What PM said in Oxford and what is the fact
By Dina Nath Batra
WHILE reading the speech of the Prime Minister, this writer'sthoughts travelled to Swami Vivekanand.
Before his appearance at the Parliament of Religions, Swami Vivekanand was spending a weekend with Prof. John Wright of Harvard University. Mrs. Hcnry Wright was sitting in the Parlour meeting between her husband and Swami Vivekanand and has recorded the following notes. Vivekanand called the British rule in India a satanic rule and exposed the ugly face of British imperialism in India.
´Ah, the English, they only think to kill. They have sucked the last drop of our blood for their own pleasures, they have carried away with them millions of our money, while our people starved by villages and provinces. India is no longer a political power; it is an enslaved race. The common state of the vast mass of people is starvation, so that with the least decrease of income millions die.
A little famine means death.
Let us now read the Prime Minister'sspeech.
There is no doubt that our grievances against the Btritish empire had a sound basis. As the painstaking statistical work of the Cambridge historian Angus Maddison has shown, India´s share of world income collapsed from 22.6 per cent in 17000, almost equal to Europe´s share of 23.3 per cent at that time, to as low as 3.8 per cent in 1952.
Today, with the balance and perspective offered by the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, it is possible for an Indian Prime Minister to assert that India´s experience with Britain had its beneficial consequences too. Our notions of the rule of law, of a constitutional government, of a free press, of a professional civil service of modern universities and research laboratories have all been fashioned in the crucible where an age-old civilization met the dominant empire of the day. These are all elements which we still value and cherish. Our judiciary, our legal system, our bureaucracy, and our police are all great institutions, derived from British-Indian administration and they have served the country well.
Of all legacies of the Raj, none is more important than the English language and the modern school system.
Oxford, since the 19th century, has been a centre for Sanskrit learning and the study of Indian culture. The Boden professorship in Sanskrit, and the professorship in Eastern Religions and Ethics stand testimony to the university´s commitment to India and Indian culture. In the context of the study and preservation of Indian culture, I also wish to recall the contribution of another Oxonian, Lord Curzon, about whose project to preserve and restore Indian monuments, Jawaharlal Nehru said:
“After every other Viceroy has been forgotten, Curzon will be remembered because he restored all that was beautiful in India.”
The writer would like to react.
?It is true that a Chair for Sanskrit was established in Britain. But it was Germany where Sanskrit was recognised as a great language. They were the first to establish a Chair for Sanskrit. This was followed by another Chair for Sanskrit in France. It was much later that Britain realised that they should look in Sanskrit language and then they established a Chair much later. It was Germany which produced an extraordinary scholar in Maxmuller who had an inborn love for Sanskrit. He moved to London at the age of 23 in 1846. East India Company was looking for somebody to translate the voluminous Rig Ved consisting of 10,580 verses and 1,53,826 words. The gigantic task was likely to take fifty years. Maxmuller could possibly finish it in his lifetime and he was awarded this task and he did it. Britain´s ambitions in India were not limited to territories but they wanted to see India converted to Christianity. This Boden Chair about which Prime Minister has spoken so much was occupied by Maxmuller in 1847. He was a fanatic Christian and he wrote to Keshaw Chandra, the great Brahmo Samaj leader in 1899 just before Maxmuller´s death in 1900 making an appeal to him to become a Christian formally. He has written his autobiography and his wife has also written her husband´s biography after his death about their plans for conversion of Indians to Christianity. Maxmuller & Macaulay were dreaming that not a single Hindu will be left in India by end of 1900.
The discussions on conversion and the voting in British Parliament in 1809 where conversion was passed by a heavy majority of votes decided the British policy of making India Christian.
While going through Prime Minister´s speech one´s thought goes to those forty eight revolutionary leaders who were hanged for their only fault that they could not tolerate the oppression of the British authority and retaliated. One shudders to read about the inhuman and barbarous tortures given to patriots who were kept in Andaman Cells where even sunlight would not enter. The number of people who were given life imprisonment would run into hundreds.
Shri Sankari Prasad Basu is a great scholar. After twelve years continuous research in Ramakrishna Mission, he has come out with a gigantic publication of about 2000 pages(7volumes) on Vivekanand and contemporary India. The fourth volume of this book states that Vivekanand said ” Spread of education is also prohibited. The old rulers had given some property and land as a charity for education. All this has been misappropriated by the British Government. What is the base of this education. The slightest step for original effort is threatened. ” Vivekanand has specially mentioned about the disasters done by Lord Curzon.
Even a moderate leader like Sh Surindranath Banerjee in his book “a nation in the making” mentions that Lord Curzon has done imminent disservice to India and one of them is the so called University.
Curzon has formed an Education Committee which contained all Europeans. When a lot of discontentment was spread, he did include one Indian, Justice Gurudas Banerjee. Surindanath Benerjee says, it will not be the slightest exaggeration to say that the report of the Education Commission has been considered most objectionable by all the literate people of this country. Shri Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar who was considered supporter of English policy, later was extremely disappointed and has mentioned that it will be good for India to get rid of this rotten education. “I established a school in my village and was considered to be a patriotic. The rural children after reading for a year or two left their family business. I have no courage now to go back to village. ” People complained “Vidya Sagar, what have you done? The children do not want to look after family business. Half of my land only is going to be cultivated, what shall I do ? From where shall I arrange money for their expensive way of life. My cows are killed. The children do not want to go near them, They even hate parents. ” This is the legacy of the education spread by the British. The British devastated our industry. In 1815 India used to export textiles worth Rs.1.30 Corers. By 1832 this came down to 10 lacs. By 1850 India became completely dependent on the British for their textile requirements and it started importing textiles. Sir Charles Trevelyn in his report of the Parliamentary Committee given to British Parliament has said, Dhaka was Manchester of India. This has become a jungle today and a city of destitutes. There is no limit to its misfortune.
Sir henry Cotton writes in 1890 that Dhaka alone used to export in 1787 to the extent of 30 lacs Sir henry Cotton writes in 1890 that Dhaka alone used to export in 1787 to the extent of 30 lacs of Muslim. By 1837 it has completely vanished. The same is the fate of Murshidabad, Surat and Calcutta.
The English people in their effort to establish their rule in India have done a lot of oppression. There have been horrible tortures. There have been so many famines which took the lives of crores of people. The Muslim historian Farishta says that the Hindu population in 12th Century was 60 crores which has come down to 20 crores. The major contribution for this is the British administration.”