Sunday, January 27, 2013

John Bright, continued

Bright's speech in the House of Commons, June 3, 1853: (emphasis added)
Now, with reference to education, so far as could be gathered from the Returns before the House—he had sought to obtain Returns of a more specific character, but to no purpose, having received the usual answer in these matters, that there was no time for preparing them—but from the Returns they had before them he found that while the Government had overthrown almost entirely the native education that had subsisted throughout the country so universally that a schoolmaster was as regular a feature in every village as the "potail" or head man, it had done next to nothing to supply the deficiency which had been created, or to substitute a better system.

Out of a population of 100,000,000 natives we instructed but 25,000 children; out of a gross revenue of 29,000,000 £ sterling, extracted from that population, we spent but 66,000£ in their education. In India, let it be borne in mind, the people were not in the position with regard to providing for their own education which the people of this country enjoyed, and the education which they had provided themselves with, the Government had taken from them, supplying no adequate system in its place. The people of India were in a state of poverty, and of decay, unexampled in the annals of the country under their native rulers. From their poverty the Government wrung a gross revenue of more than 29,000,000£ sterling, and out of that 29,000,000£, returned to them 66,000£ per annum for the purposes of education!
No doubt Macaulay and Niall Ferguson and the like would think that the 66,000£ was adequate, and that displacing the universal native education system in favor of a vacuum was greatly civilizing for India.  Of course, to balance this imposed universal illiteracy they abolished Sati, and that justifies it all for the benighted latter day disciples of such Apostles of Empire.

John Bright was a Quaker, and I think it is among Quakers that one finds the most humanism, compared to alleged liberals like Macaulay.