— On Mon, 8/25/08, S. Kalyanaraman <kalyan97@gmail. com> wrote:
From: S. Kalyanaraman <kalyan97@gmail. com>
Subject: [hc] Colonial loot and other criminal acts/human rights violations of the British regime in Hindusthan
Date: Monday, August 25, 2008, 8:06 PM
A research paper by Dr. VV Bedekar
British Policies and Indian Culture
Our politicians historians, sociologists, universities and the sacred media seem to have been convinced that the biggest obstruction in our progress is our past and religion and unless we divorce with those, we cannot become logical, rational and scientific, which is the key to progress and success in the modern world!
We are continuously fed on misinformation and there is deliberate attempt to distort our social history by ideologically motivated media, politicians and sociologists turned reformists.
The canvas of history covers thousands of years.
Achievements of any civilisation are judged by culture, literature, arts and sciences they have created and ecological and environmental conditions effectively they have produced. Strangely enough, the thinkers of the world have now realized the disastrous ecological condition of the world in which we live today. Scientists are also of the opinion that this disastrous condition is due to the same science, which is thought to have brought progress to mankind. India, which, according to our sociologists, politicians and the media, had an ugly past, and an inhuman religion, certainly could not and has not contributed anything worthwhile to modern progress and could have doubtfully achieved anything in the past.
But then what was the reason – from Max Muller to Schrodinger, who felt like taking inspiration from the cultural achievements and scriptures of India of the past ? Who was Panini ? How the writings of Kalidas were created ? How Bharata could write his Natyasastra and the country could reach the pinnacle of performing art ? What about Indian achievements in mathematics and astronomy ? What about paintings of Ajanta and Ellora and intricately carved temple architecture throughought the length and breadth of the country ? What about Yoga and spiritual achievements of the Hindus and the fully developed. medical science – Ayurveda ? What about the writings of Kautilya and Vatsyayana ? What about the achievements in textile, chemistry and metallurgy ? If, according to our media and great Marxist historians, our people in the past had no business other than indulging in exploitation of all kinds, how these achievements were possible ? One cannot forget, society needs optimum social, economic and cultural stability for any kind of creativity to take form and shape.
When are we going to realize that our past history is being distorted and our past has fallen a prey to the false propaganda of socialist ideology ? Modem sciences like anthropology, sociology, history etc., have been used as tools to mutilate our history and culture. This has successfully made us hate our own past, culture and religion.
It will be worthwhile to investigate how this was and is achieved and also the role played by the British in their different capacities – as missionaries, administrators, politicians, traders, reformers, sympathizers etc., and the effect and the deep impact it has left on Indian mind and culture.
We begin our investigation with missionaries and British administrative machinery and their contribution in this process.
The missionaries an the British administrators, who studied our past, had some interest in distorting our history. Missionaries were bent upon exploiting the shortcomings that had crept in our religious practices due to lack of adequate guidance and also due to factors like foreign invasions, wars and alien tyrranical rule, coupled with conversions. The British administrators, in order to justify their presence in India wanted to show that Indians were not fit for self-rule. To achieve this end, they wanted to implant a totally alien western system of governance by uprooting the then existing age-old indigenous systems, which practically included the total life of the governed. Those included the systems of law, education, medicine, revenue and land-tenure etc. To appreciate these two factors viz., the role of missionaries and the British administrators in mutilating our history, and uprooting all our systems in order to align them with their own social, cultural, economic and spiritual thinking and the way of life, one has to read history afresh and between the lines.
British Policies and Education Missionaries
In 1813, the Charter of the East India Company was renewed. The British Parliament insisted, in spite of opposition from the Directors of the Company on inserting a clause in the Charter, giving missionaries full freedom to settle and work in India. J. N. Farquhar notes this event and has commented that `soon afterwards there was a great influx of missionaries into the country.’ (J. N. Farquhar, Modern Religious Movements in India, first published in England in 1914. First Indian edition pub. by Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi 1967)
The missionaries opened schools and hospitals, orphanages etc. Education was not used by missionaries out of any humanitarian motive but they used education as a vehicle to westernize the indigenous people in every aspect of human life.
The tragedy is the systems of education, law, revenue, land-tenure etc., introduced by the Britishers and reforms initiated by the missionaries in our religion, have truly helped them to shape an Indian exactly dreamt of by Macaulay, the father of English system of education in India. His dream was –
“We must do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, words and intellect.”
– B.D. Basu, History of Education in India under the Rule of the East India Company, pp. 91-92.
J.N. Farquhar, while writing about Christian missionaries in the last and early decades of the l8th and l9th centuries respectively says :
“Then it was not long before the wiser men both in Missions and in the Government began to see that, for the immeasurable task to be accomplished, it was most necessary that missions should take advantage of the advancing policy of the government and that government should use missions as civilizing ally. For the sake of progress of India, co-operation was indispensable. ”
-J.N. Farquhar, op.cit,p.7
It throws light on how both the agencies – the missionaries and administrators worked in close coordination to each. other’s advantage.
These events and dates have a cardinal importance in Indian history. Because it is from 1820 to 1840 A.D. that all arms of Government which needed to control Indian society firmly as per their designs, were instituted. Farquhar has classically described the result of the new educational policy in the following words :
“The new educational policy of the Government created during these years the modem educated class of India. These are men who think and speak in English habitually, who are proud of their citizenship in the British Empire, who are devoted to English literature, and whose intellectual life has been almost entirely formed by the thought of the West, large numbers of them enter government services, while the rest practise law, medicine or teaching, or take to journalism or business. We must also note that the powerful excitement which has sufficed to create the religious movements we have to deal with is almost entirely confined to those who have had an English education.” (J.N. Farquhar, op.cit p.21)
These observations of Farquhar were made while delivering a series of lectures in 1912, practically after a century of the event of manipulating and introducing English system of Education in India. He talked of English educated Indians around 1850.
