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THE INDIAN REVIEW
A MONTHLY PERIODICAL DEVOTED TO THE DISCUSSION OF ALL TOPICS OF INTEREST. EDITED BY MR. G. A. NATESAN.
The Calcutta University Commission Report
DR. SIR DEVAPRASAD SARVADHIKARI, K.C.I.E.
ORD Chelmsford in his convocation address at Calcutta last year was pleased to announce that no time would be lost in giving effect to the recommendations of the University Commission provided they were fairly unanimous. The Commission had nearly finished its deliberations following upon its visits of inspection and examination of witnesses had been completed and their report was expected almost every moment. The Chancellor's pronouncement was significant and helpful and the members of the Commission as practical men were interested in seeing that their report was not left high and dry and relegated to dark and misty pigeon holes as Lord Haldane's Commission in London had been and like that of Lord Haldane's
predecessor ten years ago. There There was every inducement after Lord Chelmsford's pronouncement-it may be called almost a pledge-to sink petty differences of opinion and to evolve a working and practical scheme that would be taken up and given effect to without trouble and loss of time, if the authorities so willed. The Commission, which was supposed to have finished its labours about the time that Lord Chelmsford spoke took further time and the Report was not completed and signed for months afterwards and not till signs of popular impatience were begun to be manifest. Lord Ronaldshay in introducing Professor Ramsay Muir to a Calcutta audience described him as a member of a Commission that had "comfortably settled down in the country " and delay in submission of the Report was elsewhere openly spoken of. When the report was at last completed and submitted to Government editing and printing difficulties were in the way and it was not made available for public use till
There is no reason to believe that any slur or slight was intended; there would be no occasion for it. The Report was intended for the University and would come to it when Government saw fit and could manage publication. The time was undoubtedly well spent for the differences of opinion among the members of the Commission came to be minimised. The University as such had not been consulted or informed about the scope or the constitution of the Commission or about the terms of reference or about methods of work or procedure. When the Chancellor in the course of his first convocation address announced his intention of appointing the Commission, I from my place as Vice-chancellor gave the proposal a warm and loyal welcome in the course of my address that immediately followed the Chancellor's address. Later on I asked my colleagues and the University staff and University Professors to render the Commission all the help that might be needed. I took the members round the University class and offices, gave them all the information they needed, met them in conference when they desired and generally did all I could to make their work easy and useful. That terminated all the
relations between the University as such and the Commission and the University; it did not even receive an official communication from Government regarding the appointment of the Commission.
the Board of Studies and Board of Accounts on special points. All this will involve time and labour which might have been minimised if other methods had been followed.
That is how University matters had been recently conducted. When the Committee for reporting on post-graduates studies had been appointed shortly before the appointment of the University Commission the University had not the good fortune of being taken into the confidence of the Government or its Chancellor and there had been no consultation or communication between the Government and the University regarding the scope, constitution, terms of reference or methods or procedure of the committee. The Committee met and made its report; there was no communication again with the University as such. No resolution or expression of views or opinion of the Government followed the Report. The Private Secretary to the Rector sent a few copies casually to the University and without any covering letter explaining the situation or setting out the requirements. Even copy of the letter of the Government of India was not sent to the University. The University asked for an adequate number of copies, circulated them among members of the Senate. Thereafter on the motion of the President of the Committee the Senate appointed a Committee of its own that framed resolutions on the lines of the Report which became the Post Graduate Regulations now in force when sanctioned by the government undoubtedly afterwards. On the present occasion the Report of the Commission was made available for the public after the Senate Resolution complaining about delay though not as a result of it as the Government of India subsequently explained. But now as before there is no covering letter or Resolution of the Government, no explanation of the situation nor statement of requirements. There is only a short letter indicating that the Government of India (or Chancellor) would be glad to know what the Senate of the University thinks about the Report.
