HC Deb 12 July 1867 vol 188 cc1482-6

The Motion which intend to make will not require many sentences of explanation. The circumstances are these:—In the autumn of last year the distinguished scholar who now fills the office of Director of Public Instruction in the Bombay Presidency, Sir Alexander Grant, addressed a letter to the Bombay Government, in which he pointed out that it would be greatly for the advantage of education in India if a fraction of the persons now employed in his department was, so to speak, broken off the top of the present educational service, and erected into a small separate and covenanted service. The views of Sir Alexander Grant found favour with the Government of Bombay; but the Government of India did not endorse the opinions of the authorities in the Western Capital, and very summarily rejected the whole scheme, without giving any reason. It was sic volo, sic jubeo. Sir Alexander Grant is a man so well known in the world of letters, has so deep an interest in India, and is so experienced an official, that I am sure this want of consideration was merely apparent. The Government of India must have had some reason for acting as it did. Perhaps as it is responsible for outlay, this was fear of the expense. The change suggested by Sir Alexander Grant would involve, however, only a trifling addition, to expense, for it would apply merely to some thirty appointments—Principalships of Colleges, Professorships, Inspectorships, and the like. The appointments not affected by it would be about 2,000. The reason why it is confined within such narrow limits is this—The existing regulations with regard to pay, claims for pension, and so forth, are quite suitable when considered with reference to the wants of the immense majority of the educational employés; but they are quite unsuitable for the employés who are at the head of the education of the Presidency, and on whose efficiency depends the success of the magnificent experiment which we are making in that as in other parts of India. The principal grievances of the higher educational officials are these—First, for the covenant which used to be made with persons in their position, is now substituted a letter in which it is expressly stipulated that they shall be removable at six months' notice. Second, they have no claim for pension, unless they have served twenty-seven years in India, or have to leave the country after twelve or twenty-two years, with utterly broken health. Third, they have—and this is a serious matter in an official society, where every one ought to fit into his place like the pieces in a Chinese puzzle—no recognized position or status. They are, as has been said, outcasts and pariahs. Now the Indian Government is perfectly justified in making the best terms it can, provided it does not sacrifice efficiency to cheapness, but it will soon be found that it is sacrificing efficiency to cheapness, if not to mere dislike of novelty and attachment to the old traditions of the pre-educational period. No one would, I suppose, at this moment, advise a young man who had distinguished himself at Oxford or Cambridge to enter the educational service of India. It is a poor career leading to very little. He would do much better to enter the Civil Service, where he is protected by a covenant and entitled to many advantages to which persons in the educational service have at present no claim. And yet it is surely quite clear that you must have at the head of great schools like the Elphinston, the Poona, the Ahmedabad, or Belgaum High schools, a European gentleman of high education, who will give a tone to the whole teaching. You must have the same class of men for your inspectors. You must have the same class of men for your professors at Bombay. Only think for a moment what enormous influence is wielded by these last. Think how much mischief may be done by the teaching of inferior men. Think of the influence of first-rate professors in moulding the opinions of the newspaper writers alone, to say nothing of the native professional men of all sorts. Is it worth while being either careless or pennywise when interests so colossal are at stake? The Indian Government will, it seems to me, distinctly fail in its duty if it does not organize its education department just as carefully as any other. This is not a matter to be left to chance or to voluntary effort. Above all, the provision of a thoroughly efficient nucleus, which will be as it were the brain of the whole service, is to the last degree important. I think I see some symptoms of a premature satisfaction with results already obtained — a notion that the machine is now set agoing, and that anybody can work it. That is a delusion. We have made an admirable beginning in the education of India. Every day the people are learning more thoroughly to appreciate what is being done for them in this respect. I am told, on excellent authority, that in Western India the population would support compulsory primary education, based on local rating, and I have no doubt with a little pains, you may make your Presidential Universities not only the means of diffusing far and wide through Asia the learning and science of Europe, but even independent centres of thought and research which may re-act beneficially upon this quarter of the globe. We have made I say an admirable beginning but only a beginning. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will assure us to-night that there will be no fainting or failing in this good work, and will, as an earnest of his good intentions, produce the papers for which I move, and tell us that he has called the attention of the Government of India to Sir Alexander Grant's suggestion as dealing with a matter in which the Home Government has a deep interest, and which it would be sorry to see lightly put aside. I do not, of course, ask him to commit himself to detail nor even to principles; but I do ask him to say or to imply that the object at which Sir Alexander Grant aims—the raising and regenerating the native mind—is one hardly inferior in importance to any for which our rule in India exists.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, a Copy of Correspondence between the Director of Public Instruction at Bombay and the Secretary to Government at Bombay, with respect to the constitution of a small covenanted educational service in that Presidency,"—(Mr. Grant Duff,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford Northcote) would follow out the principles laid down by Secretary Sir Charles Wood, and that the right hon. Gentleman would act on the principle of the grant in aid. The extension of education would be of the greatest benefit to India, and in proportion to the degree in which education was extended among the native population might be calculated to a great extent the chance of our securing continued possession of that country.


said, he had no objection to lay the Papers on the table. What had taken place was this:—Sir Alexander Grant submitted proposals to the Government of Bombay, they were then communicated to the Government of India, and that Government, in an extremely short despatch, acknowledged the receipt of them, and stated that in their opinion they were not worth entertaining. Though not at present prepared to pronounce any final judgment on the subject, he thought it clearly deserved greater consideration, and he had therefore requested the Indian Government to state their views upon it more fully. He quite agreed with his hon. Friends that those engaged in the education of the people of India should not be placed in a position inferior to those filling judicial or other civil offices. Whether they should be placed on precisely the same footing as the covenanted service he was not prepared to say. He presumed that his hon. Friend (Mr. Grant Duff) did not desire that they should be selected by competition from young men of eighteen or twenty-one years of age, and should invariably begin at the bottom, for this would preclude persons of more mature age and of University distinction from entering the educational service. He supposed that his hon. Friend desired to place the educational service of India on a fair footing, and on a footing of its own. Sir Alexander Grant was an officer of the highest distinction, and any recommendation from him was deserving of consideration. The subject would engage his earnest attention, and it was very useful that such topics should also engage the attention of the House. There was in many quarters a great desire for an improvement of education in India, but they looked very much to the expression of opinion in this country, and above all to the notice taken of such matters in the House. The natives wished to see whether education was thought as much of here as their instructors told them it was. The expression in that House of a desire to raise the position of those who went out to India as the educational staff would do nothing but good.

Question put, and negatived.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, a Copy of Correspondence between the Director of Public Instruction at Bombay and the Secretary to Government at Bombay, with respect to the constitution of a small covenanted educational Service in that Presidency.