A graphic image of English education initiated Indian of the early 20th century is given by Anand K. Coomarswamy in 1908. He writes :
“Speak to the ordinary graduate of an Indian University, or a student from Ceylon, of the ideals of the Mahabharata – he will hasten to display his knowledge of Shakespeare : talk to him of religious philosophy – you find that he is an athiest of the crude type common in Europe a generation ago, and that not only has he no religion, but is lacking in philosophy as the average Englishman : talk to him of Indian music he will produce a gramophone or a harmonium, and inflict upon you one or both; talk to him of Indian dress or jewellery – he will tell you that they are uncivilized and barbaric; talk to him of Indian art- it is news to him that such a thing exists; ask him to translate for you a letter written in his own mothertongue – he does not know it. He is indeed a stranger in his own land.” (Modern Review, Calcutta, Vol.4, Oct. 1908, p.338)
These remarkable results were not achieved by fair means but by dubious and fraudulent tactics. We will see next how some of the prominent missionaries in Calcutta, Benares and Serampore manipulated the syllabus of the new educational institutions started by them for this purpose. Hundreds of Indians poured out of these institutions.
William Carey (1767-1837) William Hodge Mill (1792r1853) and John Muir (1810-1882) are some of the pioneers in this field and have played remarkable role in constructing the psychology of the Indians (of course as per the vision of Macaulay) coming out of the Institutions of English education. All these three Oriental scholars were acclaimed Sanskrit scholars, who have done some original work in translating Christian scriptures and theology into Sanskrit and vice versa.
Richard Fox Young in his book has given some important information in this regard.
Richard Fox Young writes about William Carey :
“In order to understand what he [Carey] wanted to do with India’s sacred language, one must note that Carey had two reasons for being interested in its utilization for evangelism. First, he saw that Sanskrit acted as a stabilizing force upon the unsettled dialects amidst which he worked. Second, he has intransigently opposed Brahminical privileges, one of which was hegemony over Sanskrit.”
Richard Fox Young, Resistant Hinduism : Sanskrit sources on anti-christian alopologetics in early nineteenth-centuty India p.33 published by The De Nobili Research Library, Vienna (1981)
Carey, who was an English Baptist Missionary, founded the famous Serampore College in 1818. It was his ambition to turn Serampore into “Christian Benares’. The syllabus of the course in Serampore College was framed with the above object in view. Writes Young further :
“His intentions were also avowedly aggressive, a direct result of conflicts with Brahmins. According to his plans, Hindu literature could be placed in disadvantageous juxtaposition with the Gospel, a task which would be done effectively only by evangelists acquainted with the original sources of both religions.”
– Richard Fox Young, op.cit, p.35.
Young quotes Carey himself to make clear the intentions Carey’s exercises :
“To gain the ear of those who are thus deceived it is necessary for them to believe that the speaker has a superior knowledge of the subject. In these circumstances a knowledge of Sanskrit is valuable. As the person thus misled, perhaps a Brahman, deems this a most important part of knowledge, if the advocate of truth be deficient therein, he labors against the hill; presumption is altogether against him.”
– William Carey, On encouraging the cultivation of Sanskrit among the natives of India, 1822 F.I. Quarterly 2-131-37)
William H. Mill was appointed as Principal of Bishop’s College, Calcutta, which was founded in 1820 by the Society for the Propagation of Gospel (London). Mills and H.H. Wilson have composed evangelical tracts in Sanskrit. According to Mill’s view point, Hinduism consisted of `Sublime precepts of spiritual abstractions’ overlaid with `monstrous and demoralizing legends’. Raja Ram Mohan Roy and other Indian critics of traditional Hinduism shared these very views.
John Muir came to Calcutta somewhere in 1827-28, He was a firm believer in Christianity and its propagation and was an outstanding scholar in Sanskrit. He served the East lndia Company in various administrative departments in North-West Frontier Province. His knowledge gave him an opportunity to work in the Sanskrit Department of the famous Benares College (1844-45) Writes Young
“Muir’s manipulation of the philosophy curriculum aimed at depriving the dersanas of all vestiges of revelation. This he attempted to do by forcing pandits to abandon their way of teaching, which he thought was tantamount to indoctrination, and to adopt free debate instead.”
– Richard Fox Young, op.cit, p,53.
Similarly, Sanskrit scholars in Bombay and Madras presidencies and other parts of the country were venturing into education activity with a firm belief, overtly and covertly, for propagation of Christianity in India.
After seeing the vital role played by missionaries in the field of education, we can now turn our attention to the chief architects of this policy – British administrators.
We have already seen that these achievements of English education were the results of a calculated, well-conceived, deliberate, well-planned, well-engineered and a foresighted policy. The framers of this policy were sagacious statesmen, thorough patriots and shrewd visionaries. The strong commonsense which they possessed was of an extraordinary high caliber.
Macaulay, no doubt, surpasses all others. However, Macaulay’s brother-in-law, Sir Charles E. Trevelyan and Lord William Bentinck are also Equal architects of this policy. These officers had a strong English superiority complex and utter disregard and disrespect, nay, hatred towards Indians and Indian culture. They knew nothing about Indian culture or education, customs, arts, sciences and what they knew were either the drawbacks or misinformation gathered from unauthoritative sources and hearsay.
