INTRODUCTION TO CHARTER ACT OF 1813

 

UNIT STRUCTURE

1. Learning Objectives
2. Introduction
3. Charter Act of 1813

1. Controversies between Anglicist and Classicist
2. Macaulay’s Minute.
3. Bentinck’s Educational Policy
4. Let Us Sum Up
5. Further Readings
6. Answers to Check Your Progress
7. Possible Questions
8. References

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

 
After going through this unit, you will be able to:
Identify the significance of the Charter Act of 1813.
Explain the controversies between Anglicist and Classicist
Describe the resolution of Macaulay’s Minute.

INTRODUCTION


Although, before 1813, Missionaries and various religious groups had brought some basic education non-officially to the Indian masses but it was through the Charter Act that a state system of education was officially introduced in Indian history. In this unit, we are going to discuss and identify the significance of the Charter Act and Macaulay’s Minute during the British period in India.
 

CHARTER ACT OF 1813


In the 18th century, it was the Christian missionaries from whom the Indian masses basically received religious education pertaining to Christianity. But when the East India Company came to India they did not allow the missionaries for the propagation of the religious education to the common people in India. Because they felt that the education from the missionaries would encourage the religious sentiments among the people in India that could affecte the business policy and the diplomatic role of the East India Company. Therefore, from 1793 to 1813 the company did not permit the missionaries to work for the Indian people. Thus, it created an agitation against the East India Company that the Company was opposed to the teachings of Christ and neglected to provide education for the Indians. Interestingly, the agitation was supported by many in England and ultimately made a conclusion by introducing an education clause which is known as Charter Act of 1813. Hence, this Act ultimately made a State system of Education in India.

In this clause, the basic statement or condition of the British Government was : “It shall be lawful for the Governor-General-in-Council to direct that out of any surplus which may remain of the rents, revenues, and profits arising from the said territorial acquisition, after defraying the expenses of the military, civil and commercial establishments and paying the interest of the debt in manner hereinafter provided, a sum of not less than one lac of rupees each year shall be set apart for the revival and improvement of literature and encouragement of the learned natives of India, and for the introduction and promotion of a knowledge of the science among the inhabitants of the British territories in India.” Thus, it was the clause in which the first time in the Indian soil; official money of rupees one lac was allotted to expand the education of the Indians. This clause of the Charter Act of 1813 compelled the East India Company to accept responsibility for the education of the Indian people. As a result, from 1813 to 1857, the company opened many schools and colleges under their control which laid the foundation of the English system of education in India.



  • CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


    1. Say true or false:

    a) Charter Act is the first act of Indian education system.
    b) The Charter Act was formed in the year 1813.
    c) Macaulay’s Minute proposed to spend the funds for the improvement of oriental literature.
    d )Before East India Company, Missionaries played a strong role for the propagation of Christianity.
    e) The Charter Act of 1813 could not compel East India Company to take responsibility for the education of the Indian masses.




Controversies between Anglicist and Classicists


Although it was the first act through which the education system was formally laid down in India, yet it had created a controversy between the anglicist and classicist on the medium of instruction. Also the Charter Act of 1813 did not clarify the objectives of education and the methods for improvement of literature of the learned natives in India. The Charter Act had given stress on allotting the one lakhs rupees only; no specific regulations were granted for establishing the schools and colleges in India. The controversy arose mainly for the following reasons:
Aims: Regarding the aims of education during that time, groups of people had different opinions. One group preferred the propagation of oriental literature, whereas the other group stressed the need to introduce western literature among the Indian people.
In terms of agencies to be employed for organizing the schools and colleges, there were also some forms of conflicts and controversies. One school of thought opined that missionaries should be an agency for educational management while another group believed that it will be better if Indians themselves played the role for conducting the educational institutions. The third school of thought recommended the establishment of the schools by the company itself.
Regarding the medium of instruction there were also three opinions. The first opinion was that the western sciences and knowledge should be promoted through the classical lanquage as a medium of instruction, namely Sanskrit and Arabic. The second school of thought was favored to the modern Indian language and lastly the third school of thought held that education should be given through the medium of English.
Methods of education also created the controversy among the people of India. It was of two opinions regarding the methods. The first opinion was that education always filters down from the upper classes of the society to the common masses. It was known as ‘Downwards Filtration Theory’. The other opinion preferred that the company should themselves take the responsibility for educating the masses.
In 1823, the Governor-General-in Council appointed a “General Committee of Public Instruction”, which had the responsibility to grant the one lakh of rupees for education. That committee consisted of 10(ten) European members of which Lord Macaulay was the president. The committee decided to spend major portions from the grant for the improvement of oriental literature.

