchodlal did, victorious 
over the mistakes and folhes of earlier years. Before giving 
the bare facts of the case reflecting on Ranchhodlal's 
integrity, it is but fair to mention that his Indian biographer 
declares the whole unhappy affair to have been the direct 
outcome of the intrigues of Ranchhodlal's enemies. To 
support this view he refers to the mutual hostility which 
subsisted at this time between the subordinate officials 
and clerks of the Baroda Residency and those of the Political 
Agent, Rewa Kantha, whose headquarters were also at 
Baroda ; to the enmity felt towards Ranchhodlal in par- 
ticular by the native agent to the Baroda Resident, who 
endeavoured for some time to embroil the young Daftardar 



SERVICE UNDER GOVERNMENT. 15 

with his official superiors without much success, and even 
attempted to force him to give false evidence against one 
Narsupant, a subordinate official of the Residency, in a 
prosecution arising out of charges deliberately and in- 
geniously fabricated against the latter ; and finally to the 
determination of Ranchhodlal's enemies, many of whom 
were doubtless jealous of his rapid promotion, to make 
the appointment of a new Political Agent — a man " who 
knew not Joseph " — the occasion for humbling Ranch- 
hodlal's pride and requiting him for his consistent repulsion 
of their dishonest advances. 

The story is concerned with the succession of an adopted 
prince to the gadi (throne) of the Lunawada State in Rewa 
Kantha, the chief of which is a Solanki Rajput, descended 
from a dynasty which ruled at Anhilwada and is supposed 
to have established itself at Virpur in a.d. 1225. About two 
centuries later the family removed to Lunawada, having 
probably been driven across the river Mahi by the increasing 
power of the Muhammadan Kings of Gujarat. 1 In June, 
1849, the chief of Lunawada, Fateh Sing Partab Sing, died, 
and as he had no heir he adopted a few hours before his death 
one Dalpat Sing, a distant relative, who died in October, 1851. 
Accordingly Mambai, the mother of the late Rana Fateh 
Sing, adopted in February, 1852, one Dallel Sing Salam Sing 
as Dalpat Sing's successor ; but she too died unfortunately 
before the Political Agent, Rewa Kantha, could discuss 
the matter with her and give official countenance to her 
choice. Her death was the signal for various competitors 
to lay claim to the succession, and doubtless opened the 
way for a great deal of intrigue. Eventually, however, the 

1 Lunawada was originally tributary to both the Gaekwar and Sindia- 
The rights of the latter, guaranteed by the British Government in 18 19, 
were transferred by him with the cession of the Panch Mahals in 1861. 
The chief town, Lunawada, is so called after the god Luneshwar, whose 
shrine still stands outside the Darkuli Gate of the town. About the 
beginning of the nineteenth century the town was a centre of the trade 
between Malwa and Central Gujarat. 



1 6 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

Bombay Government accepted Dallel Sing, the choice of 
the deceased queen-mother, and he was formally installed 
as the ruling chief of Lunawada on September 22nd, 1852. 

By 1854 rumours and reports had reached Major Wallace, 
who was then Political Agent of Rewa Kantha, regarding 
Ranchhodlal's activities in connection with the Lunawada 
succession, and in that year Ranchhodlal was suspended 
from office and definitely charged by Major Wallace with 
receiving in May, 1853, through his wife, Jethiba, a bribe 
of 8,000 Baroda rupees from the Chief of Lunawada, on the 
score of his having assisted Dallel Sing in succeeding to the 
gadi by his supposed official influence as Daftardar of the 
Rewa Kantha Agency. After some correspondence 
Ranchhodlal was tried on this charge before a Special 
Commissioner, Mr. Hebbert, and was acquitted. The 
prosecution relied chiefly upon a statement by one Jani 
Lakshmiram Deoshankar, the chief Karbhari of Lunawada, 
that on the 25th May he had paid the amount above- 
mentioned to Ranchhodlal's wife, Jethiba, at their house 
in Ahmadabad. Though Jani was shown conclusively to 
have received the sum from the Raja of Lunawada, there 
were various discrepancies in his account of the subsequent 
transaction. In Ranchhodlal's defence, his wife, Jethiba, 
pleaded an alibi, stating that on the 25th May, the date on 
which she was alleged by the prosecution to have received 
the rupees, she was at the village of Dakor, forty miles 
away from Ahmadabad, with her family priest Ambalal. 
She supported this story with a petition, purporting 
to have been presented by Ambalal on 26th May to the 
Police Jamadar at Dakor, asking for redress in the 
matter of a minor assault which had been made upon him. 
The original petition was produced at the enquiry held by 
the Special Commissioner. It was subsequently shown 
however that the Dakor register-book, in which the petition 
had been filed, had been tampered with, and that in all 
probability the petition, upon which the alibi mainly rested, 
was a forgery. This led to the prosecution before the 



SERVICE UNDER GOVERNMENT. 1 7 

Political Agent of three persons for tampering with the 
village records, all of whom were convicted and sentenced 
in the first instance, but were subsequently released on a 
ruling of the High Court at Bombay that the three accused 
were not subject to the jurisdiction of the Rewa Kantha 
Agency. Ranchhodlal having thus been acquitted, the 
question of his reinstatement in the service of Government 
had to be decided, and in reply to a letter from the Bombay 
Government soliciting his opinion, Major Wallace wrote a 
long report criticising Mr. Hebbert's judgment adversely 
and declaring that, in his view, the alibi put forward by 
Ranchhodlal's wife was false. The Government, accepting 
Major Wallace's opinion, dispensed with Ranchhodlal's 
services and declined to employ him again in any capacity. 

The case then entered upon a new phase. Ranchhodlal, 
smarting under the implied opprobrium, whether deserved 
or undeserved, asserted that the fraud in respect of the 
village documents at Dakor was not committed by anyone 
in his interests but at the instance of his enemies, and he 
proceeded for the first and last time in his life to prefer 
a charge of forgery against one man and of perjury against 
another, whom together he held responsible for his undoing. 
So far as the law was concerned, Ranchhodlal was again 
successful ; for although the former accused was acquitted, 
the latter was found guilty and punished, while both Mr. 
Gray and Mr. Walter, the magistrate and judge respectively 
of Ahmadabad, who dealt with the cases, declared their 
belief that Ranchhodlal was innocent of the charge of 
corruption originally brought against him by the Political 
Agent. For reasons, however, which it would be tedious 
to give in detail, the Bombay Government, after the most 
mature and scrupulous consideration of all the facts and 
evidence, could not bring themselves to alter their opinion, 
and in May, 1859, issued a formal order declining to restore 
Ranchhodlal to the public service. Mr. Gray, the magistrate, 
who still believed in Ranchhodlal's innocence, made a final 
effort to persuade the Government to revise their order, 



1 8 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

but only succeeded in eliciting at the end of August, 1859, 
a re-statement of the Government's conviction that their 
final order was justified. 

Thus Ranchhodlal passed out of the service of Govern- 
ment. The proceedings from first to last had occupied 
five years, during which period he had been obliged to devote 
much of his time to endeavouring to clear himself of almost 
the gravest accusation that can be made against a public 
servant. The bare facts have been recorded, not with the 
object of re-opening the question of Ranchhodlal' s guilt, 
which, it must be admitted, received the most patient and 
ample consideration from those with whom the final decision 
lay, but rather with the intention of throwing into stronger 
relief the well-deserved success which he attained in latei 
years and the great services which he afterwards rendered 
both to the public and to the Government, whose salt he 
had once eaten. The misfortune which befell Ranchhodlal 
might have soured and broken a weaker and less capable 
man. Ranchhodlal rose superior to his fate, and at the 
close of a long career in the service of his countrymen was 
able to inspire the British officials and others who knew 
him with the same feelings of affection and respect which 
he had aroused in those under whom he commenced his 
official career in Rewa Kantha. His natural fortitude 
and mental capacity were directed into fresh channels, and 
the shadows which closed around this period of his life 
vanished before the signal achievements of his later years. 



COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES. 19 



Chapter IV. 



Commercial Enterprises. 

During the ten years of his career as a Government 
servant, from 1844 to 1854, Ranchhodlal had from time to 
time contemplated the possibility of revivifying Indian 
industry by the application of European methods and 
machinery ; and with the help of his friend, Major Fuljames, 
had obtained details of the textile industry from England. 
In 1850, at a time when the Bomba3^ Presidency was wholly 
destitute of cotton spinning and weaving plant, Ranchhodlal 
made his first attempt to found the textile industry of 
Ahmadabad. A prospectus was issued ; a local weekly, 
the Ahmadabad Samachar, was employed to give publicity 
to his project ; and the shroffs and bankers of the town 
were approached with a view to the provision of the required 
capital. But the merchants of Ahmadabad, though possessed 
of ample means to finance several mills, were conservative 
in their views and shrank from co-operating with Ranchhodlal 
in so novel a departure from their time-honoured lines of 
business. Ranchhodlal thereupon approached the mer- 
chants of Baroda and other places and met with a more 
favourable reception. The initial expenditure required for 
the erection of a mill was estimated at about two lakhs of 
rupees, half of which amount was to be provided by a 
certain Mr. Landon, who had already erected a ginning- 
factory at Broach on the strength of information supplied 
by Ranchhodlal, and the other half was to be furnished by 
Ranchhodlal and certain other promoters, chief among 
whom were the leading Baroda bankers, Gopal Mehral and 
Shamal Bhecher, Gaurishankar Oza, the chief minister of 
the Bhavnagar State, and the Raja of Rajpipla. This 
project however never materialised. 



20 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

Meanwhile the advantages offered by the establishment 
of an indigenous cotton-spinning and weaving industry had 
attracted notice in other parts of the Bombay Presidency. 
In 1851, a well-known merchant of Bombay, Mr. Kavasji 
Nanabhai Davar, projected a similar scheme to that of 
Ranchhodlal and eventually opened the first spinning and 
weaving mill in Bombay in 1854. Mr. Landon, to whom 
reference is made above, built a spinning mill at Broach 
about the same date, while four years later, in 1858, Manekji 
Nasarvanji Petit opened a second textile mill in Bombay 
island. The example of these pioneers encouraged Ranch- 
hodlal to persevere with his own projects, and eventually 
in 1859 he succeeded in establishing the first mill in 
Ahmadabad, the company which owned it being known 
as the Ahmadabad Spinning and Weaving Company Limited. 
The capital involved amounted in the first instance to one 
lakh of rupees, divided into twenty shares of Rs. 5000 each, 
and the mill contained at first 2,500 spindles only and no 
looms. Much delay occurred between the foundation of 
the mill in 1859 and its actual opening in 1861. The Suez 
Canal bad not at that date been opened and all vessels from 
England had to sail to India via the Cape ; the ship which 
was bringing out the machinery for the new mill caught 
fire and was lost at sea. The machinery, which had been 
ordered in England through the late Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji, 
was however fully insured and with the sum so realised 
fresh machinery was purchased. In the meanwhile the 
English engineer, Mr. C. Dall, who had been specially 
engaged for the mill and had reached India some little 
time previously, died before the arrival of the new plant. 
When it eventually did reach India, it was decided to land 
it at Cambay, owing to the complete absence of railway 
communication between Bombay and Ahmadabad. To 
Camba}^ therefore Ranchhodlal himself proceeded and 
there spent four months watching the machinery being 
unloaded and packed on to country bullock-carts. Further 
delay occurred after the machinery had been delivered in 



COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES. 21 

Ahmadabad. Four European engineers in succession were 
engaged to erect it in the mill, but all of them proved un- 
satisfactory and had to be dismissed after completing a 
portion only of the task. In this predicament Ranchhodlal 
himself set to work to erect the machinery with the assistance 
of a Hindu astrologer, Sankleshwar Joshi, who knew some- 
thing of applied mechanics, and made considerable progress. 
He was eventually relieved of further anxiety by the. arrival 
of a new European engineer, Mr. Edington, who, after 
completing the erection of the engine, boiler and other 
machinery, served for two years, 1861 to 1863, and put the 
whole mill into good working order. 

At the outset the mill barely paid a dividend of six per 
cent, and Ranchhodlal therefore determined to increase 
the original capital by the issue of new shares of Rs. 1000 
apiece, to increase the number of spindles from 2,500 to 
10,000, and to establish a weaving department with 100 
looms. On the departure of Mr. Edington, Ranchhodlal 
was fortunate in obtaining the services of Mr. Whittle, who 
managed the mill for the next four years, added fifty new 
looms, and supervised the business so successfully that 
the shareholders received a dividend of nine per cent, and 
a substantial sum was annually carried over to the reserve 
fund. The condition of this reserve fund enabled Ranch- 
hodlal to erect a second mill in 1872, containing about 14,500 
spindles and 800 looms. This mill prospered also until 
1875, when a disastrous fire destroyed practically the entire 
building, which was uninsured. Nothing daunted, 
Ranchhodlal set to work to rebuild it at his own expense, 
without calling for further assistance from the shareholders ; 
and by the installation of machinery of a new and improved 
type, he managed within a comparatively short time to wipe 
off the losses incurred in the fire. The capital of the mill 
was raised from 6-| lakhs to nearly 10 lakhs of rupees, each 
shareholder receiving scrip worth Rs. 500 for every thousand- 
rupee share originally held by him. 

