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The Nehru Memorial Museum & Library


‘The Scottish Contribution to Indian Education in the Nineteenth Century: Issues of poverty, identity and empire’ ,2nd December, 2014.


Dr. Parimala Rao,


The monolithic construction of identities by the imperialist and anti- imperialist historiographies undermines the specific regional and class identities of historical actors. The colonial state agenda of promoting education of the landed aristocracy was often challenged by the Scots in India. Modern education was first advocated and introduced in various parts of India by individual official and non-official Scots. They often opposed the educational policies and directives of the colonial state. This paper analyses the Scottish opposition to the British educational policies by illustrating four examples of challenges posed by Charles Grant, Thomas Munro, Erskine Perry and Allan Octavian Hume while referring to numerous other efforts. They all opposed the British official policy of educating only elites and denying education to the poor. They defended the right of poor Indians to modern education and opposed fellow British officers as well as the powerful Governor–Generals of India. This paper attempts to record the Scottish dissenting voices within the British rule in India and take a look at the connection between Scottish education system, and the educational ideas of Scots in India.


Dr. Parimala V. Rao is a historian, who has written extensively on colonial education system. Her book titled ‘Foundations of Tilak’s Nationalism: Discrimination, Education, and Hindutva,’ published in 2010 (paperback 2011) deals with nationalist complexities of caste class and gender in school education during the colonial period. Her latest edited book ‘New Perspectives in the History of Indian Education,’ (2014) critiques the existing historiography of Indian education for factual and analytical errors and provides an alternative historical perspective.
She teaches History of Education at Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and holds a fellowship at NMML, New Delhi.

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