Despite the row around Tipu Sultan and attempts to expel him from the pages of history, his achievements are indisputable. We cannot deny the fact that he gave us several moments to feel proud of. He was the one who promoted sericulture and came up with a new land revenue system that resulted in the growth of the Mysore silk industry. Even before the British, he was the one to deploy a rocket in warfare. He introduced several administrative innovations during his rule, including a new Mauludi lunisolar calendar and coinage. He held off the British from establishing a complete control over India for a long time. Let us not forget all his achievements were not of a Muslim but of an Indian ruler, something we all should be proud of.
On the occasion of Tipu Sultan’s 219th death anniversary let’s have a look at his life and the controversies around him.
Who was Tipu Sultan?
- Tipu Sultan was born as Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu on November 10, 1750, in Devanahalli, present-day Bengaluru. He was born to Fatima Fakhr-un-Nisa and Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore.
- He ascended to the throne of Mysore after his father’s death in the Second Mysore War in 1782.
- Tipu ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1782 to 1799 and was popularly known as Tipu Sahib and Tiger of Mysore.
- In 1766, he accompanied his father in the First Mysore War against the British.
- He is known for many technological and administrative innovations. He introduced new coin types and denominations.
- He is admired as a pioneer in the use of rocket artillery. The rockets used during the Battle of Pollilur (1780) and Siege of Seringapatam (1799) are said to be advanced that the British had ever seen.
- He introduced a land revenue system which initiated the boost of the Mysore silk industry.
- In the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War fought between 1798-99, he defeated the joint forces of the British East India Company, the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad.
- Tipu Sultan died on May 4, 1799, while defending his capital Srirangapatna, present-day Mandya, Karnataka.
The controversies surrounding Tipu Sultan anniversary began in 2015, when the BJP and the Congress engaged in a war of words over the birth anniversary celebrations of Tipu on November 10. The Congress government in Karnataka decided to start celebrating the birth anniversary of Tipu. Soon the celebrations were surrounded by controversies and two people lost their lives in protests related to the event. Leaders of the BJP consider the historical figure a ‘Muslim tyrant’ and describe him as ‘anti-Hindu’, ‘anti-Karnataka’ and ‘mass murderer’. While the Congress consider him as the first freedom fighter who fought against the British.
In 2017, President Ramnath Kovind was dragged into the controversy after he praised the ruler while addressing a session to mark the 60th anniversary of the Vidhana Soudha, India’s largest legislature building. Kovind was quoted saying, “Tipu Sultan died a historic death fighting the British.”
Descendants of Tipu Sultan demands an apology
On October 20, 2017, Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde of the BJP, tweeted criticising the Tipu Sultan Jayanti celebrations in Karnataka. He tweeted, “Conveyed #KarnatakaGovt NOT to invite me to shameful event of glorifying a person known as brutal killer, wretched fanatic & mass rapist.” Following the tweet, Sahebzada Mansoor Ali, the seventh-generation of Tipu Sultan demanded an unconditional apology from the minister for describing the ruler as ‘mass rapist’ and ‘brutal killer’.
Tipu’s sword and Vijay Mallya
Liquor baron Vijay Mallya who owes Rs 9,000 to Indian banks bought the sword of Tipu Sultan for Rs 1.5 crore at a private auction in London in 2004. The sword is worth Rs 1.8 crore today. There is no word on the current whereabouts of the sword. However, his family claims that the sword ‘brought bad luck’ and hence he gave it away in 2016. The matter came to light after a consortium of 13 Indian banks tried to convince the London High Court against discharging a freeze order on the global assets of the liquor baron. Later, the banks cited how the banks are at risk of Mallya ‘dissipating his assets’.