The success attending these two ventures enabled Ranch- 



22 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHOD^AI, CHHOTALAL. 

hodlal to establish a third ginning, spinning and weaving 
mill in the name of his son, Madhavlal, at Sarangpur in 1877. 
The original capital was 3^ iakhs, divided into 350 shares of 
1,000 rupees each, and the paid-up calls aggregated 2 lakhs 
and 80,000 rupees, the balance being made up from savings 
carried to the reserve fund. Half of the capital was sub- 
scribed by Ranchhodlal himself and the other half by a few 
of his personal friends who subsequently, as the annual 
profits continued to rise, sold some of their stock in the 
open market. In 1877, 1878, and 1879, the number of 
spindles and looms was largely increased, and the savings 
accruing from careful management enabled Ranchhodlal 
to pay up the whole of the unsubscribed capital. The 
shareholders also profited by the issue to them of a fresh 
certificate equal in value to their original holdings. The 
capital of the mill was in this way doubled, and not long 
afterwards was trebled as a result of the steadily-increasing 
profits of its working. The market value of the shares 
rose to more than six times their face value. The credit 
for this result lies chiefly with Ranchhodlal's son, Madhavlal, 
who was manager of the mill from the date of its establish- 
ment ; and in due course his mantle fell upon his son, 
Chinubhai, afterwards known as Sir Chinubhai Madhavlal. 
Bart., who inherited the business instincts and capacity of 

his grandfather. 

* 
The, example of Ranchhodlal and his son was not lost 

upon their fellow-citizens, many of whom had hitherto 

done little except hoard their accumulated riches. In 1871 

the late Rao Bahadur Becherdas Ambaidas, C.S.I. , built a 

mill ; another, named after Jamnabhai Mansukhbhai, was 

opened in 1877 '> other new mills appeared in 1881, 1882, 

1883, and 1887. The industry continued to expand, so that 

by the time of his death Ranchhodlal witnessed the triumph 

of his labours as a pioneer and a vast addition to the wealth 

of Ahmadabad. A statement prepared in 1916 shows that 

in that year there were sixty-two mills in Ahmadabad, 

containing about 990,000 spindles and 21,000 looms, besides 



COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES. 23 

a match factory, hosiery factories and oil mills. The mere 
figures of machinery however do not represent adequately 
the value of the enterprise in which Ranchhodlal led the 
way. The introduction of the textile industry generated 
a larger spirit of commercial courage in the merchants of 
Ahmadabad and taught them the value of European business 
methods ; regular employment was provided for thousands 
of the poorer people of Gujarat, who would otherwise have 
suffered more or less acutely during periodic seasons of 
crop failure and drought ; the value of landed property 
rapidly increased, and the rise in wealth and importance 
of the old city, which, during the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries, had been one of the most splendid places in 
India, soon justified its being ranked as the second city of 
the Western Presidency. Of this steady industrial expansion, 
Ranchhodlal, once the pioneer, became in turn the guiding 
genius. He presided by invitation at the opening cere- 
monies of new mills ; he presided by universal consent at the 
deliberations of the local millowners' association ; he was 
adviser-in-chief to all those who sought to emulate his 
success. He was ever on the look-out for chances of develop- 
ing the natural resources of his country. In 1882 he 
interested himself in the subject of iron-smelting, obtained 
samples of iron ore and submitted them for analysis to an 
official expert, and from the samples had a few tools made 
for use in the smithy of his Shahpur mill. Two years later, 
1884, he formed a company, he himself being one of the 
managing agents, to develop the iron and coal deposits of 
the Panch Mahals district. The scheme however was 
abandoned, as the Bombay Government were unwilling to 
concede the mining rights in the district on the terms and 
conditions laid down by Ranchhodlal. 

Ranchhodlal was a firm believer in the value of personal 
application to the daily routine of business and personal 
supervision of his commercial undertakings. In a country 
where the desire for quick profits has led on more than one 
occasion to insane speculation and mercantile fraud, the 



24 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODI^AI, CHHOTALAL. 

conduct of Ranchhodlal's business offered a most salutary- 
example to all who desired to participate in the growth 
of the new industry. With speculative schemes he would 
have nothing whatever to do, and at the time of the famous 
share mania in Bombay, which resulted from the civil war 
in America and the consequent failure of the American 
cotton supply, he turned a deaf ear to more than one 
tempting offer from the promoters of the well-known Back 
Bay Reclamation scheme. The same considerations led 
him to limit the number of his own mills, for fear 
lest the efficiency of those already established might be 
impaired. Up to the time of his death he visited his own 
mill twice a day, entered every department, conversed with 
the workmen and issued personal orders on innumerable 
details, and even at the age of seventy, when most men have 
relinquished active duty, he might be seen standing for 
hours among his me«i, discussing points connected with 
the output or administration of the factory. " Every 
individual employee," writes his Indian biographer, " had 
ready access to him, and he would listen to what they had 
to say with wonderful patience. While he never let them 
know he was their master, he yet had the knack of exacting 
from them work to their utmost capacity. He was a friend 
to all. He never lost his temper. Never at rest, he was 
also never in haste. Invariably guided by reason and not 
mere sentiment, he conveyed his instructions with telling 
effect. He treated all impartially, and was careful not to 
overlook just claims. He loved all his men and they all 
loved him in return .... They will long cherish the 
memory of his kind treatment, his sound advice, and his 
sympathetic efforts to promote their welfare." 

Briefly, the story of the introduction into Gujarat of the 
now flourishing cotton spinning and weaving industry is 
the tale of Ranchhodlal's struggle to fashion for himself 
a new career. Though lacking the advantage of a mer- 
cantile training, and without influence and resources, 
Ranchhodlal's force of character enabled him to surmount 



COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES. 2$ 

all obstacles and to divert the trade of Ahmadabad into 
new and wider channels. The material reward which 
crowned his diligence and perseverance was very great ; 
his personal wealth increased pari passu with the industry 
which he founded ; he was known far and wide as the 
Merchant-Prince of Gujarat. He realised fully the truth 
of the saying : " The night cometh when no man can work," 
and having mastered every detail of his business he worked 
without remission until the end. The commercial promi- 
nence of the capital city of Gujarat at the present day is 
the fruit of his earnest endeavour. 



26 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 



Chapter V. 



Local Self- Government. 

Notwithstanding his strenuous work as a pioneer of 
industry, Ranchhodlal found time during the last thirty 
years of his life to devote constant attention to municipal 
work in Ahmadabad. The city came into the possession of 
the British Government in 1818, after the downfall of the 
Peshwa, and profited not a little by the abolition of certain 
vexatious taxes, known as town duties, which had been 
levied upon the citizens by the Gaekwar's government. Trade 
immediately revived, particularly a valuable trade in opium 
and Kashmir shawls which passed through the city on their 
way to the coast-port of Gogha. To afford additional 
protection to the traders of the city it was determined to 
repair the city walls, which were in a ruinous condition, 
and under the auspices of Mr. Borrodaile the people of 
Ahmadabad collected a fund known as " The City Walls 
Restoration Fund," which was administered by a committee 
composed of the Collector, the District Judge and two Indian 
members. By 1832 the city walls had been thoroughly 
repaired from the proceeds of this voluntary cess, and the 
fund still had a considerable balance to its credit. It was 
decided that this balance should constitute the nucleus of 
a general fund for the improvement of the city. The public, 
realising that their subscriptions had been advantageously 
utilised, were willing to continue to subscribe annually to 
the new general fund, the administration of which was 
vested in a regular urban committee charged with the duty 
of supervising and improving the sanitation of Ahmadabad. 
The city thus forestalled to some extent the municipal 
arrangements which were subsequently extended throughout 
the Presidency, excluding the city of Bombay, by the 



EOCAE SELF-GOVERNMENT. 27 

promulgation of Act XXVI of 1852, and indeed continued 
its own system of urban administration for rive years after 
that Act had come into force. On the 14th January, 1875, 
with the general consent of the inhabitants, the city was 
brought under the provisions of the Act of 1852, and twenty- 
four years later, on 19th November, 1874, a regular municipal 
board was created under the Bombay Municipal Act VI 
of 1873. A further step forward was taken when Lord 
Ripon's Government conferred the right of local self- 
government upon all citv municipalities by the promulgation 
of the Bombay District Municipal Amendment Act II of 
1884. The Board of 1874 was re-constituted on the 
1st January, 1885, the system of election to the Board 
being for the first time introduced. Up to this time the 
Board had consisted of ten ex-officio members and twenty- 
two non-officials, or thirty-two in all. By the revised 
arrangements of 1885, this number was reduced to thirty, 
of whom ten were to be ex-officio members, twelve were to 
be non-officials elected by the people, and eight were to 
be non-official nominees of the Bombay Government. It 
was also subsequently decided that the President of the 
Board, who hitherto had always been the Collector of 
Ahmadabad, should be nominated from among the non- 
official members, and in consequence of this innovation 
the membership of the Board was reduced to twenty-nine, 
including the President, fourteen being elected and fifteen 
nominated members. About 1889 the Board's numbers 
were again increased to thirty, of whom fourteen members 
were elected by the ratepayers, two were elected by the 
educated and professional classes, and fourteen, including 
the President, were nominated by Government. Finally, 
in 1894, the total membership of the Board, or General 
Committee, was increased to thirty-three by raising the 
number of nominated members to seventeen. 

Ranchhodlal entered upon his municipal career in 1868, 
when he accepted a seat on the municipal committee as a 
nominee of the Bombay Government. From that date 



28 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAI, CHHOTALAL. 

until 1883 he served continuously as a member of the Board 
and laid the foundation of that knowledge of urban require- 
ments which subsequently enabled him to play so prominent 
a part in the municipal history of the city. He found time 
to study the leading works on sanitary science and hygiene, 
and made himself fully acquainted with the details of the 
municipal machine and with the actual conditions of life 
in Ahmadabad. The opportunity of turning his study 
to practical account occurred in 1883 when the permanent 
chairman of the municipality, Mr. J. F. Fernandez, resigned 
and the Bombay Government, which had noted Ranchhodlal's 
grasp of municipal questions, appointed him to fill the 
vacanc} 7 '. 

At the time Ranchhodlal became chairman of the 
municipality, Ahmadabad had an unfortunate reputation 
for unhealthiness, notwithstanding that it possessed a dry, 
porous soil and that the average depth of its subsoil water 
was more than twenty feet below surface-level. The 
mortality rate of Ahmadabad was the second highest in the 
Bombay Presidency, and during the five years prior to 1883 
averaged forty-nine per mille ; diseases such as cholera, 
dysentery and ague, appeared every year in more or less 
epidemic form and caused the death of hundreds of the 
population, whose health was undermined by the grossly 
insanitary state of the city. Overcrowding, the want of a 
proper drainage system, the absence of a pure water-supply 
and the presence within the residential area of dangerous 
and offensive trades were among the causes which contributed 
to swell the mortality statistics, and of these the two which 
in the opinion of Ranchhodlal's predecessor most urgently 
demanded attention were the system of sewage disposal 
and the water-supply. Ranchhodlal's first movement 
towards grappling with these problems consisted in drafting 
in December, 1883, an( i circulating among his colleagues 
on the muncipal committee a memorandum of instructions 
and suggestions, in which he drew pointed attention inter 
alia to the pollution of the city's wells by percolation from 



LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT. 20. 

the Khalkuvas or cesspools, to the fact that in some parts 
of the city even this primitive system of cesspools was 
wanting, and to the immediate need of removing the night- 
soil depots to the south-east of the urban area and providing 
more rapid and up-to-date means of transit to the depots 
for the filth and sewage of the city. He suggested also that 
the evil effects of overcrowding should be impressed upon 
the public by means of lectures and pamphlets, that the 
Municipality should formulate a programme of street 
improvement, and that both Government and the Muni- 
cipality should endeavour to check the further overcrowding 
of the urban area by refusing to sell unoccupied land within 
its limits for building purposes. He drew a comparison 
between the death-rates of Ahmadabad and of Bombay, 
Poona and Broach, pointed out the immense benefits which 
had accrued in London and Bombay by the practical applica- 
tion of the rules of sanitar} r science, and besought his 
colleagues to set their faces sternly against the fatalism, 
so prevalent among the people of India, which checks and 
discourages human efforts to ameliorate the material con- 
ditions and circumstances of life. 

Ranchhodlal's memorandum, so far as the official 
authorities were concerned, met with well-deserved praise. 
" The memorandum," wrote the Sanitary Commissioner 
to the Bombay Government in May, 1884, "is, I think, a 
remarkable document for a native gentleman to have 
written, as it exhibits a breadth of view and a masterly 
appreciation of some of the main questions that affect the 
public health in that city." The Army Sanitary Commission 
in London, to whom the memorandum had been submitted 
in the form of an appendix to the Sanitary Commissioner's 
report, described it as " a very remarkable sanitary report," 
as " a model report of its kind," and pointed out that it 
threw most useful additional light upon the causes of fever 
in Indian towns. " Mr. Ranchhodlal," they added, " has 
rendered a great service to sanitary improvement by 
preparing it." 



30 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAI, CHHOTALAL. 

