|Allan Octavian was born
in 1829, in Londan, of Scottish descent. His father,
Joseph Hume, a sturdy and fearless patriot and
reformer, was in Indian service for some time,
after which he became an important radical member
of the House of Commons. From his father, Allan
inherited his bent for politics, his broadminded
attitude towards problems of social reform and
his fearlessness while supporting the just cause.
At the young age of thirteen, Allan joined as
a midshipman the frigate Vanguard, and served
for a few months cruising the Mediterranean. As
he wanted to enter the Royal Navy he was sent
to the training college at Haileybury. After leaving
Haileybury, he studied medicine and surgery at
the University College Hospital. Besides the above
subjects, on his own he cultivated a deep interest
in botany and ornithology.
In 1849 Allan O, Hume left for India to join the
Bengal Civil Service and from 1849 to 1867 he
served as a district officer. He married Mary
Ann Grindall in 1853. As early as 1856, Hume started
a scheme of free schools in Etawah, where he was
then stationed and, by 1857, 181 schools were
established in the district with 5, 186 students,
including two girls.
He devoted himself to the cause of education and
founded scholarships for higher education. Vindicating
his policy, he wrote in 1859, "a free and civilized
government must look for its stability and permanence
to the enlightenment of the people and their moral
and intellectual capacity to appreciate its blessings."
In 1863 he pressed for separate schools for Juvenile
delinquents, instead of throwing them into prisons.
And it was due to his persistent efforts that
a Juvenile Reformatory was started, not far from
He was also against the spread of drinking habits
among Indian villagers. The revenue earned through
liquor traffic was described by Hume as "The wages
of sin". With his progressive ideas about social
reform, he advocated women's Education, was against
infanticide and enforced widowhood, and told his
Indian friends that social emancipation was vital
for political advance.
| His intensely human
and close enabled him to gain their support during
the Mutiny in 1857, and he was made Commander
of the Bath for his meritorious services during
the Mutiny. Allan O. Hume was all in sympathy
with the Indian agriculturist and believed that,as
an agricultural country, India's interest in that
field should be developed and that India should
use the latest Inventions for the increase and
improvement in production.
While he was Secretary in the Department of Agriculture,
Revenue and Commerce under Lord Mayo he produced
an excellent work entitled 'Agricultural Reforms
in India.' With his scientific bent of mind, he
brought forward useful suggestions and every page
of the work shows his understanding of the Indian
climate and environment. But in spite of the favourable
recommendation by the Viceroy, the Simla and London
cliques opposed the reforms.
Though in the Indian Civil Service, Hume never
for a moment hesitated to criticise, when he thought
the Government was in the wrong. For example,
in 1861, he objected to the concentration of police
and judicial functions in the hands of the police
superintendent. In no uncertain terms did he critise
the administration of Lord Lytton (before 1879)
which according to him cared little for the welfare
and aspiration of the people of India. Lord Lytton's
foreign policy had led to the waste of "millions
and millions of Indian money".
In fact, Hume's frank criticism of the Government
measures led to his removal from the I. C. S.,
for in 1879 the Government made their disapproval
known for Hume's frankness and summarily removed
him from the Secretariat. The Englishman in an
article dated 27 June 1879, commenting on the
event stated, "There is no security or safety
now for officers in Government employment."
It was about this time that he wrote with Col.
G. Marshall 'The Game Birds of India, Burmah and
Ceylon'. He donated his botanical collection to
the creation of the South London Botanical Institute
and gave his bird collection to the British Museum.
His priceless manuscript on ornithology was stolen
from his Simla house. In 1882 Hume retired from
the I. C. S.