The Case for India – II
An excerpt from the Rebuttal by Eminent Historians of Hindu Fundamentalist, Shri Murli Manohar Joshi’s “Preamble to the Manifesto” of BJP. While one is skeptical of claims by Political Parties, the Hindu culture ingrained in us takes the “Guru” at face value. But we are taught new lessons every day. The lesson that this episode teaches us is take nothing at face value. When you read your News paper be armed with as much tools that you can lay your hands on – encyclopedias, reference books and what not. For every one has his turf to protect. The politician his vote bank and the eminent historians ?
Shri Muli Manohar Joshi
It has been established beyond doubt by the several reports on education at the end of the 18th Century and the writings of Indian scholars that not only did India have a functioning indigenous educational system but that it actually compared more than favourably with the system obtaining in England at the time in respect of the number of schools and colleges proportionate to the population, the number of students in schools and colleges, the diligence as well as the intelligence of the students, the quality of the teachers and the financial support provided from private and public sources.
Contrary to the then prevailing opinion, those attending school and college included an impressive percentage of lower caste students, Muslims and girls.
There were no schools or colleges as we know them today in ancient India. Upper caste children were educated in mathas, agraharas and sometimes monasteries. Children following a profession were apprentices in that profession. Lower castes and women were not educated generally. In Sanskrit plays they are the ones who speak the vernacular language Prakrit whilst the upper caste, educated persons speak Sanskrit.
I would have looked into Shri Dharampal’s “The Beautiful Tree-Indigenous Indian Education” to find the truth on the above controversy. But we have demeaned our quality of discussion so much that Scholars are first categorized into Hindu Fundamentalist or Marxist Secular even before the lay public like us get to read what they write. The only choice is to look at what an independent source untouched, unlabelled Scholar Will Durant says.
“When the British came there was, throughout India, a system of communal (My note: Communal here means “common” and not “Religious” as we seem to have corrupted the word) schools managed by the village communities. The agents of the East India Company destroyed these village communities, and took no step to replace the schools; even to-day, after a century of effort to restore them, they stand at only 66% of their number a hundred years ago. There are now in India 730,000 villages, and only 162,015 primary schools. Only 7% of the boys and 1 ½ % of the girls receive schooling; i.e., 4% of the whole. Such schools as the Government has established are not free, but exact a tuition fee which, though small to a western purse, looms large to a family always hovering on the edge of starvation……
In 1911 a Hindu representative, Gokhale, introduced a bill for universal compulsory primary education in India; it was defeated by the British and Government-appointed members. In 1916 Patel introduced a similar bill, which was defeated by the British and Government-appointed members; the Government could not afford to give the people schools. Instead, it spent most of its eight cents for education on secondary schools and universities…..
Hence the 93% illiteracy of India. In several provinces literacy was more widespread before the British took possession than it is now after a century and a half of British control; in several of the states ruled by native princes it is higher than in British India. “The responsibility of the British for India’s illiteracy seems to be beyond question”
An Aside:- Going by Will Durant’s words the British not only destroyed the Education system but also encouraged drink. “When the British came, India was a sober nation. “The temperance of the people,” said Warren Hastings, “is demonstrated in the simplicity of their food and their total abstinence from spirituous liquors and other substances of intoxication……Miss Mayo tells us that Hindu mothers feed opium to their children; and she concludes that India is not fit for Home rule…….She does not tell us that the opium is grown only by the Government, and is sold exclusively by the Government…..that the Central Legislature in 1921 passed a bill prohibiting the growth or sale of opium in India, and that the Government refused to act upon it;……..She does not tell us that Burma excluded opium by law until the British came, and is now overrun with it; that the British distributed it free in Burma to create a demand for it; that whereas the traffic has been stopped in the Philippines, England has refused, at one World Opium Conference after another, to abandon it in India;…. She does not tell us that the health, courage and character of the Hindu people have been undermined through this ruthless drugging of a nation by men pretending to be Christians.”
The eminent historians obviously have an agenda and so does Murli Manohar Joshi. But the Eminent Historians cannot fight an inconvenient truth with well-intentioned lies.
Next : Famines in India – Will Durant and Amartya Sen