English Education in India.

Reference 1.

  1. When the East India Company shifted its focus from business to empire building, it decided to show its concern for the people by taking an interest in education.  It set up 3 colleges at Calcutta (Kolkatta), Madras (Chennai) and Benares (Varanasi).
  2. Through the calcutta Madarasa, EIC succeeded in winning the favour of the muslim gentry.
  3. The Benares Sanskrit college was set up to influence the Hindus similiarly, but it was given much lower grants.
  4. One of the reasons the company hesitated to shoulder the entire responsibility of education was the fear that educated India would demand independence.
  5. Charles Grant came to India in 1773.  He wrote an essay called Observation, which found the condition of education in India ‘deplorable’. He recommended that the Indians be given English education which would help them ‘catch up’ in literature, science, philosophy and religion.
  6. This essay influenced the British Parliament. 40 years later they came up with ‘The Charter of 1813 AD (CE)”.
  7. This charter compelled the EIC to spend at least Rs One Lakh anually on education.
  8. Source : http://books.google.co.in/books?id=yqtAAgS3NSEC&pg=PA83&lpg=PA83&dq=macaulay+ram+mohan+roy+english+education&source=bl&ots=K0mGtFWjsB&sig=dVVotKaDPx6n-UPAuVNsjs4k-o4&hl=en&ei=cPwTSraUNMGGkAXhq_GGDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#PPA79,M1

    Source : Reference 1 given above.

  9. The EIC had to answer some questions and solve some problems. Christian Missionaries were already spreading their religion under the garb of english education. EIC had to select the language, medium, system etc.
  10. Munroe and others wanted education to be in regional languages. Hastings and Minto wanted them to be in classical languages like Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic etc. Raja Ram Mohan Roy and others (including the Christian Missionaries) were in favour of education with English as the medium of instruction.
  11. The charter of 1833 was brought on by territorial expansion. One of its clauses was the inclusion of a Law Member in the council of the governor general. T.B. Macaulay came to India, on June 13th 1834 as such a law member at a time when there the debate on the language of instruction reached a peak. He was appointed the President of the General Committee on Public Instruction. He decided in favour of English and stopped grants for publishing Oriental literature. (How much more grateful we must be for Ramakrishna Math and Gita press publications etc! ) It is hard to go past writing about English Education in India without quoting the Macaulay man himself, his reasons, his arguments and his purpose. Should any Indian salute his motives?  Macaulay : Nallavana, Kettavana… ?: Good Guy or Bad?

Macaulay speak: Reference 2 : Macaulay said that the prosperity of England depended more on Indians being a market for their goods than on Indians being slaves. So though he knew that English education would lead to ambition and independence on our part, he thought that it was more profitable than having Indians as their slaves. (Does sound like the modern corporate too approach to India also, does it not!)

  • It is scarcely possible to calculate the benefits which we might derive from the diffusion of European civilisation among the vast population of the East. It would be, on the most selfish view of the case, far better for us that the people of India were well governed and independent of us, than ill governed and subject to us; that they were ruled by their own kings, but wearing our broadcloth, and working with our cutlery, than that they were performing their salams to English collectors and English magistrates, but were too ignorant to value, or too poor to buy, English manufactures. To trade with civilised men is infinitely more profitable than to govern savages. That would, indeed, be a doting wisdom, which, in order that India might remain a dependency, would make it an useless and costly dependency, which would keep a hundred millions of men from being our customers in order that they might continue to be our slaves. : From Thomas Babington Macaulay, “Speech in Parliament on the Government of India Bill, 10 July 1833,” Macaulay, Prose and Poetry, selected by G.M. Young (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), pp. 716-18 ( Context: Slavery was abolished in Britain but not in EIC territories in 1834)
  • “The dialects commonly spoken among the natives of this part of India, contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are, moreover, so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them.”
  • “A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia”
  • “All the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgements used at preparatory schools in England”.
  • “Whoever knows that language (English) has ready access to all the vast intellectual wealth, which all the wisest nations of the earth have created and hoarded in the course of ninety generations. It may safely be said, that the literature now extant in that language is of far greater value than all the literature which three hundred years ago was extant in all the languages of the world together.
  • “It is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population.” From Thomas Babington Macaulay, “Minute of 2 February 1835 on Indian Education,” Macaulay, Prose and Poetry, selected by G. M. Young (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), pp-721-24,729.
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