By N. Chatterjee

A unique study of how a deeply spiritual state like India got the legislation and rules of a mundane country, highlighting the contradictory results of British imperial rules, the advanced function performed via Indian Christians, and the way this hugely divided neighborhood formed its personal identification and debated that in their new kingdom.

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Because Macaulay’s cultivated wit, coming on the back of his prejudiced ignorance, sounds particularly disagreeable to modern readers,95 it has appeared to many scholars that something tremendous, and most likely quite pernicious, took place following his declamation. But what is it that happened? 97 There are two problems with this argument. First, there is the matter of facts: I have not been able to discover a statute such as the English Education Act. ’98 But resolutions by colonial councils were quite different from statutes, because the former often represented the opinions of a local clique of officials not in accord with the authorities in London and liable to be reversed on review, as was the case in this instance.

After considerable deliberation, Sir Charles Wood, the Secretary of State for India, instructed the Government of India in 1854 to create a ‘grant-in-aid’ system, the terms of which were as follows: [It was to] be based on an entire abstinence from interference in religious instruction conveyed in the schools assisted. Aid will be given ... to all schools which impart a good secular education, provided that they are under adequate local management ... 134 Wood’s policy derived from a reworking of the public and private dichotomy; introduced in the ‘reformist’ decades and expounded by Macaulay.

Article 28 provides that: 1. No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds. [ ... ] 3. 90 The actual syllabus for RE is decided by the LEAs, and in case of faith schools, the governing bodies. In an apparent reversal of priorities, British law makes religious education compulsory, allowing parents to withdraw their children if they do not wish to have their children taught the tenets of other religions, for which they must demonstrate the existence of satisfactory alternative arrangements.

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