Ten years ago, I wrote a post on this blog about Lord Macaulay, or, more specifically, about a statement which he allegedly had made about India. I meant to debunk one of those Internet memes that seek to revise the history with a specific agenda: Now we call these things 'fake news'. Sent to me by a well-meaning and unsuspecting friend, it was a crude hoax, giving itself away in modern language and openly conspiratorial motive, apparently at odds with Reform Era English Intellectual manners and ideas. It took me a few minutes on Google to figure out that the quote came not from Macaulay, but a Hinduvta journal published in the United States in the 70s, which invented the statement.
At that time, almost exactly 10 years ago, this blog was a hobby, my scrapbook of ideas, something I did with no other purpose than keeping the habit of writing. The post about Macaulay changed all that. Little did I suspect how popular and widespread the usage of that quote was, and how many people, including many prominent people in Public life, were using this quote in their speeches, blogs and writings. My post brought this blog its Warholian 15 minutes, just that it was remarkable for its nastiness rather than niceties. This was the time when Hindu Nationalists in India were unleashing their trolls on the Internet, which meant a spike in the circulation of this fake quote every 15 days, bringing more visitors to the post as some of them, thankfully, tried to check the veracity of it. And, as they did so, and posted, in turn, exposing the propaganda, even others came along, debunking my debunking, not claiming that I got it wrong but that I have sold my soul.
At this point, Macaulay became personal. Comment after comment, and email after email, called me names - and claimed that I had no business checking the veracity of the quote. I tried not to censor anything - which was difficult given the amount of abuse I was receiving - and to answer, however unreasonable the comments were, as courteously as possible. And, all I was saying - and still say - is that I am not trying to morally justify what Macaulay stood for (though, admittedly, the concluding part of my post was about Macaulay's contribution to India's modernity), only that the quote is fake. We were not having a historical or moral debate, I insisted, but only dealing with a question of propriety. To my 2008 self, keeping Internet free of lies and open for discussions were important causes, and I fought my little crusade.
However, it just did not go away. That post, from 2008, still brings half of all visitors to my blog. Over time, the comments dwindled down, I hope because the debate has now been settled, but I still see a spike every 15 days, and know someone somewhere has been circulating the fake quote over again. But, Macaulay became an important part of my work over time. In 2008, I would have thought myself a technology worker, as my career, till around that point, revolved around technology. However, since then, I became more and more interested in Education, Higher Education and now History of Higher Education, and deliberately shifted my career along the line. The historical and moral issues that I avoided in 2008 (and subsequently in the comments) became important in my work, at first tentatively (see my posts, Macaulay and I, Does Macaulay Matter and Undoing Macaulay) and later, as a core obsession (see Closing of The Indian Mind: 1 and Closing of The Indian Mind: 2).
Now, as I embark on a significant writing project on the history of Calcutta University, Macaulay emerged again. Macaulay is, as any serious student of British India would know, only a totemic figure, only a marginal one in the transformation of Indian Education under the British Rule. His Minutes of Education is celebrated for other reasons than its contribution to policy: Many of its ideas were really rehashed ones from earlier works such as Charles Edward Trevelyan's (Macaulay's friend and brother-in-law) and Macaulay's involvement with India was rather short-lived. However, his fame, as his generation's one of the most prominent writer and historian, ensured that the minute lived on in public consciousness, becoming - to both sides of the debate, then and after - the most remembered statement of the British Education policy.
For my current work, Macaulay, and the Anglicist-Orientalist debate leading up to it, is really the back story: It forms the context, but does not really lead to, as is popularly believed, the founding of the University of Calcutta. But as I commence my writing work, this fascinating back story dominates my mind, and I thought of writing about it, even at the cost of making this blog, at least temporarily, a single issue narrative: It is an acknowledgement of a debt - giving Macaulay the blog that he gave to me!
Therefore, road to Macaulay: A project to put Macaulay, specifically his Minutes on Indian Education, in historical and moral context! As I alluded to before, Macaulay was, though significant, only a marginal figure in the story of transformation of Indian Education under British Rule. I shall attempt here, over the next few weeks, to present the whole story, of British East India Company's love-hate relationship with the issue of education of the natives, and indeed, the role of Indians in shaping what happened (it was not, as is sometimes believed, a completely one-sided affair). Macaulay, when he stood up to speak, was not speaking for all Englishmen: He was representing a specific interest; and he was speaking for some Indians too. I am hoping to present my readings, ideas and 'sentiments', as accumulated over the last ten years of my engagement with Macaulay: I believe this is the best way to conclude what I started ten years ago, and to commence what I wished to do for the next ten.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.