However, occasional sympathies and reformism shown by the British should never camouflage their real and secret intentions. Macaulay was the chief architect of educational policy and it was Lord William Bentinck who introduced English as the Court language in India. He was very clear in his intentions of introducting English as Court language as seen in the letter of Court of Directors dated 29th July 1830 to Bengal :
“…. From the meditated change in the language of public business, including judicial proceedings, you anticipate several collateral advantages, the principal of which is, that the judge, or other European officer, being thoroughly acquainted with the language in which the proceedings are held, will be, and appear to be, less dependent upon the natives by whom he is surrounded, and those natives will in consequence, enjoy fewer opportunities of bribery or other undue emolument.”
Thus the interests of millions of Indians were sacrificed for the convenience and profit of a few Englishmen. Lord Bentinck was never in favour of educating the people of India in the real sense but he preferred anglicizing them, as he apprehended danger in spreading knowledge in this country. Bentinck’s opinion is recorded in his Minutes dated 13th March, 1835. However, Charles Metcalf, Governor General of India, disagreeing with the views of Bentinck observed in his own Minute dated l6th May, 1835 :
“….. His Lordship (Bentinck], however, sees further danger in the spread of knowledge and the operations of the Press. I do not for my own part, anticipate danger as certain consequences from these causes.”
– B.D.Basu, op.cit, p.67.
The third architect, Sir Charles E. Trevelyan, brother-in-law of Macaulay, is so clear and explicit in his ideas that even his enemies will have to appreciate his candidness so explicit in his ideas, foresight, vision and judgment. In his Evidence given before the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Government of Indian Territories on 23rd June, 1853, he says:
“….. the effect of training in European learning is to give an entirely new turn to the native mind. The young men educated in this way cease to strive after independence according to the original Native model, and aim at, improving the instabilians of the country according to the English model, with the ultimate result of establishing constitutional self-govertunent. They cease to regard us as enemies and usurpers, and they look upon us as friends and patrons, and powerful beneficent persons, under whose protection all they have most at heart for the regeneration of their country will gradually be worked out. …..”
The following extracts from a paper submitted to the Parliamentary Committee of 1853 on Indian territories titled “The Political Tendency of the Different Systems of Education in use in India” by Sir Charles E. Trevelyan, brother-in-law of Macaulay, speak volumes about the intentions in introducing the English system of education in India. This document is so important that every student of history of English system of education in India must know it. He says :
“….. The spirit of English literature, on the other hand, cannot but be favorable to the English connection. Familiarly acquainted with us by means of our literature, the Indian youth almost cease to regard us as foreigners. They speak of great men with the same enthusiasm as we do. Educated in the same way, interested in the same objects engaged in the same pursuits with ourselves, they become more English than Hindoos, just as the Roman provincial became more Romans than Gauls or Italians… Every community has its ideas of securing the universal principal, in some shape or other, is in a state of constant activity; and if it be not enlisted on our side, it must be arrayed against us. As long as the natives are left to brood over their former independence, their sole specific for improving their condition is, the immediate and total expulsion of the English….. ‘ It is only by the infusion of European ideas, that a new direction can be given to the national views. The young men, brought up at our seminaries, turn with contempt from the barbarous despotism under which their ancestors groaned, to the prospect of improving their national institutions on the English model…… The existing connection between two such distant countries as England and India, cannot, in the nature of things, be permanent; no effort of policy can prevent the natives from ultimately regaining their independence. But there are two ways of arriving at this point. One of these is, through the medium of revolution; the other, through that of reform. In one, the forward movement is sudden and violent, in the other, it is gradual and peaceable. One must end in a complete alienation of mind and separation of interest between ourselves and the natives; the other in a permanent alliance, founded on mutual benefits and goodwill…. The only means at our disposal for preventing the one and securing the other class of result is, to set the natives on a process of European improvement, to which they ate already sufficiently inclined. They will then cease to desire and aim at independence on the old Indian footing. A sudden change will then be impossible and a long continuance of our present connection with India will even be assured to us…. The natives will not rise against us, because we shall stoop to raise them; there will be no reaction, because there will be no pressure; the national activity will be fully and harmlessly employed in acquiring and diffusing European knowledge, and naturalizing European institutions. The educated classes, knowing that the elevation of their country on these principles can only be worked out under protection, will naturally cling to us. They even now do so….. and it will then be necessary to modify the political institutions to suit the increased intelligence of the people, and their capacity for self-government. … In following this course we should be buying no new experiment. The Romans at once civilized the nations of Europe, and attached them to their rule by Romancing them; or, in other words, by educating them in the Roman literature and arts and teaching them to emulate their conquerors instead of opposing them. Acquisitions made by superiority in war, were consolidated by superiority in the arts of peace; and the remembrance of the original violence was lost in that of the benefits which resulted from it. The provincials of Italy, Spain, Africa and Gaul, having no ambition except to imitate the Romans, and to share their privileges with them, remained to the last faithful subjects of the Empire;….. . The Indian will, I hope soon stand in the same position towards us in which we once stood towards the Romans. Tacitus informs us, that it was the policy of Julius Agricola to instruct the sons of the leading men among the Britons in the literature and science of Rome and to give them a taste for the refinements of Roman civilization. We all know how well this plan answered. From being obstinate enemies, the Britons soon became attached and confiding friends; and they made more strenuous efforts to retain the Romans, than their ancestors had done to resist their invasion. It will be a shame to us if, with our greatly superior advantages, we also do not make our premature departure be dreaded as a calamity…. ..”
Macaulay had arrived in India in 1834, and he wrote his famous minute in 1835. No Indian can read Macaulay’s Minute without feeling deep humiliation, as Macaulay not only abused but insulted Indians. Macaulay knew nothing of Indian history and Indian literature. He was not acquainted with any branch of Indian thought. Knowing all this, Bentinck chose him to decide the very important controversy between the accidentalists and the orientalists. It was the worst selection that ever could have been made.
