NCERT Textbook Chapter 8 - Civilising the “Native”, Educating the Nation Class 8 Notes | EduRev

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 Page 1


95
Civilising the “Native”,
Educating the Nation
8
In the earlier chapters you have seen how British rule affected
rajas and nawabs, peasants and tribals. In this chapter we
will try and understand what implication it had for the
lives of students. For, the British in India wanted not only
territorial conquest and control over revenues. They also felt
that they had a cultural mission: they had to “civilise the
natives”, change their customs and values.
What changes were to be introduced? How were Indians
to be educated, “civilised”, and made into what the British
believed were “good subjects”? The British could find
no simple answers to these questions. They continued to
be debated for many decades.
How the British saw Education
Let us look at what the British thought and
did, and how some of the ideas of education
that we now take for granted evolved in the
last two hundred years. In the process of this
enquiry we will also see how Indians reacted
to British ideas, and how they developed
their own views about how Indians were to
be educated.
The tradition of Orientalism
In 1783, a person named William Jones
arrived in Calcutta. He had an appointment
as a junior judge at the Supreme Court that
the Company had set up. In addition to being
an expert in law, Jones was a linguist. He
had studied Greek and Latin at Oxford, knew
French and English, had picked up Arabic
from a friend, and had also learnt Persian.
At Calcutta, he began spending many hours
a day with pandits who taught him the
subtleties of Sanskrit language, grammar and Fig. 1 – William Jones learning Persian
Linguist – Someone
who knows and
studies several
languages
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


95
Civilising the “Native”,
Educating the Nation
8
In the earlier chapters you have seen how British rule affected
rajas and nawabs, peasants and tribals. In this chapter we
will try and understand what implication it had for the
lives of students. For, the British in India wanted not only
territorial conquest and control over revenues. They also felt
that they had a cultural mission: they had to “civilise the
natives”, change their customs and values.
What changes were to be introduced? How were Indians
to be educated, “civilised”, and made into what the British
believed were “good subjects”? The British could find
no simple answers to these questions. They continued to
be debated for many decades.
How the British saw Education
Let us look at what the British thought and
did, and how some of the ideas of education
that we now take for granted evolved in the
last two hundred years. In the process of this
enquiry we will also see how Indians reacted
to British ideas, and how they developed
their own views about how Indians were to
be educated.
The tradition of Orientalism
In 1783, a person named William Jones
arrived in Calcutta. He had an appointment
as a junior judge at the Supreme Court that
the Company had set up. In addition to being
an expert in law, Jones was a linguist. He
had studied Greek and Latin at Oxford, knew
French and English, had picked up Arabic
from a friend, and had also learnt Persian.
At Calcutta, he began spending many hours
a day with pandits who taught him the
subtleties of Sanskrit language, grammar and Fig. 1 – William Jones learning Persian
Linguist – Someone
who knows and
studies several
languages
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 96
poetry. Soon he was studying ancient Indian texts on
law, philosophy, religion, politics, morality, arithmetic,
medicine and the other sciences.
Jones discovered that his interests were shared by
many British officials living in Calcutta at the time.
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 came to represent a particular
attitude towards India. They shared a deep respect for
ancient cultures, both of India and the West. Indian
civilisation, they felt, had attained its glory in the ancient
past, but had subsequently declined. In order to
understand India it was necessary to discover the sacred
and legal texts that were produced in the ancient period.
For only those texts could reveal the real ideas and laws
of the Hindus and Muslims, and only a new study of these
texts could form the basis of future development in India.
So Jones and Colebrooke went about discovering
ancient texts, understanding their meaning, translating
them, and making their findings known to others. This
project, they believed, would not only help the British learn
from Indian culture, but it would 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.
The officials also thought that Hindus and Muslims
ought to be taught what they were already familiar with,
and what they valued and treasured, not subjects that
were alien to them. Only then, they believed, could the
British hope to win a place in the hearts of the “natives”;
only then could the alien rulers expect to be respected by
their subjects.
