Civilising the Native, Educating the Nation

There were many Englishmen like William Jones, Henry Colebrooke & Nathaniel who started the study of ancient Indian texts. They started the Asiatic Society of Bengal to revive ‘Ancient Glory’ while the real motive behind studying the laws of the Hindus and Muslims was to reveal the idea for making laws. They endorsed the promotion of Indian learning, demanded to setup institutions to learn Sanskrit and Persian literature. So, Warren Hastings, an orientalist set up a Madrasa in Calcutta. A Sanskrit college was also established in Benaras.

However, the Company officials opposed Orientalists’ view and wanted the promotion of English education. James Mill, Thomas Macaulay and Thomas Arnold emphasized the need to teach English to change the values and the culture of Indians. So the English Education Act was introduced, made English as medium of instruction for higher education in India. Wood’s Despatch outlined the educational policy to be followed in India. British established universities in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. Christian missionaries also set up missionary schools all over India while the government was Reluctant to Support the missionary education. Adam founded over one lakh pathshalas in Bengal and Bihar by adopting a flexible education system that suited the local needs; classes did not held during the harvest time. British methods of teaching were based on the textbooks and annual examination.

Gandhiji had highly criticized Western civilization and worship of machines and technology while Tagore wanted to combine the elements of modern Western civilization with Indian traditions. English education system had failed to provide the widespread education for the masses.

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