The famous Minute which Macaulay wrote in 1835, remained unpublished till 1864. His nephew Sir George Otto Trevelyan first published them in Macmillan’s Magazine of May, 1864. Macaulay proudly records :
“We are at present a Board for Printing Books which are of less value than the paper on which they are printed was when it was blank, and for giving artificial encouragement’ s to absurd history, absurd metaphysics, absurd physics, and absurd theology.”
Macaulay’s motives behind his educational policy were not only political but religious as well as revealed in his letter of 1836 addressed to his father.
“…. The effect of this education on the Hindus is prodigious. No Hindu who has received an English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion. Some continue to profess it as a matter of policy, but many profess themselves pure Deists and some embrace Christianity. It is my firm belief if our plans of education are followed up there will not be a single idolator among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence.”
The comment on this letter by The Indian Daily News for March 30, 1909, is very significant. It says : “Lord Macaulay’s triumph over the Oriental School,…. was really the triumph of the deliberate intention to undermine the religious and social life of India…..It is no doubt a hard thing to say that this was not merely the consequence of his act but that it was also his deliberate intention, but the…. letter written in 1836, to his father shows how behind his splendid phrases, there lay quite a different , view.”
British Policies and Justice
But alas ! the newly educated Indians, who were coming out of engineered education system had started believing implicitly in the utter lies of equality, fraternity and justice, which the missionaries boast about their religion or the commitment of a British officer to sense of justice or giving protection to Indian subjects.
Many British officials did believe that India was a country of barbarous people, where `law of the jungle” prevailed, where people lacked education and the people were practically bereft of any culture or literature ! These British officers, who did not agree totally with this view, also wanted a change and the same system of administration and justice to which they were used to in their own country, John Dickinson describes the kind of legal system introduced by the British and the result it produced:
” We, the English, ignorantly assumed that the ancient, long-civilized people of India were a race of barbarians who had never known what justice was until we came among them, and that the best thing we could do for them was to upset all their institutions as fast as we could, and among others their judicial system, and give them instead a copy of our legal models at home (in England) ….. Even if the technical system of English law had worked well at home (as in many respects it did not), it would have been the grossest political empiricism to force it on a people so different from ourselves as every Oriental people are; and the reader may conceive the irreparable mischief it has done in India…., Long before we knew anything of India, native society there had been characterized by some peculiar and excellent institutions, prominent among them a municipal organization, providing a most efficient police for the administration of criminal law, while the civil law was worked by a simple process of arbitration, which either prevented litigation, or else insured prompt and substantial justice to the litigants… .. Instead of their own simple and rational mode of dispensing justice, we have given the Indian people an obscure, complicated, pedantic system of English law, full of artificial technicalities, which disable the candidates for justice from any longer pleading their own cause, and force them to have recourse to a swarm of attorneys and special pleaders, by means of which their expenses are greatly increased and the ends of justice are defeated.”- John Dickinvson, Government of India Under a Bureaucracy, London, 1853, pp. 41-47, Allahabad, 1925.
This statement of Dickinson and earlier quotations of various British authorities are adequate to give us an idea of what we had lost by losing our freedom in all respects. But even then there is no dearth of scholars in this country who are not losing a single opportunity of eulogizing the introduction of railway, postal system, medical facilities, British administration, taw etc., as great benefits of British rule in India.
During Hitler’s regime a tremendous scientific and technological progress was achieved with amazing speed in Germany. Stalin and Mao brought in discipline and some escalation in production in their countries. Even in South Africa during White regime, they have better material amenities than their brethren in other African countries. Can these achievements and successes be taken as justification for losing freedom at the hands of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and the White regime in South Africa ?
The myth of justice of the British gets further exploded by the letter of Mr. S.R. Wagel, an economist, which appears in the New York Times dated October 30, 1915:
” The Courts of justice in India are reasonably good so long as the dispute is between Indian and Indian. But . when it is a political case, or when it is a dispute between an Indian and an Englishman, there is no justice at all in nine cases out of ten.”
And the following statement of Henry Cotton appearing in his book `New India gives the most ugly racial intolerance the Britishers harboured against the Indians. He states:
” There are innumerable instances in which pedestrians have been abused and struck because they have not towered their umbrellas at the sight of an Englishman on the highway. It is a common outrage to assault respectable residents of the country because when passing on the road they have not dismounted from their horses in token of inferiority. There are a few Indian gentlemen, even of the highest rank, who have not had experiences of gross insult when travelling by railway, because Englishmen object to sit in the same carriage with a native. This form of insolence generally takes the shape of a forcible ejection of the Indian, together with all his goods and chattels. Here are two actual occurrences which ate typical : (1) A petty military officer entered a railway carriage where to his disgust he found a couple of Hindu gentlemen. He quietly waited until the train was in motion and then `fired them’, that is, tumbled them out of the door. (2) A Rajah going on an official visit of state to the city of Agra, took his seat, as was his right, in a first class compartment, with a first class send-off by his loyal and enthusiastic subjects. 1n the compartment were two Englishmen, muddy from snipe-shooting, who made him unloose their hunting boots and shampoo their legs.”-Sir Henry Cotton, New India, pp. 69-70.
British Policies, Villages Life and Economy
We have seen how the British education system was engineered to create `a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, words and intellect.’ We have also seen what kind of British justice was in India and how it affected the Indian society at large.
In the long history of India during the l6th, l7th and l8th centuries, Indian society lacked competent leadership in religion and military affairs in many parts of the country. India was struggling hard to survive against the onslaughts and ill-effects due to lack of social guidance and political instability. It was certainly a period of decay compared to her early history. In spite of this, it has retained its own social institutions, education systems, law and judiciary institutions, commerce and trade links and its own culture to suit its indigenous needs.
