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Monday, November 8, 2021

Macaulayism

 

Ya I went through the list was busy with some work only at 6.30 sat down half an hour ago to address this issue. Tomorrow being the 31st July 2021 I have written 31 points for you to go through.

 

1. Macaulay is said to be responsible for the education system we have. Yes the list you have shared is fairly true but there are certain exaggerations and untruths [for lack of proof] perhaps done in over enthusiasm.

 

2. Coming to why The Indian Gurukula system or The famed Greek system did not or could not survive?

Where, why and how they gave room to formal schooling based [mere] fundamental literacy imparting education system.

3. In fact for all practical purposes in present day Macaulayan system is one of the best ladders for social advancement and global acceptance or penetration.

 

It is this ability and willingness of many Indians to not only adopt but to master the Macaulayan system that we were a preferred destination for the IT outsourcing industry rather than China. Incidentally, yesterday 9 out of the 11 top contestants for spelling Bee competition in USA are of Indian origin.

 

4. Just a brief history into the roots of the modern education system that is prevailing. One important aspect of well-known intention of  formal mass schooling was as Sugata Mitra said in a TED talk, ‘ The British set out to create a big computer with which to operate their far-flung possessions, an administrative machine made of interchangeable parts, each of which happened to be human. In order to turn out those parts, they needed another machine, an educational one, which would reliably produce people who could read quickly, write legibly, and do all additions, subtractions, multiplications in their head’. He adds, “They must be so identical  that you can pick one up from New Zealand and ship him to Canada and he would be instantly functional”.

 

5. According to “economic historian Stephen Davies modern form of school started in 1806 in Prussia after the defeat at the hands of Napoleon. There was teaching by year group rather than ability, which made sense if the aim was to produce military recruits rather than rounded citizens. Obedience and courage were emphasized. Set school day with ringing of bells with predetermined syllabus rather than open ended learning. Children sat at rows of desks in front of standing teachers unlike walking around together as in ancient Greek or living with the Guru as in ancient Bharathiya Gurukulams.

 

6. One can read Wikipedia entry on  Horace Mann considered as one the founding fathers of American Public education. He visited Prussia in 1843 and adopted the system in 1852. “ Instilling values such as obedience, to authority, promptness in attendance, and organizing the time according to bell ringing helped students to prepare for future employment’. “The purpose was not to raise standards but to turn unruly children into disciplined citizens”.

7. In the book Rebirth of Education Lant Pritchett quotes frank admission by a 19th century Japanese education minister : ‘ In administration of all schools, it must be kept in mind, what is to be done is not for the sake of the pupil, but for the sake of the country’.

 

8. Let me start the long winding preamble with multiple diversions all generic but will touch upon critical or vital or sensitive aspects of this whole Macualay versus Gurukula system.

Need a small preamble before we debate on this and lot of diversion in that preamble to broaden our perspective because the greatness of Sanathana Dharma is that it is not governed by adherence exclusively to specific rules, to specific concepts, specific practices, specific philosophies, specific ideologies and so on. On the contrary it wide open to adopt and to evolve with certain inherent values one of which constant seeking and looking for whatever enhances the tool to live and enlightens living. It is in short a way of life and art of living.

 

9. Whether we like it or not, in modern times, what has been made to be accepted as authentic need to have any or some or all of the following in existence listed below or cooked up and effectively pushed through reputed institutions or writers. 

 

A] Documented authenticity 

B] Archaeological evidence

C] Historical records 

D] Literary references in any language

E] If it pertains to science or technology, then probable through experiments.

 

I think these are fair enough to ensure to avoid imaginary claims and counter claims. 

 

10. Whatever has had any impact or immense value or importance at any point of time in any field in any place never gets erased as they leave their footprints somehow.

 

11. In fact most of the ancient philosophy we have got only through those means because our ancestors never felt the need for documentation as they felt no need for anyone to approve or endorse their works.