The more difficult part of Ranchhodlal's task was to 
persuade his colleagues on the municipal committee of the 
value of his ideas and to have his proposals translated into 
practice. With this object he called continual meetings of 
the managing committee during his first year of office, 
besides special and quarterly general meetings to test the 
general sense of the Board, and succeeded in obtaining 
sanction for certain minor improvements in the method 
of dealing with street-sweepings and garbage, for the con- 
struction of open gutters to carry off storm water, and for 
the erection of improved reservoirs for watering cattle. 
He also carried to completion, at the cost of about Rs. 70,000, 
a new arterial thoroughfare, now named after Sir James 
Richey, a former Collector of Ahmadabad, for the con- 
struction of which sanction had been obtained by Mr. 
Fernandez, his predecessor in office. This road proved not 
only a convenience to the growing traffic of the city but 
also a benefit to the health of the locality through which it 
passed. Yet Ranchhodlal had not yet aroused the " sanitary 
conscience " of his colleagues ; and in the belief that the 
constant repetition of his theme must in time affect their 
placid conservatism, he devoted a considerable portion of 
the annual administration report of the Municipality for 
the year 1883-84 to a detailed re-statement of the urgent 
requirements of the city. He showed that of 41,000 houses 
in Ahmadabad, 8,800 were furnished with the primitive 
and insanitary cesspits, known locally as Khalkuvas, and 
that the remainder had no provision whatever for the 
disposal of house-sewage, which was usually emptied 
directly on to the public streets and lanes. He drew atten- 
tion to the very insanitary condition of the narrow streets, 
known locally as Pols, which occupied a considerable portion 
of the inhabited area. The main thoroughfares of Ahma- 
dabad at this date were metalled and drained, but the Pols, 
being totally devoid of even surface and storm-water 
drainage, were in a sodden and putrifying condition and 
offered a fertile soil for the epidemics of cholera which 



LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT. 3 1 

occurred annually after the outburst of the monsoon. On 
the subject of the removal of refuse he provided figures and 
estimates showing the cost of laying down a light railway, 
supporting them with a report from the Amritsar muni- 
cipality in the Punjab, which had already adopted this 
method of dealing with town refuse. To these primary 
needs, including specially a proper water-supply, he added 
the removal from the city of dangerous and offensive trades, 
the widening of narrow streets and roads, the building of 
dials (tenement buildings) for the poorer classes, the regula- 
tion of milch-cattle stables, and the erection of primary 
school buildings. For the establishment of a drainage 
system, waterworks, and a sewage farm, Ranchhodlal 
estimated a probable capital outlay of about 15,00,000 
rupees ; and on the assumption that the Municipality 
could obtain a loan of this amount at five per cent, repayable 
in fifty years he proposed that a special tax, amounting to 
about twelve annas per head, should be levied upon the 
city. The imposition of such a tax, he argued, would cost 
the people less in the end than they would have to pay for 
the provision and upkeep of properly constructed khalkuvas 
and tankas (reservoirs) for the storage of drinking water, 
such as were then maintained in the more favoured parts of 
the city. But to obviate the chance of even so small a cess 
pressing hardly upon the poorer inhabitants he suggested 
that the Municipality should in the first instance make a 
general valuation of all immovable property in the city, 
and regulate the incidence of the tax on the basis of that 
valuation. Moreover, while recognising fully the duty of 
the citizens to provide by such means these urgently required 
improvements, he requested Government to assist their 
endeavours by advancing the necessar}* loan at four per cent., 
by conceding to the Municipality the right to receive the 
sale-proceeds of the occupancy rights of all unoccupied lands 
within municipal limits, and thirdly by paying the Muni- 
cipality compensation for the loss of the octroi fees on 
country liquor which had resulted in 1881 from the require- 



32 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAI,. 

merits of the Government liquor-monopoly and farming 
system. 

So far as the water-supply of Ahmadabad is concerned, 

it must not be supposed that in formulating his schemes 

Ranchhodlal was breaking wholly new ground. The old 

system of tanks for the storage of rain-water and wells, 

coupled with an additional supply pumped from the river 

Sabarmati, was so insanitary and anachronistic that more 

than one scheme had been formulated for its supersession. 

The tanks leaked and collected all sorts of impurities ; the 

wells, surrounded by cesspools and rarely cleaned, were 

thoroughly polluted ; while the river water was rendered 

unpotable and dangerous to health by the universal practice 

of washing animals, clothes and utensils in the river, by the 

free admission to it of sullage water, and by the proximity 

of a night-soil depot, slaughter-houses, dyeing factories and 

tanneries. The pumping plant itself, erected in 1847 from 

the City Walls Restoration Fund during the Collectorship of 

Mr. Fawcett, had been from time to time improved, but was 

nevertheless inefficient and designed on lines that could 

scarcely be called strictly hy genie. Schemes for a new water 

supply had been prepared by an engineer named Ferguson 

in 1874, by Mr. Hatherly in 1876, by Mr. Borrodaile in 1878, 

by Mr. Pottinger, executive engineer for irrigation works 

in Gujarat, about the same date, by Mr. Playford Reynolds 

in 1883, and by Mr. Doig in 1884. These schemes however 

were " merely suggestions backed by rough estimates based 

on the express wishes of the Collector or the Municipality 

as to the quantity of water required per head of population 

and the pressure at which the supply was to be delivered." 

and were therefore in turn abandoned. In 1885 the 

Bombay Government, acting upon the request of Ranch- 

podlal, who was re-elected Chairman at the beginning of 

that year and became President in the following September 

under the provisions of Act II of 1884, agreed to lend the 

services of Colonel Walter M. Ducat, R.E., Consulting 

Sanitary Engineer, to the Ahmadabad Municipality for 



LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT. 33 

one month for the purpose of preparing plans and specifi- 
cations for drainage and water- works. 

Up to this point Ranchhodlal's policy had met with no 
serious opposition. No sooner however had Colonel 
Ducat's plans been submitted for approval to the municipal 
commissioners than considerable hostility was manifested 
to the scheme both by Ranchhodlal's colleagues in the 
municipality and by the general public. It was widely 
held that the proposals framed by Colonel Ducat and 
supported by Ranchhodlal were impracticable and too 
costly, that they were ill adapted to the climatic conditions 
of Ahmad abad, would entail unduly heavy taxation, and 
might conceivably impose a heavy burden of debt upon 
the muncipality. Mass meetings, at which Ranchhodlal's 
opponents on the Board presided, were held daily to protest 
against the schemes, and the native Press fanned the 
opposition with unjustified misrepresentation and frequently 
with bitter invective. Ranchhodlal himself attended several 
of the meetings and after listening patiently to criticism, 
which was not always free from personal rancour, sought 
by calm exposition of the facts to explain to his audience 
the merits of the proposals. The hostilities culminated 
in a monster meeting held at the Tanksal 1 and attended 
by thousands of all classes, in the hope of intimidating the 
President. It was bruited abroad that if Ranchhodlal 
attended and declined after open discussion to recede from 
his position, personal violence might perhaps be resorted 
to. Ranchhodlal was no coward. He attended the 
meeting, which greeted his arrival with hisses and other 
signals of dissatisfaction, and endeavoured by patient and 
reasoned explanation to remove misapprehension. But 
the crowd, which had been worked up by methods only too 
common in India, first shouted him down and refused him 
a hearing, and then proceeded to pelt him with garbage and 

1 Tanksal in Hindustani means " a Mint." The building here men- 
tioned is probably the remains of the Emperor Jahangir's Mint. 



34 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAI, CHHOTALAL. 

stones. A party of mounted police, which had been sent 
by the Collector to protect him, managed to escort him 
without injury from the meeting to his house. 

For the time being, therefore, progress in the direction 
advocated by Ranchhodlal remained in abeyance. His 
scheme, though rejected by the managing committee under 
the circumstances outlined above, had still to be laid before 
a general meeting of the whole municipality. A meeting 
was called on 22nd June, 1886, to consider Colonel Ducat's 
report, at which Ranchhodlal himself, after explaining 
the circumstances in which the Colonel's services had been 
lent by the Bombay Government, moved that the report on 
the water-supply be approved and adopted. The proposal 
was seconded by Major Robb, the Civil Surgeon. An 
amendment was at once moved by a member of the oppo- 
sition to the effect that the cost of Colonel Ducat's water- 
supply scheme was excessive and that a further report 
should be made by a committee of nine persons, appointed 
ad hoc, on the desirability of improving and adding to the 
existing pumping-service. The amendment was carried by 
a majority of three. On the following day Ranchhodlal 
returned to the charge and moved that Colonel Ducat's 
drainage scheme be approved and adopted, being again 
supported by Major Robb. This proposal shared the same 
fate as the former. Ranchhodlal and his supporters were 
outvoted ; ignorant conservatism for the time being won 
the day. Every effort was made by Ranchhodlal to bring 
his colleagues to a sense of their duties ; he improvised a 
water-supply from the Sabarmati for his own mills ; he 
laid down small drainage works and a small model sewage 
farm in the wide compound surrounding his house ; he 
invited his colleagues to witness the working of this plant 
and tried to prove to them by ocular demonstration the value 
of the rejected proposals. Persuasive presentation of his 
plans and reasoned argument were of no avail ; his opponents 
remained obdurate, and found moreover unexpected sup- 
port in the views of Sir Theodore Hope, formerly Collector 



EOCAI, SELF-GOVERNMENT. 35 

of Ahmadabad and at this date a member of the Viceroy's 
Council, who, having been requested to give his views on 
the proposals, wrote a long minute from Simla in October, 
1886, condemning Colonel Ducat's schemes in the strongest 
terms. Sir Theodore Hope, whose views were widely- 
circulated in Ahmadabad and were also published in the 
Bombay Gazette, recommended his Ahmadabad friends to 
have nothing to do with underground drainage and to con- 
centrate their forces instead on perfecting the removal of 
sewage by hand and on the surface-removal of sullage. 

Sir Theodore's opinion, though unquestionably wrong, 
was a powerful weapon in the hands of Ranchhodlal's 
adversaries, and for the time being rendered active prosecu- 
tion of Colonel Ducat's plans impossible. Ranchhodlal 
however, who realised that this distinguished official had 
been misled by hasty generalisations from the entirely 
different conditions and circumstances of other parts of 
India, notably of Lahore in the Panjab, replied to Sir 
Theodore's Hope's report in an elaborate memorandum, 
defending his own proposals and exposing the blunders of 
Sir Theodore Hope and his expert adviser. This memoran- 
dum he disseminated among his colleagues and the public 
of Ahmadabad, and at the same time wrote a temperate and 
practical letter to Sir Theodore Hope, pointing out the 
fallacies of his arguments and the costly impracticability 
of his alternative recommendations. He also gave a 
practical demonstration of the truth of one of Colonel 
Ducat's chief contentions by sinking a trial well in the river 
bed at Dudheshvar and demonstrating that double the daily 
quantity of water required by the city could be easily raised 
by machinery from a single well of the diameter and depth 
recommended in Colonel Ducat's scheme. Nor did he 
forget the educative influence of public discussion in the 
Press and wrote more than one letter combating the theories 
and statements of his opponents and justifying the detailed 
schemes of the expert. The latter, as may be imagined, 
was not disposed to accept Sir Theodore Hope's rather 



36 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

pontifical pronouncement in silence, and on 30th November, 
1886, submitted to the Secretary to Government in the 
Public Works Department, with whom rested the final 
verdict as to the adoption or rejection of his scheme, a 
lengthy and somewhat caustic refutation of the views of 
Sir T. Hope. Matters remained in an impasse however 
for some little time longer, during which Sir Theodore Hope 
wrote a further minute to Ranchhodlal, Dr. Thomas 
Blane}' of Bombay was invited to give his views on the 
drainage problem, and Ranchhodlal continued his endeavours 
to educate the public mind and disarm opposition. At 
length on 2nd February, 1887 the report of the sub- 
committee appointed in June of the previous year to 
recommend an alternative water-supply scheme, was 
presented to a special general meeting of the Municipality. 
This sub-committee accepted Colonel Ducat's scheme in 
extenso with minor modifications, but recommended that 
the capital outlay on the scheme should not exceed five 
lakhs of rupees. The general meeting was twice adjourned 
owing to protracted discussion ; but at length on 3rd March, 
after a two hours' discussion, the Municipality passed by 
sixteen votes to ten a resolution moved by Professor Abaji 
Vishnu Kathavate and seconded by Mr. Hugh Fraser, that 
Colonel Ducat's water supply scheme, as modified by the 
sub-committee, should be adopted and that the sub- 
committee's estimate of five lakhs should be raised to six 
lakhs in order to admit of the provision of iron distributing 
pipes of rather larger diameter. 

Thus Ranchhodlal's efforts were at length crowned 
with success. The sanction of the Bombay Government 
was quickly obtained, and in April, 1887, Ranchhodlal 
obtained the permission of the Municipality to raise a 
loan of six lakhs of rupees. The sanction of the Government 
of India was not received till May, 1888, and the actual 
works were commenced in March of the following year. 
The intermediate period was spent by Ranchhodlal in 
superintending the construction of the large well in the 



LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT. 37 

river-bed at Dudheshvar, which formed one of the salient 
features of the scheme, and in subjecting the well 
to a series of tests, which proved conclusively to the satis- 
faction of all concerned, including Sir T. Hope who visited 
Ahmadabad to inspect the work, that a constant supply 
of potable water was now assured. Finally on nth June, 
1891, the Governor of Bombay, Lord Harris, opened the 
completed works, which comprised a pumping plant capable 
of supplying in twelve hours' working 1,300,000 gallons 
of water and 51 miles of piping. The scheme, which cost 
according to the final estimate a little more than *]\ lakhs 
of rupees, was carried out under the supervision of Mr. 
Doig and his assistant, Mr. Fardunji, of the Public Works 
Department; Messrs. Little ,^G. B. Reid, and H. E. M/W"**^^ 
James, who successively held the office of Collector of Jl^ 
Ahmadabad, lent official support to the undertaking ; and, 
finally, the Government of Lord Reay, who preceded Lord 
Harris, assisted the Municipality by obtaining for it a loan of 
three lakhs at 4-| per cent, for the completion of the work. 
The scheme has abundantly fulfilled the expectations 
of those who advocated its introduction. Since its com- 
pletion as the result of Ranchhodlal's efforts, a second high- 
level reservoir has been built with a capacity of 318,000 
gallons ; to the two sets of engines and pumps provided 
in the original undertaking a third set was added in 1898, 
which, like the former, can deliver 1,800 gallons per minute 
to the high-level reservoir ; a fourth engine has now been 
installed at a cost of nearly one lakh, and the question of a 
fifth engine is also under expert consideration. The water 
supply is constant, notwithstanding that the consumption 
per head has reached the high figure of twenty-six gallons 
inside the walled area and twenty-five gallons outside; but the 
increase of population and the excessive consumption in 
the northern parts of the city have necessitated the additional 
plant mentioned above and have also led to the laying of 
a new twenty-inch main for the supply of water to the 
suburbs and to the former twenty-seven-inch main being 



38 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAI, CHHOTAI.AI,. 

reserved purely for the supply of the city proper. The city 
of Ahmadabad owes a debt of gratitude to Ranchhodlal for 
his persistent advocacy of Colonel Ducat's proposals, which 
cannot be measured in words, and the most ardent of his 
former opponents now eulogize his prescience and per- 
severance for the public weal. 

