HSM 432 –History of Modern Education in India

(Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century)

Semester III, M.A. History–Final Year, 2018-2019

Vikas Gupta


Topic 1: Beginnings of Western Style Modern Education in India: within this theme, we will study the pattern of the introduction or commencement of Western style modern education in India during 18th and 19th centuries and the structural aspects of its systemic apparatus. We will examine the role of British parliament, East India Company, European factories, Christian Missionaries and Indian demand as factors responsible for the commencement of Western style modern education in this period. We will critically examine different historiographical assumptions about Macaulay’s role in the introduction of English Education. This will be followed by the analysis of colonial state’s subsequent educational policy, such as the educational dispatches of 1854 and 1859; and the Education Commission of 1881-1883–contexts and key provisions having crucial impact on the overall structure of education, role of state and community, and social inequality. 

Topic 2: Colonial Education and the Ideologies of the Raj: Under this theme, we will study how and why certain scholars and administrators of late 18th and early 19th centuries favored the idea of patronizing oriental knowledge and institutions. How and why a different approach inspired by Utilitarianism, Evangelicalism, demands of expanding empire and indigenous aspirations began to favor Anglicist knowledge and institutions by the middle of the first half of the 19th century? However, alongside with the differences, we will also notice the similarities both the orientalist and anglicists shared with each other. Moreover, we will explore how, despite the victory of Anglicist led by Macaulay in 1835, there existed diversity of provincial and institutional experiments in the subsequent decades; and also the manner in which the impact of orientalism continued through different kinds of appropriations.

Topic 3: Major Shifts in the Historiography of Colonial Education: In this topic, we shall examine the following historiographical frames or approaches in the study of modern education in colonial India. We will survey those earlier historiographical approaches that assumed a libertarian orientation of modern education accounting for the overthrow of feudal value system and the emergence of social reform movements and nationalism. Thereafter, we will study the Cambridge School Historiography which portrayed English Education as an engine of professional conflicts and the resultant rise of associations as responsible for political consciousness. This will be followed by an assessment of the post-Foucauldian and Post-Saidian scholarship (also inspired by some Neo-Marxist trends) which explained colonial education as an instrument of control rather than liberation. Yet another interesting scholarly approach is the one that deploys the perspectives of social exclusion and reproduction through the focus on the education of the disprivileged. It will lead us to observe a historiographical riddle that who played the most important role in the education of subaltern groups: the colonial state, Christian Missionaries, social reformers, or leaders from within the hitherto excluded groups themselves? Hence, this discussion also provides us an entry point to the Issues pertaining to the education of women, marginalized castes, tribes and Muslims.

Topic 4: Aspects of Curricular Knowledge in Colonial Education: Within this rubric, we would like to understand whether colonial education should be seen in terms of its impact on the individuals, or in terms of its group forming role? How was the new knowledge different from the older one? Did it introduce newer notions and factors of polarization around community identities? Did it promote the values of Enlightenment modernity, such as scientific rationality, secularism, social equality etc. Alternatively, did it contribute to the reproduction of conventional worldview or the orthodoxy of the Brahminical order? How was it a combination of the orientalist and the Anglicist perspectives; and the tenets of liberal individualism and community identities? IN order to find answers of some such related questions, we would study the kind of curricular knowledge that was prescribed for students in different subjects, such as the humanities, natural sciences, technical education and language studies. 

Topic 5: Nationalist Discontents with Colonial Policies and Their Alternatives in Education: In this rubric, we will discuss following three historical trends to understand certain positions of anti-colonial nationalism or freedom struggle with regard to the domain of education. First, educational ideas and measures of Curzon; nationalist discontents; and the social experience of Swadeshi experiments in Bengal. Second, Gokhale’s Compulsory Primary Education Bill and similar other legislative measures of the first half of the 20th century: their vision, politics and fate. Third, the Pedagogy of Nai Talim advocated by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Zakir Husain–main features, controversies and implementation. 

Topic 6: Case-Studies: We will take up in this rubric, one or two historical actors for detailed study who contributed significantly in the sphere of education in modern India, or left powerful legacy of an alternative vision, particularly for liberation through education, such as Jotirao Phule, Rajarshi Shahuji Maharaj, Bhaurao Patil, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh, Rabindernath Tagore, Sayyid Ahmad Khan, and Rokeya Sakhawat Hossein etc.