Chapter 21
Social Progress

ALTHOUGH Indian social progress is to some extent a by-product of economic development, certain aspects of it require separate treatment. Its foundation is the fact that ordinary folk in India are awakening to an awareness of their own backwardness and to a consciousness of their own needs. Amongst those needs, better education and improved medical and public health facilities perhaps loom largest in their minds, but there are other public activities included in the somewhat unsatisfactory term 'welfare', to which prominence is given in the National Plan. Education, health, welfare and labour matters will be discussed briefly in this chapter.

We have already seen that, by the middle of the nineteenth century, English had become the medium of instruction in the secondary and university stages. Education had taken on a purely literary bias, which may have suited boys of first-class ability, but led many others to flounder along, memorising text-books of which they understood little and learning only to despise manual work. In primary schools a surprising amount of good work was done by schoolmasters whose salaries were much less than the wages of domestic servants' but who were often much respected in their villages. Manual training of any kind was rigorously excluded from the curriculum. In the twentieth century many District Officers strove to break down the exclusively academic character of education and to introduce handicrafts, practical agriculture, and other extraacademic activities, but such changes were frequently resisted by parents as not likely to lead to government employment, which had become the accepted goal of education. It was perhaps unfortunate that in most Provinces the delegation to District Boards of the responsibility for primary education cut the primary schools off from any contact with the members of the Indian Educational Service, who were the only educationists with any Western background and so postponed the

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