There is enough evidence to prove that with all the adversities, all sections of the society in Indian villages cared and worked for mutual interests and benefits. The village system wonderfully supported its own vocations; the approach was holistic. To-day’s political slogan viz., ” Thousands of years’ atrocities on the weaker sections” is not only a highly exaggerated claim but is a suicidal political game. It is the same British policies which thoroughly disturbed and upset the homogeneity and the unbroken continuity of village administration, trade and commerce. It will be worthwhile seeing how the policies of land, revenue, commerce, trade etc., were designed and introduced by the British in India. The same policies ultimately shattered the village economy and destroyed the vocations, doomed the artisans, reducing a fairly harmonious and peaceful society into a conflict-ridden, incompetent and docile society. The village artisans were forced to give up their traditional occupations and reduced to the status of laborers in many cases, which fact did not remain without affecting the village economy.
The observations of the various British officers in India which were ultimately put before the House of Parliament by the East India Company for the year 1812 formed one such consolidated report. The details of village life given in this report have formed the basis of various sociological theories on Indian village system and its economy for the last two centuries. It is on the strength of this Report that Karl Marx and Maine drew their conclusions of an Indian village and formulated their theories of ‘ `oriental despotism and primitive Indo-Aryan commune’ respectively. Marx certainly knew little about India and her history, and its value system. Marx was not a sympathizer of imperialism or capitalism. But he could not conceal his western bias and prejudices against Indian culture, which is evident from his writings of 1853 and about his expectations of the role the British had to play in India. He writes :
“England has to fulfil a double mission in India; one destructive, the other regenerating – the annihilation of the old Asiatic society, and the laying of the material foundation of western society in Asia.”- First published in New York Daily Tribune, August 8, 1853.
This fact explains why Indian socialists of all hues and Marxists of all denominations are busily occupied in anti-culture activities – from history to literature. They are zealously fulfilling the dreams of their master ! Marx was obsessed thoroughly to westernize India by uprooting all its ancient systems of governance, of society and culture. According to Marx, Indian life had always been undignified, stagnatory, vegetative, passive, given to worshipping nature instead of putting the man on the pedestal as the sovereign of `Nature’. Karl Marx writes :
“Whatever may have been the crimes of England”, in India, “she was the unconscious tool of history” for the desired changes. – New York Daily Tribune dated June 25, 1853.
The views of Marx on India (in 1853) were actually the reproductions, continuations and extensions of the views expressed earlier by William Wilberforce in 1813, by James Mill in his three-volume History of British lndia (first published in 1817), and by Lord Bentinck and Macaulay in their Minutes around 1835. I have to remind the readers that this is the same period when English educated Indians were coming out of colleges started by the Missionaries and many of them became the leaders of early reformist movements in lndia. It is essential to understand who were their mentors and who shaped the outlook of such reformists. Marx’s assertion of Indian village as `oriental despotism and primitive Indo-Aryan commune’ was far from truth. In this background, it will be worthwhile taking into consideration some of the recorded opinions of British officers, who lived in India and observed keenly Indian culture in the villages and the changes wrought by British policies as well. I quote Sir Henry Cotton, who lived in India for more than 30 years and had keenly observed the Indian society.
“The people of India possess an instinctive capacity for local self-government. In the past (before the British came) the inhabitants of Indian villages under their own leaders formed a sort of petty republic, the affairs of which were managed by hereditary officers, any unfit person being set aside by popular judgement in favour of a more acceptable member of his family. It is by reason of the British administration only, that the popular authority of the village headman has been sapped, and the judicial power of the Panchayat, or Committee of Five, has been subverted. A costly and mechanical centralization has taken the place of the former system of local self-government and local arbitration. “- Sir Henry Cotton, op.cip.l70
I also quote Mr. W.M. Torrens,a Member of British Parliament. He writes:
“In most parts of India the village community, from timeout of mind, has been the unity of social, industrial and political existence. The village and its common interests and affairs have been ruled over by a council of Elders, always representative in character, who, when any dispute arose, declared what was the customary law….. In all Indian villages there was a regularly constituted municipality, by which its affairs, both of revenue and police, were administered, and which exercised magisterial and judicial authority… … Subordination to authority, the security of property, the maintenance of local order, the vindiction of character, the safety of life, all depended on the action of these nerves and sinews of the judiciary system. To maim or paralyse such a system, and working silently and effectively everywhere, as the British have done, may well be deemed a policy which nothing but the arrogance of conquest could have dictated. Yet these municipal institutions were rudely disregarded or uprooted by the new system of a foreign administration. Instead of the native Panchayat, there was established the foreign arbitrary judge; instead of men being tried, when accused, by an elective jury of their fellow citizens, they must go before a stranger, who could not, if he would, know half what every judge should know of the men and things to be dealt with. Instead of confidence, there was distrust ; instead I of calm, popular, unquestioned justice, there was substituted necessarily imperfect inquiry, hopelessly puzzled intelligence, the arbitration of foreign officials, guessing at the facts through interpreters, and stumbling over habits and usage which it must take a life-time to learn, but which every native juryman or elder could recall without hesitation. No wise or just historian can note these things without wonder and condemnation. ” – W.M. Torrens, Empire in Asia, pp. 100-03.
