American born Sir Alexander Grant, British India

Alexander Gant, .

 Above image:  Sir Alexander Grant, Vice Chancellor of Bombay university and Edinburgh university  UK..........

Many foreigners made valid contribution  in the area of education in India during the British rule. Unlike numerous colonial officers whose focus was mainly to amass wealth by hook or cook, there were equally many to whom duty was first with clean hands. Teaching profession in the colonial era was not a highly paid one. But the position commanded respect and the teachers were held in great esteem.

Sir Alexander Grant, 10th Baronet of Dalvey FRSE LLD (23 September 1826 - 30 November 1884) was a British educationalist and had strong links with India. Son of Sir Robert Innes Grant, 9th Baronet of Dalvey, and his wife, Judith Towers Battell, he was born in New York.  Educated at Harrow, he later held a fellowship at Oriel from 1849 to 1860. In 1855 he was one of the examiners for the Indian Civil Service Examination, an important examination to select people to hold key and  responsible administrative jobs in British India. In 1856 he was an examiner for classics at Oxford.    

Grant liked India very much and in 1859 he sailed to Madras with one Sir Charles Trevelyan, and was appointed inspector of schools.  Following year he took up the post  of Professor of History and Political Economy in the Elphinstone College, Bombay. He enjoyed teaching there and naturally with excellent credentials  he became Principal in 1862; and, a year later, vice-chancellor. He held the post from 1863 to 1865 and again from 1865 to 1868. In 1865 he became Director of Public Instruction for Bombay. In 1866 he served as Vice Chancellor of Bombay University. In 1868 he was appointed a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Bombay. He was very active and suggested various improvements in the Indian educational system.

Grant moved over to England where he was appointed Principal of Edinburgh University in 1868, upon the death of Sir David Brewster. From that time till death, he put all his energies into his work and turned Edinburgh university  into one of the best in the world. A medical institution was introduced at Edinburgh university at his initiative. In 1869 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and From 1872 on he was very busy with Scottish school education and construction of schools across Scotland.  Grant  died at  Edinburgh and was buried in Dean Cemetery in western Edinburgh.

Both the  University of Bombay and Elphistone College, Bombay became effective institutions of leaning during his tenure. Various freedom fighters, lawyers, etc  studied there  during the per-independence days.