Reinventing Lord Macaulay
By Chandrabhan Prasad
27 October, 2004
Big-Mac, with potato instead, is there to stay. Let us prepare ourselves,
lest Middle Kingdom steal all the splendor. To begin with, toss the
ros-gullas in the Bay of that Bengal. Let seeds of renaissance sprout.
Let us clear all the hurdles. Let us battle with the self, and win over
as well. Let us unlearn all we were taught so far. Let us break free
from the falsehood we are condemned in trust. Let us take a chance,
and relish truthfulness. Let refreshing winds of reason excavate our
degenerated, malodorous existence. We are born as false people, with
false indices of reasoning, with false languages, false spirituality,
with false histories. Our consciousness too, therefore, is false. We
are victims of civilisational faults, as we missed, by civilisational
disgrace, any standard of ethics, morality, and hence, we are historically
programmed in living with falsehood. Worse still, we, as a civilization,
find it almost pathologically, constrained to live as honest people.
Our intellectual insolvency, therefore, is civilisational.
challenge before all of us, therefore, is as how to create conditions
where we can turn intellectually honest, and still, exist. This one
challenge once clinched, it can unleash a renaissance in India where
ethics, morality, and reason can gain a germinating ground. In this
new age where Patparganj is in a real danger of getting drowned, our
'self' ought to be given a jerk. And the jerk can be caused, like sex
the first time in life, by speaking the most fundamental truth hitherto
This October 25
provides us that historic opportunity, where we can in a reasonably
discreet manner, turn honest for few hours. The sure blissfulness in
those few hours, may reprogramme our "Self" wherein, intellectual
honesty can be a welcome interlude, deleting the space the falsehood
has occupied for ages.
Isn't India 'modern'
in some spheres, only if in the personality of "modernity"
is defined by "Independence", "Rule of Law", "Sciences",
and English as a language in place of Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian!
The Parliament owes its birth to the basic principle of modern system
of governance, i.e. "Rule of Law", with attendant feature
of the doctrine of "Every one Equal before Law". The independence
from the foreign rule is one fundamental legacy, one fundamental struggle,
we all cherish.
India, on its own,
never had, in at least our known history, the notion of the "Independence
from foreign Rule", "Rule of Law", or " Every one
Equal before Law". The India's indigenous system of education never
dealt with sciences, the sciences that we possess today. It would probably
never have been possible to understand modern sciences in Sanskrit,
Arabic or Persian.
Who conceived the
first sperm of India's independence? Consider the following: "It
would be, on the most selfish view of the case, far better for us that
the people of India were well governed and independent of us, than ill
governed and subject to us; that they were ruled by their own kings,
but wearing our broadcloth, and working with our cutlery, than that
they were performing their salams to English collectors and English
magistrates, but were too ignorant to value, or too poor to buy, English
manufactures. To trade with civilized men is infinitely more profitable
than to govern savages. That would, indeed, be a doting wisdom, which,
in order that India might remain a dependency, would make it an useless
and costly dependency, which would keep a hundred millions of men from
being our customers in order that they might continue to be our slaves".
July 10, 1833 [25 years before India officially became a British Colony]
Further; [July 10,
1833] "The laws which regulate its growth and its decay are still
unknown to us. It may be that the public mind of India may expand under
our system till it has outgrown that system; that by good government
we may educate our subjects into a capacity for better government; that,
having become instructed in European knowledge, they may, in some future
age, demand European institutions. Whether such a day will ever come
I know not. But never will I attempt to avert or to retard it. Whenever
it comes, it will be the proudest day in English history".
On the question
of "Equality before Law": On July 10, 1833... "The power
of arbitrary deportation is withdrawn. Unless, therefore, we mean to
leave the natives exposed to the tyranny and insolence of every profligate
adventurer who may visit the East, we must place the European under
the same power which legislates for the Hindoo. No man loves political
freedom more than I. But a privilege enjoyed by a few individuals, in
the midst of a vast population who do not enjoy it, ought not to be
called freedom. It is tyranny. In the West Indies I have not the least
doubt that the existence of the Trial by Jury and of Legislative Assemblies
has tended to make the condition of the slaves worse than it would otherwise
"Or, to go
to India itself for an instance, though I fully believe that a mild
penal code is better than a severe penal code, the worst of all systems
was surely that of having a mild code for the Brahmins, who sprang from
the head of the Creator, while there was a severe code for the Sudras,
who sprang from his feet. India has suffered enough already from the
distinction of castes, and from the deeply rooted prejudices which that
distinction has engendered. God forbid that we should inflict on her
the curse of a new caste, that we should send her a new breed of Brahmins,
authorised to treat all the native population as Parias"! Should
Native Indians Hold High Offices...? July 10, 1833 "We are told
that the time can never come when the natives of India can be admitted
to high civil and military office. We are told that this is the condition
on which we hold our power. We are told that we are bound to confer
on our subjects every benefit--which they are capable of enjoying?--No;--which
it is in our power to confer on them?--No;--but which we can confer
on them without hazard to the perpetuity of our own domination. Against
that proposition I solemnly protest as inconsistent alike with sound
policy and sound morality". On Equality... "I allude to that
wise, that benevolent, that noble clause which enacts that no native
of our Indian empire shall, by reason of his colour, his descent, or
his religion, be incapable of holding office".
