Bahujan Samaj & The European Knowledge

And Atharvaveda says:
Samani prapa sasha vaha annabhagaha
Samane yaktre saha vaha yunajmi
Araha nabhimiva abhitaha

(All have equal rights in articles of food and water. The yoke of the chariot of life is placed equally on the shoulders of all. All should live together with harmony supporting one another like the spokes of a wheel of the chariot connecting its rim and the hub)

India lost these Equality and fraternity also. The learned author points out:

" At a still later point of time, in the long meandering course of our history, the society got divided into innumerable castes and sub-castes. The evil of discrimination as high and low among men, on the basis of birth, hereditory avocations and other considerations raised its head and the pernicious practice of untouchability with all its degrading implications."

After the demise of Equality and fraternity in India it took its birth in Europe. The rights of citizens mentioned in the preamble of the Constitution are taken from the declaration of the rights of Man pronounced by the French Constituent Assembly. The concepts of three varieties of Justice, Liberty, etc were also foreign to the caste-ridden society of India. The principles of socialism were borrowed from the economic and political thoughts of the West and USSR. So much was the debt of the nation to European knowledge, not to speak of European Science and Technology. How did India come in contact with the European Knowledge?

As in other parts of the world enquiry in this part of the world was also speculative. The attempt was to explain the reasons for various occurrences in nature. It was observed that there were evil effects during solar and lunar eclipses. Why? It required an explanation. It was attributed to the emission of poison of the snakes, which was swallowing the Sun or the Moon. Similarly Aristotle wanted to explain why the fire when it was lit went up and the stones thrown up returned to the Earth.

According to Aristotle every object had its natural resting-place and it desired to go to its resting-place, whenever it was displaced. Heaven is the resting-place of fire and therefore whenever fire was lit it went up. The stones had the Earth as its resting-place. So whoever it is lifted returned to the earth. The intensity of the desire of an object to go back to its resting-place depended on its size. The greater is the size the stronger is its desire of an object to come to its resting-place. So bigger objects returned earlier than smaller object. Galelio wanted to know whether it was really so. He climbed Leaning Tower of Pisa and dropped from there two objects of the same material but of different size and observed whether it fell simultaneously on the ground or whether the bigger one due to its stronger desire to come to its returning place fell earlier than the other. He found that two objects fell simultaneously on the ground disproving the Aristotelian concept. This type of activity led to the growth of a new branch of knowledge. The specialty of this type of knowledge was that it could be tested by anyone anywhere in the world and its truth could be established beyond any doubt. This knowledge attained universal acceptance. This type of experimental knowledge came to be known as science and it made rapid progress encompassing all departments of life and natural phenomena. Europe was the center of this activity. It had its impact on India also.

During the first half of nineteenth century, in the field of education, there were two schools of thought in India; one wanted only the traditional education in Arabic. Persian and Sanskrit and the other advocated elementary education in vernacular and higher education in English. It was at that time MACAULAY reached the shore of India. It marked the turning point of Indiaís intellectual progress.

On 10th July 1833 speaking on the India Bill in the House of Commons MACAULAY said "It may be that the public mind of India may expand under our system till it has outgrown that system; that by good Government we may educate our subjects into a capacity for better Government; that having become instructed in European knowledge they may, in some future age, demand European Institutions. Whether such a day will come, I know not. But never will I attempt to avert it. Whenever it comes, it will be the proudest day in English history."

MACAULAY came to India as Law Member of the Executive Council of the Governor general of India. He in his celebrated minute dated 2-2-1835 placed before the Supreme Council strongly defended those who advocated English education. His arguments were supported by the following two illustrations.

1."The first instance_is the great revival of letters among Western nations at the close of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th Century. At that time almost everything that was worth reading was contained in the writing of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Had our ancestors acted as the Committee of Public Instruction has hitherto acted; had they neglected the language of Ciero and Tacitus; had they confined their education to the old dialects of our own Island; had they printed nothing and taught nothing at Universities but the chronicles of Anglo-Saxons and romances in Norman-French, Would English have been what she is now? What Greek and Latin were to the contemporaries of More and Ascham our tongue is to the people of India."

