Rahul SagarMar 13, 2023
The Progressive Maharaja
Sir Madhava Rao's Hints on the Art and Science of Government
Oxford University Press 2021
Hints on the Art and Science of Government was the first treatise on statecraft produced in modern India. It consists of lectures that Raja Sir T. Madhava Rao delivered in 1881 to Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III, the young Maharaja of Baroda. Universally considered the foremost Indian statesman of the nineteenth century, Madhava Rao had served as dewan (or prime minister) in the native states of Travancore, Indore and Baroda. Under his command, Travancore and Baroda came to be seen as 'model states', whose progress demonstrated that Indians were capable of governing well.
Rao's lectures summarise the fundamental principles underlying his unprecedented success. He explains how and why a Maharaja ought to marry the classical Indian ideal of raj dharma, which enjoins rulers to govern dutifully, with the modern English ideal of limited sovereignty. This makes Hints an exceptionally important text: it shows how, outside the confines of British India, Indians consciously and creatively sought to revise and adapt ideals in the interests of progress.
The Progressive Maharaja: Sir Madhava Rao's Hints on the Art and Science of Government (Oxford UP, 2021) contains both the newly rediscovered, original lecture manuscripts; and an authoritative introduction, outlining Rao's remarkable career, his complicated relationship with Sayaji Rao III, and the reasons why his lectures have been neglected-until now.