The Britishers felt interested in the education of Indians. This was evident from the Charter Act of 1813. But the Britishers were held up because they were unable to solve problem of medium of instruction in India. In 1830, the Orientalist-Anglicist controversy was going on and there was a complete deadlock. It was Lord Macaulay who solved this problem by presenting a forceful Minute in 1835. Lord William Bentinck was then the Viceroy of India.

Lord Macaulay came to India in 1834. He was the Law member of the Council of Viceroy. Lord Bentinck appointed Lord Macaulay as the chairman of the General Committee on Public Instruction.

Lord Macaulay was to advise the Government on its educational policy. Although Macaulay refrained from making any sweeping recommendations regarding the educational structure, he gave his famous Minute in February 1835 about medium of instruction. What Macaulay did for the Britishers perhaps a thousand generals of the Army could not do! Macaulay anglicised the whole of India. The following are the chief clauses of the Minute:

1. English to be the medium of instruction.

English is to be the medium of instruction of India education. Indian languages were poor and crude. ‘English was better than Arabic and Sanskrit. His arguments in favour of English were:

  • English is key to modern knowledge and is, therefore, more useful than Arabic or Sanskrit.
  • English stands prominent even among the languages of the West. In India, English is the language spoken by the ruling classes. It is likely to become the language of commerce throught out the seas of the East.
  • English would civilise India. It would bring renaissance in India.
  • Indians themselves want to be taught English. Infact, some Indians were bribed to learn English.
  • Downward Filtration Theory regarding the education of masses was advocated. English would be of immense help in this. Macaulay said, “It was possible through English education to bring about a class of persons-Indian in blood and colour but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and intellect” and that education was to filter down from them to the masses.

2. Meaning of Literature.

Lord Macaulay said that the meaning of the word ‘Literature’ as it occurred in the Charter of 1833 was English Literature. To support his contention, Macaulay made a fantastic statement. “A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature.”

3. Indian Scholar was also defined by Macaulay.

Indian scholar was the one who learnt Lock’s Philosophy and Milton’s poetry.

4. Stoppage of grant to Oriental Schools.

There was clamour by orientalists that the a government could not withdraw grants once made in propagation of oriental religion. Macaulay said that if government felt that its old educational policy had failed, it could change its policy and stop the grants.

Objectives Behind Macalay’s Minute

The chief aim of Lord Macaulay was to spread English education through English as medium of instruction.

Lord Macaulay was supported by William Bentinck. He accepted Macaulay’s Minute and passed the following orders in his resolution of March 7, 1835:

  • “the great object of the British Government ought to be the promotion of European literature and science among the natives of India”
  • There is no intention “to abolish any college or school of native learning all the existing professors and students shall continue to receive their stipends.”
  • “that all funds which these reforms will leave at the disposal of the committee be henceforth employed in imparting to the native population a knowledge of English literature and science through the medium of English language.”

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