As Diwan of Mysore, he followed the great Sir M. Visvesvarayya’s dream of industrialization. He developed the Brindavan gardens, initiated the first rural electrification programme of India and established the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, besides founding a retinue of other industries. He also established the first medical college of Mysore. He provided irrigation facility to Mandya, Malavalli and T.Narsipura (Irwin Canal) areas. The Jog and Shimsha power station was also established during his premiership.
His contributions to the Indian Science Academy in Bangalore also are worth mentioning. It was his initiatives which helped to get twelve acres of land from the Maharajah for the Academy in which the Raman Institute also is established. The Nobel laureate Sir CV Raman paid eloquent tributes to Sir Mirza in the following words:” For many years, in fair weather as well as in foul, Sir Mirza Ismail remained the truest of friends to me, ever ready to give support and advice. He leaves behind him a memory which will be treasured and cherished by all who have known him.”
Sir Mirza was knighted by the British Government in 1930 for his services to India.
“Sir Mirza’s accessibility and personal charm coupled with his breadth of knowledge and his keen sense of human and cultural values made him a great and highly successful administrator”, so said CV Raman.
The great Maharajah passed away in 1940 and Sir Mirza continued as the Diwan under the Maharajah Jayachamaraja Wodeyar . In 1941, he resigned from his job on personal differences with the government.
as appeared on Time dated 22 February 1937
He put forth his best skills on the issue of accession of Hyderabad to the Indian government but the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi made the Nizam think against acceding to India. On this issue, Sir Mirza Ismail had quit the government.
Sir Mirza was a Shia Muslim by birth but he encouraged Sanskrit learning, and helped the Hindu and Christian institutions too and attended to the needs of the society with an impartial outlook holding the interest of the state above that of the individual.
There is a Travancore connection too to Sir Mirza. As Diwan of Mysore, Sir Mirza represented Mysore and Travancore and Cochin in the Indian States Delegation to the Round-Table Conference in London during the winter of 1930.
After his Hyderabad stint, Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir had offered him the prime ministership of his state which he declined politely. Sir Mirza retired to his beautiful house in Bangalore. Pundit Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Rajagopalachari and Sarveppalli Radhakrishan were among those who visited Sir Mirza Ismail and often sought his counsel. However, he was quite his own man and never joined the Congress or the government. He was also equidistant from Mohammed Ali Jinnah. He thought that the Partition of the subcontinent was a mistake and had expressed this view to his relatives.
Sir Mirza Ismail has penned his memoirs under the title “My Public Life” published in 1954 before his death on 5th January 1959 at his house Windsor lodge in Bangalore.
It was sad to read about his granddaughter Shakereh Namazie's death under mysterious circumstances in Bangalore in 1991.Her first husband was Akbar Mirza Khaleeli an IFS officer and the Indian Ambassador to Iran, Italy and High Commissioner to Australia. Her second husband Swami Shraddananda was reportedly behind her murder and is serving a life term imprisonment ordered by the Supreme Court of India in 2008.
We need to remember the great contributions made by men like Sir Mirza in giving a strong foundation to India as we were approaching the dawn of independence. Their efforts have helped the nation building process in a considerable way as our forefathers built a great nation out of much chaos and commotion.
Ref: The Princes of India in the Endgame of Empire, 1917-1947 by Ian Copland, The cat and the lion by Robert W. Stern, Wikipedia, CV Raman’s obituary on Mirza, Raza Rumi’s post http://www.razarumi.com/, other notes by author.