2."Within the last hundred and twenty years, a Nation which had previously been in a state as barbarous as that in which our ancestors were before crusades, has gradually emerged from the ignorance in which it was sunk and has taken its place among civilised communities. I speak of Russia. There is now in that country a large educated class, abounding with persons fit to serve the State in the highest functions and in no way inferior to the most accomplished men who adorn the best circles of Paris and London_ How was this change effected? Not by flattering national prejudices, not by filling the mind of the young Moscovite with old womanís stories which his rude fathers had believed_But (by) teaching him those foreign languages in which the greatest mass of information had been laid up and then putting that information within his reach. The languages of Western Europe civilized Russia. I cannot doubt that they will do for the Hindoo what they have done for the Tartar."

The Government of India accepted the view of MACAULAY and on 7th March 1835 announced that "The Great object of British Government ought to be the promotion of European Literature and Science among the Natives of India. "Prsuant to this declaration three Universities were established in 1857 one at Bombay and others at Calcutta and Madras.

Within a period of about 30 years the new system of education produced highly educated Indians and a desire for better existence generated in them. It was at that time that ALLAN OCTAVIAN HUME took initiative to establish an organisation came to be known as the Indian National Congress. Here again it was left to a European to take the lead. He wanted the most highly educated of the nation to meet each year and chalkout programme for the purpose of securing greater freedom, more impartial administration and a larger share in the management of the country. The first session of Congress was held in Bombay in the year 1885. The Indian intellectuals started comparing the administration of India with that of England and started feeling dissatisfied with the shortcomings in Indian administration. They started demanding European Institutions culminating in a movement for independence and ultimately asked the British to QUIT INDIA. At last India became free. The proudest day of English history as Macaulay said in 1833 dawned on 18th July 1947 when the Indian Independence Act 1947 was passed by the British Parliament as follows:

1) As from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan,

2) The said Dominions are hereafter in this Act referred as "the new Dominion", and the said fifteenth day of August is hereafter in this Act referred to be as "the appointed day".

The Indian National Congress had passed resolutions to reorganise the states on the basis of languages. But after independence the Government of free India run by the Indian National Congress did not evince much interest in the formation of linguistic states. Therefore, late P.Sriramulu started his fast unto death demanding formation of states on the basis of languages in accordance with the resolutions that had been adopted by the Indian Congress. He was not satisfied by the oral assurances given to him and he continued his fast and sacrificed his life. Immediately after his death the Jawaharlal Nehru Government at the centre announced the constitution of a State Re-organisation Committee for the demarcation of the States based upon various languages spoken in different parts of the territory of India and as per its report the linguistic states were formed on 1st November 1956. The regional languages became the official languages of the respective states and it gave tremendous impetus and encouragement to the regional languages for itís all round developments. 42 long years have rolled by after the formation of linguistic states. But the Indian languages are yet to attain the standards of European Languages in so far as science and technology are concerned. There is no progress except in collaborating with European countries.

The question therefore is whether it is time to discontinue the education in European literature, science and technology, which brought about so much of revolutionary changes in all departments of Indian life. No doubt for administrative expediency the states have been reorganised and linguistic states has been formed. Does it mean that thereafter all educations must be only in regional languages? Will it elevate the knowledge of the people to the international standard or will it draw them back to pre-MACULAY period?

The Bahujan samaj has a great stake in this matter. The European educated Upper Castes led the Independence Movement and secured freedom from the yokes of the British. It was the European education that helped them to achieve it. What about the Bahujan Samaj, which is still suffering under the iron yokes of the Upper Castes? They too will require European education to free themselves from the yokes and shackles of those who enjoy freedom today so that they may also live human beings with dignity and self-respect.

Every year there should be a meeting of highly educated intellectuals belonging to the deprived and neglected sections of the people as what the Indian National Congress was doing before independence. These meetings should consider how to shape the destiny of their people, how to alleviate their sufferings and how to take them to a prosperous new life. There should be a Second Independence Movement for the purpose and it should be the responsibility of the highly educated intellectuals of these communities to lead such a movement

BY O Sreedhran
Babasaheb Dr BR Ambedkar Adhyayana Kendra


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