Lord Mayo 1869-72
Lord Mayo or Lord Naas served as 4th Viceroy of India from 12 January 1869 to 8 February 1872. He started the process of decentralization of finance. In foreign affairs, he followed the policy of non-intervention. He opened up Mayo College in Ajmer for educating children of the aristocratic families. India’s census began during his tenure. He was the first Governor General to be murdered in office by a Pathan Sher Ali in Port Blair.
Lord Mayo followed the policy of Masterly inactivity initiated by his predecessor. He welcomed Sher Ali, Amin of Kabul at Ambala and held a Durbar in his honour.
Mayo College was established at Ajmer in 1875 for the education of young Rajput princes. Colonel Sir Oliver St John became its first Principal.
India’s First Census
In 1871, India’s first census was carried out on Mayo’s orders. He organized the Statistical Survey of India, which, under the direction of William Wilson Hunter, “produced a printed account of each district, town, and village, carefully compiled upon local inquiry, and disclosing the whole economic and social facts in the life of the people.” This was the most exhaustive work done since the Ain-i-Akbari.
The other important works done under Lord Mayo were as follows:
- Setting up of Department of Revenue, Agriculture and Commerce
- Introduction of the most improved rifle, the Snider, and of rifled guns for the artillery.
- Improvement in the sanitary conditions for the troops.
Lord Mayo is known for infrastructure development in the country by which an immense extension of roads, railroads, and canals was carried out. He refused to make loans for any public works except those that would be productive. He carried out the policy of state control of public works in the promotion of the various enterprises of railroad and canal construction.
Indian Evidence Act 1872
Lord Mayo took interest in the Prison reforms, especially the convict settlements at Andaman Islands. The most important legal reform during his time was the passage of the Indian Evidence Act in 1872. Prior to this act, the rules of evidences were based upon the traditional legal systems of different social groups and communities. They were different for different persons depending on his or her caste, religious faith and social position. The act removed this anomaly and differentiation, and introduced a standard set of law applicable to all Indians.
Assassination of Lord Mayo
The splendid vigor of Lord Mayo defied the climate and distances in the country. He anxiously studied the wants of the farthest provinces of the empire, but his life was cut short by an assassin Sher Khan, a convict at Andaman Islands, while he was inspecting the conditions in the convict settlement of the Andaman Islands in 1872. He was followed by an acting viceroy and Governor General John Strachey. John Strachey was followed by another acting Viceroy Lord Napier in the same year 1872.