English colonization carries with it a distinct air of dehumanization and homogenization. Through military persuasion the British spread their influence far and wide in a manner which we may kindly refer to as rational. For many, it still remains the white, Anglo-Saxon man’s world. Yet for others, it is simply more understandable to sympathize for much of what has been lost: lives, land, freedom, historical artifactsÃ¢Â?Â¦ the list goes on. However, a different sentiment is evoked when anyone speaks of lost language; it is far too difficult to place value on something someone could never understand.
It is with this same misunderstanding that Lord Macaulay presents his argument for monetary funding to promote the education of the Indian people under the English language in his essay, “Minute on Education” (1835). His procedure entails patting the aforementioned imperialist rationale that lies upon the panelists’ heads all the while tickling the racism that bloats their underbellies.
Surely Lord M. may be viewed as bit of an entertainer; for it is imperative that he gets on the panel’s good side. In order to do so, he molds his argument into one that best suits their conception of ruling white majority. Like any savage yearns for the intervention of a Caucasian ethical lifestyle, so that it may finally become a human being, so does the Hindoo’ cry out for a better, more civilized means to an education, he believes. Although Lord M. clearly states, “I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit [sic] or Arabic,” he does not hesitate to defame their entire linguistic history, saying “It isÃ¢Â?Â¦ no exaggeration to say, that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgements used at preparatory schools in England. In every branch of physical or moral philosophy the relative position of the two nations is nearly the same.” Although the English language “stands pre-eminent even among the languages of the West,” the Indian language is, simply, just plain dumb according to Lord M. Their sense of history, astronomy, and philosophy patronizes that of the modern world. He refers to it: “A literature admitted to be of small intrinsic valueÃ¢Â?Â¦ that [literature] inculcates the most serious errors on the most important subjects.”
At this point the panel must answer to a vital ultimatum: either the native languages remain intact and the Indians are bulldozed under the speed of the Western world or the native languages are substituted for English and the Indians flourish in their newfound knowledge. It is hard to disagree with the rationality that Lord M. presents. The Indians are “people who have the means of pursuing higher studiesÃ¢Â?Â¦” but “Ã¢Â?Â¦only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them.” And success is evident: “In India, English is the language spoken by the ruling class.” The only thing holding them back is funding from the panel, yet the funding practically pays for itself. “Ã¢Â?Â¦We are forced to pay our Arabic and Sanscrit [sic] students, while those who learn English are willing to pay us,” says Lord M.
However promising the idea of a pristine, modernized Indian culture may sound-one that is now fully able to communicate clearly with the Western world in both sentimental and business-savvy senses-it is clear that there is much more to be lost. Perhaps the lesson here is that one must never attempt to place value on a language, the most integral part of retaining a cultural sense of self. In the end, that’s all that the grossly underestimated and misunderstood Indian nation really wanted, while Lord M. strove for a nation “Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and intellect.”