Interestingly, during that time, there was a rapid change in attitude towards the importance of English education, mainly due to the missionaries and the political influence of the English language. Therefore, for the Council of East India Company, the decision for granting the money faced a greater problem. The Court of Directors of the East India Company asked the Government of India to take the decision for spreading the education; however the Court of Director of the East India Company was in favour of English education. In this way, the controversy was going on for twelve years. Even, the General Committee of Public Instruction also was not able to decide the medium of instruction by vote; because out of ten members, five were supporters of English lanquage or Anglicist as the medium of instruction and the rest were supporters of oriental or classic lanquage or Classicists as a medium of instruction. This is the famous Anglicist and Classicists controversy. The Indian of the orientalists’ literature was not willing to accept European knowledge and science unless it was presented to them through the classical lanquages. Actually, the oriental party wanted to preserve the oriental learning from existing educational institutions while the other group of anglicist party wanted to abolish the preservation of the oriental education.



CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


2. In which year, the general Committee of Public Instruction was formed?
3. Who appointed the general Committee of Public Instruction was formed?
4. How many members are constituted by the Committee?
5. What are the main reasons for the controversy of anglicists and classicists?

Macaulay’s Minute


As a president of General Committee of Public Instruction, Lord Macaulay wrote a minute on 2nd February 1835, where he made the conclusion regarding the controversy. Lord Macaulay stressed the implementation of the English language as a medium of instruction through his minute. According to him, English was the best medium of instruction. He held that this would enable the emergence of a class of people in the Indian society, who would be well versed in English language, western ideology, taste and opinion. This class would serve as a medium of contact with the great mass of Indian people who were culturally different from the English. This class would also be the agents of change of the great Indian society.

By introducing the English lanuage for the education of the Indian masses, Macaulay’s opinion was that the public mind of India may expand under the English system and through the English language, it may educate the people into a capacity for better government. In the minute, Macaulay wrote, ”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 tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellects.” Thus, from this minute, Macaulay anglicized the education in India as a whole so as to get benefits in their business policy. Actually, the Government of the East India Company wanted to educate some great Indians for profits in their business through the Downward Filtration Theory. The downward filtration theory means that the education was provided to a small portion of the people, and through them, education was conveyed to the masses.

Hence, through this theory, the minute did partiality by giving education to some favourable persons as they liked to engage them in their business policy.

In his minute, Macaulay criticized the oriental learning as “a single shelf of good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabic”. Macaulay believed that English should be introduced because it is a language of the ruling class and also the familiarity has been gained by higher classes of Indians.

In fact, the contribution from Macaulay through his minute was appreciated as the torch bearer in the path of progress by some people of the higher classes in India and the Company. But Lord Macaulay was not free from some of the criticisms. Some people in India had blamed Lord Macaulay as Macaulay, took only the quick decision to promote the English language, not to be the torch bearer to create the desire for English education. Macaulay was also blamed by some Indians for his severe condemnation of oriental literature and religion.

Thus, in lieu of the British rule over India, Lord Macaulay’s Minute was accepted by Lord Bentinck, the Governor –General of India and passed the resolution to accept the English language as a medium of instruction for the Indian education system.




CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


6. What do you mean by downward filtration theory?
7. Mention two basic criticisms against Macaulay’s Minute.

 

 

Bentinck’s Educational Policy


Lord William Bentinck accepted Macaulay’s minute or opinions towards the lanquage of education for India on 7th March 1835. The orders or resolutions of Bentinck were:
 
“His Lordship-in-Council is of the opinion that the great object of the British Government ought to be the promotion of European literature and science among the natives of India; and that all the funds appropriated for the purpose of education would be best employed on English education alone.
But it is not the intention of His Lordship-in-Council to abolish any college or school of native learning, but no stipend shall be given to any student that may hereafter enter any of these institutions, and when any professor of oriental learning shall vacate his situation, the committee shall report to the Government the number and state of the class in order that the Government may be able to decide upon the expediency of appointing a successor.
It has come to the knowledge of the Governor-General in-Council that a large sum has been expanded by the committee on the printing of oriental works; his Lordship-in-Council directs that no portion of the funds shall hereafter be so employed.
His Lordship-in-Council directs that all the funds which these reforms will leave at the disposal of the committee be henceforth employed in imparting to the native population a knowledge of English literature and science through the medium of the English lanquage; and his Lordship-in-Council request the committee to submit to Government with all expedition, a plan for the accomplishment of this purpose.”

