Life in India

The Story of the Indian Education System – Macaulayism Origins

For 4000 years until the arrival of the first invaders some 700 years ago, India had a history of creating intellectually superior awesome people who invented the Zero, Calculus, monstrous baths and discovered the meaning of life among other things. But it went all downhill from there and unfortunately all that we seem to be producing these days is zeroes. As I mentioned in the previous post, our fall from grace can be attributed to our unimaginative education system which was one of those legacies the British left us. The Indian Education System is a 200 year-old rotten and outdated colonial leftover, a clerk-creating, submission-inducing, inferiority-generating, talent and creativity-killing, useless and pointless system of rote-learning and memorizing which ends up creating  masses of indisciplined, value-less, unconfident, self-depreciative, self-righteous, greedy, selfish and egotist masses who will make good submissive subordinate workers but otherwise contribute nothing towards the society, world, mankind or Universe in general. But it does teach us English! And how things worked 180 years ago.

How the Indian Education System Came to be About

We all know the story. During the early heydays of the East India Company rule in India, the British statesman Thomas Babington Macaulay was on the lookout on how to make the already-submissive hoards of Indians even more submissive. Apparently at that time Indians were proud, moral and upright enough to still resist company rule. Macaulay fell upon the idea of “intellectual colonization” which would kill two birds in one shot: Not only would people of the subcontinent develop disdain towards their own culture, language, heritage and practices and would easily accept English and the British as their overlords, but also would turn out to be cheap-clerk labor for the British at the same time. This was before the pig/cow fat-greased cartridge experiments of 1857. So Macaulay directed the design for and oversaw the rigid implementation of an inspired English-based education system that would replace ours to destroy our pride, glorify the English and the King and generally make us ashamed and miserable about ourselves. Of course, nothing about our history, culture or heritage would be taught in this system but only ways and means of English life and culture, planting it superior to ours. It was be tailor made for the colonizing powers to attain intellectual control over the colonies, creating “a class of persons, Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.” And the above class still rules us. And this system is called Macaualyism.

Wikipedia, that great repository of all human knowledge has defined Macaulayism as

Macaulayism is the conscious policy of liquidating indigenous culture through the planned substitution of the alien culture of a colonizing power via the education system.

Macaulay might or might not have said what he is supposed to have famously said in the British Parliament (quoted below), but Macaulayism is real, and even after 180 years, is very much alive and kicking.

“I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

EnglishPicture Courtesy: Outlook

Why They Needed Macaulayism

People “nostalgic” about the glory days of the Raj (products of Macaulay) harp about “English-medium” being one of the “gifts” the British have left for us, like some consider the Railways being another “gift” from them. This is so wrong a notion that has been perpetuated by neo-intelligentsia who derive some sort of pleasure from blindly singing paeans to everything videshi (again, Macaulayists). The British had had no love lost for Indians and India to give us “gifts” for the Queen’s sake! They were here to do business and raise money for the Empire and gave two hoots about us and our well being in most cases. The Railways as created by the British, the education system and hence the usage of English in India introduced by them were all for the same purpose: administration and domination, physical and intellectual.

If India is a mindbogglingly vast and complex country today, it was even more so during the time the British first came here as Pakistan and Bangladesh were still attached to India. Governing this enormous stretch of land was not going to be easy with millions of people living in hundreds of kingdoms, big and small, spread across vast tracts of jungle, mountains, plains, hinterland, coasts, deserts and so on. The British required armies of  people to manage the administrative aspects of governing this vast, undeveloped and humongous country, including mountains of paperwork and interfaces with the local populace. They needed what we today call “lower-grade” or D-grade jobs of clerks and peons. Of course it was impractical, expensive and troublesome to import thousands of Englishmen from that faraway island to run the vast administrative machinery of this huge country, especially to match the requirements of clerks, pencil-pushers and other assorted lower-rung human resources. The British looked inward at India itself and found that the best way would be to train a class of Indians themselves to be loyal to the British. They would act as an interface with the British and would stand with them. They would be easily lured by wealth-earning prospects and other perks as rewards for servitude, propelled by the inferiority injected into them by Macaulayism, which made them see everything “foreign”, “white” and “British” as superior to everything that was Indian. Sound familiar?

Macaulayism in India Today

The British created our so called “back-breaking” education system way back in 1835. The fossilized eduction system to which we still cling on to today is 180 years old! Obviously we could not do anything while the Brits were ruling us. But what about the 65 years after that? They called it quits in 1947, leaving us a politically free nation where the British have absolutely no say in what we eat for breakfast or teach in our education system. For the past 65 years we have had a chance to throw that pointless, coolie-creating system of education in the gutter and dream up that ultimate “backbone-building” education system which would create a society of self-respecting, intelligent, talent-exploiting, Google-creating disciplined individuals who would take us back to Gupta/Mughal glory days, free to turn our country on its head without interference from Kings and Queens sitting on faraway islands. So did we do that? Hell no! We took the easy way out. We sat back comfortably in our kursis, chewed paan and continued blaming the British for our woes. Still. 65 years after they quit having to do anything with India!

What is the point? The milk has been spilled, licked up by the cat, digested, pooped and bio fossilized, but we are still crying about it! Why are we still blaming them? Why not ourselves? What is holding us back from actually doing something about this? Do we expect the British to come back and fix for us whatever they screwed up? We seem to be still waiting for some hero to come along and rescue us from our education-predicament like the princess-frog waiting for the kiss from that elusive Prince which will turn her back into her former all-captivating beauteous glory. We almost behave as if the British and the rest of the World owe us something because, you know, we invented bath tubs or something 5000 years ago. But jokes aside, the grip and hold of Macaulayism in India is iron-like even today. The heart and soul of the country has been transformed forever by incessant propaganda for the past 180 years, so much so that it has become nigh irreversible. More about those effects and the reason why we still follow Mcaulayism in the next part.


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Benry Kikon

Interesting article putting things into perspective. Looking forward to the next part.



Couldn’t agree more. This one a really good and factful write-up. Wonder what it’ll take to set things right from here on!

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