Thursday, 20 August 2015

Lord Napier, a fine British Colonial Administrator, always duty-bound - British India

Lord Napier,Viceroy of India-1872.(Scottish National Portrait Gallery).en.wikipedia.org/wiki

Left to Right: Lord Trevelyan, Lord Fell, Frank Earnest, Boney Earnest, Charles cummings, Lord Napier (Buffalo hunter?) .www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com
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.
The Napier Museum (established in 1855) in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.www.keralatoursco.com
Napier bridge, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India | by Bonevlion.www.flickr.com
In spite of the fact that he had no proper college education, unlike his predecessors,  Napier held positions of power and eminence and got a good name purely on merit and personal ability.  He joined the Trinity College, Cambridge in 1835, but for unknown reason he quit the undergraduate studies in the middle and never completed his graduation. However, he had his early education through private tutors. In his early child hood he developed a flair for foreign languages and mastered  them  under the tutorship of one Rev. Walter Patterson. His mastery over foreign tongues came handy for him and got him a job in foreign missions.His sincere devotion to duty gradually improved his stature as a diplomat  and he was appointed Governor of Madras Presidency, under the Raj and served from 1866 to 1872. In the wake of unfortunate  assassination of the Earl Mayo, the then Viceroy of India, who was on a visit to  the Andaman Islands in February 1872, he became the viceroy of India  as his successor.

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.''
                                       ..........Jesse Jackson

Ref:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Napier,_10th_Lord_Napier

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