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Changing the Subject: Western Knowledge and the Question of Difference

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 June 2007

Sanjay Seth
Affiliation:
La Trobe University, Melbourne

Abstract

In 1840, the General Committee for Public Instruction in Bengal, presiding over the ‘Anglicist’ educational policy enunciated five years earlier, declared, “the ultimate object which we have in view is to infuse into the student, possessed of talents and leisure, a taste for literature and science,” all of which would “hasten the regeneration of the country.” The Committee observed with satisfaction that English education was proving very popular with the middle classes, but also noted, “At present, education is for the most part appreciated only for the direct returns it yields.” The Committee clearly hoped that over time education would come to be appreciated for other reasons. In the meantime, its instrumental value constituted a useful and even necessary inducement. A few years later, this same body reported many more students were entering and completing school, thus achieving their goal of attaining “the qualifications requisite to perform the mechanical duties of a writer [a clerk].” But, they continued, “our object to raise the character of the people by education and not by their purses is still far distant.”

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2007 Society for Comparative Study of Society and History

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