Civility and Empire: Literature and Culture in British India, 1822-1922

By Anindyo Roy | Go to book overview

Notes

Introduction

1
This kind of reasoning is also reflected in the view, expressed in the Calcutta Review 90 (1893), that the newly educated class of Indians have “forgotten their ancestral craft but have not required any shame faced reluctance to assert their fitness for all and every form of occupation under Government that may fall vacant.” Correspondingly, nineteenth-century theories about heredity are deployed to explain the consequences of such change: educated Indians, it is argued, had “forsaken the paths of life to which they were born, and for which by heredity they were fated, and for which they have become a sort of non-descript community, describing themselves as enlightened” (p. 153). The Calcutta Magazine calls for the need to have a “counter-balancing power” (1883:70) to combat the effects of education on Indians.
2
The Indian reformer Raja Rammohan Roy and the English educationist William Hare pioneered English education in Bengal with the founding of the first regular English school in Calcutta in 1813. Meant for male students from noted Hindu families, the school-named Hindu College-was built with the aid of private funds and modeled after Western institutions of higher learning. The government's reluctance to allow missionaries to set up their own institutions of higher learning led to the founding of the first missionary college in the Dutch-controlled town of Serampore in Bengal in 1818. The controversy over the government's role in supervising education continued till the mid-century. Although trained as a missionary, Alexander Duff, another eminent educationist, opposed missionary efforts to introduce religious instruction, preferring that these institutions emphasize teaching rather than preaching. In 1833, the British government passed the India Act, urging the government in India to play a direct role in the establishment of public education, which led the latter, in 1835, to adopt the education scheme proposed by Lord Macaulay. The growing bureaucratization of education is reflected in the gradual increase in the number of committees appointed to review education-for example, the Committee in Public Education that was chaired by Lord Macaulay in 1835. Maintaining neutrality in religious matters, the governor-general, William Bentinck, continued to work for the expansion of a publicly supported higher education with English as the new medium of instruction and as the new language of the courts, instead of Persian. For details, see Oak (1925).
3
Viswanathan (1989) is of special relevance. Viswanathan astutely charts the ways in which the consolidation of the study of “English” literature at Indian universities in the mid-nineteenth century paved the way for setting up a hegemony of Western learning among the colonized elite in India, a process that led to the consolidation of British political power. As I highlight in the following pages of the Introduction, the political consequences of such a policy become evident in the establishment of specific class and racial hierarchies that are deployed in the education debates.
4
See Chatterjee (1996), pp. 9-27, for a discussion of the formative role of English-language education in the rise of the new intelligentsia.

-187-

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Civility and Empire: Literature and Culture in British India, 1822-1922
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Colonial Civility and the Regulation of Social Desire 34
  • 2 - Writing the Liberal Self 61
  • 3 - Policing the Boundaries 90
  • 4 - Savage Pursuits 122
  • 5 - Civility and the Colonial State of Body in Leonard Woolf 144
  • Conclusion 178
  • Notes 187
  • References and Bibliography 200
  • Index 213
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