In the matter of the drainage of the city, Ranchhodlal's 
policy was not marked by the same degree of success. The 
system, which Ranchhodlal wisely desired to supersede, 
consisted of the removal of night-soil by hand and its 
subsequent transport to two very offensive depots at 
the Jamalpur and Shahpur gates of the city. He arranged 
in 1885 for its removal by tramway to a spot outside the 
city walls, known familiarly as Bagh Firdaus, " The Garden 
of Paradise." Local opposition to the scheme of under- 
ground drains, which he favoured, had received considerable 
support from the published opinion of Sir Theodore Hope 
already mentioned ; and Ranchhodlal determined, as his 
first move in the struggle, to have a sub-committee appointed 
with ample powers to investigate the subject at issue and 
make recommendations to the municipal board. This 
sub-committee, which commenced work in November, 1886, 
reported without delay in favour of the removal of sullage 
water by pipes as a temporary measure ; and at a meeting 
of the municipal committee in the following month Ranch- 
hodlal succeeded in gaining approval to a proposal that for 
the area within the city walls the proposals of the sub- 
committee should be tentatively adopted, and that in the 
extra-mural area glazed earthenware pipes should be used 
to carry the sullage to a distance of two miles to the south 
of the city. The financial aspect of the proposal was reserved 
for further discussion. Opposition however was still so 
strong that the Municipality at a subsequent meeting in 
December declined to sanction the proposals and declared 
definitely in favour of the removal of sullage by hand. 
Their decision was condemned by the Commissioner, N.D., 
and by the Sanitary Commissioner, Deputy Surgeon- 



LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT. 39 

General T. G. Hewlett, who described the Municipality's 
scheme as a mere make-shift, which would in the end 
cost the citizens of Ahmadabad a great deal more than a 
proper arrangement of permanent drains ; and the Bombay 
Government, concurring with their opinion, refused sanction 
to the Municipality's proposals and instructed the officials 
concerned to use their influence to secure the substitution 
of a proper drainage system. Then followed meetings 
to discuss the views of Government, the Sanitary Com- 
missioner himself being present as a visitor at one of the 
meetings to explain the details and principles of under- 
ground drainage, and to endeavour to allay the mistrust 
of the majority. His efforts were fruitless ; for on 8th Feb- 
ruary, 1888, the Municipality definitely rejected Ranch- 
hodlal's tentative scheme for a two-mile drain from the 
Maunda gate to a model sewage farm and declared again 
for the hand-service system. On this occasion Ranchhodlal's 
usual tenacity of purpose seems temporarily to have deserted 
him, for instead of continuing the struggle with his recalcitrant 
colleagues, he appears to have forwarded their resolution 
with a recommendation that the Municipality should be 
allowed to make trial of the imperfect and costly system 
of hand-removal. The Commissioner N.D. and the Bombay 
Government however declined flatly to countenance so 
futile a scheme, and matters remained in statu quo until 
14th May, 1888, when doubtless with the double object of 
*' saving their faces " and avoiding a direct challenge to 
Government, the Municipality resolved to instal underground 
drainage in one part of the city as an experimental measure 
and sanctioned a sum of one and a half lakhs of rupees for 
the purpose. Plans and estimates for the work were pre- 
pared by Mr. Baldwin Latham, the well-known sanitary 
engineer, and the work was practically completed by the 
close of 1893. Additional funds were voted by the Muni- 
cipality for house-connections with the main drains, and 
these were steadily augmented as the value of the system 
impressed itself upon the public mind. It is noteworthy 



40 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

that the scheme was initiated in the very parts of the city 
which had offered the strongest opposition to it from the 
beginning ; yet no sooner was its satisfactory working 
manifested than the inhabitants of those parts were urgent 
in their demands for house-connections and for the further 
extension of the scheme. By 1897 there was a general 
demand for the extension of the drainage scheme to other 
parts of the city, and under the auspices and direction 
of Ranchhodlal, plans and estimates involving an expenditure 
of eight lakhs of rupees were prepared and submitted for 
sanction to the Bombay Government. The approval of 
Government, coupled with their sanction to raising the 
requisite loan, was received by the Municipality after 
Ranchhodlal's death in 1898. For all practical purposes, 
however, the scheme which Ranchhodlal had first advocated 
in 1883 was on the high road to completion before his death, 
and, though on one occasion his determination seems to 
have faltered, it is chiefly to his work and to the support 
which he received from Government and its officials that 
Ahmadabad has been saved in great measure from the 
epidemics of cholera and similar diseases which annually 
took a heavy toll of the city in former days. 

At the present time the underground drainage s}'stem, 
which has proved entirely successful, has been introduced 
into the south-eastern and south central portion of the 
intra-mural area. The sewage flows by gravitation to 
Jamalpur, whence it is pumped out to a thriving and 
well-conducted sewage-farm. Plans for an extension of 
the system to the whole of the walled area, which is estimated 
to cost eleven lakhs of rupees, have been prepared by Mr. 
Baldwin Latham, and a new pumping-engine, costing 
nearly a lakh of rupees, was ordered during 1916. Now 
that the war no longer places an embargo upon the raising 
of loans by local bodies, the Municipality may be confidently 
expected to complete the work initiated by their former 
President and his English advisers. The amount spent 
upon the scheme up to 1917 reached the considerable sum 



LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT. 4-T 

of nearly 15^ lakhs, to which will before long be added a 
further sum of eleven lakhs devoted to auxiliary works 
of prime necessity. The underground drainage system of 
Ahmadabad at the outset was wisely confined to sullage 
only and not adapted, as in Bombay, to the removal, of 
both sullage and storm- water. It is now generally admitted 
that, where monsoon conditions prevail, it is neither advisable 
nor practicable to attempt to deal with both sullage and 
storm- water in one system. That Ranchhodlal should have 
succeeded in introducing the underground system at all 
is alone sufficient to keep his memory green in Ahmadabad. 
There are some who, with experience of the present condition 
of the city's streets during the months of the monsoon, 
are apt to deplore the fact that a scheme for the surface 
drainage of the city was not prepared with the drainage 
scheme. But one must bear in mind the extraordinary 
opposition which Ranchhodlal encountered in respect both 
of the water-supply and drainage schemes and, rather 
than cavil at omissions which the experience of a later 
generation rightly considers important, pay a tribute of 
admiration to the man who secured the two prime needs 
of modern urban life in the face of the superstitious ignorance 
and blind hostility of the general public. Had Ranchhodlal 
lived longer, with his great faculty for work unimpaired, 
he would assuredly have turned his attention to the problem 
of surface drainage and have dealt with it as successfully 
as he dealt with the two major problems of his municipal 
career. There are people still living who can remember 
seeing him perambulating the city with Baldwin I,atham, 
and calmly considering the details of his scheme amid the 
overt hostility and abuse of most of the traders and vakils. 
Few Indians would have had the moral courage in such 
circumstances to persist with their plans. But Ranchhodlal, 
physically and morally, was a man of stout heart ; he held 
on his course undeterred by threats and fear of unpopularity. 
His achievement is to-day a source of pride to the citizens 
of Ahmadabad. 



42 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODI^AI, CHHOTALAL. 

One of the salient features of Ranchhodlal's municipal 
administration was his constant personal supervision of the 
large works which he induced the Municipality to establish. 
Every morning he visited the works while they were in 
progress, suggesting alterations here and additions there, 
and, though possessed of no professional training as an 
engineer, was able to discuss the technical details of the 
construction with the experts and even to make suggestions, 
free from professional and departmental bias, which they 
were on occasions only too willing to accept. The manage- 
ment of his own business and constant attendance at public 
and private meetings were never permitted to interfere 
with his municipal duties ; in addition to his outdoor work 
in the mornings he worked at the municipal office for three 
hours every day and except on very rare occasions always 
attended municipal meetings. In this wa} r he was respon- 
sible for introducing several reforms in the general urban 
administration. Public dispensaries, schools and institutes 
benefited from his constant supervision ; technical scholar- 
ships were granted to deserving students of the Victoria 
Jubilee Technical Institute ; an institution for home medical 
relief was founded ; he induced the Bombay Government 
to pay a sum of Rs. 83,000 to which the Ahmadabad Muni- 
cipality had long made claim and to sanction the participa- 
tion of the Municipality in the proceeds of the sale of 
occupancy rights in vacant lands within the city. Tracts 
of land which for years had been the breeding-grounds -of 
cholera and malaria were during his administration re- 
claimed and converted into building sites ; and when the first 
cases of bubonic plague occurred in the city, the measures for 
disinfection and prevention which were immediately carried 
out under his orders checked the spread of the disease and 
obviated the necessity for the stringent and harassing pre- 
cautions which caused so much annoyance and such heavy 
expenditure in other parts of the Bombay Presidency. 
His interest in municipal affairs never flagged ; even during 
a visit to Mahableshwar for the sake of his health he con- 



LOCAL, SELF-GOVERNMENT. 43 

tinued his work, and he was busy with municipal matters 
till within a few hours of his death. 

Ranchhodlal was a keen and accurate observer, a logical 
reasoner and a man of equable temper. Once convinced 
of the truth of a particular opinion, he was ready to support 
it patiently against all criticism without resort to anger, 
intrigue or retaliation, in the conviction that its truth must 
ultimately be made manifest. Avoiding any display of 
passion, he was ever ready in his public speeches and official 
reports to say a good word for his opponents and faithfully 
to represent their views, even though he himself might 
differ from them. In the height of controversy he 
was careful to avoid hurting the feelings of those who 
declined to accept his opinions and policy, and the respect 
which he invariably showed to all did much to assuage 
the bitterness of the conflict. His singleness of purpose, 
his capacity, his diplomatic handling of municipal questions, 
impressed all those with whom he came in contact. Suc- 
cessive Collectors of Ahmadabad, Mr. H. E. M. (now Sir 
Evan) James, Mr. G. B. Reid, Mr. C. E. Frost, Mr. M. C. 
Gibb, and Mr. P. J. Mead, from time to time recorded their 
sense of his devotion to the interests of the city and 
emphasized the value of his ripe experience and wisdom. 
Mens aqua in arduis might well have been chosen as his 
motto, for the temporary failure of his plans and the open 
hostility of the market-place were alike powerless to shake 
his courage and constancy. 



44 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 



Chapter VI. 



Politics. 

Ranchhodlal's achievements in the commercial and 
municipal spheres having been described, it becomes neces- 
sary to glance at his activities in the domain of politics, 
including therein both his work as a member of the Pro- 
vincial Legislative Council and his policy as a member or 
supporter of the Indian National Congress. The Indian 
Councils Act of 1892, which was initiated b}^ discussions 
during the Vicero}^alty of Lord Dufferin, provided for the 
appointment by nomination or otherwise of additional 
members to the various provincial councils, thus opening 
the way for the closer association of leading Indians with the 
legislative activities of the provincial governments and 
leading direct^ to the famous Morley-Minto reforms of 
1909. Ranchhodlal's merits were so conspicuous that the 
Bombay Government felt no hesitation in appointing him 
an additional member of the Legislative Council in 1892, 
and in re-appointing him twice in succession on the expiry 
of the statutory period of membership. His tenure of office 
thus lasted for six years, during which period he displayed 
in regard to public affairs the same moderation and the 
same reasoned judgment which had characterized his 
handling of municipal problems. Though fully in sympathy 
with the aspirations of his own countrymen, Ranchhodlal 
was nevertheless unfavourably disposed towards Western 
methods of public agitation. He believed in the theoretical 
fitness of liberal principles, but considered that the wholesale 
application of them to the problems of India, as she was in 
his day, might conceivably end in disaster, and that towards 
established authority a policy of conciliatory argument 
was to be preferred to that of blind opposition and resistance. 

The first piece of legislation to arouse his interest was the 



politics. 45 

Mahuda 1 Bill, which was designed to check the drinking 
habit among the people of Thana district and of some parts 
of the Kolaba district. The Bill excited considerable 
controversy throughout the Presidency and was opposed 
by bodies like the Bombay Presidency Association and the 
Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, by many piominent members 
of native society, and b}' the vernacular Press. Their chief 
argument seems to have been that the restrictions embodied 
in the Bill constituted a serious infringement of the liberty 
of the people and that to their way of thinking " Thana free " 
was better than " Thana sober." Ranchbodlal, himself 
a strict teetotaller and enemy of intemperance, considered 
that these arguments were fraught with danger to the health 
and happiness of the people immediately concerned and 
might react unfavourably on the general morality, and in 
his capacity of President of the Temperance Association 
of Ahmadabad he contributed to the Times of India and the 
Bombay Gazette between June and October, 1892, a series 
of articles refuting the arguments of the opponents of the 
Bill and justifying the need for it by a careful array of 
facts and statistics. The Bill was subsequently passed into 
law. Ranchhodlal drew public attention to the question 
of temperance on other occasions also. At a Legislative 
Council Meeting held in August, 1894, while commenting in 
his speech on the Budget upon the increase in the Abkari 
revenue, he expressed regret that this should have been 
occasioned, as he believed it to have been, by a decided 
increase in the consumption of spirituous liquor and begged 
the Council to devise some measure whereby the people 
might be protected from the vice of drinking. In the 
following year he strongly urged Government to alter the 
system of farming the Abkari revenue, as it then existed 
in the districts outside Bombay, advocating the introduction 
of the system followed in the latter city and the enhancement 
of the rate of duty in all large towns. Government, however, 
for very good reasons preferred to adhere to the arrange- 

1 See page 70 (Index) for meaning. 



46 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODI^AI, CHHOTALAI,. 

ments whereby the public exchequer annually receives not 
less than a certain fixed sum on account of still-head duty 
on liquor issued from a central distillery, and the liquor 
farmer has a direct interest both in the suppression of illicit 
distillation and in the supply to the public of the quantity 
of liquor required for normal consumption. 

