Patriots > Early Nationalist and Moderates > Hume Allan Octavian
Hume Allan Octavian (1812-1912)
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 Etawah.

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.
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