With this object in view a madrasa was set up in
Calcutta in 1781 to promote the study of Arabic, Persian
and Islamic law; and the Hindu College was established
in Benaras in 1791 to encourage the study of ancient
Sanskrit texts that would be useful for the administration
of the country.
Madrasa – An Arabic
word for a place of
learning; any type of
school or college
Fig. 2 – Henry Thomas
Colebrooke
He was a scholar of Sanskrit
and ancient sacred writings
of Hinduism.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


95
Civilising the “Native”,
Educating the Nation
8
In the earlier chapters you have seen how British rule affected
rajas and nawabs, peasants and tribals. In this chapter we
will try and understand what implication it had for the
lives of students. For, the British in India wanted not only
territorial conquest and control over revenues. They also felt
that they had a cultural mission: they had to “civilise the
natives”, change their customs and values.
What changes were to be introduced? How were Indians
to be educated, “civilised”, and made into what the British
believed were “good subjects”? The British could find
no simple answers to these questions. They continued to
be debated for many decades.
How the British saw Education
Let us look at what the British thought and
did, and how some of the ideas of education
that we now take for granted evolved in the
last two hundred years. In the process of this
enquiry we will also see how Indians reacted
to British ideas, and how they developed
their own views about how Indians were to
be educated.
The tradition of Orientalism
In 1783, a person named William Jones
arrived in Calcutta. He had an appointment
as a junior judge at the Supreme Court that
the Company had set up. In addition to being
an expert in law, Jones was a linguist. He
had studied Greek and Latin at Oxford, knew
French and English, had picked up Arabic
from a friend, and had also learnt Persian.
At Calcutta, he began spending many hours
a day with pandits who taught him the
subtleties of Sanskrit language, grammar and Fig. 1 – William Jones learning Persian
Linguist – Someone
who knows and
studies several
languages
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 96
poetry. Soon he was studying ancient Indian texts on
law, philosophy, religion, politics, morality, arithmetic,
medicine and the other sciences.
Jones discovered that his interests were shared by
many British officials living in Calcutta at the time.
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 came to represent a particular
attitude towards India. They shared a deep respect for
ancient cultures, both of India and the West. Indian
civilisation, they felt, had attained its glory in the ancient
past, but had subsequently declined. In order to
understand India it was necessary to discover the sacred
and legal texts that were produced in the ancient period.
For only those texts could reveal the real ideas and laws
of the Hindus and Muslims, and only a new study of these
texts could form the basis of future development in India.
So Jones and Colebrooke went about discovering
ancient texts, understanding their meaning, translating
them, and making their findings known to others. This
project, they believed, would not only help the British learn
from Indian culture, but it would 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.
The officials also thought that Hindus and Muslims
ought to be taught what they were already familiar with,
and what they valued and treasured, not subjects that
were alien to them. Only then, they believed, could the
British hope to win a place in the hearts of the “natives”;
only then could the alien rulers expect to be respected by
their subjects.
With this object in view a madrasa was set up in
Calcutta in 1781 to promote the study of Arabic, Persian
and Islamic law; and the Hindu College was established
in Benaras in 1791 to encourage the study of ancient
Sanskrit texts that would be useful for the administration
of the country.
Madrasa – An Arabic
word for a place of
learning; any type of
school or college
Fig. 2 – Henry Thomas
Colebrooke
He was a scholar of Sanskrit
and ancient sacred writings
of Hinduism.
© NCERT
not to be republished
97
Not all officials shared these views. Many were very
strong in their criticism of the Orientalists.
“Grave errors of the East”
From the early nineteenth century many British officials
began to criticise the Orientalist vision of learning. They
said that knowledge of the East was full of errors and
unscientific thought; Eastern literature was non-serious
and light-hearted. So they argued that it was wrong on
the part of the British to spend so much effort in
encouraging the study of Arabic and Sanskrit language
and literature.