The University will have to go into the whole matter practically de novo and it has had no lead that could make its work quick or easy. The Senate has taken the first step-appointed Committee for suggesting points for consideration and then will follow consideration in Committee and probably in the different faculties and the Senate and the Post Graduate Council-if not in
In the same speech that announced the forthcoming Commission Lord Chelmsford indicated that the Governor of Bengal was the rightful Rector as in other Presidencies and Provinces but he did not like to incur the odium of handing to the new Chancellor any but an institution that had been duly reformed and quite able to stand on its own legs. This would necessarily involve initial financial obligation-and heavy financial obligations-on the part of the Government of India before transferring its duties and obligation to the Government of Bengal. This is satisfactory so far from the Provincial point of view, and this is not negligible. Young people setting up house for themselves while duly thankful to their elders for help, would however like to have things in their way and talk it over among themselves. Elderly obtrusion and cut and dry schemes which might have their objection because of elderly handling, would from this point of view hardly meet the situation. The last University Act regulated and still regulates the Universities of Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Allahabad and Lahore. Calcutta will now have its own Act in the same way as Benares and Patna had theirs within the last three years. Are Bombay, Madras, Allahabad and Lahore going to have their old, and obsolete machinery continued while Calcutta has its brand new 1920 model? or is the Imperial Legislature going to tinker the existing Universities Act and make it good enough for the other Universities while the Calcutta organisation is to be perfected? Or is there to be one omnibus Act regulating all Universities as the present Act does and that Act is to be on the lines of the Report of the Calcutta Commission, which indeed visited some of the other Universities but did not necessarily take their problems and possibilities fully into consideration?
And if there are to be separate Provincial machinaries on the lines of the Calcutta Report without necessary modification are the Provincial Legislatures going to be allowed to handle and shape them?
If so why not the Bengal Legislature in the case of the Calcutta Act?
These are questions upon which timely lead and light would be of great use.
That the government does not intend to waste time is clear. The Dacca Bill has already been introduced in the Supreme Council. It had long been ready and has been tested by the Commission though the reference to the Commission was belated. It has got the hall mark. It will therefore be probably speedily passed. But it involves principles-some of them new which if adopted will be applicable to other situations, except for a strong reason to the contrary. The Dacca Bill has it is hoped been merely introduced-in pursuance to long standing pledge and understanding and because there are no insuperable difficulties in the way, though there are objections, that will always remain more or less. The Bill has not been referred to a Select Committee but has been published merely for eliciting public opinion. The Calcutta University has suggested delay and is of opinion that the Dacca and the Calcutta Bills should be handled together. The early introduction of the Dacca Bill will be useful as indicative of Government views and opinions -views and opinions that will control the Calcutta situation. For this reason as also because East Bengal education is of great importance to all Bengal the situation will be considered with great care and anxiety. It is more than understood that the Dacca and the Calcutta Bills will be handled practically simultaneously and therefore greater interest attaches to the situation than if the Dacca Bill was isolated and detached.
with Poona and Bombay leaders within the past few days and I found no trace of the bitterness there. I hope soon to visit Madras and as far as I can gather from friends there is no such indication there either. Whence then did the Times of India get its idea, that there world be "bitter attacks from interested quarters." Even the strongest expression of honest conviction need not involve bitterness, nor constitute anything like an attack.
If all India is to be affected by the recommendations of the Commission,-as I think it must be-a small all-India conference early summoned by the Government of India, should precede the completion of the Calcutta scheme. The air will be then cleared up and work made smooth. To neglect this precaution would be a blunder.
Another word, before detailed examination of the individual recommendations is attempted. And that is a word of solemn warning rightly spoken by the Indian Social Reformer.
"The Commission have not given due weight to the fact that India is fast changing, through a process of peaceful revolution, in all aspects of life, and that its educational equipment should be such as to enable her to cope with the demands of the new era. And our interests and responsibilities overseas are growing. The Commission conceive themselves to be precluded from going beyond the secondary stage, but their recommendations regarding the use of English at this stage, affect the middle stage (between primary and secondary) which is the stage at which a large majority of Indian students leave off schooling. Should this large proportion go without an opportunity of learning English? The fact is that the problem of the position of English in Indian education is a much bigger one than the Commission have conceived it to be: they had not the materials before them for a comprehensive view of the problem, and only a comprehensive view of it can furnish a right and just solution."
