Mainstream, VOL LIII No 40,
New Delhi, September 26, 2015
... Let me point out, by 1911 Bengal, which was ahead in educational progress, presented a picture of peculiar interest for appreciation. W. H. Thompson, Superintendent of Census Operations of Bengal had observed that "The extent of literacy among males of the bhadralok seems to have reached its limit." As an alumni of St Xavier College, Calcutta, you (Shashi Tharoor), I guess need no elucidation of word 'bhadralok', who actually is an exclusive caste club for Brahmans, Baidyas and Kayasthas. The official, however, underlined that in the case of all three the last decade (1901-1911) "has shown great progress" in female education. Speaking factually, this self-styled bhadralok club did everything to frustrate the educational aspirations of all others in Bengal. The opponents of the Gokhale education bill were Sir Surendra Nath Banerjea whereas Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Madan Mohan Malviya extended their support.
And ahead of Gokhale, coincidentally, M.K. Gandhi appeared on the scene as the icing on the cake. In his Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, he displayed his inner self in 1909, "The ordinary meaning of education is knowledge of letters. To teach boys reading, writing and arithmetic is called primary education. A peasant earns his bread honestly. He has ordinary knowledge of the world. But he cannot write his own name. What do you propose to do by giving him a knowledge of letters? Will you add an inch to his happiness?....it is not necessary to make this education compulsory. Our ancient school system is enough..... We consider your modern school to be useless." The avatar of peace, swadeshi and non-violence consigned the issue of education for the masses to the abyss of darkness and ignorance. Could a greater violence to human progress and national prosperity be inflicted non-violently than what the Father of the Nation did? The beneficiaries had all good reasons to project him for the nation as what they did after his obscurantist, malefic outburst against education for the masses.
So, when an American journalist wanted to point her finger to the pitfalls in the preachings of some of such tall leaders, she was dismissed as anti-Indian and lackey of imperialism. She wrote, "[......] if Indian self-government were established tomorrow, and if wealth rushed in, succeeding poverty in the land, India, unless she reversed her own views as to her 'untouchables' and as to her women, must still continue in the frontline the earth's illiterates...." [Italicised by this writer] This was Katherine Mayo, an erudite scholar. You know the intrinsic importance of Mayo's warning and the guideline for emancipation of India. The Indian attitude either to her untouchables or to her women has not changed at all. The untouchables have been rechristened as Scheduled Castes whom Gandhiji disgraced and disenfranchised millions by terming them as harijan, a word that actually means a bastard whose mother is without morality. ...