Subba Rao was the personal tutor of Swathi Thirunal from his young age, having taught him English, Persian and Marathi. Soon after the installation as Maharaja, Swathi Thirunal's attention was directed to the remodelling of the cabinet, and as he had a very high opinion of his tutor, Suba Row, and of his ability and knowledge, he wanted to appoint him Dewan, but the idea of dispensing with the services of the able and popular Dewan Vencatta Row, was not approved of by His Highness’ father, by Her Highness the Ranee, and by the Resident, Colonel Morrison. The controversy on this subject lasted about six months, and in the interval the able Resident, Colonel Morrison, was removed, and Dewan Vencatta Row tendered his resignation. Two months afterwards, i.e., in the middle of the year 1005 M.E. (early part of 1830) Suba Row was appointed to the vacant office of Dewan. As Suba Row wanted to to surpass his predecessor, he spared no pains to distinguish himself in his new sphere. He displayed all his experience and tact and commenced a career which fully justified His Highness’ selection of him for the high post of prime minister.The Dewan’s conduct was quite in accordance with His Highness’ urgent desire of bringing Travancore to such a state as to entile her to the appellation of “model State”. Suba Row had, at the very outset, established a reputation far superior to that of his predecessor.Every suggestion emanating from Dewan Suba Row received ready sanction from His Highness the Maharajah, and every subordinate from the Dewan Peishcar downwards, looked upon the Dewan with the greatest regard and respect.Later His Highness the Maha Rajah had reasons to be dissatisfied with Dewan Suba Row, and his assistant Cochu Sankara Pillay Peishcar. About this time some serious charges were preferred against these high officials by a number of petitioners. In 1012 M.E. (1837 A.D.), the Maha Rajah issued orders with the concurrence of the Resident, Colonel Fraser, for the suspension of the Dewan and the Peishcar. The first judge of the appeal court, Narayana Kasaven, was dismissed in 1010 M.E. (1835) on certain charges which were pending inquiry before the place. A commission was now appointed, consisting of two European officers and as many natives, presided over by the then Conservator of Forests, Mr. Munro, a son of the late Resident, Colonel Munro, to inquire into the charges against the accused. After a prolonged inquiry of about two months, the impeachment was found to be unsustainable, and the commission closed their sitting, but the Maha Rajah being dissatisfied thought it proper not to re-instate the Judge, the Dewan and the Peishcar in their respective offices. As the new Dewan, Venkata Rao was progressing in his brilliant career, he had the misfortune to fall out with Captain Douglas, the then Acting Resident. Finding that they could not agree, Vencatta Row tendered his resignation, though much against His Highness’ wish, in 1839 A.D., after a career of only twelve months. The Maha Rajah, in consultation with the Resident, Captain Douglas, called in the ex-Dewan Suba Row, to resume charge of the administration. His absence of a little more than two years from office, and even the inquiry before mentioned did not seem to weigh upon his mind in the least, and Dewan Suba Row resumed charge of the office in the gayest spirit as if he had been attending the cutcherry all the time.
Though the resignation of Vencatta Row was generally and deeply regretted by the people, yet Suba Row was also not wanting in popularity. Dewan Suba Row kept in his old groove. His administration was marked by great success, and the Maha Rajah considered the arrangements best suited to the times.In the early part of the year 1840 A.D, General (then Colonel) Cullen was appointed Resident of Travancore ; and a young Telugu Brahman by name Krishna Iyen, afterwards known as Krishna Row followed the Resident to Travancore. This Brahman appears to have been under general Cullen while he was in the Commissariat at Madras. Although he had only a limited knowledge of English, he wrote a good hand, and was a very fast writer and intelligent and active in his habits. Krishna Row, was a great favourite of General Cullen, and he now began to be ambitious, and desirous of getting into the Travancore service. Though there was no opening at the time, the Maha Rajah thought it wise to do something for the young Brahman with the view of pleasing the Resident, and accordingly, a new office was created for him in the Huzzoor cutcherry under the denomination of deputy Peishcar on a monthly salary of 300 rupees. His duty was to manage the Dewaswam, Ootupurah and Sawyer departments. Matters went on satisfactorily and harmoniously for some time, but Krishna Row aspiring to a higher position began slowly to work with the view of overthrowing Dewan Suba Row.