In 1853, Marx, who is known as a crusader against imperialism, had no qualms of any kind in giving imperialist Britain a free hand to rule ruthlessly in India against the wishes of the Indian people. But there were some sane people in England in 1853, who had exploded the myth of `rule of law’ by the British in India. One such person was John Dickinson, who has recorded :
“Since India has come under British rule her cup of grief has been filled to the brim, aye, it has been full and running over. The unfortunate Indian people have had their rights of property confiscated; their claims on justice and humanity trampled under foot; their manufacturers, towns and agriculturists beggared; their excellent municipal institutions broken up; their judicial security taken away ; their morality corrupted; and even their religious customs violated, by what are conventionally called the `blessings of British rule’….. Parliament eases its conscience regarding these tyrannies and wrongs in India by exhorting those that govern there to govern `paternally’ , just as Isaac Walton exhorts his angler, in hooking a worm, to handle him as if `he loved him’.- John Dickinson, op.cit pp. 41-47.
We have seen how every indigenous system was ruined by the British. We have seen the education system in the village replaced, and we have also seen the damage caused by the Britishers to the Indian villages and the myth of British justice. It is worth noting that land revenue and tenure systems were also tampered by the new land policies. The zamindari system introduced in Bengal was the gift of the Britishers to India. It is the British interference in land-ownership which made land a mortgagable commodity for the first time and which literally uprooted the villager from his home and means of subsistence.
I quote below a very interesting paragraph from a Ph.D. thesis :
“There seems little doubt however, that the British upset the traditional pattern of money-lending. Land had rarely been taken as security for a loan before they arrived, for one thing, only mirasdar occupant had any `transferable’ rights to land. The traditional method of dunning a recalcitrant debtor was to sit dharna at his door. Even as late as 1840 the land had little marketable value and few sales of land were made. But the Settlement of 1835 and the following years conferred unrestricted rights of transfer of land on occupants of all classes, and could now be taken in mortgage, and, what was more, could be recovered through the new British Courts of Law. The chief architect of `Survey Settlement’ – George Wingate saw this provision as a means of getting rid of uneconomic cultivators and of substituting for them, traders, pensioners and other parties having capital.”
-From Ph.D. Thesis, titled “The State and the Co-operative Movement in the Bombay Presidency: 1880-1930, submitted to the University of London (1960) by Ian James Catanach of the School of Oriental and African Studies. The author has quoted as sources -Note on Land Transfer and Agricultural Indebtedness in India’ (Government of India, 1895, p.19) and the `Joint Report of H.E. Goldsmid and G.Wingate, dated l7th Oct., 1840
Brirish Policies and Agriculture
The consequence of the introduction of the new policies in land, revenue, trade and village administration including justice, ` immensely contributed to disastrous famines in the second half of the l9th century. Agriculture was never merely an economic activity in India but a way of life. It will be difficult for a modern Indian to believe that in all respects, in technology and yield, India was far superior to Europe in the l7th, l8th and up to the middle of the l9th century. Drill plough, rotation of crops, animal husbandry and breeding were virtually unknown in the l7th and l8th century Europe. 1n the l7th century, wheat production in U.K. was eight bushels per acre. Drill plough, rotation of crops and breeding of cattle were introduced to Britain in the l8th century. As a result of this, wheat yield in Britain rose to 20 bushels per acre in 1850. As early as 1877, a complete report on Indian wheat was called for by the Secretary
of State for India….. The result of Forbes Watson’s examination was found most satisfactory. India was capable of growing wheat of the highest quality. (Vide James MacKenna, Agriculture in India, Calcutta, 1915). The data from Allahabad – Northern India, indicated that the production of wheat was 96 bushels per acre per crop in 1903. Average Indian farmer used to take two crops per year. So the total yield per acre per year was 112 bushels. This picture changed gradually and reversed in India. Agriculture became uneconomic and less productive. The farmer became poorer and the village artisians were left without any economic activity, and thus the villagers started migrating to newly developing urban industrial centres for earning a living. The villages became symbols of backwardness and cities became symbols of progress.
British Policies: Textile, Trade, Geology and Mining
How the Britishers destroyed textile industry in India is a well-known fact. The cotton and silk fabrics manufactured in Bengal were levied heavy duties in U.K., while the British manufactured fabric was levied no duty in India. Inflow of British-made fabrics virtually ruined the Bengal cotton industry. It was highly discriminatory to the trade of Indian merchants and a petition of Indian traders was filed in the Privy Council in 1831 against this discrimination. There was no area, one could conceive, that escaped the imagination of the British rulers and which they did not use for the benefit of England at the cost of India. Even mining and geology were yoked to this purpose. I quote Andrew Grout :
“However by 1799 the Company was forced to change its policy in respect of copper as production from British mines began to decline and the home demand for copper increased, leading to the prohibition of copper exports in 1799. Although exports were later reinstated the price of copper remained high through the early 1800s, and as a result exports to India fell from 1,500 tons during the early 1790s to less than 400 tons by 1803. Thus we find Benjamin Heyne, surgeon and natural historian on the Madras establishment, reporting in 1801 `…..that times have altered, as the great demand of copper and probably. the decrease of this product in the mines of Cornwall have rendered discoveries of this metal (in India) as desirable as in periods of superfluity they would have been thought detrimental to the interests of Great Britain.”
Andrew Grout in his article `Geology and India: 1775-1805 : An Episode in Colonial Science’, South Asia Research, Vo1.10, No. 1, May, 1990, p. 5.
Even the most benign public health system was also not spared by the Britishers. Mark Harrison writes :
” The evangelical impulse, then, had not died with the Mutiny. Though shaken by the events of 1857-58, the mission to civilize’ Indian society underwent something of a renaissance in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The reformers found a new arena in which to engage the forces of `ignorance’ ; public health appeared to be one of the few remaining channels through which western values still might be introduced. It seemed possible that, even if it was not swayed by the humanitarian argument for reform, the colonial government might be persuaded that more vigorous public health policy was in its own interest.”