Municipal finance was another subject to which Ranch- 
hodlal drew attention in debate. He deprecated the practice 
followed by the Bombay Government of obtaining advances 
from the Government of India at four per cent, and charging 
municipalities four and-a-half per cent., on the ground that 
the additional half per cent, was needed to cover all risks. 
" This procedure," he said, " may have been right when the 
Government of India were paying interest at four per cent, 
on Government paper. But as now Government happily 
are able to command any amount of money at three and-a- 
half per cent., it is but fair that they should charge the local 
government at that rate, in order to enable the latter to 
charge the same rate or not more than four per cent, to 
local bodies." If this course was impossible, he urged that 
municipalities should be empowered to repay their loans 
from Government by borrowing in the open market. 

In the course of the same speech, delivered in 1895, 
he referred at some length to the vexed question of the 
closing of the mints to the free coinage of silver. Ranch- 
hodlal's views, which he also ventilated in a series of letters 
and memorials, were opposed to the re-opening of the mints 
to free coinage, by reason of the great fall in the value 
of the rupee and the reduction in the rate of the English 
exchange which must have followed a reversal of the policy 
adopted by the Government of India in 1893. On the 
other hand, he saw no reason why the Government should 
not make an appreciable profit by coining rupees for their 
own use, and referring to the current ratio of silver to rupees 
and to the fact that a balance of twenty-five crores of rupees 
was at that time lying idle in the Government treasuries, 
he calculated that on the basis of one-twelfth of allov in the 



politics. 47 

rupee Government would realize the handsome profit of one 
crore and fifty-nine lakhs, if they were to invest only six 
crores of their balances in the purchase of silver and coin 
it into rupees in their own mints. These and other argu- 
ments in favour of re-opening the mints to their own coinage 
Ranchhodlal pressed not only upon the Government of 
India, but also upon the Viceroy, Lord Elgin, to whom he 
submitted a special memorandum embodying his views, 
His arguments did not impress the Government of India 
and the Home authorities, who subsequently decided 
upon the establishment of a gold standard for India 
in order to maintain the enhanced rate of exchange which 
followed the closing of the mints. The subject is now of 
little more than academic interest, particularly to those 
who have watched the rupee exchange rate rise to 2s. 8d., 
but it has been mentioned as being one of the matters which 
absorbed Ranchhodlal's attention during his later years. 

As one of the pioneers of the cotton industry of Western 
India, Ranchhodlal naturally held strong views about the 
countervailing duty on cotton goods manufactured in 
Indian mills, which was imposed in 1896 at the instance of 
the millowners of Lancashire. His views, which he pub- 
lished in the Bombay press and embodied in a memorial 
to the Government of India in January, 1896, were briefly 
to the effect that as the cloth woven in Indian mills was 
coarse and suited only to the poorer classes, the proposed 
excise duty would be an unjustifiable burden upon the 
latter ; that the imposition of the tax would be certain to 
create an impression that the Government of India desired 
to discourage the Indian mill industry in the interests of 
Lancashire ; that it would discourage the introduction of 
labour-saving machinery ; that if the Native States, as 
seemed inevitable, were forced to follow the lead of the 
Government of India, the constant advice tendered by the 
latter to the various Durbars to abolish taxes on local 
manufactures would be stultified ; and that it was obviously 
unnecessary and unfair to levy a countervailing duty on 



48 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

coarse cloth of a kind which could be proved never to have 
been imported from Lancashire. Whatever sympathy the 
Government of India may have had with these views, they 
were naturally obliged to bow to the decision of the authorities 
in England, and the Bill providing for the levy of the counter- 
vailing excise duty was accordingly passed, literally in 
obedience to the demand of the Lancashire electorate. 
Ranchhodlal's second objection, as noted above, was a 
very accurate forecast of Indian feeling on the subject, 
for the maintenance till quite a recent date of the duty on 
locally manufactured goods was widely accepted as con- 
clusive proof that the authorities were positively encouraging 
India's industrial backwardness in the interests of British 
manufactures. The grievance of the Indian millowner has 
been finally laid to rest during Mr. Austen Chamberlain's 
tenure of office as Secretary of State on grounds which 
recall the protest of Ranchhodlal twenty years ago. 

Ranchhodlal was likewise opposed to some of the recom- 
mendations of the Indian Factory Commission appointed 
in 1884-85 to consider the amendment of the Factories 
Act. Like other leading millowners, he was invited to give 
his opinion on the proposal to restrict the number of working 
days for women employed in factories, and declared himself 
opposed to any measure, such as this, which would operate 
to restrict the operatives' opportunity of wage-earning. 
His arguments on this subject were on the whole less 
convincing and less acceptable than the practical suggestions 
which he made on another occasion for the detection and 
prevention of cotton-adulteration. On this subject he was 
an acknowledged expert and tendered valuable advice to 
Government. 

Ranchhodlal's sympathy with the aspirations of his 
countrymen and his position in the commercial world led 
naturally to his participating in the deliberations of the 
Indian National Congress. He had been elected a delegate 
on the occasion of the first session of the Congress in Bombay, 
and in 1893, when the sixth Provincial Conference met at 



politics. 49 

Ahmadabad, Ranchhodlal accepted the post of Chairman 
of the Reception Committee. During the deliberations 
he was personally responsible for resolutions advocating the 
modification of the rules regarding the levy of fines for the 
use of land for non-agricultural purposes, and demanding 
a system of local option in regard to the opening of liquor 
shops in urban areas. His general attitude towards Govern- 
ment, forming, as it does, a striking contrast with that of 
some of the more vociferous politicians of a later day, is best 
shown in the following extract from his speech as Chairman 
of the Reception Committee : — 

"It is a matter of regret that the misunderstanding 
" should exist in some quarters that the persons who 
" take part in these conferences are discontented with 
" the present administration of the country. If such 
" were the fact, I for one would have hesitated to take 
" any part in such an assemblage ; but I fully believe 
" that the educated people of the country think it their 
" duty to try their best to promote the true happiness 
" of their fellow-countrymen by all constitutional 
" means, and are actuated with the best and most loyal 
" motives to sacrifice their time and money for the 
" public good. No honest person can for a moment 
" doubt that the people of this country are in a variety 
" of ways very greatly benefited by the present adminis- 
" tration of the country, and they must therefore be 
" most grateful to the present Government. Still, 
" however well meaning a Government may be, there 
" must always be some points in their administration 
" in connection with which improvements ma}^ be 
" necessary, and it is therefore desirable that intelligent 
*' and experienced persons in the country should try and 
" represent their views to Government regarding these 
" improvements in a loyal and respectful manner. 
" There is no reason to suppose that any responsible 
" officer of Government would be unwilling or slow 
" to receive such representations." 



50 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAI,. 

These pacific words, with their underlying determination 
to give credit where it is due, would scarcely commend 
themselves to some modern Congressmen by whom constant 
misrepresentation and abuse of the Government and its 
officials are apparently regarded as the high-water mark of 
political sagacity. 

On the subject of foreign trade, Ranchhodlal was an 
advocate of protection against all countries that did not 
follow the doctrine of Free Trade. America, France, 
Germany, Canada, Australia, and some other British colonies 
all imposed a heavy and sometimes almost prohibitive duty 
on foreign goods with a view to the protection of their -own 
industries. Was it just, he argued, that India should be 
made to grant free importation from such countries, at least 
so far as manufactured articles other than raw material, 
machinery and articles of food were concerned ? England 
extended the indulgence of free imports to India, and it was 
therefore only just that her goods should be imported 
duty-free into India ; but why should not India protect 
her paper-industry at Poona by imposing a dut}^ on German 
paper in view of the fact that German}^ imposed a heavy 
duty on yarn imported from Ahmadabad ? Why should 
American cloth be imported free into Bombay when woollen 
carpets from Ahmadabad were subject to a heavy duty in 
New York ? These questions still await a final answer. 
Since Ranchhodlal wrote, the demand for Protection, even 
against British goods, has grown more insistent, and is one 
of the chief elements in the cry for fiscal autonomy which 
the Indian politician considers the panacea for all ills. It 
is probable that before long the whole question of tariffs 
will have to be tackled by the liberalised administration 
introduced by the Government of India Act of 1919. 

This resume of Ranchhodlal's activities in the political 
sphere may conclude with a few remarks on his attitude 
towards the question of widow-remarriage. Some few 
years ago, as the result of an agitation headed by a well- 
known Parsi philanthropist, the late Mr. B. M. Malabari, 



POLITICS. 51 

the Bombay Government was pressed to take legislative 
action against " enforced widowhood " and " infant mar- 
riage." Ranchhodlal, on being consulted officially by 
Government on the subject, laid down the perfectly sound 
proposition that as the matters at issue were closely bound 
up with Hindu social and religious customs, it was mani- 
festly undesirable that the State should interfere with them. 
He deprecated the use of the term " enforced widowhood," 
on the ground that a Hindu widow of respectable birth, 
however deplorable her condition might be, willingly set her 
face against re-marriage from religious conviction and a sense 
of honour, and that it would be extremely difficult for 
Government to distinguish between the few instances in 
which widowhood might truly be described as " enforced " 
and the great mass of cases in which the widow voluntarily 
accepted the conditions and penances prescribed by Hindu 
belief and custom. Government had, in his opinion, gone 
as far as was desirable in legalizing widow-remarriage by 
Act XVIII of 1856, and it was manifestly improper that 
it should now take further powers to compel an unwilling 
widow to re-marry. Contact with Western thought and 
civilisation was bound, in Ranchhodlal's opinion, to soften 
the asperities of ancient Hindu custom, and it was wiser 
policy to await the gradual alteration of harsh beliefs by 
such agency than to endeavour to hasten the process by 
legislation. Ranchhodlal freely admitted the justice of 
the charges levelled by reformers against the system of 
infant marriage ; but he laid stress at the same time on the 
fact that the evil was a social one and could therefore be 
best dealt with by society. To invite the legislature to 
usurp the function of society was tantamount to disturbing 
the social order and striking at the very root of social 
rights and privileges. Ranchhodlal's advice was un- 
questionably correct. Matters have advanced since his day ; 
but it is doubtful whether the progress of public opinion 
even now has been sufficiently marked to warrant the 
interference of Government in customs which date back 



52 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAI, CHHOTALAL. 

to hoary antiquity. As education, particularly the educa- 
tion of women, extends among all classes, and provided the 
advocates of reform act in consonance with their outward 
professions, the general community will in time spontaneously 
relinquish customs and beliefs that date back to less en- 
lightened and less philanthropic ages. 



PUBLIC CHARITY, CHARACTER AND DEATH. 53 



Chapter VII. 



Public Charity, Home Life, Character 
and Death. 

The large fortune which Ranchhodlal amassed by his 
own efforts was freely spent on charitable objects irrespective 
of caste and class. Hospitals, educational institutions, 
technical and literary societies, urban development, all 
profited from time to time by his benevolence. Up to the 
year 1878, Ahmadabad possessed only one institution for 
medical relief, besides the Government Civil Hospital, 
namely the Becherdas dispensary, founded by the late 
Rao Bahadur Becherdas Ambaidas, C.S.I. Realising that 
this dispensary was unable to treat more than a small 
proportion of the urban population, and that further 
medical relief was essential, Ranchhodlal in 1878 built 
and equipped at his own expense a large dispensary in the 
railway suburb of Ahmadabad. By 1881 the success of 
this institution was assured and Ranchhodlal therefore 
offered to transfer it to the charge of municipality, which 
agreed to the proposal on condition that the donor provided 
funds for its maintenance. Ranchhodlal immediately 
offered an endowment fund of Rs. 20,000 ; and subse- 
quently, after the dispensary had been placed under muni- 
cipal management, he bestowed further sums for the 
extension of the main buildings, to admit of the housing of 
indoor patients and of an increased hospital staff, and 
offered an additional sum of Rs. 5,000 for the cost of accom- 
modating distressed persons of the middle and lower classes, 
who could not afford to pay the visiting fees of doctors and 
were at the same time too ill to visit the dispensary as out- 
door patients. To provide food for this class of patients 



54 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

he also gave an annual donation of Rs. 500. Located in a 
convenient centre, this dispensary has proved an undoubted 
boon to the people of Ahmadabad and surrounding villages ; 
more than 20,000 persons are treated by it every year, and 
its extension and efficiency are promoted by regular donations 
from the charitably disposed. 

The subject of medical relief for women did not escape 
Ranchhodlal's attention. In 1885 he offeied an endowment 
of Rs. 20,000 for the provision of a women's hospital ; but 
the matter was for the time being shelved as the Govern- 
ment were unable, owing to financial stringency, to promise, 
their usual contribution to the funds of the new institution. 
Ranchhodlal however, after a little delay, revived the 
question, and in addition to the endowment previously 
promised offered to pay half the salary of the medical 
woman in charge of the hospital, provided that her total 
emoluments did not exceed Rs. 200 a month. On this 
occasion a Government grant was forthcoming, with the 
result that on April 1st, 1889, the hospital was opened under 
the title of the Victoria Jubilee Female Dispensary. 