 
LET US KNOW
The Bentinck Policy made the resolution of Macaulay’s views on the stress of English language as a medium of instruction.
In the orders of Bentinck policy, the whole focus was given to invest all the expenditure of education in improvement of English literature and science only.
The resolution which was made by Bentinck, ordered to ban for investing any fund on the printing of oriental works.
One of the order of the resolution was that, a vacant post of any teacher in oriental learning would be filled only after the Government finds it expedient


Thus, these orders which are discussed in the above points were made the confirmation in implementing the English as a medium of instruction. As a result of the resolution; there were established Zilla schools in the Principal towns of the presidencies where literature and science were taught through the medium of English lanquage. The policy of Lord William Bentinck in the field of higher education made obstacle to invest any expenditure on vernacular teaching, as a result of this policy, in Government vernacular schools, the use of vernacular lanquage as a medium of instruction was prohibited.


CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


8. In which year the resolution on Macaulay minute was passed by the Governor General?

9. What are the main resolutions or orders of Bentinck policy?



 

LET US SUM UP


 
After the above discussion, the following are the basic ideas that can be noted bellow:
The Charter Act of 1813 made a State system of Education in India officially.
This clause of Charter Act of 1813 compelled the East India Company to accept responsibility for the education of the Indian people by granting one lac rupees.
Regarding the way of spending the money for education, there was a controversy between the anglicists and classicists in terms of aims of education, agencies of education, medium of instructions and methods.
As a president of General Committee of Public Instruction, Lord Macaulay’s wrote a minute on 2nd February 1835, where he gave the conclusion regarding the controversy.
Macaulay concluded the controversy by acquiring English lanquage as a medium of instruction through his minute.
By introducing the English lanuage for the education of the Indian masses, Macaulay opinion was that the public mind of India may expand under the English system and through the English language it may educate the people into a capacity for better government.
Macaulay developed the policy of Downward Filtration Theory and through it; he made bifurcation of partiality in giving education to the Indian masses.
Some people of higher classes in India and the East India Company appreciated Macaulay as the torch bearer in the path of progress
Lord Macaulay submitted his minute to the Governor- General in Council where Lord William Bentinck was the Governor General of that Council.
Lord William Bentinck passed the resolution of the Macaulay’s Minute on 7th of March 1813, where all the funds that were allotted for Indian education should be disbursed only in favour of English language.
   


FURTHER READINGS


  • Saikia, S. (1998): History of Education in India, Guwahati Manik Prakash Publications.
  • Singh, Y.K.(2005): History of Indian Education System, PHI
  • Ghosh, S.C. (2007) History of Education in India, Rawat Publications.


ANSWERS TO CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


 
After going through the discussion and explanation on this unit, the following are the basic ideas that we have found from this unit.
1.
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes
  • No.
2. In 1823, the General Committee of Public Instruction was formed.
3. The Governor-General-in Council appointed the General Committee of Public Instruction.
4. The General Committee of Public Instruction was constituted by ten members.
5.
Aims of education, agencies, medium of instruction and methods of education were the basic reasons for which the controversy between the anglicists and classicists took place.
6.
Macaulay developed the downward filtration theory. Downward filtration theory means the education was provided to a small portion of the people, and through them, education was conveyed to the masses.
7.
Macaulay was criticized basically on two grounds by some Indians as Macaulay took only the quick decision to promote the English language, not to be the torch bearer to create the desire for English education. Macaulay was also blamed by some Indians for putting severe condemnation on oriental literature and religion.
8. On 7th March 1835, the minute of Lord Macaulay was passed as a resolution by the Governor General.
9. The main resolutions of Bentinck policy are in the followings:

  • English to become the medium of instruction in Indian education.
  • A total ban in investment of any fund on printing of oriental works.
  • Investment of all the funds for education in the improvement of English literature and science only.
  • A vacant post of any teacher in oriental learning would be filled only after the Government finds it expedient

POSSIBLE QUESTIONS



 
  • How would you like to define the Charter Act of 1813 as a significant act of Indian education system?

  • What was the basic opinion of Macaulay’s Minute? How did Macaulay solve the anglicist and classicist controversy through his minute?

  • Macaulay was appreciated as ‘the torch bearer in the path of progress’, Explain within 50 words.

  • What were the basic resolutions of the Bentinck policy of 1835? Explain it briefly.

  • Explain briefly the impact of the Bentinck policy on the Indian education system.

REFERENCES


  • Ghosh, S.C. (2007) History of Education in India, Rawat Publications.
  • Saikia, S. (1998): History of Education in India, Guwahati Manik Prakash Publications.
  • Singh, Y.K.(2005): History of Indian Education System, PHI
  • Singh, V.N.(2005): Education in India, From Earlier Times to Today, Vista International Publishing House, New Delhi