The Maha Rajah was naturally very sensitive, and therefore would not submit to the least contradiction, or slight thrown on his authority, from any quarter whatever.General Cullen, being a little defective in his sense of hearing, the Maha Rajah had to speak in a loud during his interview with him. This was not at all agreeable to His Highness. He was rather delicate in constitution, and the strain on His Highness lungs seemed to injure his health. His interviews with the Resident therefore were not very frequent and when a private meeting was sought, the Maha Rajah often tried to avoid seeming him under some excuse or other.The Deputy Peishcar, Krishna Row was the principal person who used to furnish information to the Resident on all matters connected with the Government, and he took this opportunity of prejudicing General Cullen’s mind against Dewan Subha Row, intimating that the excuse of the Maha Rajah and his unwillingness to receive visits from the Resident, proceeded from a personal disregard to the Resident; that the Dewan advised the Maha Rajah not to make himself too friendly with the Resident; and that His Highness was acting solely under the counsel of Suba Row. Thus the first seeds of misunderstanding were sown in General Cullen’s mind, and he being a proud man, and of a somewhat resentful disposition, though kind and affable, as a rule, began to view things in Travancore with a prejudiced eye, and to weigh matters with a biased mind. Decisions on public questions of importance were altered, and objections to every measure proposed and suggested by the Dewan under the authority of the Maha Rajah, became the order of the day. The Resident commenced receiving petitions form parties concerned in police, revenue, and civil cases pending before the respective officers and tribunals, called for reports and records from the Dewan and the appeal court, and gave final opinions and decision on all questions brought to his notice. This as a matter of course, attracted the attention of grievance-mongers, who used to resort to the residency with their complaints, and thus the Resident’s office became virtually a court for hearing, inquiring, and settling all questions brought before it, questions affecting the general internal administration of Travancore.The Resident assumed almost sovereign authority. Every appointment of importance, such as tahsildars, munsiffs, superintendents, &c., were ordered to be made after official communication with the Resident and after obtaining his special sanction. In short, the Dewan’s hands were tied up, and he was rendered incompetent to give even an increase of salary to the writers and others in his own office without the special sanction of the Resident.This extraordinary interference of the Resident irritated the Maha Rajah, and the misunderstanding between His Highness’ court and the residency became stronger and stronger. Meanwhile, General Cullen continued representing matters to the Madras Government so as to place the Maha Rajah’s administration of the country in an unfavourable light. The Government though reluctant to deal with such questions upon ex-parte statements, yet naturally placing confidence in the statement of their representative, viewed matters prejudicially to the Maha Rajah.
The Maha Rajah also represented the state of matters to the Madras Government. But it was too late, and the Government did not give to his representation that attention which it deserved.The Madras Government passed several Minutes wherein unfavourable opinions were recorded regarding Travancore affairs at this period, and these opinions were endorsed by even the Honorable Court of Directors.The Deputy Peishcar, Krishna Row, who was anxiously waiting to obtain the coveted office of Dewan ever since he set foot in Travancore, now thought that the time for accomplishing his object had arrived, and he began to use his influence with re-doubled vigour.The people of Travancore, both officials and non-officials who were quick in foreseeing things, anticipated the ultimate fate of Dewan Suba Row, and the advancement of the Deputy Peishcar Krishna Row. Krishna Row became the head of a strong party, and thus arose two factions in Travancore. Suba Row’s influence gradually weakened and he became simply the nominal Dewan. Matters continued thus for some time. The Dewan now found the necessity of withdrawing from the conflict, and the Maha Rajah was constrained to accept his resignation. He was allowed to retire on a monthly pension of 500 rupees.

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