Study Material and Notes of Ch 7 Civilising the "Native", Educating the Nation Class 8th History


• The British in India wanted not only territorial conquest and control over revenues but also felt that they had a cultural mission and had to “civilise the natives”, change their customs and values.

How the British saw Education

The tradition of Orientalism

• In 1783, William Jones arrived in Calcutta who was a linguist.
→ He had studied Greek and Latin at Oxford, knew French and English, Arabic and Persian.
→ At Calcutta, he started learning Sanskrit language, grammar and poetry.
→ Soon he was studying ancient Indian texts on law, philosophy, religion, politics, morality, arithmetic, medicine and the other sciences.

• Englishmen like Henry Thomas Colebrooke and Nathaniel Halhed were also busy discovering the ancient Indian heritage, mastering Indian languages and translating Sanskrit and Persian works into English.

• Together with them, Jones set up the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and started a journal called Asiatick Researches.

• Jones and Colebrooke went about discovering ancient texts, understanding their meaning, translating them, and making their findings known to others.
→ They believed this project would help the British learn from Indian culture and also help Indians
rediscover their own heritage, and understand the lost glories of their past.
→ In this process, the British would become the guardians of Indian culture as well as its masters.

• Influenced by such ideas, many Company officials argued that the British ought to promote Indian rather than Western learning.

• They felt that institutions should be set up to encourage the study of ancient Indian texts and teach Sanskrit and Persian literature and poetry.

• In 1781, a madrasa was set up in Calcutta to promote the study of Arabic, Persian and Islamic law

• In 1791, the Hindu College was established in Benaras to encourage the study of ancient Sanskrit texts that would be useful for the administration of the country.

• Not all officials shared these views and many crticised the Orientalists.

“Grave errors of the East”

• From the early nineteenth century many British officials began to criticise the Orientalist vision of learning.

• According to them, knowledge of the East was full of errors and unscientific thought.

• James Mill was one of those who attacked the Orientalists and declared that the aim of education ought to be to teach what was useful and practical.
→ So, Indians should be made familiar with the scientific and technical advances that the West had made, rather than with the poetry and sacred literature of the Orient.

• By the 1830s the attack on the Orientalists became sharper.
→ Thomas Babington Macaulay saw India as an uncivilised country that needed to be civilised.
→ According to him, no branch of Eastern knowledge could be compared to what England had produced.

• Macaulay gave importance to the need to teach the English language.
• He felt that knowledge of English would allow Indians to read some of the finest literature the world had produced.
→ It would make them aware of the developments in Western science and philosophy.
→ Thus, it is a way of civilising people, changing their tastes, values and culture.

• The English Education Act of 1835 was introduced.
→ The decision was to make English the medium of instruction for higher education and to stop the promotion of Oriental institutions like the Calcutta Madrasa and Benaras Sanskrit College.

Education for commerce

• In 1854, the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London sent an educational despatch to the Governor-General in India come to be known as Wood’s Despatch which emphasised once again the practical benefits of a system of European learning, as opposed to Oriental knowledge.

• It said, European learning would enable Indians to recognise the advantages that flow from the expansion of trade and commerce, and make them see the importance of developing the resources of the country.

• Wood’s Despatch also argued that European learning would improve the moral character of Indians and would make them truthful and honest.

• Following the 1854 Despatch, education departments of the government were set up to extend control over all matters regarding education.

What Happened to the Local Schools?

The report of William Adam

• In the 1830s, William Adam, a Scottish missionary, toured the districts of Bengal and Bihar and asked by the Company to report on the progress of education in vernacular schools.

• Adam found that there were over 1 lakh pathshalas in Bengal and Bihar imparting education to over 20 lakh children.
→ These institutions were set up by wealthy people, or the local community.

• The system of education was flexible.
→ There were no fixed fee
→ There were no printed books
→ There were no separate school building
→ There were no benches or chairs
→ There were no blackboards
→ There were no system of separate classes
→ There were no roll-call registers
→ There were no annual examinations
→ There were no regular time-table.

• Adam discovered that this flexible system was suited to local needs.
→ For example, classes were not held during harvest time when rural children often worked in the

New routines, new rules

• Up to the mid-nineteenth century, the Company was concerned primarily with higher education.

• After 1854 the Company decided to improve the system of vernacular education.

• Each guru was asked to submit periodic reports and take classes according to a regular timetable.

• Teaching was now to be based on textbooks and learning was to be tested through a system of annual examination.

• Students were asked to pay a regular fee, attend regular classes, sit on fixed seats, and obey the new rules of discipline.

• Pathshalas which accepted the new rules were supported through government grants.

• The new rules and routines affected the children from poor peasant families negatively as new system demanded regular attendance, even during harvest time.

• Inability to attend school came to be seen as indiscipline, as evidence of the lack of desire to learn.

The Agenda for a National Education

• From the early nineteenth century, many thinkers from different parts of India began to talk of the need for a wider spread of education.

• Some Indians felt that Western education would help modernise India
→ They urged the British to open more schools, colleges and universities, and spend more money on education.

• There were other Indians who reacted against Western education. Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore were two such individuals.

“English education has enslaved us” (Mahatma Gandhi's view on Indian Education)

• According to Mahatma Gandhi, the colonial education created a sense of inferiority in the minds of Indians.

• It made them see Western civilisation as superior, and destroyed the pride they had in their own culture.

• Mahatma Gandhi wanted an education that could help Indians recover their sense of dignity and self-respect.

• As per Mahatma Gandhi, western education focused on reading and writing rather than oral knowledge; it valued textbooks rather than lived experience and practical knowledge.

• He argued that education ought to develop a person’s mind and soul.

• Literacy – or simply learning to read and write – by itself did not count as education.

Tagore’s “abode of peace” (Rabindranath Tagore's view on Indian Education)

• Rabindranath Tagore started the Santiniketan in 1901.

• Tagore felt that childhood ought to be a time of self-learning, outside the rigid and restricting discipline of the schooling system set up by the British.

• Teachers had to be imaginative, understand the child, and help the child develop her curiosity.

• According to Tagore, the existing schools killed the natural desire of the child to be creative, her sense of wonder.

• Tagore was of the view that creative learning could be encouraged only within a natural environment.
→ So he set up santiniketan, 100 kilometres away from Calcutta in a natural setting, where living in harmony with nature, children could cultivate their natural creativity.

Difference in Gandhi and Tagore view about Indian Education

• Gandhiji was highly critical of Western civilisation and its worship of machines and technology. Tagore wanted to combine elements of modern Western civilisation with what
he saw as the best within Indian tradition.

• Gandhiji considered work with their hands, learn a craft, and know how different things operated as education while Tagore emphasised the need to teach science and technology at Santiniketan, along with art, music and dance.

NCERT Solutions of Chapter 8 Civilising the "Native", Educating the Nation

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