Mark Harrison in his article `Towards a Sanitary Utopia ? Professional Visions and Public Health in India, 1880-1914, in South Asia Research, Vol. 10, No. 1, May, 1990, p. 19.
The educated Indian was getting convinced that his religion proved an insurmountable obstacle in his progress; he knew very little of what the condition in England was at that very time and a few centuries earlier. He unquestioningly believed in the false propaganda of the missionaries that Sanskrit was not taught to non-Brahmins by Brahmins in order to retain their monopoly and privileges by imparting Sanskrit education to Brahmins alone ! He never realized that imparting knowledge in India was not necessarily through schools but it was done by hereditary vocational/occupati onal system- from father to son in their respective vocation/occupation at home. What Max Muller could conceive about Indian education in 1882, is unfortunately not appreciated by many Indian historians, who are ready to jump to conclusions that Brahmins prevented lower castes’ from getting educated. But few care to read Max Muller’s observations :
“There is such a thing as social education and education outside of books; and this education is distinctly higher in India than in any part of Christendom. Through recitation of ancient stories and legends, through religious songs and passion plays, shows and pageants, through ceremonials and sacraments, through fairs and pilgrimages, the Hindu masses all over India receive a general culture and education which are in no way lower, but positively higher, than the general level of culture and education received through schools and newspapers, or even through the ministration of the Churches in Western Christian lands. It is an education, not in the so called three R’s, but in humanity.”
The English educated Indian little knew that the village economy did support and protect all vocations/occupatio ns, and not only Brahmins to the exclusion of other lower classes. He knew nothing about Henry VIII and his Statute which had prevented the reading of the English version of the Bible in Churches in preference to Latin version and even restricting its listening in English only to nobility and higher echelons of the society. The Statute (1542-43) ordained violation with serious consequences:
“….. The Bible shall not be read in English in any Church. No women or artificers, prentices, journeymen, servingmen of the degree of yeomen or under husbandsmen, nor labourers, shall read the New Testament in English. Nothing shall be taught or maintained contrary to the King’s instructions. And if any spiritual preach, teach, or maintain any thing contrary to the King’s instructions or determinations, made of ‘to be made, and shall be thereof convict, he shall for his first offence recant, `for his second abjure and bear a fagot, and for his third shall be adjudged an heretick, and be burned and lose all his goods and chattels.” . A.E. Dobbs, Education & Social Movement, 1700-1850, London, 1919, p. 105, quoting 34 and 35 Henry VIII.C.I.
During the same period, the expectations about education for a common man in England was -.
“….. a ploughman’s son will go to the plough, artificer’s son to apply the trade of his parents’ vocation; and the gentlemen’s children are meet to have the knowledge of Government and rule in the commonwealth. For we have as much need of ploughman as any other state; and all sorts of men may not go to school. ” (Emphasis ours)
– A.E.Dobbs, op.cit, p.. 104, p. 104, £n. 3 quoting Strype, Cramer, i.127.
Even up to the end of the l8th century, there were mote Sunday schools than Day schools in England and expection of education was limited to ‘that every child should be able to read the Bible’ as noted by Dobbs (op.cit, p. 139). The famous “Peel’s Act of 1802″ gave momentum to the day school movement. As a result the total number of schools in England both private and public, which in 1801 were about 3,363, rose to 46,000 in 1851. As against this situation in England, the reports of (a) Adam, a Christian missionary, who prepared a report on indigenous education in Bengal and Bihar (1835-38), (b) Reports prepared by British officers on indigenous education in Bombay Presidency (Iß20); (c) Extracts from Reports of British officers on indigenous education in Madras Presidency (1822-25), and (d) a much later work of G.W. Leitner on indigenous education in the Punjab (around 1880) confirm existence of adequate number of indigenous schools to meet the needs of the locality, in which not only Brahmins but students of all castes had their education. According to William Adam, there existed about one lac village schools in Bengal and Bihar. Thomas Munroe from Madras Presidency writes,”Every village had a school.” Around 1820, G.L. Prendergast from Bombay wrote “….. there is hardly a village, great or small, throughout our territory, in which there is not at least one school, and in largest villages more.” None of them talks of atrocities committed by Brahmins on lower castes ot discrimination on grounds of caste or of hegemony of Brahmins over education, or denial of education to lower classes and castes, They accepted the fact that there was certainly a higher percentage of Brahmins in schooLs, but not at the cost of denial of education to lower castes or classes.
The Industrial Revolution which was taking shape in Europe had absolutely no connection with Christianity as is made out by some. As a matter of fact, Christianity opposed science : Copernicus, Galileo and Bruno had to suffer because they did not accept the `Doctrine of Papacy’ and the `Gospel’ but expounded their own theories. However, the missionaries shrewdly juxtaposed Christianity and English education with the Industrial Revolution and science in Europe while educating Indians in India. The English educated Indians, who were becoming social reformers, not realizing the reality that Christianity had also equal or many more drawbacks and which had least contributed to the progress of science and technology, became gullible victims of the missionary propaganda. These new Indian reformists started equating drawbacks in the Hindu religion as obstacles in their scientific and technological progress. They also did not bother to know the contemporary status of education in England or in the West and whether the lower class of the society and weaker sections had easy access to quality education, which the nobility alone enjoyed as a special privilege. Refusal of the use of English against Latin in Church to the common man and burning of women by branding them as witches was never a part of information made available to Indians. The Biblical exhortation “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus, 22.18) was carried out with the fullest religious zeal, frenzy and fanaticism and Joan of Arc was burned as a witch and in 1484, Pope Innocent VIII, the most pious man (!) in the whole of Christendom, issued a Bull against witches and in the three centuries following it, i.e., the l6th, the l7th and the l8th, nearly three to twenty lacs of women were executed branding them as witches as reported by Encyclopaedia Americana, Vol. 29 (1984), p. 84. The English educated Indians cared little to know the inhuman atrocities committed by Christian missionaries in Goa and Kerala in the name of Inquisition. The English educated Indian did hardly know about the Crusades in Europe or about the empire of the Pope and his dabbling into political affairs of England and other countries of Europe.