 

12. Many research works have unearthed most of the treasures of our ancient times in arts, science, literature etc.

 

13. Coming to Macaulay, if you look at it without any bias, its unintended consequence has been a greater boon which may far outweigh the temporary loss of certain aspects of culture.

 

14. His imposition of language has made our great and vast treasury of knowledge accessible to the whole world.

 

15. It has given an edge for Indians globally in science, commerce, economics, trade, finance and many other fields.

 

16. Rather we have adopted it so well not only to our advantage but to put across our strengths and hitherto hidden treasures in an idiom that the West would understand.

 

17.  It is indeed a privilege to belong to a rich heritage of culture, philosophy, scientific temper, social mores, and spiritual insights and so on. No doubt we have pride of ancestry and hope for the future.

 

18. But at the same time we must also accept and acknowledge why? What? Who?  Led us away from, not down from, such rich heritage? We also need to look at practically what we must do now, to gradually and diplomatically, not only resurrect our past glory but also revive the areas in which the modern civilization needs to march ahead for a bright future.

 

19. We must also question ourselves how much of? Or what part of our past glory that we are proud of and are willing to identify ourselves with, without disturbing our present life too much? We have too many great observations, citations singing the glory and greatness of India along with a crowd, and another one more vocal and visible, which gets more recognition as well, which is keener on projecting certain ugly aspects for particular audiences.

 

20. We are looked down as a nation which can be easily led by emotional maneuvering and manipulations, euphemistically implying no one need to bother about the mental capacity and identity of the nation.

 

This is because we very often resort to uncritical love as when we deify some film stars, politicians and make too many god men out of orators, scholarly interpreters of our scriptures, heads of our mutts or resort to unloving criticism when we blame everything on some outside force, as if out of xenophobia.

 

I have read and reviewed wonderful books by many. Especially on this topic the books BECOMING INDIAN and BEING INDIAN by PAVAN K. VARMA for frugal readers.

 

No one has blamed the British cultural and linguistic intrusion along with the portrayal of our proud heritage more lucidly than him.

 

21. Having said that, how many of us can touch our heart and say that whole edifice created by the Macaulay has been destructive, has not contributed to our small growth story and it has been only negative ?. Certainly not, every event, especially if it had any great impact, which cannot be denied or ignored, must have taken place to either make us undergo a specific experience or benefit.

 

22. So, in that way Macaulay's system too had its hidden, rather I would say immense benefit for so many generations of Indians. I am not saying his system is better or correct or more appropriate for a nation like India. We cannot either deny or do away with the fact that his system did penetrate and prevailed which probably gave employment to millions of Indians then as clerks* now as software professionals; it has enabled the great Indian talent to be shared by the whole world. I would like to look at the positive contribution of Macaulay. I am not evaluating it in comparison with the negative impacts it may have or has had.

 

23. However, what Macaulay failed to pen down, of course he could not have, is a great trait, we as a nation and a group of individuals practicing a particular way of life, called Sanathana Dharma or Hinduism, have, namely, the willingness to imbibe and include anything that leads to more sober and sophistic march in socio cultural evolution and in addition we excel in what we have imbibed or included.

 

Be it the concept of vegetarianism, be it ahimsa, be it forgiveness, be it changing our attire and hair styles, be it changing our political systems, be it a foreign language, be it another culture, be it a sport like cricket etc.

 

That’s why our leaders are able to proudly declare that people from many nations may be in USA but Indians are in several nations. It is our adaptability and ability to excel in what we have adapted.

 

24. Real richness of our heritage, our cultures, our traditions, our languages need to be pursued, perpetuated and practiced but we need not suffer from paranoid reactions that they can be destroyed by some years of occupation by rulers of different cultures, religions, languages etc.

 

25. India has world’s greatest number of people speaking English combining native and non-native people who speak or understand English than any other country in the world.

 

None of these facts have either destroyed our religion or have destroyed our languages.

