Q . The relation of Tipu and controversy is no new, but he was the man of integrity and an extra-ordinary ruler who fought for ouster of British from India. Comment. (15 marks, 250 words, GS-1)



  • Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu, famously known as Tipu Sultan, ruled the kingdom of Mysore in South India from December, 1782 till his death, in 1799.
  • Tipu was one of the fiercest warriors of his time against the British, and a diplomat and strategist as well who enlisted the services of the French, and even the American revolutionaries, to stop the East India Company in its tracks.
  • He is recognised as Tiger of Mysore.
  • He preferred Barter System of trade to prevent outflow of wealth from India to Europe.
  • He is well known for innovation in science and technology and extensively used rockets in wars against the British in Anglo-Mysore wars.
  • His reign is remembered for many technological and administrative innovations. Among them was introduction of new coin denominations and new coin types
  • Tipu reorganised his army along European lines, using new technology.
  • Tipu Sultan bitterly opposed the British rule in India and died defending his fort of Srirangapatna, present-day Mandya in Karnataka.

Glimpse from History-

  • He was the last hurdle to the domination of British in South India.
  • He took a new land revenue system which gave boost to the growth of Mysore’s silk industries.
  • Tipu established banking networks and cooperatives, where capital was raised from the public (similar to banks inviting deposits), the principal held on an annual basis and returned with interest (or `nafa’).
  • Maintained certain key industries related to sugar, salt, iron, tobacco, sandalwood and mining of silver, gold and precious stones under State monopoly.
  • Tipu Sultan’s library was apparently filled with translations of world literature.
  • He also introduced a luni-solar calendar.
  • He brought sericulture to Karnataka, banned intoxicating liquor.
  • He realised the power of technology, combined with discipline, and set up four innovation hubs (like modern-day tech parks) in Bengaluru, Chitradurga, Srirangapatna and Bidanur. He called them Taramandalpets.
  • He laid the foundations for the construction of the Krishnaraja Sagar dam in Mandya.
  • He devised a land revenue system based on detailed surveys and classification, in which the tax was imposed directly on the peasant, and collected through salaried agents in cash, widening the state’s resource base.
  • He modernised agriculture, gave tax breaks for developing wasteland, built irrigation infrastructure and repaired old dams, and promoted agricultural manufacturing and sericulture.
  • He joined Jacobin Club of French to get French support for countering British.
  • He tried to build up an alliance to drive the British – ‘those oppressors of the human race’ – out of India and intrigued with the French in Paris and Mauritius.
  • He has been credited for establishing the 40-acre Lalbagh Botanical Garden in Bengaluru.
  • Tipu patronised many temples and was responsible for the restoration of the Sringeri Sharada Mutt, which was vandalised by the Marathas
  • He fought several wars against the Marathas and the British and came out victorious.
  • In the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War between 1798-99, however, he was defeated when the forces of the British East India Company, the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad came together. 
  • He was killed on May 4, 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna, present-day Mandya in Karnataka.

Reforms undertaken by him-

  • encouraged the farmers to cultivate commercial crops to overcome poverty and unemployment problems.
  • promoted animal husbandry, horticulture, sericulture, social forestry and other branches of agriculture.
  • construction of well laid out roads and communication facilities.
  • loans and subsidies to the farmers and provided the benefit of land revenue exemption.
  • ban on the use of liquor and all intoxicants
  • ban on prostitution and the employment of female slaves in domestic service
  • abolition of the Nayar practice of polyandry in Malabar and Coorg
  • repeal of the custom of human sacrifice in the temple of Kali near Mysore town
  • restrictions on lavish extravagance for marriages, festivals and charities
  • uniform set of laws and the direct contact between the subjects and the state by the removal of intermediaries

Treaties signed by Tipu Sultan-

  • Treaty of Mangalore– in March 1784 which ended the second Anglo-Mysore war.
  • Treaty of Seringapatna between Tipu Sultan and Lord Cornwallis ending Third Anglo-Mysore war


  • Many describe him as intolerant ruler who forcefully converted Hindus and persecuted Christians.
  • He is also described as destroyer of temples.
  • It is important to be aware that much of the criticism of Tipu is rooted in the accounts of those whom he vanquished- and of colonial historians who had powerful reasons to demonise him.


Tipu used to say it was better to live for two days like a tiger than drag out an existence like a sheep for two hundred years. Tipu, like most rulers of his time, had two faces, one of boundless benevolence and the other of excessive ruthlessness.

Studying Karnataka, or even India, without a mention of the man who to a large extent shaped its history, rightly or wrongly, is foolhardy. While it is admitted that textbooks glorify Tipu and extenuate his acts of inhumanity, erasing the central character of a play because some scenes do not agree with us amounts to falsification of history.

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