Lesson To Be Learnt
Any study of history without studying the motives of these scholars, who were at the helm of affairs – be it education, law, administration or commerce, will be incomplete. Appreciation of their hard work, sincerity, devotion, conviction etc., should not in any way camouflage the truth while analysing the end results of their effects on India and Indian society. Decorating of poison does not qualify it for its consumption even by the thirstiest or the hungriest person to quench his thirst or hunger.
Did India need an education totally alien to its needs ? Was there no system of law existing in the country and the English were forced to design a new code of law ? Were the Indian land tenure and administrative systems of village governance inadequate for self support and self sufficiency ? These question do need an answer.
India is free for the last 45 years. We are in utter shambles. Our economy is doomed. Our education system has failed to culture the citizens of this country and it has only one function left- employing teachers for producing unemployed youths whose sole aim is to hunt for jobs. Socially we have become unsafe and our common man is facing loot, murder and dacoity as everyday features and our past two Prime Ministers fell victims to bullets and bomb blast. Politically we have been ruled as a democracy by elected representatives, many of whom may put to shame the anti-social elements. Our State is secular where every religion feels insecure. We have reduced a civilized country to a power-hungry, greedy, intolerant, short-sighted, confused, diffident, docile nation. Can we not change this picture and convert these very individuals into confident, creative, enthusiastic, foresighted, tolerant, contented, cultured individuals ? This is possible only if we possess an honest desire for our self-criticism and introspection and also have a strong desire to find out the true culprits for our misery. We got our freedom on August 15, 1947. Did our leaders at that time bring. in any radical changes i~ education, revenue, trade, foreign policy, law etc., which were shaped to suit the British ideals and interests as conquerors ? I am afraid, the leadership at that time. being a product of British education and admirers. of the .British, was overawed. by socialism, especially the type as practised in ‘the U.S.S.R., and could hardly think of giving a turn to several policies in their enthusiasm to occupy ministerial and other posts in Independent India ! Such a neglect on the part of our leaders, gave impetus to missionary activities aided by huge foreign funds and an urge to imitate West – all these factors have led us to the present-day miserable situation. Moreover, the advocates of Marxism and socialism – of various denominations, got all kinds of protection under a very sympathetic umbrella of such leadership. What the British and the missionaries could not achieve within 150 years of ruthless and tyrannical rule, was achieved in the post-independence period of five decades by our biased historians, politicians, sociologists and the ever enthusiastic media. The recent changes in the U.S.S.R., and other socialist countries in the West are not only relevant and educative to us but prove an eye-opener to us. What socialism did to religion, history and culture of the Russian people, and after 70 years what they feel about it, is highly significant. What unscrupulous methods were adopted, practised and advocated by these socialists as, enunciated by no less a leader than Lenin in achieving the goal of socialism may surprise many : On this point [ processes of social reality] Lenin wrote that ….nothing can be done without the masses. And in this era of printing and parliamentarism it is impossible to gain the following of the masses without a widely ramified, systematically managed, well-equipped system of flattery, lies, fraud, juggling with fashionable and popular catchwords, and promising all manner of reforms and blessings to the workers right and left- as long as they renounce the revolutionary single for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. ” – Quoted by Y. Sogomonov P. Landesman, in ‘ Nihilism Today’ published by Progress Publishers, Moscow (1977), pp. 18-19. The original work is translated from Russian into English by David Skvirsky. It is the same methods the followers of Marx and Lenin have adopted in India during the last 40 years. Rationalist movement has truly nothing to do with rationality in life, but is a movement to spread atheism and anti-religionism. Anti-superstitious drive has little relationship to exposing pseudo-godman and protecting a believer from him. Instead it is geared up to uproot faith in God, branding faith itself as superstition. Women’s Lib. movement has truely nothing to do with development of woman’s personality but has resulted in anti-male, anti-family and self-centred feministic movement. The so-called scientific temperament and scientific movement has nothing to do with betterment and improving quality of life but is a propaganda of consumerism and dogmatic scienticism. All these movements were nourished and had a luxuriant growth infiltrating every strata of our thinking. Even the so-called rightists or pro-Hindu political parties have failed to understand the motives of all such movements. What else can be the tragedy? Instead of giving an intellectual fight against these movements, and exposing the fallacies in their logic, they prefer to jump on to the bandwagon of socialism itself? I have tried to explain how prior to Independence, from education, justice, village economy, land, revenue, and for that matter all aspects of human life were engineered by the British to suit the needs and aspirations of the British empire. How they created a system of education which in turn created an English educated Indian, who headed the reformist movement, we have seen. We have also seen how the idea of socialism, specially after Independence, continued to distort Indian history and has ultimately brought us to social, economic and political disaster.
Lastly, we have to think why Hindu culture and civilization could survive for thousands of years when other cultures and civilizations have formed part of history. This is only because Hindu dharma is not a religion confined to one book and one prophet. It neither depends for its protection on any individual sect or nation. Neither it vows to protect any sect or nation. The principles of Hindu dharma are not different in any way from human experiences. These principles are eternal.
The problem is that the Hindu dharma can never be effaced. It is we who may get effaced, if we do not take shelter under these eternal principles for our own protection and identity. And for the same identity and protection we have to see that our history and our values are not distorted