 

26. In fact for your info I shall share with a group of highly focused individuals who are working on resurrecting lakhs of hitherto not known or not much publicized works they have already collected more than a lakh of such manuscripts, literature, evidences and are documenting them .

 

27. We are perhaps one of the most advanced race to really live with a universal spirit, liberal mind [liberal enough to include atheism as part of its religion] and global socio cultural adaptability.

 

So let us also look positively what and how Macaulay’s system contributed.

 

The incidental benefits that this single individual’s [Macaulay’s] dictate imparted to people, who were practicing Sanathan Dharma, and to the rest of the world far outweighs the smaller changes in life styles and traditions that it may have caused as a collateral damage”.

 

 28.  We need to look at a Brief journey of civilization.

 

In very simplistic terms the earliest known periods of civilization human beings had less communication, less information, less knowledge, more brutality, more animalistic life style like cannibalism and a series of  wars with little to care about the requirements of resources for usage and survival; it was followed by greedy instinct to have and to possess more resources and areas leading to too many silly wars; followed by collective emotional entertainments leading to many traditional and cultural art forms; followed by urge to communicate leading to reduction in number of languages so that more people could be communicated to and that’s why while everything else in nature and society proliferated in number, languages alone kept reducing in number from several thousands to a few hundreds and even out of these few hundred only some 20 plus are in great use now ; then civilization was pulled  by fear or curiosity to know the unknown aspects of life leading to creation of many belief systems, faiths, religions and rituals; followed by parleys into experimenting with different social systems/political systems to live together with justifiable contribution to and to share from/of  the resources; followed by scientific discoveries to enhance understanding and help living comfortably and to lead a life away from and besides the clutches of religions and traditions; followed by the recent centuries of dominance based on initially economic and commercial prosperity which are treated as the religions of present age and to achieve this by various means at national levels through discoveries of more resources and raw materials useful for human life, through real industrialization, improved and increased agricultural production or through dominance by military power trying to loot readymade where these things are available and at  individual level trying to equip oneself in the best possible manner to decently survive in this rat race of achieving economic and commercial prosperity. This is of course definitely the only one aspect of life but a very vital aspect of social living at present.

 

The march of civilization through all these various stages have produced in its stride many collateral damages and incidental benefits as well as thrown up excellent exponents in various domains of life.

 

 

29. One of the collateral damage of the predominant factor of present age, namely economic and commercial prosperity, is very stressful and cut throat competition in all walks of life and therefore comparison which cannot be wished away. Though we can always choose not to be affected and/or influenced by it or try our best and vie with the rest to become the best. Choice is always ours.

 

30. The Western civilization by its very nature has always psychologically pursued and socially enforced homogenization. That has been their modus operandi. It has worked for them to their advantage in certain areas and caused misery for the rest in certain areas. They have struck to that without realizing that nature is a manifestation variety with an underlying unity and this is one of the main reason why peace and harmony are eluding human society.

 

 

Let us touch our hearts and without any prejudice, populism pandering preaching plainly acknowledge the benefits we have reaped through Macaulay’s system, the English tongue etc.

 

31. The benefits that this single individual’s [Macaulay’s] dictate imparted to people, who were practicing Sanathan Dharma, and to the rest of the world far outweighs the smaller changes in life styles and traditions that it may have caused as a collateral damage.

 

I shall elucidate just a few examples of these benefits confining myself to the Indian and Sanathan Dharmic arena.

 

All the tall leaders who were part of freedom struggle could negotiate/interact with the colonial rulers were those who became very proficient in the Macaulayan system of education starting from Mahatma Gandhiji who inspired many top leaders in the world, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar- a stalwart and a man of great erudition to Chakravarthi Rajaji to Dr.S.Radhakrishnan etc.

 

 

All knowledge of the intrinsically important aspects of Sanathan Dharma, namely the concepts and philosophical and scientific inquiries into life and cosmos were brought in the arena of the outer world [beyond the confines of particular groups and a few selected monks] through great Swami Vivekananda a person who was a great master of Macaulayan system.