Development of Education, Infrastructure, and Industry in India During Colonial Era – Part 1

/
14 mins read

Abstract:

As the British rule spread throughout India, communication in English became a necessity for Indians to get government jobs. This led to the establishment of English medium schools and colleges in India. Christian missionaries in West Bengal and other parts of India established English medium schools and colleges. Further, to provide higher education the British Government started three Universities (at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras). Some private organizations and individuals also supported the establishment of educational institutions in India during the colonial rule.

Speedy transport of material as well as mobilization of men, both administrative staff as well as army/police personnel, across the length and breadth of the vast country led the British regime to establish railway network for connecting major cities in India.


The British government needed qualified manpower to assist and run various development projects started in India. For this, the government established several engineering colleges, the first one being at Roorkee. The first medical college/hospital was established by the French government at Pondicherry (now renamed Puducherry). Later the British government established medical colleges at Calcutta and Madras.

This paper deals with educational institutions and infrastructure/resource development projects/industries that were established in India during the colonial era. The first Indian enterprise was started by the Tata group which over a period of time initiated several major industrial projects in India. Another prominent industrialist Walchand Hirachand Doshi founded the Walchand group of companies. He established India’s first modern shipyard (at Visakhapatnam); the first aircraft factory, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) at Bangalore; and the first car factory (Premier ) besides establishing construction companies, sugar plantations, sugar factories, confectionery, engineering works and many other business ventures.


The education system in India before the colonial era


A well-established educational system existed in India in the pre-colonial era. Three types of traditional schools, namely Pathashalas, Madrassas and Gurukuls, were prevalent in India at the beginning of the 18th century.

This is evident from the records of various studies conducted during the colonial era and the memoirs of foreign visitors to India. One of the earliest observations was made by the Austrian national Fra Paolino Da Bartolomeo who spent fourteen years (1776-1789) in India.

According to him the method of teaching and writing was introduced in India around two hundred years BC which is still in vogue. Nowhere in the world, has such a system of education existed for such a long period of time. Bartolomeo describes the method and practice of teaching and instruction that were being practised by schools in the Malabar region of south-west India.

Brigadier-General Alexander Walker, who served in India during the period between 1780 and 1810, said: “No people probably appreciate more justly the importance of instruction than the Hindus”. According to him “they sacrifice all the feelings of wealth, family pride and caste that their children may have the advantage of a good education”.


During the early days of the British rule in India, they discussed the famous “Nuddeah School” of Bengal in an article (in Calcutta Monthly Register, January 1791) and wrote “In the college of Nuddeah alone, there were 1,100 students and 150 masters. In Raja Roodre’s time (Circa 1680) there were at the Nuddeah, no less than 4,000 students and masters in proportion were engaged in teaching students. The teachers, as well as the students, were supported by the revenue generated from freehold land as well as the state treasury.

A school in every village, where students learn all that is necessary for earning their livelihood, was given emphasis in the Indian education system.

Teaching generally involved reading, writing and accounting, as was recorded by J A Dubois (1820) in his notes. William Adam, a noted writer, recorded more than 100,000 village schools in just two of the states, Bengal and Bihar. Subjects such as Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Sâmkhya philosophy, the six darshanas, law, logic, poetry, grammar, astrology, astronomy, and medicine were taught. Other than these subjects such as chess (ciudarangam), fencing (payatta), navigation (naushantra) and use of the spear by a soldier while walking on foot (hastiludiun) were also taught. Another interesting subject taught as part of the curriculum was observing silence (mauna).

Foreign invasions, a frequent power struggle among the various princely states, and the advent of colonial rulers and foreign missionaries adversely affected the traditional education system in India.

From 1700 onwards the traditional system of education in India started disintegrating.

Initially, the British rulers in India started two schools, a Madrassa at Calcutta (now Aliah University) and a Sanskrit school (now Sampurnanda University) at Varanasi for teaching languages such as Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Urdu as well as Hindu and Muslim personal laws. This was done to familiarize the judges in the courts with the rituals and laws of Hindu and Muslim religions. This was the beginning of colonial education in India.

Beginning of English medium education in India:

With the creation of the Supreme Court of Calcutta in 1773, many Hindus of Bengal showed interest in learning the English language. David Hare (a Scottish watchmaker and philanthropist), in collaboration with Raja Radhakanta Deb (1784-1867) initiated the introduction of English medium education in Bengal.

Babu Buddinath Mukherjee further advanced the introduction of English as a medium of instruction by enlisting the support of Sir Edward Hyde East, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy fully supported the scheme but chose not to come out in its support publically which would have stirred up the prejudices of his orthodox countrymen thus jeopardizing the whole idea.