James Mill was one of those who attacked the
Orientalists. The British effort, he declared, should not
be to teach what the natives wanted, or what they
respected, in order to please them and “win a place in
their heart”. 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. One of the most outspoken and influential of
such critics of the time was Thomas Babington
Macaulay. He saw India as an uncivilised country that
needed to be civilised. No branch of Eastern knowledge,
according to him could be compared to what England
had produced. Who could deny, declared Macaulay, that
Orientalists – Those
with a scholarly
knowledge of the
language and culture
of Asia
Munshi – A person who
can read, write and
teach Persian
Vernacular – A term
generally used to refer
to a local language or
dialect as distinct from
what is seen as the
standard language. In
colonial countries like
India, the British used
the term to mark the
difference between the
local languages of
everyday use and
English – the language
of the imperial masters.
Fig. 3 – Monument to Warren Hastings, by
Richard Westmacott, 1830, now in Victoria
Memorial in Calcutta
This image represents how Orientalists
thought of British power in India. You will
notice that the majestic figure of Hastings,
an enthusiastic supporter of the Orientalists,
is placed between the standing figure of a
pandit on one side and a seated munshi
on the other side. Hastings and other
Orientalists needed Indian scholars to teach
them the “vernacular” languages, tell them
about local customs and laws, and help
them translate and interpret ancient texts.
Hastings took the initiative to set up the
Calcutta Madrasa, and believed that the
ancient customs of the country and Oriental
learning ought to be the basis of British rule
in India.
CIVILISING THE “NATIVE”, EDUCATING THE NATION
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


95
Civilising the “Native”,
Educating the Nation
8
In the earlier chapters you have seen how British rule affected
rajas and nawabs, peasants and tribals. In this chapter we
will try and understand what implication it had for the
lives of students. For, the British in India wanted not only
territorial conquest and control over revenues. They also felt
that they had a cultural mission: they had to “civilise the
natives”, change their customs and values.
What changes were to be introduced? How were Indians
to be educated, “civilised”, and made into what the British
believed were “good subjects”? The British could find
no simple answers to these questions. They continued to
be debated for many decades.
How the British saw Education
Let us look at what the British thought and
did, and how some of the ideas of education
that we now take for granted evolved in the
last two hundred years. In the process of this
enquiry we will also see how Indians reacted
to British ideas, and how they developed
their own views about how Indians were to
be educated.
The tradition of Orientalism
In 1783, a person named William Jones
arrived in Calcutta. He had an appointment
as a junior judge at the Supreme Court that
the Company had set up. In addition to being
an expert in law, Jones was a linguist. He
had studied Greek and Latin at Oxford, knew
French and English, had picked up Arabic
from a friend, and had also learnt Persian.
At Calcutta, he began spending many hours
a day with pandits who taught him the
subtleties of Sanskrit language, grammar and Fig. 1 – William Jones learning Persian
Linguist – Someone
who knows and
studies several
languages
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 96
poetry. Soon he was studying ancient Indian texts on
law, philosophy, religion, politics, morality, arithmetic,
medicine and the other sciences.
Jones discovered that his interests were shared by
many British officials living in Calcutta at the time.
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 came to represent a particular
attitude towards India. They shared a deep respect for
ancient cultures, both of India and the West. Indian
civilisation, they felt, had attained its glory in the ancient
past, but had subsequently declined. In order to
understand India it was necessary to discover the sacred
and legal texts that were produced in the ancient period.
For only those texts could reveal the real ideas and laws
of the Hindus and Muslims, and only a new study of these
texts could form the basis of future development in India.
So Jones and Colebrooke went about discovering
ancient texts, understanding their meaning, translating
them, and making their findings known to others. This
project, they believed, would not only help the British learn
from Indian culture, but it would 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.
The officials also thought that Hindus and Muslims
ought to be taught what they were already familiar with,
and what they valued and treasured, not subjects that
were alien to them. Only then, they believed, could the
British hope to win a place in the hearts of the “natives”;
only then could the alien rulers expect to be respected by
their subjects.
