Sunday, April 3, 2016

Pointed connection

That is the end of the Port of Chennai. We have seen this earlier, and I had wondered what connected Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava to the city of Madras. Yes, Lord Dufferin was the Viceroy of India between 1884 and 1888, but during his tenure, there does not seem to be any evident connection that he has to the city of Madras. One can stretch it a bit and say that the founding of the Indian National Congress was partly due to this man - even though it was his predecessor, Lord Ripon, who had okayed the proposal by A.O.Hume and others to set up the INC, Lord Dufferin was under some pressure to be the anti-thesis of Lord Ripon, which he seems to have resisted successfully.

Lord Dufferin had come to the public eye much before his career as a diplomat. He had voyaged to Iceland and written about his travels in a series of letters nominally addressed to his mother; these were published as "Letters from High Latitudes", an early example of the comic travelogue. That book seems to have been quite successful (the most recent edition was in 2006!), being translated into French and German as well. That success did not, however, tempt Lord Dufferin to become an author, though his writing as a diplomat continued to be well regarded.

Now, Dufferin Light in the Port of Chennai has nothing to do with either the book, or with the Viceroy - directly. India's first naval training ship, was called the RMIS Dufferin; over 2200 officers were trained on the ship, including the Indian Navy's first Indian Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ramdas Katari (Roll No.1, and a man with other Chennai connects, which shall be explored later). Apart from the naval officers, the Dufferin also trained cadets of the merchant navy and many of them were worked in the country's ports. It was as a tribute to their alma mater (and maybe around the time of the decommissioning of the TS Dufferin, in 1972) that they named this the Dufferin Light!


Ben Christopher said...

I work for the Port there are still some left over of the British in and around the Port and Royapuram area. One such is the Bomb shelter and an old tunnel.

Shantaram said...

Thanks, Ben. Would it be possible to see that shelter and the tunnel? That will be a good piece of history / heritage to document!