On June 10, 1834, Lord Macaulay, who was a great scholar of English, came to India as the Law Member of the Company.
He supported the views of Charles Grant, and believed that Eastern education was inferior. On his arrival in India, Lord Bentick made him the chief of the Public Instruction Committee also.
His advice was sought regarding section 43 of the Charter of 1813 as well as about the expenditure of one lakhs rupees. Macaulay was waiting for just such an opportunity. On February 8, 1835, he presented his historical ‘Minutes’ in which he made a bitter attack upon Indian literature and culture and vilified it.
(1) In his elaboration of section 43, Macaulay included English literature along with Sanskrit and Arabic literatures, and along with the Indian scholars of Sanskrit and Arabic, he also enumerated English scholars. He also gave complete authority to the Company for spending the grant.
(2) A supporter of western literature, he had this to say for literature “A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.” (Macaulay’s same viewpoint, he also praised the English language arguing that it was the most flourishing and useful of all that he, who knew this language, could easily obtain vast treasure of knowledge which had been created by the most intelligent races of the world.
English was the language of India’s rulers, and hence, the higher classes living in the capitals also spoke it. It is perfectly possible that English may become the language of the trade on Eastern seas. (Macaulay’s Minutes)
(3) Macaulay attached importance to the education of the higher classes and thus emphasised the theory of Downward Filtration.
(4) In education, Macaulay laid stress on religious objectivity. As he put it, it was the duty of England to teach Indians what was good for their health, and not what was suited to their tastes. He implemented the theory of Downward Filtration.
He opined that the English rulers should create a class which could mediate between the English and the millions over whom they ruled. He wanted them to be Indians by colour and blood, but English by interest, morality and intellect.
But, because of this principle, the objective of an education in consonance with Indian society could not be achieved.
Lord Macaulay was very typical, sincere to his country. He always thought about the propagation of English language and culture. His ideas for India were full of prejudices. Some of them are given here:
1. A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.
2. It is possible through English education to bring about a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.
3. English stands prominent even among the languages of the west. Whoever knows the English language has ready access to all the vast intellectual wealth which all the wisest nations of the earth have created.
Macaulay’s resolution was put into the hands of the leader of the Orientalists in the Public Instruction Committee, Mr. Princep who was the leader of the opposition; he reduced it to shreds with his arguments.
Despite this, Lord Bentick, who was prejudiced against eastern systems of thought, supported Macaulay’s educational views and declared an educational policy founded on it.
This policy gave primacy to the propagation of European literature and science, suspension of scholarships for students, neglect of publication Eastern literature, and the propagation of English literature.
Lord Bentick’s acceptance of the educational policy enunciated by Lord Macaulay gave stability to the English educational policy. This was the first genuine educational policy adopted by the contemporary government.
Different people held .different views on Macaulay’s policy, but, in general, he is accepted as the inspiration behind the new educational policy. At least, he removed the element of doubt in this sphere and helped the government overcome its uncertainty.
It is beyond question that Macaulay said many prejudiced and bitter things about India, but his arguments had a definite force, and as a result, English came to be the language of government usage. Macaulay’s dream of giving rise to a race which was Indian in colour and blood but English in dress conversation, ideas and thoughts, came true.