Perhaps very few know that Lord Macaulay in his address to the British Parliament on February 2, 1835, made the following statement: “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage. And, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”
When I first came to know of this statement, my apprehensions about the British strategy of ruling India got confirmed. During my twelve weeks stay in UK for a training programme way back in 1990, I had been contemplating on the point as to how a small nation like Britain could rule over countries like India and many others. My apprehension at that time was that the Britishers tried to split the nation by polluting its culture and this is what they did in India also. It is a fact that despite many centuries of foreign rule, India was still a culturally and materially rich nation. That is why it was known as the ‘Golden Bird’ at that time and this finds proof in the above statement of Lord Macaulay. This statement amply proves that our moral values, cultural heritage and spiritual wisdom were a matter of envy even for powerful nations like Britain. Britishers found it so formidable that they planned to break it first before they could think of ruling India for a long time. As a result, they intruded into our culture through the route of education and succeeded to a great extent. The legacy of this system continues till today.
India’s freedom is now more than sixty years old. During this period, we have made tremendous progress in many fields. But to say that India is a developed and powerful nation in a true sense is wrong. A vast majority of the Indian population is still struggling for a dignified survival. The progress of a section of population cannot be called the progress of the nation. Our human development index is dismally low. With the rise in industrial growth rate, we are slipping on our integrity score, which puts India at the 93rd rank among 180 countries. Our education, health, sanitation and human rights parameters are poor and despite the deployment of huge funds, the situation is not improving appreciably. This is a matter of great concern for all those who are patriotic in the true sense. A lot of debate and serious thinking is going on in this regard. It is now being realised that the answer to these problems also lies in the statement of Lord Macaulay. Once again, we have to understand the depth of our ancient values and spiritual wisdom, which have no direct conflict with the modern times. At best, they need to be reinterpreted in the face of scientific and technological progress. If we are able to do so, India can once again achieve the place it used to occupy once upon a time. Time has now come to pay serious attention to our national values in order to restore them. Only then, the backbone of India will become straight and strong.