Sir Edward Maclagan like the good strong and brave man that he is—undaunted by untoward worries of which he has received a legacy-has set his Government to consider the situation and has appointed a committee. His experience in the education department must however warn him that Provincial Committees will not solve the situation. An all-India Committee must squarely face it so far as all the Provinces are concerned, for the Commission which to have been and should have been an all India Commission was not so,
Holkar College, Indore.
T is needless for me to say that the Report of the Calcutta University Commission is one of the epoch-making documents in the annals of university education in India, perhaps second in importance only to the Despatch of 1854, and certainly unrivalled in comprehensive treatment of all educational matters. The first three volumes are devoted to an analysis of the educational system of Bengal and incidentally of India, as it has developed in the past and as it stands to-day. The analysis is as brilliant as it is interesting. But one is pained to see such a Commission not being able to do proper justice to the Report of the Commission of 1882. Figures of the growth of schools since 1854 have been taken unwarily and marshalled as an argument for too fast development of the school system without, for example, considering the fact that during that period the whole of the Punjab came under the Calcutta University, and that real university education started, during that period, in the greater part of Central India and the Central Provinces,
The most striking feature of this part of the Report is perhaps the condemnation of governmental direction of University matters. The Calcutta University is not free from interference by the Government of India even with regard to the most minute details. The courses of studies cannot be changed without its sanction, as if there can normally be any body on it who will understand and be in direct touch with university curriculam either in India or of other countries. One recalls with interest the interference by the Government a few years ago when it refused to sanction the appointment of some lecturers months after they had been appointed and at a time when they were doing their work to the satisfaction of the university authorities. The condemnation in the Report is borne out by the evidence of witnesses, particularly that of the engineering firms of Calcutta with regard to the Sibpur Engineering College.
The most satisfactory point attracting immediate notice seems to be the recommendations in connection with the residence of students, specially those of Calcutta. The number is too large to be properly handled either by the University or the colleges themselves or by the combined efforts of both. The result has been that a very large number of students has been living in conditions which can neither develop their body or mind nor can give them a healthy moral outlook so essential for the creation of the
future man of society. I am particularly glad to see that the Report recommends the immediate handling of this problem even though its other recommendations may not be attended to. But it seems to me that the calculations of the commissioners in estimating the decrease in the number of students in Calcutta owing to intermediate colleges being established at all possible centres the policy of educational decentralization as we may call it-is too optimistic. If all the Reforms that are recommended are given effect to and it cannot be done piecemeal-and if most of the mofussal colleges, new and old, are bound to remain for some time less efficient, it is difficult to see how students, who can afford to come to Calcutta, will be kept at the mofussal centres, unless of course drastic measures are taken by prohibiting, as a rule, immigration into Calcutta of mofussal students. This again will obviously be inadvisable. This dispersion of students all over the country will take a long time to operate, as long as and perhaps more than the time by which mofussal colleges will be sufficient in number and sufficient in work. Perhaps by that time the usual growth of education will bring up the number at Calcutta to its present level. I think therefore that the Report is too optimistic in estimating this reduction in number. To this extent its constructive recommendations as to residential arrangements at Calcutta are vitiated.
The Dacca University scheme is distinctly an improvement on that of the Dacca University Committee. But one is surprised to find, in the Dacca University Bill introduced in the Imperial Legislative Council, that Jagannath College is left out of the new University. So, Dacca will be educationally divided, one part forming itself into a typical university, the other being left to drift as best as it can with the Calcutta University. Perhaps the object is to allow for the difficulties incidental to the period of transition. But this could have been provided by combining the intermediate classes of Dacca College and Jagannath College into a separate intermediate college under the Calcutta University or, better still, by attaching intermediate classes to some of the schools; there are so many good schools at Dacca.
