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What is the significance of Macaulay's minute on Indian Education?
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Middle School Teacher
Macaulay's writing represents much in way of how the British saw Indians and the customs indigenous to the region. Macaulay is fairly direct about how he feels that there is a need to supplant the varied dialects of India with a national language of English:
All parties seem to be agreed on one point, that the dialects commonly spoken among the natives of this part of India, contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are, moreover, so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them... the intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be effected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them.
This is an apt summary of Macaulay's basic point of view. The significance of this is fairly evident. Many British had little desire to understand the varied and diverse cultural elements of the subcontinent that they occupied. There was an overarching desire to homogenize the Indian population, depriving them of some of their most basic elements such as language. For a nation that has over 700 dialects, where language is tied as much to cultural identity as anything else, Macaulay's desire to impose English as a national language at the cost of other forms of communication is something significant. For Macaulay, the idea of India being "civilized" rests in the teaching of English and the hopes of supplanting other dialects. I think that another significant element in his writing is the idea that there was a need to change India as a reflection of British interests. The manner and tone in which Macaulay's article is written almost seems to suggest that the need to change the language is more of an imperative for Britain, a reflection of their own interests than it is for India. Macaulay's argument seems to be rooted in the idea that Britain could not stand to have one of its colonies engage in such a "primitive" form such as having its own sets of languages at the cost of English. In this, I think that Macaulay's writing holds much in way of significance of assessing the relationship that England had towards India during the height of its control of the nation.
Posted by akannan on February 22, 2012 at 6:56 PM (Answer #1)
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