University of Delhi (INDIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 833-842
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
Education and educational institutions are two critical forces for change, transformation, influence, coercion and identity formation. It is striking for the students of the modern history that the battles of politics, identity and modernity were fought on the field of education especially in the colonial arenas. This paper tries to focus on education as an interesting thematic tool for the formation of an “exclusive identity” for Muslims in a Muslim minority colonial province (Central Provinces and Berar, hereafter CPB) of India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This paper accounts and examines a crucial phase in the history of British colonial education (content, medium and language) policy in two parts. The first part, discusses the background and evolution of the British educational policy in India from 1854 to 1900 in reference to Central Provinces and Berar. It begins with the the Orientlist–Anglicist controversy of the 1830s over the nature of government education in India which raised a bitter dispute over fundamental questions about the roles and status of the English language and the Indian vernacular and classical languages in the diffusion of Western knowledge and ideas. Macaulay’s famous Minute of 1835, which advocated the creation of a class of anglicised Indians to serve as cultural intermediaries between the British and their Indian subjects formed the basis of this controversy.
Further,it tries to analyse the nature of Muslim education in CPB in mid 19th century and then moves on to discuss the content, purpose and impact of Wood’s Despatch on the Muslim education in the province. The controversies over Urdu-Marathi, Urdu-Hindi, Urdu- Hindustani, DevNagari-Arabic language and script respectively, fears of de-Islamisation & Hinduisation, demand of separate Muslim schools, teachers and school-inspectors for Muslim students became the regular theme of animated debates in local newspapers, pamphlets and Anjumans ( associations) by the end of 1900. In Berar for centuries Marathi language was the mother tongue for Hindus and Muslims alike. In newly formed educational associations (Anjuman-i- Islam) Urdu gradually replaced Marathi as mother tongue and was accepted as an identity forming agency for ‘Muslim brotherhood’, tradition and culture.

The second part of the paper examines the short-term and long-term consequences of British colonial education in CPB in a volatile political scenario from 1900 to 1940. Language, script and syllabus of modern school and university education emerged as contested sites which helped to create an exclusive Muslim identity in all major movements from Swadeshi (1905) to the Congress ministry (1937-39). Separate syllabus and language for separate communities was a matter of prime the province.

The Muslim alienation grew manifold resulting in the rise of Muslim League over the conflicts around language, education and culture as a sole representative of Muslim interests. By 1940, on the basis of common identity of language and culture the Muslim alienation from the majority community was complete in Central Provinces and Berar, where they constituted only 4.4% of the total population .
education, language, content, culture, identity, community, nation.