Not content with these two institutions, Ranchhodlal 
opened about the year 1895 a Home Medical Relief Institu- 
tion, which bears his own name. His object was to provide 
medical relief for such of the poorer classes as might be 
unable to walk to a charitable dispensary, including the 
services of a doctor who would visit them in their own 
homes. A pensioned servant of Government, who had 
held the rank of first-class hospital assistant, was engaged, 
and for the first year of its working the total cost of the 
institution was borne in equal shares by Ranchhodlal and 
the municipality. Thereafter, as the work proved success- 
ful, Ranchhodlal placed it on a permanent basis by an 
endowment of Rs. 25,000, and handed over its maintenance 
to the municipal authorities. The scheme has proved of 
benefit to thousands of bed-ridden patients. 

At a later date Ranchhodlal, who had remarked the 
success attending the dispensary founded by him in the 



PUBLIC CHARITY, CHARACTER AND DEATH. 55 

railway suburb, offered a sum of Rs. 70,000 towards the 
expense of raising it to the status of a recognised Civil 
Hospital, but the Bombay Government unable at the time 
to provide the prescribed grant-in-aid were reluctantly 
forced to decline the offer. Baulked in this direction, 
Ranchhodlal decided to extend the scope of his arrangements 
for medical relief by the establishment of a travelling 
dispensary. He therefore set aside a sum of Rs. 20,000 
for the regular distribution of medicines to the poorer 
villagers of the Daskroi taluka, in which the city of Ahmada- 
bad is situated. He also provided medical relief at his 
own proprietary village of Auganaj. 

Education was another subject very close to Ranch- 
hodlal's heart. When the Gujarat Arts College, which 
since 1879 has been affiliated to the Bombay University, 
was about to be established, Ranchhodlal devoted several 
thousand rupees towards its maintenance fund, and after- 
wards, as one of the Board of Directors, made every effort 
to promote the interests of the College, giving handsome 
donations towards the cost of the building and providing 
at his own expense a number of rooms in the students' 
residential quarters. He also founded a monthly scholarship 
of ten rupees, tenable for the whole period of the collegiate 
course, for students of his own caste. The lower classes 
also were not forgotten ; for he established in the Shahpur 
ward of the city a vernacular school for the education of 
the children of his mill-operatives, which bears his own 
name, and many a poor student benefited by Ranchhodlal's 
catholic benevolence, receiving pecuniary aid towards the 
purchase of books and the payment of school fees. On the 
subject of female education also Ranchhodlal's views were 
progressive. His knowledge of the Hindu Shastras acted 
as a constant reminder that in former ages women freely 
partook of such education as was then available and fre- 
quently played no inconsiderable role in the social and 
intellectual life of ancient India. The almost universal 
ignorance of Hindu women in his own day struck Ranchhodlal 



56 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 

as a reproach to his countrymen and as inconsistent with 
the ancient ideals of Hinduism. These views underlay his 
foundation of a girls' school at a cost of Rs. 12,000 in the 
Khadia ward of the city. He supplemented this sum at 
a later date with a donation of Rs. 2,000 for the provision 
of scholarships for the more intelligent girls ; and after his 
death, his son Madhavlal crowned the work by purchasing 
a new school building in a more convenient situation and 
securing the permanent maintenance of the school. 

Among Ranchhodlal's miscellaneous charities may be 
mentioned his contribution towards the building of a 
dharmashala 1 near the Sabarmati railway junction ; his 
erection in the Khadia ward of a hall for religious and social 
gatherings, costing more than Rs. 7,000 ; his donation of 
Rs. 7,000 to the Sanatan Vaidik Dharma Samrakshak Sabha — 
a society which he founded for the weekly discussion of 
religious topics ; the establishment of a free kitchen for 
poor railway-travellers ; his donation of Rs. 2,000 to the 
Gujarat vernacular society to defray the cost of propaganda 
directed against intemperance ; his liberal donation towards 
the Imperial Institute in London ; public dinners to the 
poor ; the building of ghats at various tirths and holy places 
for the convenience of pilgrims ; and lastly, the establish- 
ment of an asylum for orphans of both sexes in the Shahpur 
ward of Ahmadabad. In this institution orphan children 
of all castes were boarded and clothed at Ranchhodlal's 
expense, the boys, as they grew up, being given work in his 
mills and the girls being married and settled in life under 
the auspices of their patron and protector. The orphanage 
still nourishes and carries on the beneficent objects of the 
founder. 

Though necessarily less known to the official public and 
the outer world, Ranchhodlal's household and private 
charities in no wise lagged behind his public benefactions. 
His Indian biographer is our authority for the statement 

1 Literally " a pious edifice " ; a rest-house for wayfarers, corresponding 
to the South Indian Choultry 01 Chuttrum. 



PUBLIC CHARITY, CHARACTER AND DEATH. 57 

that Ranchhodlal's house was pre-eminent in this respect 
among the whole Brahman communit}^ of Gujarat. Food 
and clothing were daily distributed to mendicants of every 
class ; railway tickets were purchased for Brahmans and 
ascetics bound upon long journe3 T s to distant shrines ; 
needy Pandits, poor students, struggling poets were helped 
according to their needs and their merits. To meet all these 
claims upon his benevolence he set aside in early years a 
tenth, and in later years almost three-quarters, of his 
princely income. No element of caprice or vanity marred 
his charity ; he gave of his great wealth to them that needed 
it because he believed it to be his duty to do so. 

As may be imagined, Ranchhodlal's home life was 
singularly happy, and the obedience and affection which he 
had shown to his parents was in due course repaid to 
him in full by his own children. Ranchhodlal's mother died 
in 1863 ; his father in 1869 ; but the heaviest blow that 
befell him was the death of his wife, Jethiba, in 1876, when 
he was in his fiftieth year. Thereafter he lived for his 
children alone, for he never married again, widening the 
mental outlook of his son and grandson by lessons drawn 
from his own experience and by daily discussion with them 
of both public and private affairs. So long as he lived they 
rendered him unquestioning obedience, and the peace of the 
home was never broken b}^ minor disagreement nor over- 
shadowed bj^ domestic strife. Ranchhodlal's daily life 
was ordered with the same care as his business undertakings. 
He rose at five a.m., and after the performance of his ablu- 
tions spent two hours in the religious rites or karmas pre- 
scribed for Brahmans in Hindu lore. Then for an hour or 
so he would walk or drive in the open air, and after visiting 
the mills and the municipal works under construction in 
various quarters of the city would return home about noon 
for the mid-day meal. From an early age his first morning 
meal consisted of a little tea and a plum steeped in candy 
syrup, so that he was quite ready for his mid-day dinner 
after his exercise in the open air. On his return to the 



58 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAI, CHHOTA^AI,. 

.house he bathed again .donned the silken cloth of the orthodox 
Hindu, performed the minor Vaishvadeva sacrifice, and then 
sat down to his meal in company with the male members 
of the household. Dinner ended, he spent a couple of hours 
in reading business and official correspondence and also 
the newspapers, of which he subscribed to a large number. 
This work, together with the interviewing of visitors, lasted 
till about five p.m., when he would drive to the Municipal 
office and there transact business until eight-thirty or nine 
p.m. Returning home, he repeated the evening prayers, 
took a light supper, and then at ten p.m. retired to his 
couch for the night. 

Socially Ranchhodlal was an agreeable personality. He 
was always accessible to visitors and was ever ready with 
advice and assistance to those who needed it. Europeans, 
Indians of all castes, rich capitalists, struggling traders and 
mendicants, all gained free admittance to his home or office 
and met with equal consideration at his hands. He kept his 
worries and troubles to himself, never allowing the cares of 
outside life to intrude upon the peace of his home. He 
affected the utmost simplicity of dress and, in spite of his 
wealth and commercial standing, bore himself with such 
humility and absence of pretension that the poorest of his 
callers and acquaintances felt at ease in his presence. No 
scandal, no rumour of evil ever touched his private life 
which, like his public career, was fully occupied in devising 
plans for the happiness or welfare of those around him. He 
was a genuine disciple of peace, in that he never tried to force 
his views upon others, but was content to represent them 
in tactful language, free of all trace of passion or intolerant 
contempt. He was averse likewise from identifying himself 
with ultra-radical principles and opinions, in the belief 
that these would necessarily arouse fierce resistance to the 
policy of their holders, and that reform in any direction 
must, to be successful, come from within rather than be 
enforced from without. Thus, orthodox and conservative 
Brahman as he was, he was able, without incurring odium 



PUBLIC CHARITY, CHARACTER AND DEATH. 59 

or censure, to point out and in a measure correct some of 
the defects which had become apparent in the ancient 
religion and social customs of his country. With all his 
innate conservatism none kept a mind more open to the 
progressive spirit of the age, and none showed greater 
capacity than he for gauging the force and tendency of 
public opinion. 

In personal appearance Ranchhodlal was of medium 
height, with an aquiline nose, large eyes set well apart, and 
a high intellectual brow. At all seasons of the year he was 
accustomed to wear a long black coat, with a Kashmir 
shawl thrown over his shoulder, and a turban of a deep 
crimson colour. The latter was often not rewound for two 
or three months at a time ; the coat frequently lacked a 
button here and there ; both often needed a good brushing 
to rid them of fragments of cotton-waste picked up in the 
daily visit to the mills. But, as remarked above, Ranch- 
hodlal was simple, almost careless, in the matter of dress, 
and was far too deeply absorbed in commercial and municipal 
problems to be able to devote attention to his personal 
appearance. He did not meet with any less respect on this 
account from the public, for his courtliness of manner and 
obvious good breeding produced far more impression than 
his harmless eccentricities of dress. 

As mentioned above, Ranchhodlal was an extremely 
orthodox Nagar Brahman. From the date of his upanayana 
ceremony, when he was eight years old, until his death at 
the age of seventy-six, not a day passed that he did not 
repeat the Sandhya V and an prayers and perform all the 
religious ceremonies prescribed by Hindu lore. His faith 
in the Brahmanic religion remained ever unshaken, and under 
his orders Brahmans were engaged daily to recite hymns 
and sacred texts from the Vedas for the preservation of the 
health and prosperity of the family. In the case of illness 
in the household, special appeals and gifts were offered to the 
god Rudra ; on one occasion, some years before his death, 
he performed a Gayatri Purascharana sacrifice at enormous 



60 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTAI.AL. 

cost, distributing very liberal dakshina or cash presents 
among the Brahmans who attended the ceremony ; while 
in 1896 he arranged for the performance on a magnificent 
scale of the Sahasra Chandi Yajna on the highest peak 
of the Aravalli hills, where there is a famous shrine of the 
mother-goddess Ambika. His belief in the various deities 
of the Vedas and Puranas was sincere, and throughout his 
life he took particular pleasure in hearing stories and legends 
from Hindu myth and epic. Coupled with his devotion 
to the gods and goddesses of Hinduism was a very tender 
regard for animal life, and the slaughter of animals was 
rigidly proscribed in the various sacrifices which he performed. 
The sight of the blood of a goat streaming upon the altar 
of a goddess moved him on one occasion so deeply that he 
made a personal appeal to the Rana, within whose territory 
the shrine lay, to abolish the custom of sacrificing live 
animals. On the occasion of a solar or lunar eclipse, 
when according to Hindu ideas every worthy action is 
rendered a thousand times more meritorious and more 
pleasing to the gods, Ranchhodlal would visit with his 
family the most sacred places in India, such as Benares, 
Hardwar and Prayag (Allahabad) and there distribute 
large sums in charity. On one occasion his Indian bio- 
grapher spent a few days with him, at the time of an eclipse, 
in Chandod Karnali on the banks of the sacred river Narbada, 
otherwise known as the Rewa, which rises on the summit 
of the Amarkantak plateau in Central India and enters the 
sea below Broach in the Bombay Presidency. " We all 
went to the river bank," writes his biographer, " where we 
counted our beads until the eclipse was over. It was a 
touching sight to see the old gentleman, clad only in his 
bright yellow silken wrap, seated with his right arm across 
his breast on a pile of darbha grass and muttering the mantras 
(sacred formulae) with deep faith and mental concentration. 
His features bore the impress of serenity and he looked 
like one of the Oriental sages or Rishis of old time meditating 
on the glory of the Supreme Being." 



PUBLIC CHARITY, CHARACTER AND DEATH. 6l 

Ranchhodlal was very fond of hearing Haridasa Kathas, 
especially on the anniversaries of the death of his parents 
and sisters, and during the last six months of his life he 
arranged for the weekly recitation in his house of poems 
in praise of Rama and Krishna composed by modern writers 
and devotees. Every part of the Sruti, the Smriti and the 
Pur anas, dealing with the glory of God and enjoining 
morality and the subordination of the lower elements in 
human nature to its spiritual side, commanded his deepest 
reverence and admiration. Not a single Vrata (vow) 
prescribed by the Shastras, no matter how difficult or costly 
its performance might be, was neglected in his household. 
The dana or religious gifts, which play so large a part in the 
performance of such ceremonies, were granted with un- 
sparing hand, and the Brahmans profited by the gift to them 
of hundreds of cows and of provision for their sustenance 
for twelve months. Horses, together with funds sufficient 
to feed them for a veer, and quantities of emblematic gold 
flowers, consecrated on various occasions to his household 
gods, were likewise distributed among the priests of his 
faith. Yet while thus observing the customs and practice 
of Hindu orthodoxy, Ranchhodlal was tolerant of any 
other faith that appeared to him to be based upon true 
morality. His absence of bigotry, and indeed his attitude 
of tolerance led on occasions to his ideas being widely mis- 
construed by his own co-religionists and to the prevalence of 
a suspicion that his faith in Hinduism was unstable. 
Nothing could have been further from the truth. To 
the end of his long and active .Hfe, Ranchhodlal remained 
a devout Hindu, staunch to the faith of his fathers. Lesser 
minds could not understand that genuine devotion to one's 
own creed is not necessarily incompatible with an attitude 
of tolerance towards the ideals and tenets of other faiths. 