The above quotes
are from Lord Macaulay's Speech in the British House of Commons. The
House was debating the Bill, which was enacted as The Charter Act 1833,
or, The Government of India Act 1833, which sought for the establishment
of a Law Commission for consolidation and codification of Indian Laws.
Lord Macaulay eventually became President of India's First Law Commission,
and drafted the IPC. While submitting the draft of the IPC, Lord Macaulay
maintains in his covering letter; "It is an evil that any man should
be above the law, that it is still a greater evil that the public mind
should be taught to regard as a high and venerable distinction the privilege
of being above the law". Our Lies about Macaulay: Was Macaulay
attempting to create 'Intellectual slaves' for the British Empire? Yes,
if we just read the following: "We must at present do our best
to form a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English
in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect". We, in a most
mischievous manner, present the above quote, twisted, taken out of context,
and thus, present Lord Macaulay as a villain. No, if we read the full
paragraph as originally available in his February 1835 "Minutes"
on Indian education. "It is impossible for us, with our limited
means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present
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, in morals, and in intellect. To that
class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country,
to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western
nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying
knowledge to the great mass of the population. " Our Caste-Hindu
Racism at work: We practice our Caste-Hindu racism against Macaulay
by using his following quotes taken from his "Minutes": "A
single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature
of India and Arabia. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say, that
all the historical information which has been collected from all the
books written may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory
schools in England".
Consider the Macaulay's
Rationalism! This is what he says about England in the same "Minutes":
"The first instance to which I refer, is the great revival of letters
among the Western nations at the close of the fifteenth and the beginning
of the sixteenth century. At that time almost everything that was worth
reading was contained in the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Had our ancestors acted as the Committee of Public Instruction has hitherto
acted; had they neglected the language of Cicero and Tacitus; had they
confined their attention to the old dialects of our own island; had
they printed nothing and taught nothing at the universities but Chronicles
in Anglo-Saxon, and Romances in Norman-French, would England have been
what she now is? What the Greek and Latin were to the contemporaries
of More and Ascham, our tongue is to the people of India".
Macaulay held similar
view about India and England. He wanted change and modernity. Isn't
he, then, a finest rationalist of his time, nay all time? Aren't we
Was Lord Macaulay
wrong when he argued the following in his "Minute": "I
would at once stop the printing of Arabic and Sanscrit books, I would
abolish the Madrassa and the Sanscrit college at Calcutta". What
would have been India's fate, had Lord Macaulay been defeated?
In 1813, the British
parliament made it mandatory that the East India Company spend at least
Rs. One Lakh annually on the education of native Indians. The British
officials were divided in two camps: One the powerful Orientalists,
who wanted the indigenous system of education to continue, with Sanskrit,
Arabic and Persian as media of instruction. The Anglicist camp, led
by Lord Macaulay, argued for the European kind of modern education,
with focus on modern sciences. Macaulay won, and the British-type of
modern educational system was introduced in India.
What if the indigenous
education continued, with Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian as media of instruction?
Well, to most Indians,
it may be a matter of conjecture. To some of us, India would have been
most probably like Afghanistan, or at best, the present day Nepal, where
few Indians would have been doing "Bahadur-griri" in Europe
or America, and not as IT professionals in Silicon valley.
Come on my scholar
friends, wake up and arise. Time has come to shed shamelessness, and
set into a reasonably virtuous mode. Remember, Lord Macaulay was India's
earliest Gandhi, if GandhiJi epitomized freedom movement as it was he
who conceived independent India when Gandhi was not even born. The Lord
Macaulay, one of the greatest mind born in the past millenium, was the
latest Jawaharlal Nehru, if Nehru epitomized modernity.
The greatest celestial
spirit for India, code named Thomas Babington Macaulay, was born on
October 25, 1800. We must be enlightened enough to take his anti-Hindu,
anti-Caste views, in correct spirit. Let us celebrate the birth anniversary
of one of the greatest philosophers this planet has produced, not for
the Lord, but for the India shinning. There is a shinning India, in
words of my scholar colleague, D Shyam Babu, "India is NOT Shining,
but the British India is Indeed Shining".
is a columnist in The Pioneer and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org