WE tend to forget that our lifestyle and mindset have largely been influenced by our colonial past. The British influence has changed the way we look at ourselves and has stripped us of a confidence that comes naturally to a people belonging to an ancient and great civilisation.
Colonisation coerces people from subordinated culture to denigrate themselves. A kind of a virtual reality is created to expedite this attitude of self-hate among the native population. An alternate reality is created as a smokescreen to hide coloniser`s repression, tyranny and exploitation.
Ignorant of a history that has an enormous potential to extricate us from our state of self-depreciation, we continue to be a victim of this crime.
Though Delhi fell to East India Company in 1803, yet the Indians` confidence which motivated them to initiate a freedom struggle remained strong. Profound political awareness of Delhi`s intellectual elite made them present a line of action to the Indians. After a careful analysis of the situation, they motivated the native populace to take up arms against the colonisers. Subsequent decades reveal an unparalleled history of struggle for freedom which continued till 1857. (One can read W.W. Hunter`s famous book Our Indian Muslims for the details of this movement.)
It was in this context that the colonisers came up with an elaborate scheme to strike at the very heart of native confidence “to create a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in morals, in opinions and in intellect.” Once the colonisers were over with shedding the native blood, they focused on replacing the leadership that had expedited the Indian freedom struggle with one that believed in `compromising` with them. Delhi`s pre-colonial intellectual elites who realised very early the bane of colonisation were replaced with a friendlier class of `scholars`.
At the same time `educational institutions` were established in the country, with the sole agenda of wiping out the thought of freedom from the minds of Indian youth by inculcating in them the `value` of British presence in the subcontinent. It was assumed that these institutions spread `modern education.` This modern education had less to do with disseminating scientific, rational thinking and more to do with an acquiescence of West`s superiority. Pran Neville, a student of Government College in the late colonial era writes, “we were keen to look modern, act modern, and imbibe modern ideas in general, which in other words, meant that we gladly welcomed western influences.” This modernity, thus, did not `educate` them to question, but `trained` them to obey their masters.
An analysis of colonial system of education reveals that they were concerned only with teaching subjects related to social studies and humanities; understandably, to shatter the native confidence in their identity. They were never serious in spreading critical or scientific thinking because that would have resulted in accelerating the freedom struggle.
It is through this kind of `education` that a class of people emerged with a euro-centric worldview. This class, because of a language and education that enabled them to work for the coloniser, ran the colonial machinery. This class inherited Pakistan, the class that had read Shakespeare and Milton, bright and intelligent, thoroughly convinced of the superiority of West`s ideas and ideals, and critical of Indian history. They were the `amenable successors` of the British Raj. In Pakistan this class has preserved and perpetuated itself. Even today we produce graduates who are convinced of their inferiority vis-Ã -vis their former colonisers.
This self-denigration that started with the `modern education` has done us more harm than good. Our youth radiate confidence when told that they belong to a civilisation that is one of the oldest in the world. That their history underscores pluralism and peaceful coexistence; that the Muslim...
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