|Lord Napier,Viceroy of India-1872.(Scottish Nat.Portrait Gallery).en.wikipedia.org|
Among the British rulers under the Raj, there were many big hearted men who ruled the subcontinent with fair amount of justice and never had they failed to look into the grieviences of the natives and tried to get them redressed. Lord Francis Napier was a fine administrator and he knew how to administer the vast land without hurting the sentiments of the natives and at the same time not inviting trouble from the British Crown in England.
Francis Napier (Lord Napier and 1st Baron Ettrick, KT, PC :15 September 1819 – 19 December 1898), was born on 15 September 1819 to William John Napier. He is a Scottish polyglot, diplomat and colonial administrator of repute. Napier served as the British Minister to the United States from from 1857 to 1859 and his tenure in the United State of America was a productive one and there his political sagacity and fine sense of judgment got a name for him.He was a good negotiator as well as trouble shooter.
|Napier Museum(1855) inThiruvananthapuram,keralatoursco.com|
|Napier bridge,Chennai,T.N,India - by Bonevlion.flickr.com|
During the onslaught of severe famine in Ganjam District, as the Governor of Madras, he tackled it successfully with the help of Florence Nightingale whom he had known in Constantinople. Being a visionary, he saw to it the Pennar Dam project was completed during his tenure. Further, additional major irrigation schemes such as the Rushikulya Dam in Ganjam and the Mullaiperiyar Dam were conceived during his tenure. The latter project - Mullaiperiyar Dam, which is now a subject of water-sharing dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu states, is a boon to a million plus people living in parts of Madurai and adjacent districts of Tamil Nadu. If the dam were not built across the ''diverted river'' Periyar, the region would have been a vast arid region, causing innumerable miseries to the people there. It was later successfully completed by Col. John Pennycuick, a dedicated irrigation engineer who is still being adored by the people of South Tamil Nadu.
The following works were done during Lord Napier's tenure in the Madras Presidency:
01. The famous Napier Bridge across the Coovam river in the coastal area of Chennai City was built during his period.Most probably you would have seen the bridge in many old Tamil movies
02. Between 1866-72, Napier had partially restored the beautiful massive Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, Madurai, which was earlier demolished considerably by the grandson of King Thirumalai Nayak of Madurai Nayak dynasty, who built it. On his advice the British administrative office had begun functioning there after major restoration work.
03. A medical ward was originally built with the help of donations by the Governor Napier. It is now in the famous Stanley Medical College Hospital in Chennai and the surgical ward there was named Napier Ward in his honor.
As a Viceroy, despite being at cross roads with different viceroys over financial issues throughout his tenure, Napier had good rapport with other administrators and resolved difficult issues peacefully. Being a man of amiable nature, he had friendly relations with Sir John Lawrence and others. During his sojourn in India Napier never said or did anything against the natives here and in turn Indians did not have any qualms about Lord Napier. He served his office well without antagonizing the native people unlike many British higher ups.
The Napier Park in Chennai city and the Napier Museum (established in 1855) in Thiruvanantha-puram, Capital of Kerala state were set up in his memory for his dedicated and sincere services in the then Madras Presidency.
''A man must be willing to die for justice. Death is an inescapable reality and men die daily, but good deeds live forever.''
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