Macaulay and Dr M.M.Joshi

Published : Jul 17, 2009 00:00 IST

M.M. Joshi. He does not cite the source of Macaulays speech he refers to in the preface of the BJP manifesto.-SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

M.M. Joshi. He does not cite the source of Macaulays speech he refers to in the preface of the BJP manifesto.-SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

THE Bharatiya Janata Party's manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 has a preface by Dr Murali Manohar Joshi, chairman, Manifesto Committee. He can always be counted to provide fun. He quotes from a "speech" delivered by Macaulay "in the British Parliament" on February 2, 1835, in which he is claimed to have said this:

"I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such high calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." Unfortunately the Doctor does not cite the source. Macaulay came to India in June 1834 and became Law Member in the Governor-General's Executive Council. He returned to England early in 1838.

His famous minute on India Education was written in India on February 2, 1835, the very day Joshi has him speak in the British Parliament. That impossibility apart, the minute has none of the statements Joshi attributes to him.

Joshi taught at the Allahabad University. One hopes the quality of his lectures was somewhat higher. His preface would justify Macaulay's diatribe on Indian education.

To think that this Don Quixote of the BJP was Human Resource Development Minister in its government. It is a trifle too late in the day for Jaswant Singh and the BJP's apologists to plead for a "modern" vision. The least they can now do is to ask Joshi for the source of the quote. It occurred in their party's manifesto.

If the source is not cited, the alternatives are obvious. Joshi could not have drawn on his memory for so long a quote, complete with thepunctuation marks. He was apparently drawing on his imagination. Joshi cannot escape accountability to the public to whom the manifesto was addressed. Nor, of course, can the BJP. It was, after all, a party document.

A.G. Noorani
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