K Satya Deva Prasad’s Interrogating Macaulay’s Children is a study at exposing the flawed pedagogical system we are still slavish to, even after British Colonial masters have left the shores of Bharat. It is time to undo the historical wrongs of Lord Macaulay by according our ancient wisdom a pride of place in our educational system
The title of the book is interesting in that it generates a curiosity to know who the children of Macaulay the author refers to are. The book’s cover design is intriguing too. It is a collage of images that represent Bharatiya culture housed inside the India map and images that indicate western interference, making the intent clear. The magnifying glass on a seemingly western thinker tells us that the book is about scrutinizing or studying the western mind closely.
The author in his Preface makes it clear who the Macaulay’s children are. Macaulay in his famous ‘Minute’ had levelled charges against Hindu knowledge system and Sanskrit language in an attempt to replace the indigenous education system with the English method of schooling and curriculum. As we know, Macaulay was successful in forcing the English education system in India which alienated numerous generations of Indians from their own culture, knowledge systems and skills. The colonial education system still largely intact even after Independence have created a large number of intellectuals who were disrespectful of indigenous knowledge, customs, culture and the same was taught to students in universities and by the media. Such individuals who are inimical to Indian culture and anyone who is influenced by English curriculum are Macaulay’s children.
“Most of our present-day problems and misunderstandings are the direct outcome of our so-called modern educational system, which is heavily loaded with colonial propaganda against Indian knowledge system and culture that generated it over millennia. The compilation also serves to inform those who feel the negative impact of Macaulay education but do not know the positive side of our indigenous system.” writes the author in the preface giving an idea about the content of the book and what we could expect from it. The author hopes to prove Macaulay and those influenced by the English education system wrong by using quotes and references from across the world which prove the wonder that was Bharat.
The book is divided into chapters that focus on areas of ancient Indian expertise. The first chapter, however, details Macaulay’s Minute and his deposition about Indian education at UK parliament. Subsequent chapters have good collection of quotes and references to India by well-known authors, travellers and historians from across the world. Chapters on Indian maritime history and geography give a good account of how ancient Greeks and other civilizations viewed Bharat. Arab and German scholars’ views on Indian science and philosophy is a reminder of the great strides our forefathers had made in all aspects of life.
from very ancient times Our Hindu educational system helped us to stay on top in science, technology, trade, commerce, social harmony, and unity
Other chapters dedicated to social structure, Indian commerce, medicine have sayings and quotes from several famous persons from various walks of life. These quotes are culled from various sources from across the globe. The author has provided the source of the same in all instances so that the reader can doublecheck the same. This also helps the reader to know more about the quote and also the person who has spoken or written it.
The last chapters give references to the sources of Hindu history and what India can teach us from the perspective of several Westerners. One interesting quote is of R. Montgomery Martin who was a civil servant in the 19th century. In his History of Indian Empire, he writes, “India in the middle of the 18th century resembled a vast battlefield strewn with fragments of ruined states, and affording on every side abundant evidence of a prolonged and severe conflict from which even the victors had emerged irretrievably injured.” With this reference the author has shown that the entire world wanted a share of India, be it the British or the Dutch or the Mughals or Portuguese who wanted to enrich themselves by ravaging India only because it was already abundant in every aspect.
A tribute to Hindus has quotes from well-known authors and leaders on the contribution of Hindus to the world in various spheres and walks of life. This exposes Macaulay’s claim that India was backward or that it needed any interference from the west. As the author himself writes, the aim of the compilation is not to argue to go-back to the olden days but this is an appeal to get informed about the nefarious designs of the introducer of English education in our country. We have to work hard to remove its deleterious effects and place it on a firm indigenous footing, argues the author.
The author states, “These quotations prove that from very ancient times Hindu education system helped the Hindus to stay on top in science, technology, trade, commerce, social harmony and unity.”. Writing about the compilation of quotes, he writes, “This compilation is meant to remind Indians that there is lot of colonial propaganda still lurking in the present day educational curriculum taught in our schools and colleges. It is actually a hangover of the colonial rule which harmed us instead of improving our capabilities. The present education system is not a natural outcome of the native genius, but fraudulently foisted upon the gullible Hindus.”
Overall, ‘Interrogating Macaulay’s Children’ is a good reminder of the intentions and effects of Macaulay’s education. The book also serves as a good source of quotes and references on ancient India. This can also serve as a starting point to explore more about the subject on which the quote was made and the person who is quoted. As a ready reference on quotes on India in various spheres, the book is also a ready reckoner on ‘who said what’ on India. It is a must read if you are interested in how people from across the world viewed India for thousands of years.