Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective


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7. How religion may affect educational attainment: scholarly theories and historical background

In , the medical departments in the three presidencies were amalgamated into the Indian Medical Service. A competitive examination was conducted in London to recruit people into the Indian Medical Service.

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The European officers of the Indian Medical Service headed the military and civil medical operations in the three presidencies. However, they needed trained assistants and supporting staff such as apothecaries, compounders, and dressers in their work. Appointing European doctors had large financial implications. This prompted the British government to look toward establishing a system of medical education in India to recruit local staff. In , the Native Medical Institution was established in Calcutta to provide medical training to Indians. Around 20 young Indian students were instructed in the vernacular medium.

European texts in anatomy, medicine, and surgery were translated into the local languages for the benefit of students. John Tyler, an orientalist, was the first superintendent of the Native Medical Institution. Parallel instruction was given in both Western and indigenous medical systems. In , classes on Unani medicine were held at the Calcutta madrasa , while the Sanskrit college conducted classes in ayurvedic medicine.

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Successful native graduates were absorbed into government jobs. In , to offer Indians the opportunity to learn and practice Western medicine, an Indian medical school was started in Southern Bombay with surgeon John McLennan as the superintendent. This school, however, did not run beyond 6 years.

History & Background

In the s, the anglicists managed to overturn several cultural educational policies started by the vernacularists and orientalists. John Grant, criticized the medical training and assessment conducted by the Native Medical Institution. The trainees should be able to read and write in English, Bengali, and Hindustani, and must be proficient in arithmetic.

The termination of official patronage to indigenous systems of medicine sealed the fate of the students of the two leading oriental institutions in Calcutta. The Native Medical Institution was abolished. The classes held at the madrasa and the Sanskrit College were discontinued in Youths between 14 and 20 years of age were trained in the principles and practices of medical science using methods of the West. Around 49 students were selected, some through a preliminary examination. They were to be trained for a period not less than 4 years and not more than 6 years, after which they had to appear in a final examination.

Successful candidates were given certificates allowing them to practice surgery and medicine. In Bombay, Sir Robert Grant became the Governor and was deeply moved by the vast number of Indians who died due to lack of proper medical care. He envisaged the idea of training Indians in Western medicine and as he tried to expedite his agenda for a more systematically planned medical college, he met with strong opposition.

Historical Perspective, Research in Higher Education

To quell this opposition and also to encourage a spirit of scientific inquiry, the Medical and Physical Society of Bombay was formed in This group led by Dr. Charles Morehead studied the reasons which led to the abolishment of the previous medical school. The college in Bombay was designed to produce independent medical practitioners from the natives of India. In March , a generous grant by philanthropist Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy made way for building a new general hospital.

The East India Company endorsed the proposal to setup a medical college on July 18, However, Sir Grant succumbed to illness 9 days before this news arrived. The new medical college was named after Grant as a tribute to him. They were selected on set standards of vernacular language, arithmetic, and English. Two levels of instruction were offered. Indians could undertake a course to qualify as doctors as assistant surgeons or they could undertake shorter courses to allow them to practice as medical subordinates sub-assistant surgeons, hospital assistants, and sanitary inspectors for British government services.

Later, Midwifery, Physiology, Ophthalmology, and Chemistry were added, and the course was extended to 3 years. Eventually, medical colleges were started in other provinces too, with the purpose of producing a cadre of doctors who could be recruited into the Subordinate Medical Services. The rest were practitioners of indigenous systems of medicine. While nationalism provided a fertile soil for the revival of Ayurveda and other indigenous branches of medicine, the demand for swaraj or home rule entailed that India needed to be projected as a progressive, modern, and scientific nation.

Therefore, the revivalist efforts during this period placed importance on establishing the scientific and progressive credentials of Ayurveda. The themes central to the discourses at these conferences were British orientalism, the synthesis of medical systems, and the institutionalization of Ayurveda. Gananath Sen, an ayurvedic practitioner from Bengal, founded a college for the study of Ayurveda and a pharmaceutical concern for manufacturing ayurvedic medicine.

Several such efforts were made to resurrect Ayurveda in the wave of patriotism. The bright spots for medicine during colonial times were the initiation of public health measures, vaccination, and the elevation of tropical diseases to a special area of study.


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The state took responsibility for sanitation and hygiene. Collection of vital statistics was initiated. A number of epidemiological and research studies were conducted on cholera, plague, malaria, tuberculosis, and leprosy.

British India was a cauldron of several systems of medicine which intermingled with each other. Commonalities and contradictions existed between the different medical traditions. Long before the East India Company entered the subcontinent, an exchange of knowledge and ideas had occurred between the Indian systems of medicine and their foreign counterparts such as the Arabs and Chinese. The vaidyas and the hakims from the ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine complemented and borrowed from each other. The practitioners of these systems collaborated and learned from each other, and there is hardly any account of animosity between them.

There was a clash of cultures where the East was seen as weak against the powerful knowledge of the West. Both groups tried to differentiate their own set of ideas from those of the other. In the East, medicine was largely pluralistic and there was awareness and acceptance of alternative traditions. Medicine was not viewed simply as a biological phenomenon and emphasis was given to a patient's societal standing, environment, and relation with the therapist. As colonial arteries hardened, claims of the Western superiority and scientific authority isolated Western medicine.

While Western medicine was accorded the status of official medicine, the state turned discriminatory and hostile toward the other systems. The intrusion of Western medicine was resented by the practitioners of indigenous medicine, and they stoutly defended their traditions. These practitioners also tried to avoid humiliation by acquainting themselves with the new techniques of diagnosis. In the s, Benaras Hindu University developed a course which had both Ayurveda and Western medicine. If it were opposed, it would occupy a martyr's place and be much more likely to continue.

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Medical registration was also a cause of acrimony among the practitioners of Indian medicine. Age-old practices were followed blindly by their proponents with absolutely no scope for questioning and scientific scrutiny. However, pushed to a defensive position, knowing that Western medicine was here to stay, there were several voices of reason, asking for cooperation and synthesis between the two systems of medicine.


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Both aim at alleviating human suffering… What is really good in one must be assimilated by the other. The two angles are at present different but should be harmonized. In , after the arrival of computer , distance education took a big leap. Now the teachers and students can converse sitting face-to-face.

The student may receive information via satellite, microwave, or fiber optic cable, television broadcast, cable or Instructional Television Fixed Services ITFS , video cassette or disk, telephone — audio conferencing bridge or direct phone line, audio cassette, printed materials — text, study guide, or handout, computer — modem or floppy disk, and compressed video. Recent rapid development of technology has resulted in systems that are powerful, flexible, and increasingly affordable. The base of available information technology resources is increasing with dramatic speed.

Much has been learned about connecting various forms of technology into systems, so that the ability to link systems is growing.

Most distance learning systems are hybrids, combining several technologies, such as satellite, ITFS, microwave, cable, fiber optic, and computer connections. Television pictures can also be broadcast in two directions at the same time through telephone lines, so that teachers and students at one place can see and hear teachers and students in other places.

Many students who are living in places which are geographically isolated finds difficult to take education through regular classes. Distance education provides opportunities to students who want to improve their qualification during their present jobs. Distance education can used by people of all ages. Right from current students, working professionals, homemakers and more. Know More Faster Promotion By getting educated through distance, the present employees can improve their qualification.

Philosophy of Inclusive Education

Education with flexibility is only possible in the case of distance learning. Any time is good to learn and get educated. Join NIES for an awesome, innovative education.

Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective
Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective
Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective
Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective
Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective Evolution of Education in India: A historical perspective

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