Lord William Bentinck
The real breakthrough, however, came with the governor generalship of Lord William Bentinck (1828-1835). Bentinck was a radical aristocrat. His administrative reforms were in line with utilitarian theory but with deference to local conditions and in harmony with his own military sense of command. In Bengal the collector was made the real head of his district by the addition of civil judgeship to his magistracy; he was also disciplined by the institution of the commissioner to superintend him. The judiciary was overhauled with the same eye to a chain of authority.
But it was as a social reformer that Bentinck made anï¿½indelible mark on the future of India. He was commissioned byï¿½the directors to affect economies in order to show a balancedï¿½budget in the approaching charter-renewal discussions. Inï¿½doing this he incurred much odium, but he was able to takeï¿½the first steps in Indianising the higher judicial services.
Social Reforms of Bentinck
Soon after his arrival in India Bentinck had been confrontedï¿½with an agitation against suttee, the burning of Hindu widowsï¿½on the funeral pyres of their husbands. In suppressing theï¿½practice, he had to face the criticism from both Hindus andï¿½Europeans on the grounds of religious interference. But heï¿½was also fortified by the support of the reformers led by Ramï¿½Mohan Roy. In thus acting and in prohibiting child sacrificeï¿½on Sagar Island and discouraging infanticide-a widespreadï¿½practice in some regions-Bentinck established the principleï¿½that the general good did not permit violations of the universalï¿½moral law, even if done in the name of religion. The sameï¿½principle applied to the suppression of ritual murder andï¿½robbery by gangs thuggi in central India in the name of theï¿½goddess Kali.ï¿½86?ï¿½History of India
Development of Education under Bentinck
Apart from the arguments of the Anglicists, there were threeï¿½important reasons that had significant bearing on the decisionï¿½of Bentinck to promote English education in India.
The first was the increasing opinion and the recognitionï¿½of the fact that the British could derive political benefit fromï¿½English education for Indians. Amongst those who held thisï¿½opinion, was Charles E. Trevelyan who in 1838, noted thatï¿½”the spirit of English literature cannot but be favourable toï¿½the English connection” and argued that this would stopï¿½Indians from treating the British as foreigners and make them,ï¿½”intelligent and zealous co-operators”.
Secondly, the framing of the education policy was guidedï¿½by the practical administrative needs of the colonialists. At theï¿½time of passing the 1833 Charter Act, the East India Companyï¿½was in serious financial difficulties, one method suggested wasï¿½to cut down expenditures on European employees and insteadï¿½employ Indians at much lower salaries. The 1833 Charter openedï¿½the lower order civil service jobs to Indians. But this requiredï¿½English educated clerks. Hence the policy of 1835.
Thirdly, English education was also seen as an importantï¿½basis for expanding the British market in India by popularisingï¿½English values and tastes. Thus Macaulay’s note, Bentinck’sï¿½ruling and the establishment and growth of English educationï¿½in India was an expression of the direct needs of the rulingï¿½colonial power. The education system in India consequentlyï¿½originated not because of any individual opinion but becauseï¿½of the contemporary needs of the Government.
Bentinck also substituted English for Persian as theï¿½language of record for government and the higher courts, andï¿½he declared that government support would be given primarilyï¿½to the cultivation of Western learning and science through theï¿½medium of English. In this he was supported by Lord Macaulay.
The place of the Indian states in British India was alsoï¿½one of the subjects of the great debate on the future of India inï¿½this period. On the whole, the argument for subordinateï¿½isolation held, and no great change occurred in their statusï¿½until after the revolt of 1857 . Out of the discussions, however,ï¿½the de facto principle of British paramountcy emerged, whichï¿½was increasingly assumed though not openly proclaimed.ï¿½The only important change before 1840 was the takeover ofï¿½Mysore in 1831 on the ground of misgovernment; it was notï¿½annexed, but it was administered on behalf of the raja for theï¿½next 50 years.
Influences in the Formulation of Indian Policy
An important role in determining the policy direction for India was played by the rising group of freethinking utilitariansfollowers of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill-who were influential in the company’s service, who wished to use Indiaï¿½as a laboratory for their theories, and who thought Indian society could be transformed by legislation. It was as a result ofï¿½their influence that there was a strong streak of Benthamite radicalism in the East India Company administration.
James Mill had become a senior Company official in 1819 after writing a monumental history of India which showed aï¿½strong contempt for Indian institutions. From 1831 to 1836 he functioned effectively as the chief executive officer of theï¿½Company and his son John Stuart Mill worked for the Company from 1823 to 1858. Another well-known figure, Thomasï¿½Malthus (famous for his Malthusian population theory) was professor of economics at Haileybury. As a result the trainingï¿½provided at the College for future company officials was also strongly influenced by Utilitarianism. Bentham himself wasï¿½also consulted on the reform of Indian institutions.
The Utilitarians deliberately used India to try out experiments and ideas (e.g., competitive entry for the civil service) whichï¿½they would have liked to apply in England. The Utilitarians were strong supporters of laissez-faire and detested any kind ofï¿½state interference to promote economic development. Thus they tended to rely on market forces to deal with famine problemsï¿½and did nothing to stimulate agriculture or protect industry. This laissez-faire tradition was more deeply embedded in theï¿½Indian civil service than in the UK itself, and persisted very strongly until the late 1920 s.
There were also radical rationalists who had borrowed the doctrine of human rights from France and wished to introduceï¿½them into India, and on the practical side there was a body of British merchants and manufacturers who saw in India bothï¿½a market and a profitable theatre of activity and who were irritated at the restraints of the East India Company’s monopoly.ï¿½These influences had considerable impact on the formulation of Indian policy in the first half of theï¿½19thï¿½ï¿½century.
In 1813 the East India Company lost its monopoly of trade with India and was compelled to allow free entry of missionaries.ï¿½British India was declared to be British territory, and money was to be set aside annually for the promotion of both Easternï¿½and Western learning.
Written by princy