During student life, as a spectator, I used to gaze my fellow student leaders chanting slogans “Lord Macaulay ka nizam e taleem nahi chalny dain gay” and became curious to know who the hell is he. When I frequently asked to few of my right wing brethren ,who is Lord Macaulay, they were clueless and I came to know how rare are inquisitive minds in our society.

Then someone did come forward with presumptuously irrefutable evidence and shared an infamous speech which was more than enough to expose the colonial mindset of Macaulay. Lord Macaulay’s proclaimed speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835 contain a toxic paragraph which says” 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 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 self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

Then, I realized that this infamous excerpt of alleged speech is a transboundry issue and has equally contaminated minds of right wing radical brethren of both India and Pakistan. In India, several national leaders including L.K. Advani and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam often present this speech as a reference. Few years back, Even Imran Khan quoted this alleged speech and said Lord Macaulay’s address to the British parliament 1835 gives and insight into how people are subjugated. Though it was presented as irrefutable evidence, I was, however, tempted and interested to verify the source of this alleged speech.

To me, without any prejudice, the above mentioned speech was unbelievable as it contradicts the ground realities. How it is possible that Macaulay travelled across the ‘length and breadth of the India’ and couldn’t find a single beggar? Furthermore, how ridiculous is the fact that British Government has to establish ‘Anti Thugi and Dacoity Department’ but Macaulay couldn’t come across a single thief?

Due to these basic doubts, I made a brief call and tried to peep into some scholarly articles and eventually concluded that this infamous and alleged speech is fake and has nothing to do with Macaulay. It is alleged that Macaulay made this speech in UK house of commons on February 2, 1835. But matter of the fact is that he was in Calcutta on that day. During those days, even fastest ship took several months to travel between Calcutta and London. According to verified documents, Macaulay left England in 1834 to take up his new assignment as an advisor to the British Governor General and did not return till 1838.

Actually and factually, Macaulay is one of the greatest mind born in the past millennium. He is our hero who played a pivotal role to reform hackneyed education system but we painted and tainted him as a villain. The House of Commons was debating the Bill, which was enacted as The Charter Act 1833, or, The Government of India Act 1833.During heated debate, house was divided into two camps. Orientalists wanted to continue same out-dated indigenous education system with local languages as medium of education while other camp led by Macaulay was insisting for equality and argued in favour of modern education for Indians.

On July 10, 1833, Macaulay won this battle with these words:” To trade with civilized men is infinitely more profitable than to govern savages. That would, indeed, be a doting wisdom, which, in order that India might remain a dependency, would make it a useless and costly dependency, which would keep a hundred millions of men from being our customers in order that they might continue to be our slaves”

Macaulay became President of India’s First Law Commission and laid foundations of a modern scientific education system for subcontinent. God forbid, what if Macaulay has lost the argument and same hackneyed education system has prevailed and continued? If Sir Syed Khan is our national hero for promoting English language and modern education, why Macaulay is Villain?


The writer is Lahore based Journalist.