Reforms : English Education

Exact Match
  Indus Valley
  Mauryan Era
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Raja Rammohun Roy | Sati | Brahmo Samaj | William Bentick | English Education | Vidyasagar | Remarriage 

Up to 1813 the company had followed the traditional pattern of governmental patronage to Indian learning. There was Warren Hastings college of Arabic and Persian studies in Calcutta and Jonathan Duncan's Sanskrit college in Benares. In 1813 the Charter Act sanctioned the annual sum of L 10,000 towards 'the revival and improvement of literature and the encouragement of the learned natives of India and for the introduction and promotion of a knowledge of the sciences among the inhabitants of the British territories of India'.

It was not until 1823 that a Committee of Public Instruction was formed to give effect to this provision. It immediately perceived the ambiguity between the promotion of oriental learning and the other western learning, and plunged into a lively controversy. This was the situation which Bentick found on his arrival and of which he took advantage.

In Calcutta he found a forward looking group of intellectuals led by Raja Ram Mohan Roy who had helped to found a college for western learning and advocated its introduction. In 1834 he received a powerful English reinforcement in the arrival of the Law member, Thomas Babington Macaulay. The result was the decision to launch English education and western knowledge into India. Macaulay declared in 1835 'that the great objects of the British government ought to be the promotion of European literature and science' and the available funds should 'be henceforth employed in imparting to the native population knowledge of English literature and science through the medium of the English language'.

From this time the government began to set up schools and colleges imparting western knowledge in the English language. To this was added another measure of greatest importance. English replaced Persian as the official state language and the medium of higher courts of law, local languages replacing Persian in the lower courts.

Western science was specifically introduced in the form of western medicine, of which the Calcutta Medical College was the first institution. Science also received attention in both schools and colleges. Western technology spread through engineering works like roads, canals, and later in 1853 by the introduction of Railways. The process was hastened by the increase in the number of Indian officers entering the administration as a result of Bentick's policy of Indianization.

Macaulay on his part started the codification of Indian public criminal law. The work was not completed until 1861 when the Indian Penal Code came into existence for the first time.

Bentick heralded a age of social & administrative reforms in India although no other Governor General after him went to the extent he went yet the after effects of his reformist attitude went a long way in providing mobility to the stagnant Indian society.

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