With this object in view a madrasa was set up in
Calcutta in 1781 to promote the study of Arabic, Persian
and Islamic law; and the Hindu College was established
in Benaras in 1791 to encourage the study of ancient
Sanskrit texts that would be useful for the administration
of the country.
Madrasa – An Arabic
word for a place of
learning; any type of
school or college
Fig. 2 – Henry Thomas
Colebrooke
He was a scholar of Sanskrit
and ancient sacred writings
of Hinduism.
© NCERT
not to be republished
97
Not all officials shared these views. Many were very
strong in their criticism of the Orientalists.
“Grave errors of the East”
From the early nineteenth century many British officials
began to criticise the Orientalist vision of learning. They
said that knowledge of the East was full of errors and
unscientific thought; Eastern literature was non-serious
and light-hearted. So they argued that it was wrong on
the part of the British to spend so much effort in
encouraging the study of Arabic and Sanskrit language
and literature.
James Mill was one of those who attacked the
Orientalists. The British effort, he declared, should not
be to teach what the natives wanted, or what they
respected, in order to please them and “win a place in
their heart”. 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. One of the most outspoken and influential of
such critics of the time was Thomas Babington
Macaulay. He saw India as an uncivilised country that
needed to be civilised. No branch of Eastern knowledge,
according to him could be compared to what England
had produced. Who could deny, declared Macaulay, that
Orientalists – Those
with a scholarly
knowledge of the
language and culture
of Asia
Munshi – A person who
can read, write and
teach Persian
Vernacular – A term
generally used to refer
to a local language or
dialect as distinct from
what is seen as the
standard language. In
colonial countries like
India, the British used
the term to mark the
difference between the
local languages of
everyday use and
English – the language
of the imperial masters.
Fig. 3 – Monument to Warren Hastings, by
Richard Westmacott, 1830, now in Victoria
Memorial in Calcutta
This image represents how Orientalists
thought of British power in India. You will
notice that the majestic figure of Hastings,
an enthusiastic supporter of the Orientalists,
is placed between the standing figure of a
pandit on one side and a seated munshi
on the other side. Hastings and other
Orientalists needed Indian scholars to teach
them the “vernacular” languages, tell them
about local customs and laws, and help
them translate and interpret ancient texts.
Hastings took the initiative to set up the
Calcutta Madrasa, and believed that the
ancient customs of the country and Oriental
learning ought to be the basis of British rule
in India.
CIVILISING THE “NATIVE”, EDUCATING THE NATION
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 98
“a single shelf of a good
European library was worth the
whole native literature of India
and Arabia”. He urged that the
British government in India
stop wasting public money in
promoting Oriental learning,
for it was of no practical use.
With great energy and
passion, Macaulay emphasised
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. Teaching of English could thus
be a way of civilising people, changing their tastes,
values and culture.
Following Macaulay’s minute, 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.
These institutions were seen as “temples of darkness
that were falling of themselves into decay”. English
textbooks now began to be produced for schools.
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. Issued by Charles Wood,
the President of the Board of Control of the Company,
it has come to be known as Wood’s Despatch. Outlining
the educational policy that was to be followed in India,
it emphasised once again the practical benefits of a
system of European learning, as opposed to Oriental
knowledge.
One of the practical uses the Despatch pointed to
was economic. European learning, it said, 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. Introducing them to European ways of life,
would change their tastes and desires, and create a
demand for British goods, for Indians would begin to
appreciate and buy things that were produced in Europe.
 Language of
the wise?
Emphasising the need to
teach English, Macaulay
declared:
All parties seem to
be agreed on one
point, that the dialects
commonly spoken
among the natives …
of India, contain
neither literary nor
scientific information,
and are, moreover,
so poor and rude
that, until they are
enriched from some
other quarter, it
will not be easy to
translate any valuable
work into them …
From Thomas Babington
Macaulay, Minute of 2 February
1835 on Indian Education
Fig. 4 – Thomas Babington
Macaulay in his study
Source 1
© NCERT
not to be republished
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