Education and Development under Company Rule
The establishment of a Madrasa by a learned maulvi with the support of Warren Hastings was the beginning of initiatives of British government to promote education. This Madrasa started with forty stipendiary students. What Warren Hastings had done for the Muslims, his successor was prepared to do for the Hindus. Cornwallis established a Sanskrit college (1791) in Benares. The successive governors in the next twenty years, however, did nothing to follow it up.
The Company held the view that it was not desirable in its own interests to encourage education in India. In 1813, when the Company Charter was renewed, it contained a clause intended to force on the Company the initiative for a regular educational policy. Hastings encouraged the foundation of vernacular schools by missionaries. He was the patron of the Hindu College, established at Calcutta in 1817, supported by the Indian public for the teaching of English and of Western science. The cause of education was further promoted by missionaries like Alexander Duff. Thanks to Hastings’ liberal outlook, press censorship instituted in 1799 was abolished. It was in such an atmosphere that the Bengali Weekly, the Samachar Darpan was started in 1818.
The Charter of 1833 emphasized the development of the country primarily in the interest of its inhabitants. William Bentinck, appointed the first Governor General of united India reformed the society by suppressing thuggee (robbery and murder committed by the thugs in accordance with their ritual), abolishing sati and introducing English as the medium of instruction in schools and colleges. This he thought would facilitate Indianization of the services. Bentinck founded the Calcutta Medical College in March 1835. The students of this college were sent to London in 1844 to complete their studies. Ten years after the establishment of the Calcutta Medical College, the Grant Medical College in Bombay was founded in 1845. In 1847 the Thomason Engineering College at Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee) came into existence. In 1849 a school for girls was founded in Calcutta.
Macaulay came to India as a law member in 1835. He was appointed President of the Board of Education. He had a poor opinion of indigenous learning. Macaulay recommended and government accepted to make English the literary and official language of India.
Dalhousie showed keen interest in education. He approved of the system of vernacular education designed by James Thomason, Lieutenant Governor of the North-Western Provinces (1843 – 53). The Educational Dispatch of Charles Wood (1854) outlined a comprehensive scheme of education-primary, secondary, collegiate. Departments of Public Instruction and a university for each of the three Presidencies were organized for the purpose. University of Madras was established under this plan (1857), along with universities in Bombay and Calcutta. Dalhousie modified the policy of Macaulay by encouraging educational institutions in vernaculars too. He also agreed to the principle of grants-in-aid to private effort, irrespective of caste or creed.