With the creation of the Supreme Court of Calcutta in 1773, many Hindus of Bengal showed interest in learning the English language. David Hare (a Scottish watchmaker and philanthropist), in collaboration with Raja Radhakanta Deb (1784-1867) initiated the introduction of English medium education in Bengal.

Babu Buddinath Mukherjee further advanced the introduction of English as a medium of instruction by enlisting the support of Sir Edward Hyde East, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. Raja Ram Mohan Roy fully supported the scheme but chose not to come out in its support publically which would have stirred up the prejudices of his orthodox countrymen thus jeopardizing the whole idea.

Madrassah-e-Aliah or Calcutta Madrassa, the first educational institution set up in India in 1780 by Warren Hastings

Picture courtesy: http://puronokolkata.com/tag/calcutta-madrasah/
This coloured lithograph is taken from plate 18b of Sir Charles D’Oyly’s ‘Views of Calcutta and its Environs’ in 1848


The Hindu College was formally opened on January 20, 1817, with 20 ‘scholars’. The newly established college mostly admitted Hindu students from affluent and progressive families, but also some students from Muslim, Jew, Christian and Buddhist communities.

In the beginning, classes were held in a rented house. In January 1818 the college was shifted to “Feringhi Kamal Bose’s house” which was located near Chitpore. From Chitpore, the college was first shifted to Bowbazar in Calcutta and later to the building that now houses Sanskrit College located on College Street.

With the increasing realization of the importance of western education in India, students from Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha enrolled in the college. By 1828 the number of enrolled students rose to 400.

This led to the establishment of a new ‘English College’ open to students belonging to all classes and communities and as a result, the government started funding colleges thereby taking the responsibility of providing education to all.

In 1823, the Presidency of Bengal appointed the “General Committee of Public Instruction” to manage the education.

This committee recognised Calcutta Madrassa as well as Banaras Sanskrit School and established another Sanskrit College at Calcutta, in addition to establishing oriental colleges at Agra and Delhi. Oriental scholars were employed for translating English books into local Indian languages.

On 21st October 1853, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha, suggested that a new general college should be established at Calcutta by the government to be named as “The Presidency College”. The College should be open to students of any caste, class or creed. The ‘scholars’ of the College Department of Hindu College were transferred to the Presidency College and in addition, 101 new students were freshly admitted.

Thereafter, schools and colleges were started in the other two Presidencies, Bombay and Madras, as well. The Christian missionaries living in India also established similar schools throughout India. Initially it was only the European missionaries, but subsequently, missionaries from other countries were also permitted to start schools and colleges in British India.

Establishment of universities in India:

Indians were generally fascinated by British education; hence the number of English medium schools in Bengal presidency started growing. A medical college was also started in Calcutta in 1835. Many of these institutions needed a common administrative umbrella for their functioning. Hence the General Committee on Public Instructions felt the need for establishing a university in Calcutta. Lord Auckland prepared a write-up on education policy on November 24, 1839, which was submitted to the government but no action was taken on it at that time.

In 1844, Lord Hardinge decreed that English education was an essential qualification for joining public service in India. In 1845, a definite proposal for the founding of a university was mooted by the Council of Education and sent to the government for consideration. Henry Seton of the Governor General’s Council advocated setting up of a university at Calcutta.

When Lord Dalhousie became the Governor-General of India in 1848, he visualized establishment of an Indian university. In 1856 a civil engineering college was started at Sibpur in Bengal which fulfilled the various formalities that were mandatory for the formation of a university at Calcutta.

By an order from the Governor General, Calcutta University, India’s first university, was established on 24th January 1857 and a 41-member Senate was constituted as the policy-making body of the university. The university had a large geographical area under its jurisdiction, extending from Rangoon (now in Myanmar) to Lahore (now in Pakistan).

Thereafter two more universities were established, one at Bombay and the other at Madras.

Calcutta University, the first university established in India in 1870

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the authors. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

This article was first published in the journal ‘Laboratory Experiments‘, published by Kamaljeeth Instrumentation and Service Unit, Bengaluru, India.

Jeethendra Kumar P K

A PhD in physics, Dr Jeethendra Kumar P K worked as a physics lecturer at Mangalore University for eight years. He is the founder of a physics instrument manufacturing company (1990) and Lab Experiments journal (2001), Bengaluru, India.

Prabhakar Sharma

Dr Prabhakar Sharma, Scientist (Retd.), is Ex-Head of the Academic Servies, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, India.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Story

श्रीरामचरितमानस (ŚhrīRāmcharitmānas) With English Translation – Day 161

Next Story

Gadhchiroli Ambush and the Same Old, Same Old Errors

Latest League Of India

error: Content on this news portal is protected!

0 0.00