When we come to the Calcutta University itself we are apt to be disappointed a little. The Reforms proposed are a compromise with the fixed structure already existing. The attempt at developing harmony between the colleges
and the University is ingenuous but cannot, in all circumstances, be said to be sure of success. A grave defect is that the colleges may have, to the extent of a large proportion, teachers unrecognised as such by the University. In some colleges it has been the custom to engage teachers by the month or the year at the lowest possible salary. The evil is notorious in Calcutta colleges, as the Report also recognises. Will not this recommendation lead such colleges to continue this practice with greater freedom?
What I view with distrust is the too complex machinery of university control proposed by the Commission. There are so many Boards, Councils, Court, etc. often with interests that are overlapping that it will tax the energy of more than one able man devoting all his time to the University. Perhaps this is provided by the recommendation of a paid Vice-Chancellor of superior attainments with the high pay and status of a Calcutta High Court judge.
The least convincing part of the Report is the reform suggested for the examination system. The analysis is brilliant and the evils patent, but the remedy proposed is not at all satisfactory. What will prevent the student from reading, under the new regime, only for examination? is difficult to suggest a remedy to uproot the evils lying so deep in the present system without, at the same time, demolishing its really good features. Our hope lies in the fact that the Boards of Studies and of Examiners will devise some method for that. But the constructive proposals of the Report do not suggest any thing for their guidance in this respect. This seems to me to be a serious omission in a cyclopædic work like the Report.
The proposal for a separate board of secondary and intermediate education is a really good one, and we may hope that it will bring about an efficient school system which will be as much the goal of ordinary education as it will be preparatory to the university course. But the relation between the Board and the Director of Public Instruction's department is not clear. The Repoit recognises
III. DR. RADHAKUMUD have been kindly asked by the editor to express my views upon the Report of the Calcutta University Commission. I am
sorry my present pre-occupations do not allow me the time needed to master the voluminous literature embodying it. For the present I content myself with a brief presentation of the bearings of the report upon the
the evils now arising out of conflict between the University and this department. But unfortunately it does not recommend anything. The notes of dissent on this point perhaps make it worse by suggesting government control of the new board with a university constitution without such. Thus either the government department should be merged into the new board or it should work as a subordinate agency to the board organizing primary education only.
Finally I think that the mufassal colleges are left in an uncertain position. They have heaven or hell to choose between with no other alternative. Either they are embryo universities or they are schools. In the near future, as the Report observes, there is very little chance of any-at least not more than one or two-developing into a university. If so, their prospect is to come under the new Board. It will be too costly for the country if, with the present financial resources, the mufassal colleges aspired to be universities and then failed. It will be taken as a too sure sign of want of educational zeal and activity if they do not at least attempt to be universities. The re sources of the University are bound to be spent mostly at Calcutta, as indeed has been recommended by the Commission. So, the mufassal colleges are expected to be aspirants to future universities with all the chances of landslips in their attempt. This is bound to create dissatisfaction and lead to individual effort and consequent financial waste which we can ill afford to vew without concern. A clear cut principle for the development of the mufassal colleges seems to be imperative at the present stage.
Here I have pointed out some of the defects which struck me while reading the Report. The analysis (Vols I-III) is very thorough and sound, but the recommendations (Vols IV-V) are unfortunately less so. On the whole, however, I should think that the Report presents a constructive scheme of root and branch reform which, taken roundly, will appeal to all as one that is necessary and practicable for the regeneration of educational vitality in the Presidency of Bengal.
MOOKERJI, M.A., PH.D.
Mysore University. It will appear that some of the Reforms suggested in the Report have been anticipated and perhaps suggested by the Mysore University. The most important of these is that connected with the securing of higher level of capacity in the students seeking admission into the University. The device of the intermediate college as proposed in the report to secure this