From the refined character of his personal religion 
doubtless arose his strong sense of duty in worldly affairs. 
No personal inclination, no afterthought was allowed to 
conflict with what he believed to be his obligations towards 



62 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAI, CHHOTAIAL. 

others ; and once he had pledged his word or made a promise 
no amount of argument or moral pressure sufficed to make 
him resile from it. His trustworthiness in this respect 
became proverbial in Ahmadabad. Even in the most 
trifling matters of everyday routine no consideration of 
personal convenience was allowed to interfere with engage- 
ments entered into with others, and he was scrupulously 
careful to avoid making any promise which he felt in any 
way doubtful of his ability to perform. Forbearance was 
another notable trait in his character, and the oanskrit 
motto which headed his notepaper, meaning " There is no 
weapon like forbearance," may be truly considered to have 
been one of the guiding principles of his life. In the face 
of great provocation, he never gave way to anger nor lost 
control of himself ; the most irritating circumstances failed 
to ruffle his temper ; and in the height of bitter controversy 
his language was always that of a calm and dispassionate 
advocate. His patience, when attacked, was so great that 
others, who sided with him, were sometimes disposed to 
take up the cudgels on his behalf. When, for example, the 
waterworks were under construction and Ranchhodlal, 
on his daily rounds of inspection, was greeted with abuse 
and insult by the more ignorant citizens, his family berged 
him to relinquish all active interest in his projects and so 
obviate the chance of contumely. " Their insults," replied 
Ranchhodlal, " surely do me no harm, for what I have 
been doing is for their good, and from good no evil can 
result. Their treatment of me resembles that of children 
who, when bitter medicines are administered to them, kick 
and abuse those around them in ignorance of their beneficial 
effects, but are grateful when recovery follows. These very 
people will soon discover their mistake and instead of 
cursing will bless me." He lived to see this prophecy 
fulfilled to the very letter. Many other instances of his 
forbearance live in the memories of his contemporaries and 
need no mention here. Let it suffice that his patient toler- 
ance at length turned many a scoffer and opponent into an 



PUBLIC CHARITY, CHARACTER AND DEATH. 63 

admirer and friend, and that it is gratefully remembered 
to this day by people of all classes in Ahmadabad. 

With this forbearance towards the foibles of others 
Ranchhodlal combined a capacity for close and regular 
supervision of the work of his subordinates. This was 
particularly noticeable in his household affairs, which, as 
he was wont to remark, are apt to become disorganised, 
even where a hundred servants are employed, if the master 
of the house is lacking in vigilance. These views were 
responsible for his rising at an unusually early hour, when 
guests were staying in the house, in order to see that his 
servants were up betimes and ministering to the visitors' 
requirements ; they were likewise responsible when there 
was illness in the home, for his close personal superintendence 
of the sick chamber. Once the doctor had been called in 
and had given his orders, it was Ranchhodlal himself who 
saw that the treatment was duly carried out. Yet he was 
not a hard master, and was naturally disposed to make 
allowances for the errors and failings of those beneath him 
rather than to magnify and punish them harshly. Con- 
sequently there were few who were not proud to serve him 
and who did not consider themselves well repaid if they 
earned his confidence and commendation. 

Ranchhodlal's equanimity of temper has already been 
remarked, and this virtue coupled with a surprisingly 
retentive memory and a natural ability to grasp the salient 
features of a problem, enabled him on more than one 
occasion to render great assistance both to Government 
and the public. Thus at the time when serious Hindu- 
Mahommedan riots had broken out in Bombay and sectarian 
feeling was running high in various centres of the Presidency, 
Ranchhodlal contrived by conciliatory measures and 
address to avert a rupture between the Hindu and Moslem 
populations of Ahmadabad. Again, during the early years 
of the disastrous plague epidemics, when the people of 
Bombay, Poona, Surat and other places were suffering 
much from regulations designed in all honesty to combat 



64 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAI, CHHOTALAI,. 

the spread of the disease, Ranchhodlal by dint of the studied 
moderation of his langrage and his reasoned explanation 
to Government of the popular needs and apprehensions, 
was able to secure for Ahmadabad immunity from the more 
vexatious rules and restrictions which unfortunately led 
elsewhere to disturbances and the temporary dislocation 
of business. And here we may remark that while deeply 
attached to his own country and compatriots Ranchhodlal 
never permitted their complaints or dissatisfaction to lessen 
his fundamental regard and respect for the British. As 
in the case of the early plague regulations, Ranchhodlal's 
views, like those of his countrymen, were occasionally 
opposed to those of Europeans ; but such divergences of 
policy and opinion never overshadowed the admiration 
which he openly showed for the courage and practical 
efficiency of the latter. He believed firmly in the bona- fides 
of the Englishman, whether official or non-official, and on 
that very account held a far stronger position as the leader 
and spokesman of his countrymen in Gujarat than could 
have been attained by a less broadminded or less impartial 
critic. 

Ranchhodlal died on the 26th October, 1898, in his 
seventy-sixth year. His intellectual and mental faculties 
remained unimpaired to the last. But for several years 
before his death he suffered from a chronic pulmonary 
complaint which ultimately proved fatal. Entire cessation 
from active work, when the disease was in its early stages, 
might perhaps have arrested its progress ; but Ranchhodlal 
was far too deeply engrossed in public and private work to 
embrace a life of idleness, and made shift therefore to fight 
the enemy with tonics and other medicines. The pain 
which accompanied the malady usually attacked him after 
midnight, and one who was an inmate of his house describes 
Ranchhodlal awaking from sleep and perforce sitting up 
for hours until the agony had passed. Later the attacks 
at night became more violent and he was not free from 
occasional pain during the day. Expert medical advice 



PUBLIC CHARITY, CHARACTER AND DEATH. 65 

was sought and every remedy was tried ; but the disease 
had obtained too firm a hold to yield to treatment. Other 
symptoms supervened ; his digestion failed in spite of 
careful dieting ; symptoms of old age became more marked. 
In several letters written about this time he remarks upon 
his growing lack of energy and contemplates the relinquish- 
ment of active work, but is afraid to follow this course lest 
the change should aggravate his illness. His friends and 
relatives besought him often to take a prolonged rest, but 
he could not be persuaded to give up the habits of a lifetime, 
and was actually engrossed in municipal affairs till within 
a few hours of his death. The day before he died he seemed 
a little better and went for a drive. But during the night 
and the following morning the pain became almost un- 
bearable. Many persons called to enquire about him, 
and were admitted to his presence ; and from all of them 
he asked forgiveness for any wrong he might have done 
them. His medical attendant strove to alleviate the pain, 
and during such momentary relief as he could give, Ranch- 
hodlal murmured his final prayers to God. At length, 
after oxygen had been administered and further relief had 
become impossible he sank into a condition of semi-coma 
and passed away quietly at eleven p.m. 

The news of his death was received with wide-spread 
regret. Telegrams and letters of condolence poured in from 
a wide circle of friends and acquaintances ; English and 
Indian alike gave public expression to their sense of loss. 
At six a.m. on the following morning his body was cremated 
with the full rites of the Hindu religion, and during the 
twelve months following his death his son, Madhavlal, 
devoted a very large sum of money to the performance of 
the various ceremonies prescribed for the welfare and repose 
of the souls of the dead. 

Ranchhodlal's death deprived Ahmadabad of the most 
distinguished of its citizens, deprived the province of Gujarat 
of its leading merchant prince, and robbed the State of one 
of its most loyal and devoted subjects. His achievements in 



66 RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAI, CHHOTA^AI,. 

the field of commerce and urban government justly entitle him 
to high rank in the company of those able and distinguished 
men, both English and Indian, whose lives have been devoted 
to helping India along the path of progress. He will live 
long in the memory of the city, whose welfare he sought 
with such courage and consistency. His unfaltering 
optimism, his public spirit, his unfailing courtesy, his 
patriotism and catholic philanthropy — these are the 
keynotes of a career which must ever remain a source 
of pride and inspiration to his countrymen* 



INDEX AND GLOSSARY. 



6 7 



INDEX AND GLOSSARY. 



Abkari (from Persian ab-kari, 
the distillation or sale of 
[strong] waters, and the 
excise levied upon such 
business. In every district 
in India the privilege of 
selling spirits is farmed to 
contractors, who manage 
the sale through retail- 
shopkeepers. In Bombay 
the manufacture and sale 
of liquor is controlled by 
the provisions of an Abkari 
Act, and the details of the 
system of Government con- 
trol vary in certain parts 
of the Presidency) . . 45 

Ahmad abad (capital of Gujarat 
in 23 2'N. and 72° 35' IS,., 
on the B.B. and C.I. Rail- 
way. Founded by Ahmad 
Shad [141 1-43] on the left 
bank of the Sabarmati 
river ; enclosed by walls 
20 feet high, entered by 
fourteen gates. Subjugated 
by Akbar in 1572, it was 
one of the most splendid 
cities in Western India 
during the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries ; 
seized by the Marathas in 
1753 ; stormed by the Brit- 
ish in 1 780. It came finally 
into British possession in 
1818. The city contains 



many ancient buildings of 
historic and architectural 
interest, and is a famous 
centre of industry), i_iv, 6, 
8, 9, 10, 12, 16, 17, 19, 21- 
23> 25, 26ff, 53#, 63, 64, 65 

Ahmad abad, Medical Institu- 
tions of . . 53.55 
,, Municipality of 26// 
„ Unhealthiness of 28, 30, 31 

Ambaial, family priest of 

Jethiba . . . . 16 

Ambika (or Amba Mata, one of 
the aboriginal mother-god- 
desses of the pre-Aryan 
inhabitants of India, sub- 
sequently absorbed by 
Brahmanism into the Hin- 
du Pantheon and identified 
with Kali, Bhavani and 
Parvati, who are different 
aspects of Mahadevi, the 
Sakti and consort of Maha- 
dev or Siva. Ambika is a 
favourite goddess in Guja- 
rat and Kathiawar) . . 60 

Anand Rai Mashraf . . 2, 3 

Aravauj Hh,i,s . . . . 60 

B. 
Babis, the .. 3 & note 

Baroda (capital of the Gaek- 
war's possessions in 22 18' 
N. and 73° 15' E., 6i£ 
miles S.E. of Ahmadabad. 
The city proper is enclosed 
by the old fort- walls, and 



68 



RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 



contains many temples 
and fine buildings, inclu- 
ding the Baroda College, 
the State Library, the 
Countess of Dufferin Hos- 
pital, the old Palace of the 
Gaekwar, and the Nazar 
Bagh Palace, in which are 
stored the Gaekwar'sjewels 
valued at more than 3 mil- 
lion rupees), 1, 6, 7, 10, 14, 19 

Baroda, Bankers of 19 

,, Gaekwar of . . . . 3,6 

Bechardas Ambaedas, Rao 
Bahadur .. 22,53 

Bhavnagar( capital of Bhav- 
nagar State in Kathiawar, 
on the Gulf of Cambay. 
Founded in 1723, it is one 
of the principal harbours 
of export for cotton in 
Kathiawar. The chief of 
Bhavnagar is a Gohel 
Rajput) .. .. 12 

BholanaTh Sarabhai, Mr. 10 <S- note 

• C. 
CHHOXALAIv Udayashankar, 

Birth . . 3 

Education . . 4 

Marriage . . 4 

Pilgrimages . . . . 5 

Service at Patau .. 4,6 
Appointed Bakshi . . 6 
Moves to Ahmadabad 6' 
Character . . . . 7 

Death . . . . 57 

CHINUBHAI MADHAVLAI,, Sir, 

CLE. (first Hindu Baronet) iv, 22 
" City Walls Restoration 

Fund," The . . 26,32 

Commission, Army Sanitary 29 
Cotton Spinning and Weaving 

Industry, Growth of 22,23 



I). 



Dadabhai Navroji, Mr. . . 20 
Dakor (place of pilgrimage in 
Kaira district in 22 45' N. 
and 73 11' E., lying on a 
branch of the B.B. and C.I. 
Railway. The chief object 
of interest is the temple 
of Ranchhodji or Krishna) 6, 16 

Daixei, Sing Salam Sing, of 

Lunawada .. 15,16 

Darbha (a sacred grass, Cyno- 
don dactylon, belonging to 
the borage species, which 
is supposed to purify 
everything that it touches 
and is used constantly in 
Hindu religious ceremo- 
nies. It is regarded as a 
part of Vishnu himself, a 
festival being held in its 
honour on the eighth 
day of the light half of 
the Hindu month Bha- 
drapad) . . . . 60 

Daskroi (headquarter taluka 
of Ahmadabad district, 
with an area of 345 square 
miles) . . • • 55 

Desai (in Western and South- 
ern India in former days 
a native official or petty 
chief in charge of a district 
or tract of country ; the 
office was often hereditary. 
These officials in the Dec- 
can were usually known as 
Deshmukhs. The Desais 
and Deshmukhs lost their 
official status under British 
rule) .. -.13 



INDEX AND GLOSSARY. 



6 9 



Devji, Vithai, Rao . . 6 

,, Govinb Rao . . 6 

Drainage (of Ahmadabad) . . $8ff 

Ducat, Colonel W. M. 32, 36 

Duties, Cotton Excise 47. 4 8 



E. 



