So, can i draw the conclusion, however tentative? That is : we Indians are still haunted by the Macaulay Ghost!
In this day of globalisation imigration of the educated middle class Indians to the Americans shores, our victories on the IT front and much else, when America is supposed to rule the world. How do we, Indians, all feel about ourselves ?
We have come of age? In this country ? I address these questions at a whole segment of society? First, the politicians !Next ,the dominant sections of society, the corporate leaders, the professional classes, he lawyers, doctors ,media men and women , academics and not the least our bright lights. Quite a lot of classes i am targeting ? Not yet ! There are still the powerful segments, the bureaucrafts, the serving and retired ones who crowd the Delhi corridors? what do these fortunate ones feel?
As a test i often glance through the newspapers and magazines . Every other esducation institution (or enterprise, as they are becoming ), be it a business school or a elite secondary school, invariably advertise their claims to our attention on their claims to our attention on their foreign collabrations! Our highly gifted intellectuals, the university men and women are working in the US shores, our new empire obviously !
So, can i draw the conclusion, however tentative ? That is : we Indians are still haunted by the Macaulay Ghost! So, my preoccupations with the Macaulay Ghost!
I have given much thought to the Macaulay legacy in Indian education. And what it had done and undone for the mindset and character of the Indian people. Educators have now and then mentioned his name for various purpose. Here i like to share with the readers some of the latest thoughts and conclusions i had reached regarding his legacy.
The one common strain is that Macaulay by his minutes on education sought to impose English language as the sole medium of instruction in Indian education, This is only partly true. There was already a long, ongoing debate on whether the future of Indian education had to be through the traditional mode of learning, through the Sanskrit learning traditions. In India, there was this learning through Sanskrit, as practised by the brahmin pundits, by devoting a lifetime to recite the Vedas, learn grammar, logic and the different schools of philosophy, Nyaya,Mimamsa etc. There was already Persian and Arabic as the languages needed for government jobs. Readers should remember that even motilal Nehru, who didn’t pass beyond high school, learnt only Persian and Arabic just to get a job. Only later he learnt English and became a Vakil.
But the Governor- General William Bentinck agreed with Macaulay and issued his orders. Thus,came about the English and the general and scientific knoeledge through that language. Macaulay became a member of Governor -General’s council and president of the Committee of Public Instruction. (June 10,1834).He opposed education in Saskrit, Persian and Arabic and wanted English the sole medium of education. Thus, accepting, his Minute, Lord Bentinck gave his declaration (February 2,1935).What a remarkable declaration!Its hold still seems strong on Indian imagination !
So,my view is that Macaulay played a positive and compelementary role only. The English language education didn’t prevent Indians to go for preserving their traditinal wisdom nor prevented them to strengthen their traditions.Yes,these efforts were also on, the many rajas and maharajas propagated Sanskrit learning through their own endowsment . Some are still in existence ,as in Dharbanga and elsrewhere . Somehow, Indian nobility,the big and small rajas or others ever cared to take to modern education .Nor even to traditional learning or patronages. Is this an Indian mind disease, i often wonder !Even today, we see the same mentality.Yes, we take to education, we get degrees or certificates and yet, there is no development of full personalities amoung the learned Indians. The jod-seeking mindset is killing the Indian character.This is one of my pet conceptualisation of Indian character.
Now, after a half a century of Freedom, what we like to do? There is no such thought ,anywhere. Even now,i see narrow minds everywhere after some narrow schools or indigenous of a more extreme kind or kinds !From the North to the South ! I want to change this mindset. I want a new vision to inrtegrate the old and the new . Evolve a new forward looking educated Indian outlook . This is a story that needs to be told and retold for many times.Even in the time i am talking about, the Englishmen, Lord Cuzon to Annie Besant thought of the Sanskrit Pandits as “pasive” elements. Indians never became fighters. Create a pride in our Indian traditions, in our vales, say courage of conviction, character in sticking to truth, upholding self- esteem and self-worth. In the French Lycees, I saw Rousseau,De Cartes and Voltaire being read.
The point is that when Macaulay intriduced his education policy in 1832, education through English language only, already our ancient Sanskrit learning tradition was facing with threat of losing its historic relevance. The psychological crisis brought about by the imposition of English education is a subject that should engage, the educators of this generation. I want to appeal to educators to create independently courses or separate centres in the existing education institutions to study indepth the new basic philosophy for Indian education that would enrich our mental makeup. By studing courses in some of our languages and ancient, preferably Snskrit language and let us create an independent philosophical base for Indian education.
Only in India we still, feel hesitant to introduce classics. Sciences and maths cry for attention. We can create hubs to teach sciences and maths more intensively, say in Bangalore, Madras or other such centres like Kolkatta where there is a tradition of pursuing sciences.
What is the core strengths we impart in the students ? Do we have any idea ? If so I ask some of these gentlemen at least to write to us .Let us publish their ideas in these pages. Yes, seen from this distance of time, what Macaulay sought to boast . He himself didn’t know what his countrymen thought of India!
It is a sad thought though, that Indian nobility, the big and small rajas or others ever cared to take to modern education. Nor even to traditional learning or patronage. Is this an Indian mind disease, I often wonder! Even today, we see the same mentality. Yes there is no development of full personalities among the learned Indians. The job-seeking mindset is killing the Indian character. I want a new vision to integrate the old and the new.
Evolve a new Indian outlook. This is a story that needs to be told and retold for many times. What is the core strengths we impart in the students ?Do we have any idea? If so i ask some of these gentlemen at least to write to us. Let us publish their ideas in these pages . This is a task we can’t leave it to govenments .
Governments these days have their own political compulsons to take some extreme linguistic fanatical positions to cultivate vote-banks. This taskhas to be undertaken by dedicated educators, we who feel that Indians must become activist citizens, not passive absorbers of mere information.