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







 Devaraj Urs Centre for Development Studies presents

Devaraj Urs Memorial Lecture (2)

"Devaraj Urs: Pioneer of Progressive Politics"


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


Chief Guest

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

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

Venue: Athena Auditorium, MYRA School of Business 

You are cordially invited


    Dr. Shalini Urs 

  Founder & Chairperson 

MYRA School of Business 



Devaraj Urs Centre for Development Studies (DCDS)

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

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

Dr. James Manor, Professor Emeritus, University of London knows much more about Mysore and Karnataka than most of the local residents. An erudite scholar who has published over ten books on development and governance, Dr. Manor has studied closely the Mysore State in the pre-independence era, and has also observed the progress of the state in the democratic India.

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

Inaugurating the session, Dr. Shalini Urs, Chairperson, MYRA School of Business, emphasized that Shri. Devaraj Urs, embodied the two principles of Justice, “Neethi” and “Nyaya”.

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

However, Dr. Manor was emphatic that the progress the State has shown today is largely due to one individual— Shri. Devaraj Urs, who had the vision, right ideas and political acumen to empower the downtrodden communities, to strengthen the institutions and to tower over the caste-based political adversaries.

Shri. Devaraj Urs belonging to the same caste of Maharaja joined the Congress party and opposed his own Maharaja. He joined Indira Gandhi after split of the Congress in 1970. With "Gharibi Hatao" as the focus, Indra Gandhi’s Congress won a whopping majority, garnering 70 % of the votes in Karnataka, under the stewardship of Shri. Devaraj Urs. 

Known as a social reformer, Shri.  Devaraj Urs introduced reservation for backward class and stood as a champion for poor and downtrodden. He even included poor Vokkaliga to the backward class. His aim was to provide progressive redistributive pro poor policy.

Shri. D. Devaraj Urs is held famously as the greatest social reformers ever from the State of Karnataka. He made several key changes that brought not only relief, but also restored a sense of dignity to the people of Karnataka cutting across religions, caste and other social demographics. He is remembered as the man who gave a voice to the oppressed. For the first time perhaps the issues that were hitherto swept under the rug were addressed head on. He was the minority of leaders and politicians that addressed the pressing question of social justice. A follower of the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi – D.Devaraj Urs sought to implement the ‘Garibi Hatao’ agenda during his term as Chief Minister, in addition to the abolition of bonded labour, land reforms and the ‘Kali’ irrigation project as his landmark achievements.

He pioneered private participation in Engineering and Medical education which later led to IT boom in Bangalore. He created caste based groups for progress and became a master of political chess game.  He introduced land reform acts and curbed excessive implementation of Indira Gandhi's emergency practices.

As the only Chief Minister of modern Karnataka who assumed office for two terms, Shri. Devaraj Urs had massive mandate in spite of the defeats of his party (Congress party headed by Mrs. Indra Gandhi) across many other Indian States and in the Centre, due to his progressive policies and implementation.

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

Dr. James Manor’s depth and width of understanding of Indian politics, democracy and development was on full display when he answered incisive questions from acclaimed academicians. Shri .Devaraj Urs’ Grandson, Mr. Suraj Hegde and Grand daughter, Ms. Anupama Urs, added glitter to the session by their active participation.

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

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

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

His interest in Karnataka began in the early 1970s during his research and subsequent publication of the book in 1977—Political Change in an Indian State:  Mysore, 1917-1955. He has published more than 10 books including Democracy and Decentralization in South Asia and West Africa:  Participation, Accountability and Performance, (with Richard Crook), published by Cambridge University Press (1998) and Nehru to the Nineties:  The Changing Office of Prime Minister in India, (published by Penguin/Hurst.(1994) . And Power, Poverty and Poison:  Disaster and Response in an Indian City, published by Sage in 1993.


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