ECUPSE, Solar 



60 



Fernandez, Mr. J. F. 28, 30 

Foreign Trade and Protection 50 
FULJAMES, Major . . 14, J 9 



Gaekwari Districts, Seques- 
tration of 

Gibb, Mr. M. C. . . 

GlRASiA (holder of a giras or 
portion of land given for 
subsistence to the cadets of 
chieftain's families. Later 
the term giras was applied 
to the blackmail paid by 
, a village to a turbulent 
neighbour as the price 
of his protection and for- 
bearance ; and the title of 
girasia, indicating its pos- 
sessor to be a cadet of the 
ruling tribe, consequently 
became in several instances 
a term of opprobrium) . . 

Gogha (town in the Dhand- 
huka taluka of Ahmada- 
bad district, on the Gulf 
of Cambay, 193 miles 
north-west of Bombay) 10 

Gujarat Arts College 



13 



H. 
Haridasa Katha (religious 

poems and recitatives) . . 60 



Harris, Lord . . • • 37 

Hewlett, T. G. . . 38, 39 

Home Medical Relief 42, 54 

HOPE, Sir Theodore . . 34-37 



Indian Councils Act of 1892 . . 44 
Indian National Congress 44. 48 



J- 



James, Mr. H. E. M. (now Sir 

Evan) 
JETHIBA, Parentage of 
,, Marriage of 
„ Attainments and Char- 
acter 
„ Charged with receiving 
a bribe 



43 



8.9 



Nature of Defence 
Death of . . 



16 
16, 17 
•• 57 



Kamal-ud-din Khan (Jawan 

Mard Khan) . . 2, 3 c~ note 

Kashiba, Birth of . . . . 5 

„ Desertion of • • 7 

Kavasji. N. Davar, Mr. . . 20 

Khalkuva (a cesspool) 29, 30, 31 



Labhma (wife of Chhotalal), 
Marriage of . . 
„ Death 
Lalbhai Udayashankar, 
Birth of 
„ Receives Cbhotalal's 
Effects 



4 
57 



70 



RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 



Landon, Mr. . . 19, 20 

Latham, Mr. Baldwin 39, 40, 41 

I/rjNAWADA (a second-class 

Native State in the Rewa 

Kantha Agency, with an 

area of 388 square miles) 1 5, 16 

M. 

Madhavlai, Ranchhodlai, 

iii, 22, 56, 65 

Madhyandin Shakha (a par- 
ticular subdivision of 
Brahmans based upon the 
fact that its members 
treasure and follow a par- 
ticular shakha, < i.e., 
"branch," "copy," or 
" recension " of the Vedas. 
Those holding a particular 
shakha are said to belong 
to it and to be identified 
with it. The name Madhy- 
andin is derived from the 
sandhya (junction) or sea- 
son of worship at noon, to 
which the Madhyandin 
Brahmans attach much im- 
portance) . . . . 2 

Mahi Kantha (a group of 
States forming a Political 
Agency under the Bombay 
Government, with an area 
of 3125 square miles. The 
most important Chief in 
Mahi Rantha is the Maha. 
raja of Idar) . . 6 

Mahtjda or Mhowra (a country 
liquor distilled from the 
flowers of the Mahna tree 
(Bassia lati folia), the chief 
Government distilleries 
being situated at Uran on 
Karanja Island in Bombay 
Harbour) . . 45 



Majumdar (a grade of public 
officials under the Native 
Governments, who were 
usually paid for their ser- 
vices in a district by an 
assignment on the revenue, 
Under Sivaji in the Dec- 
can, one of the eight Prad- 
hans or ministers was a 
Majumdar or auditor- 
general) .. .. 13 
Malabari, Mr. B. M. . . 50 
MAiyWA ( an extensive region 
now included for the most 
part in the Central India 
Agency, lying between the 
Narbadaon the south, the 
Chambal on the north, 
Gujarat on the west, and 
Bundelkhand, was the seat 
of famous Hindu King- 
doms prior to the 13th 
century . . . . 2 
Manekji, N. Petit, Mr. . . 20 
Mead, Mr. P. J. . . . . 43 
Mehetaji (a Native School- 
master) . . 9 
Mints, Closing of the 46, 47 
Mohotiba (daughter of Chho- 

talal), Marriage of . . 4 
,, Widowhood of . . 4, 7 

N. 

Nagar Brahmans, the 1, 3, 59 
,, Origin of . . ..1,2 

,, Character of . . 2 

Narbada, the (an important 
and very sacred river, 
styled Rewa in the Hindu 
Epics and Namados by 
Ptolemy, which rises in 
Central India and flows 
inio the sea near Broach, 



INDEX AND GLOSSARY. 



71 



after a total course of 801 
miles) 



60 



0. 



Ogilvy, Mr. T. 



12, 14 



P. 



Palanpur (State in Bombay 
Presidency which with 
Radhanpur and smaller 
states forms the Palanpur 
Agency. The capital, Pal- 
anpur, is a very old settle- 
ment, mentioned in the 
eighth century . . 3 

Panch Mahals (district in the 
Northern Division, Bom- 
bay Presidency, compris- 
ing 1,606 square miles and 
divided into two parts by 
a strip of the Bariya State 
of the Rewa Kantha 
Agency) .. 13,23 

Patan (town in 2 3 51' N. and 
72 10' E. in Baroda State, 
formerly famous as Anhil- 
vada, founded in A.D. 746 
by a Chavada Ruler and 
subsequently held by So- 
lankis and Vaghelas. The 
last Vaghela Chief was 
overthrown by UlughKhan 
in 1298. Modern Patan, 
which is surrounded by a 
lofty wall pierced by nu- 
merous gateways, is chiefly 
the product of Maratha 
efforts, and has arisen on 
the ruins of the ancient 
city. It still contains the 
remains of some of the 
ancient buildings) 3,4, 5, 6 



Pavagarh (hill-fort in the Kalol 
Taluka, Panch Mahals dis- 
trict, 2,800 feet above sea- 
level) . . 13, 14 

Pols (blocks of houses or quar- 
ters, peculiar to Ahmada- 
bad, which vary in size ■ 
from small courts of five to 
ten houses to large quar- 
ters of the city containing 
as many as 10,000 inhabi- 
tants. Each block has 
generally a main street 
with a gate at either end) 6, 30 

Prankor (daughter of Anand 

Rai Mashraf), Marriage of 3 
„ Death of . . • • 3.4 

Puranas (" Popular Sectarian 
Compilations of Mythology, 
Philosophy, History and 
the Sacred Law, intended 
for the instruction of the 
unlettered classes, includ- 
ing the upper divisions of 
the Sudras " ; the books, 
which are of various dates, 
contain much matter car- 
ried down from remote 
antiquity. The Vayu 

Purana, one of the oldest, 
was finally edited perhaps 
in the fourth century A.D.) 61 



R. 



Ranchhodji (a name of 

god Krishna) 
Ranchhodlal Chhotalal 


the 
.. 6 

. . i-iv 


,, Caste 




..1,2 


,, Ancestry 
Birth 




..2,4 
.. 6 


,, Boyhood 




8 



72 



RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHOTALAL. 



RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAI, — 

„ Thread Ceremony . . 8 
„ Education . . . . 9- 1 1 

„ Enters Government 

Service . . . . 12 

„ Appointed Daftardar 12 
„ Appointed to Pavagarh 1 3 
„ Attitude of Baroda sub- 
ordinate Staff towards 14, 15 
„ Accused of taking bribe 16 
„ Prosecution and Acquit- 
tal . . 16, 17 
„ Nature of Defence 16, 17 
„ Deaves Government 

Service . . 17, 18 

„ Commercial Career 19-25 
„ Early Attempts to 
found Textile Indus- 
try . . 19, 20 
„ Establishes first mill . . 20 
,, „ second mill 21 
,, ,, third mill 22 
„ Mercantile Activity 23-25 
„ Municipal career 26-43 
„ Member of Municipal 

Board . . . . 27 

„ Appointed Chairman . . 28 
„ Issues Memo, on Sani- 
tation . . 28, 29 
„ Proposals for Sanitary 

Improvement 30, 3 1 

„ Meets with opposition 33-35 
,, Obtains sanction for 

Water Supply . . 36 

„ His Drainage proposals 

38-40 
„ Other Municipal acti- 
vities . . 41, 42 
„ Political career 44-52 
„ Member of Legislative 

Council . . . . 44 

„ Supports Mahuda Bill 45 
„ Views on Temperance 45 



RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL — 

Views on Municipal Pi- 
nance . . 46 
Closing of 

Mints 46, 47 
Cotton 

Duties 47, 48 
Factory Le- 
gislation 48 
Protection . . 50 
Widow-re- 
marriage 5°-5* 
Attitude at National 
Congress . . 48-50 

Public Charities 53-56 

Medical Relief 53-55 

Educational Benefac- 
tions . . 55. 5& 
Miscellaneous and Pri- 
vate Benefactions . . 56 
Home Life . . 57 
Daily Routine 5 7, 5 8 
Character .. ..58 
Personal Appearance . . 59 
Orthodoxy .. 59-6 1 
Services to Govern- 
ment . . 63, 64 
Attitude towards Euro- 
peans . . . . 64 
Death . . . . 64 
Funeral Ceremonies . . 65 
Rajpipla (State in the Rewa 
Kantha Political Agency, 
lying between 2 i° 23' and 
2i°59'N. and 73°5' and 
74 E. with an area of 
15 17 square miles. The 
chief is a Rajput) 13, 19 
Rajput Tribes . . ..1,3 
RJ3AY, Lord . . ii, 37 
RErx>, Mr. G. B. . . . . 37 
Rewa Kantha (a Political 
Agency with an area of 
4,972 square miles, com- 



INDEX AND GLOSSARY. 



7S 



prising six large and fifty- 
five small Native States, 
subordinate to the Bombay 
Government) 

12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 
Richey, Sir James.. .. 30 

Robb, Major . . . . 34 

S. 

Sabarmati (river flowing from 
the Hills of Mewar through 
Ahmadabad, the water- 
supply of which it pro- 
vides, into the Gulf of Cam- 
bay, with a course of about 
200 miles) . . 32, 34, 56 

Sabha, Sanatan Vaidik Dhar- 
ma Samarakshak (an As- 
sociation for the advance- 
ment of the Hindu religion 
and discussion of religious 
topics) ., ..56 

Sadr Amin (designation of a 
class of Native Judges, 
superseded in Bombay by 
Act XIV of 1869, the high- 
est rank being styled "Prin- 
cipal Sadr Amin," the 
second rank " Sadr Amin," 
f and the third rank " Mun- 
sif") .. ..8 

Sandhya Vandan (daily reli- 
gious devotions performed 
in the morning and evening 
and at noon by orthodox 
Brahmans) . . 59 

Sankxeshwar Joshi .. 21 

Sarasvati (a holy river of 
Western India, rising at 
the south-west end of the 
Aravalli range and flowing 
through Palanpur, Rad- 
hanpur, Baroda into the 
Lesser Rann of Cutch ) . . 4 



Sathod (village in Baroda State) 1 

Sathodra Nagars, see Nagar 
Brahmans 

Shastras (the Law Books or 
sacred writings of the 
Hindus, from Sanskrit sha- 
stra, " a rule," " a religious 
code," " a scientific trea- 
tise ") . . . .7, 61 

Smriti (venerable Hindu writ- 
ings, such as the Sutras, 
which are classed as tra- 
ditional learning (smriti) 
in opposition to the older 
Vedas which are regarded 
as sruti (inspired revela- 
tion) . . . . 61 

Sruti (inspired revelation, i.e., 

the Vedas ; see Smriti) . . 61 

SUTTEE (or SaTI, the practice of 
voluntary self-immolation 
by a Hindu widow on her 
husband's funeral-pyre) . . 4 

T. 

TiRTH (any holy place of pil- 
grimage, frequently situ- 
ated at the confluence of 
two rivers, and visited by 
large numbers of Hindu 
pilgrims at various seasons 
of the year) . . ..56 

U. 
Udayashankar, Marriage . . 3 
,, Service . . . . 3 

Death .. 3 

Upanayana (the ceremony of 
investiture of a Brahman 
boy with the sacred triple 
cord, hung from the left 
shoulder and falling on the 
right hip. It takes place 



74 



RAO BAHADUR RANCHHODLAL CHHOTALAL. 



between the ages of five 
and nine, and marks the 
entrance of the Boy to the 
stage of a Brahmachari, 
the first of the four stages 
in the life of a Brahman) ..8,59 

V. 

Vedas, the (the Rigveda, the 
Samaveda, the Yajurveda 
and the Atharvaveda, which 
constitute the oldest litera- 
ture of the Indo-Aryans) 59, 60 

Victoria Jubilee Female Dis- 
pensary . . 54 

Vishalnagar (town in Bar- 
oda State, lying t o the 
south-east of Patan, found- 
ed by the first ruler of the 
Vaghela dynasty) . , 1 

W. 

Watandar (holder of a watan, 
i.e., hereditary right to a 
share in land or in the 
district and village estab- 
lishments, the emoluments 
consisting of a certain 



quantity of rent-free land 
or of an annual payment 
in cash or in kind in return 
for services rendered to 
the community) 



13 



Water-Supply, History of 32-38 
Wallace, Major 16, 17 



Yajna (literally worship [in 
prayer or praise] ; also a 
sacrificial rite, or sacrifice ; 
the latter being the usual 
meaning) . . 60 

Yajurveda., the White (The 
Yajurveda, which contains 
matter from the Rigveda, 
prose formulae and sacri- 
ficial prayers, exists in two 
collections — the Krishna, 
or Black, and the Shukla, 
or White. It is regarded as 
one of the four Vedas or 
books of inspired revela- 
tion, and certain classes of 
Brahmans observe and 
identify themselves with 
one or other of the two 
main collections) . . 2 



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